Salt has just celebrated its first birthday and although seemingly late to the game, we recently enjoyed our very first visit to this food truck phenomenon.
Salt became the talk of the UAE last year with its clever social media campaign which adopted the hashtag #FindSalt. The concept involved a travelling food truck that would reveal its location via photographic posts on Instagram. Thus encouraging customers to come and find them at secret locations throughout the Emirates. This clever marketing strategy worked exceptionally well, because nothing liked this had been attempted in the region before and it created such a hype that people would literally queue for hours to indulge in their signature burgers (if you have seen the recent Jon Favreau movie ‘Chef’ then you know the drill).
Salt is unique in the fact that it was the UAE’s first food truck (though there are a few more now) and it is surprising to see that the food truck revolution that is prevalent in cities like London or New York has only just started to take hold in the UAE. Salt was created by Emirati entrepreneurs Amal Al Marri and Deem Olbassam who saw a gap in the market for a travelling restaurant that was not confined to one location…
A year later and things have changed slightly. Salt now had a permanent home at three locations in the region: Mother Of The Nation park (formally Mushrif Central Park in Abu Dhabi), Kite Beach (Dubai) and The Corniche (Ajman) – yet the demand for the product has not waned, and you can still find yourself in a lengthy queue during busy periods.
We headed to Salt at Mushrif Park last weekend and were utterly convinced that there was no way that it could possibly live up to the hype and the rave reviews! Not because we didn’t want it to, but because sometimes you can set your expectations so high that they can only result in disappointment. Arriving at around 6:30pm it was just starting to get dark, but it was not at all difficult to find the truck due to a large neon sign illuminating the area, and the fact that there were a number of people already queuing for their food.
We joined the back of the queue and waited in anticipation for our turn to order. Staff came down the line with menus, so that we would know exactly what we wanted when it was our turn to order, and this kept the line moving along efficiently. The menu itself is not the most extensive, containing a small selection of burgers, fries, beverages and ice cream. Though as the saying goes “its better to do a few things well than everything poorly.’
By the time it was our turn to order, our anticipation had reached bursting point. We were greeted warmly by the staff (referred to as Salters) who took our order promptly and with a smile. We gave our names and were handed a buzzer, that would flash when our order was ready. Waiting for our food to be cooked, we headed over to the beverage and ice cream station to collect our milkshakes and softie. As anyone who reads this blog regularly will already know – we are Lotus obsessives, so had to order both the milkshake and the ice cream softie to fully satisfy our biscoff cravings.
Soon enough our buzzer began to pulsate with red flashing lights and we knew that it was finally time…
Collecting our order from the ‘pick up’ window we headed over the to seating area to indulge in our new purchase. The seating area at the Mushrif Park branch is entirely outdoors and the tables and chairs are made up of old food crates that have been restored and upholstered to provide the ultimate in hipster shabby-chic decor. Despite the time of day it was very pleasant to sit outside and the aroma of the food hit us as soon as we opened the brown paper bags that it had been served to us in.
Our order consisted of the ‘original’ and the ‘chicken cheeto’ sliders accompanied by fries. The original burger which consists of a butter bun, wagyu beef, cheese, salt and pickle was the first item that we tasted. Two words immediately came to mind “juicy” and “sumptuous” – to say we were suitably impressed would be an understatement… the burgers are divine!
After devouring the original burger we moved onto the chicken cheeto which should be described as the masterpiece of the menu, and the item that every first timer to Salt should order. This burger consists of deep-fried chicken, cheese, lettuce and cheetos (yes as in the crisps/chips) – totally delicious with a slight spicy kick, we were literally left for words! We had read reviews that the fries were not necessarily up to standard, but we totally disagree and found them to be crispy and nicely salted.
Now lets talk about price and size. Looking at the menu it may appear that the prices are a little on the high side, but in all honesty you get what you pay for. The ingredients used at Salt are all locally sourced and food is cooked fresh to order – which does make a difference as you can literally taste the quality with each passing bite. It should be noted that although the burgers are relatively small, the price on the menu is in fact for two of them – they are only sold in pairs, which are just perfect for sharing.
Branding is very important at Salt and has helped them to achieve their iconic status in a relatively short period of time. The clever hashtag campaign discussed at the beginning of this post has been enhanced by the striking logo which is emblazoned on everything from the bags and napkins to the food truck itself – creating an instantly recognisable symbol that is now associated with quality. Clever slogans such as ‘enjoy salting’ are also utilised to make the experience fun and memorable, creating a talking point that will only help to expand the brand awareness.
We were thoroughly impressed by all of the staff we encountered during our visit. Everyone was friendly and provided excellent service for what is essentially glorified street food. Ultimately this helps to add to the deservedly good reputation and status that Salt has already managed to achieve.
Although it seems that each and every burger joint in the UAE is currently touting itself as having the countries best burgers! We, along with Sheikh Mohammed the ruler of Dubai (who is a regular customer), have totally bought into the hype and think that we have found it at Salt. We will certainly be revisiting to try the ‘hook’ burgher and any other additions to the menu.
Hipsters rejoice we have found the ultimate in street food – so get those Instagram posts ready!
All views within this blog are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE, unless otherwise stated.