A quick shout out to Wingsters in the Dubai Marina – I’ve heard about this new place that’s opened up that has taken a very basic concept, and executed it flawlessly. I’ve been saying for years that there is no real chicken wing place in Dubai, and there exists a gaping hole – I’ve told many an inspired restaurateur to adopt this concept and fill said hole – none listened. It seems the people behind Wingsters (http://wingstersuae.com) saw a similar opportunity and seized it – good on them. Chicken Wings, a variety of different sauces/flavours, burgers, shakes. Simple. Easy.
One problem – its in the Dubai Marina. Well, not really a problem, but a problem for me. People who know me know my thing – my aversion to the Marina and to Downtown Dubai. I tend to have a strict no go policy to both places (exclusion for my barber, who happens to be in the Grosvenor House Hotel, and he I only visit early mornings on the weekends). I just don’t do it. If they deliver, awesome, but I ain’t battling traffic to go eat somewhere. I had called Wingsters a few weeks ago, asking if they would delivery to my home in Al Barsha 3 – they said no – only Al Barsha 1. This was a little baffling to me, as Al Barsha 3 is actually closer to them than Barsha 1 – but anyway.
So, today, I found myself, post haircut/shave, in the Marina area – the clock was creeping close to lunch time, and I had an inspired though – Wingsters? Could I get some takeaway? I hit up their Facebook page, got a couple of flavours of wings that sounded good, and put in a call to have them prepared. Little did I know, that it’s so close to the Barber – I was there in no time. For those who don’t know the location, head down the main Marina road (going from Dubai towards the Marina Mall). Pass the Metro Station. Look out for the SAS Radisson Hotel (there is a Mama Mia Italian Restaurant on the corner) – Make a right there and your immediate right again, so you are behind the hotel. Wingsters is on your right.
I had ordered 3 sets of 8 wings – to get a nice sample of the offering. I was concerned about the quality of the chicken wings – wings found in this part of the world seem to be, well, small. I was curious to see what these guys would serve up. It’s a organised crime themed menu, as promised by the name of the restaurant, their “Say Hello To My Little Wings” tagline, and the black fedoras the servers in the restaurant wear. The menu has items such as The Don (Chicken Salad), The Escobar (A Beef Burger) and The Tommy Gun (Chicken Sandwich). The wing flavours have unique names too – I ordered:
1. The Godfather (Spicy BBQ)
2. The Dillinger (Garlic Parmesan)
3. The Hitman (Classic Buffalo)
They were boxing them up when I walked in – my first impression – nice – large styrofoam containers, a little plastic container of blue cheese dressing, some carrots and celery – promising, so far. The wings were put into the container, and they looked good – I’m getting to a happy place now. The proprietor was there and gave me a good tip – if the wings are cold by the time you get home, pop them into a pre heated over for a couple of minutes and they will come back to life. Sage advice from a man who knows his chicken wings – if you put them into a microwave they get soggy and gross – ovens are the way to go. Fortunately, they were still warm by the time I got them home (hint Wingsters – Al Barsha 3 is pretty close if you would like to include that in your revised delivery area :))
Before I get into how the wings were, let me share with you how I mentally evaluate a wing. There is a science to the perfect serving of Wings – it’s not simple. The key factors are:
1. Size of the Wing – The Meat / Bone Ratio. We will rank this from a lowly 1 (the typical wing of a malnourished pigeon) to a mighty 10 (the Ultimate Warrior-esque wing from a hormonally enhanced falcon)
2. Sauciness – The Sauce / Meat Ratio. We will rank this from an arid 1(show me the sauce) to a dripping 10 (would you like some wings with that sauce)
3. The Delivery – The Drums / Flats ratio. This is crucial. An equal ratio of drums/flats rounds off an ideal wing experience – Don’t try to stick me with too many flats!
How does Wingsters score?
1. Size of the Wing – A very respectable 7ish – I’m impressed with the size of the wings that Wingsters was able to source. Those who are Dubai veterans will understand why this was impressive – usually we get wings that can best be described as “toothpicks” (thanks Ahmad!). Very meaty wing – both the drums and the flats. You actually got a good portion of meat once you got past the crispy skin. A lovely nugget of moist chicken, a bit of crispy, well seasoned skin, all covered with a coating of very tasty sauce.
2. Sauciness – I like my wings more saucy than dry – I usually ask for some extra sauce on the side. These were, again, a saucy 7. Each wing was very evenly coated with a glistening coating of sauce, without the sauce pooling on the bottom of the container, getting the lower layers all soggy.
3. The Delivery – Excellent. Seemed like a 50/50 split. Can’t really ask for more than this.
The Godfather – Look at these beauties glisten! What a rich, delicious, spicy, smoky, sweet and lightly spicy sauce this was. A very robust flavour profile in a sticky, stick to your fingers kinda sauce, that implores you to lick you fingers clean when you are done. Highly recommend this one.
The Dillinger – Very impressive. Creamy, garlicy with a very pronounced parmesan flavour. Even coating of sauce on each wing.
The Hitman – I was very curious about trying this flavour. I’ve had many interpretations of a “Buffalo” wing through my lifelong chicken wing odyssey – my benchmark was the original wing, from the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY. Some were close, some, not so much. Close doesn’t necessarily mean good – some that were close in flavour fell well short of some of the hotwing variations I have tried. In my opinion, my perfect Buffalo Wing should have a butter based sauce. Vinegar should be present – I should get a vinegar hit in the back of my throat. There should be heat – I’m not heat crazy, so there should be a definite heat present, but I don’t want my sinuses cleared. These were very close to my benchmark – As you can see, there is no thick sauce on these wings. Butter based? Check. Vinegar? Check. Slight heat? Check. This is a very, very tasty Buffalo style wing.
Sweet Potato Fries – Gotta have some fries with the wings. Sweet potato? Even better. Wingsters gave a little side of this chipotle aioli to dip the fries into – this is fantastic. The Smoky/Spicy aioli contrasted and paired with the sweet potato amazingly well. Definitely ordering these again. My only recommendation – need more of the aioli – was very small portion – the container should at least be filled up to the top!
So – Wings were excellent. Fries were excellent. Any downside? I had two concerns. The first is the side of carrots and celery. Take a look at the pics above – especially the ones of The Dillinger. Don’t think much more needs to be said about this – details, guys. The second concern I had was the Blue Cheese dressing. For the quality that was the wings/sauce, the Blue Cheese fell well short of the mark. No chunky pieces of blue cheese that comes in a quality dressing – no sharp flavour burst in your mouth, as a backdrop to the creamy, cool dressing. Weak dressing – this didn’t matter much when eating The Godfather and The Dillinger, but you need a good Blue Cheese to go with The Hitman. Lets pick up the slack on this.
All in all, I wake up this morning, thinking about the wings I had yesterday. It’s 10 am, and I just checked out to the website to see when they open. I think I will be ordering up some more wings for lunch today. Kudos to Wingsters to bringing quality wings to Dubai – it was much-needed. I hope you keep the quality up, consistency high and widen your delivery area.
I woke up thinking about when I can get a repeat performance of a yesterday’s lunch. That’s impressive! If you like wings, you have to try this place.
Till next time.