Crush Of The Week

Ibrahim and Mohamad Akkaoui, father and son duo behind Akhu Manoushe, collaborates with Ali Cha’aban on Alserkal Pop-Up

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If you’re UAE-based, you probably have heard about Akhu Manoushe, many times described as the best manoushe in the country. With a secret recipe well kept by Ibrahim Akkaoui -aka Abu Mohamad , that has convinced customers through the years, this Abu Dhabi staple started eyeing the Dubai market last year.
A step away from the furn, you’ll find the other member of this dynamic father & son duo, Mohamad Ali, whose marketing expertise and friendly energy have taken Akhu Manoushe all the way from AD to the cool kids. With a first super successful Dubai experience last year, taking over the 25hours One Central hotel’s rooftop during Ramadan with local designer Talar Nina, it was only a matter of time before the experience needed to be reiterated.

This year however, things have been taken up a notch. It’s at the heart of Alserkal Avenue that their very own Akh Manoushe pop-up restaurant has just opened today, already gathering crowds of hungry friends and visitors . It isn’t, however, just the attractive smells of fresh baked dough and zaatar floating in the air that turn everyone’s heads; the pop-up and its interiors have been designed by Mohamad’s friend, renown artist Ali Cha’aban, whose unmistakable use of carpets in his artworks have made him one of the MENA’s favourite creative in recent years (side note, while you’re in Alserkal, go check his exhibition “I guess I’m Still Angry” next door at Leila Heller Gallery).

JDEED covered on grounds exclusively a few days ahead of the opening.

Text/Cynthia Jreige
Photography/Hadi Afif for JDEED

Ali Cha’aban , Ibrahim Akkaoui and his son Mohamed Ali Akkaoui

Some context and what to expect

When we asked Mohamad, who goes by Akkaouiz on Instagram, how it feels working with his father, he replied: ” working with my dad is fruitful on an emotional and education level but it’s also building stories and laughs together with the entire family who also comes to help.
The pop-up will be open until Ramadan from 10am to 10pm as well as available on Deliveroo. Alongside the classics, there will be new manaeesh drops on a bi-monthly basis.

Mohamed Ali Akkaoui and Ibrahim Akkaoui stand in the Akhu Manoushe pop-up, designed by Ali Cha’aban

Mohamad and Ali have started working on their brand a year ago which revolves around “having that first bite that reminds you of home, family and all the nostalgic memories [they] had as kids,” explains Mohamad;
whether it’s the zaatar in the morning – which the myth said made us smarter-, or adding chips to our cheese, or the lahm’b’aajeen for lunch,” continues Mohamad, it is all about that nostalgic feel.

Ebn Ibrahim further tells us: “I also wanted to add a contemporary touch to the manaeesh while keeping the nostalgia alive and, thought, who does it better than Ali?” We’re gonna have to agree on that one.

“Revisitng visual sensibilities that we see all around the streets of Lebanon, this Akhu Manoushe collaboration is a bit more different. Working with Ali Cha’aban, we want to transform the pop into a reinterpretation of the past but with a more contemporary mindset, drawing inspiration from garages, old signages and old typographies. This pop-up will have amplify the redrawing of the past into future”

Ali Cha’aban

What should you order?

We asked Ibrahim, Mohamad and Ali about their favourite manoushe and while we’ll probably need to trust Ibrahim – the master behind the final product- who named the falafel as his go-to, Ali’s choice, the akkaoui cheese, sounds like our idea of an ideal breakfast (after a good lactaid pill.)
Mohamad’s favorite is the only non vegetarian on this list as he named the Lahm’b’Aajeen (meat pie) as his #1 but does confess to allow the spinach pie on the first step of the podium from time to time.

Akhu Manoushe Pop-Up
Alserkal Avenue, Dubai
10am-10pm and on Deliveroo
Open until Ramadan