Oh my! The Cheesecake Factory Opens in Dubai

August 19th, 2012

Many American theme restaurants have opened in Dubai in recent years: P.F. Chang’s, Red Lobster, Romano’s Macaroni Grill … However, none have gotten me as excited as The Cheesecake Factory.

To be honest, I’m a not big fan of cheesecake. (I usually order their strawberry shortcake.) For me, it’s more about the memories I have of large family celebrations there. I even lamented last summer, as I sat in The Cheesecake Factory in downtown Seattle, that this was something missing in Dubai.

So, when I was invited to the PR opening last week, I hustled down to Dubai Mall & joined a table of fellow food bloggers to sample menu items and take it all in. The style of the place was exactly like the one in Seattle: same décor, architectural details, even the same furniture and lighting.

Meanwhile, food servers circulated the dining room, offering various samples from their menu, including avocado eggrolls, crab wontons, herbed salmon, mini-burgers, and Bang Bang Chicken (a signature dish).

I asked the American staff if they had any regional specialities, such as baklava cheesecake or date layer cake or couscous with lamb. They said they didn’t, but they might have some regional cheesecakes in the future.

Cheesecakes Galore

As for the cheesecakes, eat we did. We sampled the original, the Oreo Dream Extreme, and (my favorite) the lemon-raspberry cheesecake. I asked one of the American representatives where the cheesecakes were made. Was there a bakery in the back? Or maybe a factory in Al Quoz industrial zone?

No. The cheesecakes are shipped from the United States.

I gasped. He explained to me that there are two factories in the US which make all their cheesecakes, which are shipped to over 150 restaurants across the US. They are good at shipping cheesecakes, he said.

I watched the ribbon cutting ceremony and learned about why The Cheesecake Factory chose Dubai for their first international location.

Why Dubai? This was due to their partnership with Al Shaya Group, a franchise retail operator who has brought to Dubai such brands as: Starbucks, Pottery Barn, American Eagle Outfitters, PF Chang’s, and Office Depot.

Okay, one trip wasn’t enough. I convinced my family to go with me again the next day, which was the first day open to the public. The line was very long, and we waited for more than an hour. My family got very cranky, and we almost gave up. When the staff finally called us in and we walked past others still waiting, I felt like The Chosen Ones.

The place was packed. After we sat, my youngest looked around and said, “I feel like I’m in Seattle—except with different people.”

Yes, indeed. The staff was the usual international mix, but with lots of American transplants scattered throughout. Apparently, they will stay in Dubai and train the local staff for two months.

Menu

The menu is big. All meals are made from scratch in the kitchen. Meal portions are large, and most dishes can be shared. In addition to seafood, steak, pasta, pizza and more, they also offer Lunch Specials, Egg & Omelettes all day, and Friday Breakfast.

The appetizers include Thai Lettuce Wraps and Vietnamese Shrimp rolls and range from 48–68 dirhams. Specialty Dinners include Bang Bang Chicken (95 dhs) and Baja Chicken Tacos (68 dhs). Seafood Dishes include New Orleans Shrimp (84 dhs) and Wasabi Crusted Ahi Tuna (115 dhs).

As for desserts, the 31 kinds of cheesecake include: Red Velvet Cheesecake, Chocolate Coconut Cream Cheesecake, and Key Lime Cheesecake. (28–34 dhs.) If you don’t care for cheesecake, other options include Apple Crisp, Carrot Cake, Lemoncello Cream Torte, and a selection of layer cakes (all 37 dhs).

My daughter ordered the Chocolate Tower Truffle Cake, which was huge.

You can see the original menu here, which is nearly the same as the Dubai menu.

By now you might be thinking, “This is why Americans are fat.” Well, yes. The calorie content is frightening. And that is why I think of this restaurant for special occasions only. It’s not every day fare.

The Cheesecake Factory is located in Dubai Mall on the ground floor, directly across from the Aquarium. An even larger branch is scheduled to open at Mall of the Emirates sometime in the fall, as well as a third branch in Kuwait.

Tips for eating at The Cheesecake Factory

  1. Go early. Plan on having a wait.
  2. Avoid over-ordering, as the portion sizes are huge.
  3. Don’t be shy about taking leftovers home. They have good take-away packaging.
  4. If you order a piece of cheesecake—or anything for that matter—plan to share.
  5. Schedule a trip to the gym the next day.

Question: Have you been to The Cheesecake Factory in Dubai or elsewhere? 

  1. August 19th, 2012 at 04:08 | #1

    Thank god it’s not the Cheesecake Factory we have in Australia. When I heard it was coming, I was wondering what all the hoo-ha was about – why would everybody be getting so excited about a second rate suburban white trash cake shop? Now, I understand. What a bummer my family’s off the dairy…

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      August 19th, 2012 at 12:04 | #2

      HI Sarah, Thank you for stopping by. You could actually eat there without eating any diary…. However, the place may not have the same charm for you. For me, it has some sentimental value. As an expat it’s sometimes nice to have places that remind us of “home” PS. Yes, the cheesecake factory in Australia is an entirely different business, same name though. Thanks again for the comment. :-)

  2. @rupertbu
    August 19th, 2012 at 09:32 | #3

    As I walk around Spinneys I am horrified to see so many imported items, most of which are air-freighted.

    I assume this is the case with USA produced cheesecakes.

    Such obscenity, indeed I would term it pornographic, makes me ashamed to be human.

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      August 19th, 2012 at 11:56 | #4

      Rupert, thanks for reading & commenting. I agree, this is a problem. Unfortunately, this is the reality of Dubai: the vast majority of the food supply comes from outside. Fortunately, more & more quality foods are produced in the region. In the mean time, you can go to the Fruits & Vegetable Market and see if you can find yourself some produce grown in the UAE. That might make you feel better. ;-)

  3. @rupertbu
    August 19th, 2012 at 13:39 | #5

    Not really a case of wanting to feel better, as a single consumer from Deli counter of ready-cooked!
    It is a case of being consumer driven and the grossly obese region will never change, unfortunately.
    Eid mubarak to you and your family :-)@Holly S. Warah

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      August 20th, 2012 at 01:58 | #6

      Thanks, Rupert. Happy Eid to you, too. :-)

  4. ASma
    August 20th, 2012 at 01:33 | #7

    thanks a lot for the information.. really its helped me a lot and maybe i will go with my family during these days.. kind regard,ASMA

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      August 20th, 2012 at 01:53 | #8

      Thank you, Asma, for the comment. Happy Eid!

  5. August 20th, 2012 at 19:38 | #9

    No WAY! Sometimes I worry that the U.S. is exporting and encouraging unhealthy eating habits. There are definitely lighter options on their menu which I appreciate but you’re right about the portion sizes, they’re out of control. However, every once in a while a piece of cheesecake does a soul good :) If it’s the same menu that is here in the states the chocolate coconut cheesecake is delicious! Are there any distinct UAE influences in either decor or food?

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      August 20th, 2012 at 22:16 | #10

      HI Molly, I find it interesting that their first international location is in Dubai. (Same with Bloomingdale’s, Crate & Barrel, Pottery Barn…) I think these American brands are seeking wider markets outside the US & the Gulf region is open to new places to spend…. As for UAE influences on the menu, none yet, but maybe a cheesecake flavor in the future, they said… Yes, they have the chocolate coconut cheesecake. I will wait for a special occasion before I go back. ;-)

  6. Dr.alshamsi
    September 4th, 2012 at 05:36 | #11

    Hi Holley
    Thnx for this review , This is the most exciting news for me :) Lived in Canada for many years and Cheesecake factory is just an hour drive from the Canadian border !
    The cheesecake factory is certainly American and you either love it or hate it !
    On the other hand, most of these restaurants when they open in our region they charge far more than they do in the States for obvious reasons !
    I found your tips very informative and practical for the new CheeseCakers, and my favorite is schedule a trip to the gym the next day !!
    Hoping to see more Arabian influence on the menu ! Who knows ? We may see Dates Cheesecake soon !
    BTW how much is the piece of Cheesecake there ? in US $7

    Looking forward to visit CF when I get home during the Xmas !

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      September 5th, 2012 at 21:23 | #12

      Hi Dr. Alshamsi, Thanks for your enthusiastic comment. I hope you make it to the Cheesecake Factory in Dubai. It’s an experience. The cheesecakes are around $8 to $10 per slice. Yes, a trip to the gym afterward is a must.

  7. salma
    September 8th, 2012 at 19:03 | #13

    is the cheesecake factory in dubai halal?

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      October 4th, 2012 at 23:48 | #14

      Yes! The Cheesecake Factory in Dubai is not licensed to serve pork or alchol, so it’s all halal. Enjoy! ;-)

  8. Alan Castro
    December 5th, 2012 at 03:18 | #15

    Hello Holly,

    How are you? I noticed you spelled your name in Arabic above your image on this site.
    Do you know how to write: “The Cheesecake Factory” in Arabic? You can email it to me
    if you don’t mind, I’d really appreciate it.
    Thank you very much Holly, P.S. I love your website and all these comments.

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      December 21st, 2012 at 17:06 | #16

      Hello Alan, Thank you for your comment. Actually, the Arabic spells “Ahlan wasahlan” which mean Welcome in Arabic. Thanks for your offer to translate, but I can manage it on my own. :-) Thank you for reading. Holly

  9. December 21st, 2012 at 02:25 | #17

    Thanks for posting Arabic Zeal

  10. lulu
    February 12th, 2013 at 22:19 | #18

    By way to expand your knowledge, halal does not mean NO PORK, NO LIQUORS,only; it’s an islamic way of slaughter a Livestock. so if this the case of CKF then I dont think its halal, I really hope they would import some sort of Halal american beef though!

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      February 24th, 2013 at 12:20 | #19

      HI Lulu, Thanks for the clarification. I’m very curious to know about the halal standards in all these Western chain restaurants. Thanks for the comment.

  11. Abdul
    February 27th, 2013 at 14:27 | #20

    FYI, all the beef, lamb, mutton & chicken imported in Dubai is HALAL.

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