Making Complex Simple: Ahmed Saleh On His Dubai-Based 3Fils Becoming "The Best Restaurant In The MENA" "The great idea we have at 3Fils is about 'making complex simple,'" Ahmed Saleh says. "It's not just a slogan, it's a way of life. We implement and live this daily, and simplicity always wins."

By Aby Sam Thomas

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Ahmed Saleh, co-founder and CEO, The Lab Holding

Dubai-based 3Fils was declared to be the best restaurant in the MENA at the region's inaugural edition of the renowned World's 50 Best Restaurants held in Abu Dhabi in February this year, and when I ask Ahmed Saleh, co-founder and CEO of The Lab Holding (the UAE-based operator of the concept) if he ever expected his homegrown enterprise to reach the levels of success it has scaled to today, he replies in the negative.

"I don't think it was ever on our minds," Saleh admits. "We wanted to create a small, humble, and casual restaurant, where we all can enjoy high quality food and have fun. Whatever success we have is all thanks to an incredible team, and the amazing guests that continue to join us at 3Fils."

Tucked away in Dubai's Jumeirah Fishing Harbor, 3Fils, which opened in 2013, may not fit one's stereotypical assumptions of an establishment that'd win top honors on a 50 Best list- for starters, there are no fine dining elements offered at this restaurant. The vibe at 3Fils is casual and laidback, and all tables are served on a walk-in basis- the unlicensed restaurant has a no-reservations policy.

But all of these points don't take away from the fact that the food being offered at 3Fils is exemplary- it is premium Asian fare, heavily influenced by Japanese cuisine, made using high quality ingredients, designed to be served in an approachable manner. "The great idea we have at 3Fils is about "making complex simple,'" Saleh says. "It's not just a slogan, it's a way of life. We implement and live this daily, and simplicity always wins."

Related: Neha Mishra's Kinoya Aims To Change The Japanese Cuisine Narrative In Dubai

Of course, there's a lot of work that happens behind the scenes to enable such simple, seamless dining experiences for the patrons of 3Fils, and that shows the importance of the collaborative manner in which this business is run.

"We've all played our part in giving our three fils in everything about the restaurant," Saleh says. "From the logo, to the dragon maki roll, all our research, experience, and knowledge -from myself, the chefs, even the waiters- all of our opinions and ideas have made their way into 3Fils."

Such efforts have clearly worked out well for 3Fils, and given the success it has seen so far, Saleh admits that growing the brand is something he and his team are certainly considering. "We are thinking of expansion, most definitely, taking into account that the experience has to be the same for all our 3Fils guests, no matter where we open," Saleh concludes.

EUREKA: Ahmed Saleh on how to make an idea a great one

1. Be curious, be observant "Look at everything, everywhere. Find a gap that you've personally experienced and build on it. Find alternative solutions to eliminate or fill in the gaps."

2. Keep in mind that you're on a two-way street "We're in the business of exchanging value, all part of a giving and receiving cycle."

3Fils is one of the companies included in the 2022 edition of our annual 10 Great Ideas feature, which celebrates individuals and innovations that impress with their ingenuity. Check out the full list of 10 Great Ideas in our print issue here.

Related: 10 Great Ideas: A Celebration Of Individuals And Initiatives That Impress With Their Ingenuity

Wavy Line
Aby Sam Thomas

Entrepreneur Staff

Editor in Chief, Entrepreneur Middle East

Aby Sam Thomas is the Editor in Chief of Entrepreneur Middle East. In this role, Aby is responsible for leading the publication on its editorial front, while also working to build the brand and grow its presence across the MENA region through the development and execution of events and other programming, as well as through representation in conferences, media, etc.

Aby has been working in journalism since 2011, prior to which he was an analyst programmer with Accenture, where he worked with J. P. Morgan Chase's investment banking arm at offices in Mumbai, London, and New York. He holds a Master's Degree in Journalism from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York.  

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