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Sharm Butler’s Review of Sharks Bay Umbi Restaurant

You may of heard a whisper round town about Sharm’s best kept secret?  Well after a little sprucing up this Sharm secret is ready to reveal it’s self – we’re talking about Shark’s Bay Umbi Restaurant.  It’s been there for decades but somehow this little treasure gets forgotten as for us ‘city dwellers’ it seems to be off the beaten track; in reality it is just up the road.  However once you have re-discovered this gem you won’t forget it again.

One of Sharm’s best assets is her beautiful coastline and sea; so many restaurants claim they are seaside, but few are so close that you can hear the gentle lapping and swish of the waves within earshot of your table.  At Shark’s Bay Umbi restaurant there is no need for music; the sensational sea creates her own symphony which makes the most romantic mood, whether you are dining with your loved ones (friends and family) or just dining with your loved one.

When you arrive at Shark’s Bay make your way along the beach on the left side.  As this is Sharm’s best kept secret, it makes sense that it is tucked away and a little hidden – so keep going.  Go past the first restaurant at the entrance, past the beach bar, past the shops and past Umbi’s dive centre and when you see the Bedouin tent go a little further.  Yes that’s right if you want tranquility, away from the hustle and bustle of Naama Bay, off the beaten track you need to go deep into Shark’s Bay – literally only 1 minutes’ walk.

The restaurant is tucked away and set on a raised veranda right on the beach.  There is a beautiful sandstone cobbled floor, cute wooden and tile tables and pretty lantern lighting which all add to the rustic ambiance and true Bedouin feel.  This is not a tourist trap of ‘let’s pretend to be Bedouin’ this is the real McCoy.  In fact you are dining at the table of one of the most renowned Bedouin families of Sinai.

It is highly unlikely that you will want to dine inside as the terrace and sea symphony is the most amazing setting, but if you fancy something a little more enclosed and cosy then there is an indoor dining room with a beautiful natural rock feature wall, ambient lighting and pretty décor – see if you can spot the subtle stenciled Gecko.

So now you’re sitting in Sharm’s best kept secret and possibly the most chilled out location, what is there to eat?  Well as this is a Bedouin restaurant there is always a good selection of freshly caught fish and seafood which is always excellent.  When we went to dine we asked the friendly waiter what was fresh that day.  He came back to our table with a platter of two types of fish which were bright eyed and pink gilled.  Some seafood restaurants will have a massive selection of fish with over ten different types to choose from, but think about it – if it is freshly caught by Bedouins then it makes sense there would be less variety but fresher quality, as this fish is definitely not trucked down from The Med.

With a little chat with the waiter, who happily gave us advice of how much to order per person, we ordered two grilled fish, shrimp and calamari plus rice, salad and bread.  Now here is another distinction – have you ever tried local calamari?  Oh yes there is a difference and once you have tried it you won’t want to go back to the other imported one.  It is so sweet and succulent with a tender texture and amazing taste.

Whilst the waiter went off to place our order with the Chef, we were served chilled white wine and water.  Sitting by the sea under the moonlight it seemed like only minutes before our freshly cooked fish was delivered to our table.   At Shark’s Bay Umbi restaurant there is no din from other diners, no banter from waiters or no clatter or bustle – it’s pure and simple like the food and totally tranquil. 

If fish is not your thing; then let me reveal the second secret.  Umbi’s star Chef has been busy creating delicious dishes with an international flare, fit for any fine dining table.  From the main menu you can choose dishes such as Steak au Poivre, Seafood a la Crème and Sweet and Sour Chicken.   Don’t miss the ‘menu of the day’ as this features some of his latest creations like Chicken with Cashew nut sauce and an absolutely to die for, freshly baked and zingy Lemon Tart.

Our fish and seafood was plentiful, the taste was delicate and divine.  The fish was cooked to perfection and even my ‘fish-bone phobia’ friend was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to fillet the fish tableside.  To finish our sweet evening we were served a fresh fruit platter – once again simplicity at its best – juicy watermelon, grapes, honeydew and orange slices; the perfect finish to our meal.

Shark’s Bay Umbi restaurant is also open for lunch.  The menu is extensive, there are pasta dishes, pizza, burgers, sandwiches and salads – all perfect for a lunch time treat.  Also I can’t forget the tasty Tagines – this is a delicious tomato stew cooked with either fish, shrimp or calamari.

I could ramble on and on about the delights of Sharm’s best kept secret, but the best thing to do is go and discover it, but please keep is ‘Shhhhhhhhhhhh’ as we don’t want any din and definitely don’t want to spoil the secret or the sea’s symphony.

Sharm Butler – June 2015