Frioul – A Taste of the Mediterranean in Madinat Jumeirah


Its been a while, since I have last updated the blog – Hope everyone had a wonderful summer.  A quiet summer from me doesn’t necessarily mean I have been on a diet, and staying home – on the contrary.  To the shock of my cardiologist, my lust for gorgeous dishes has kept me busy.  Old favourites have been revisited (Mahesh Lunch Home – Superstar) and new venues have been explored.  There have been two definite outliers for the summer of 2014.  Two very different restaurants, with cuisines at polar opposite ends of the culinary spectrum.  Frioul is one of them – Dubai’s latest offering to the Gods of French Mediterranean cuisine.  What started out as my friends dragging me there kicking and screaming, led to one of the most delightful dining experiences I have had recently, and my adding Frioul to my top 5 list of restaurants to take my out of town guests to (in addition to frequenting myself).

I am not an easy person to deal with, when it comes to going to certain parts of Dubai.  I have traffic phobia – and one of the side effects of a Dubai’s hockey stick growth curve has been exponential traffic growth on the streets.  Downtown Dubai is avoided – as is the Marina.  I changed my barber of 4 years when going to JBR became mildly challenging.  You get the picture.  So when someone told me that a new restaurant was being planned for the bowels of the old Trilogy complex in Madinat Jumeirah, my first thought was hardly, “Giddyup”.   We were invited to the soft launch opening of the restaurant, but, unfortunately, due to work obligations were unable to go.  I heard mixed reviews – typical for a soft launch.  Needless to say, I wasn’t in a rush to try Frioul out when it opened to the public – parking in Madinat Jumeirah is usually a nightmare – there was no valet parking – and getting a taxi can be a very lengthy process.

This past weekend we were looking for a reservation for a fairly large group on a Friday night – usually not an easy order to fill.  Someone suggested Frioul – I, for the aforementioned reasons, flatly refused to go.  The Boss, in her usual subtle way, threw a glance over at me, and I knew I was in trouble.  So I reluctantly relented.

I am so glad I did.  When you enter Madinat Jumeirah, there is a set of stairs leading down (on your right), near the entrance to the underground car park.  Take those down and you will immediately see Frioul on your left.  The proprietors have done a wonderful job turning this space into a stunning, monochromatic, venue.  Open spaces, lovely white furniture, wonderful use of mirrors, and open kitchen on one side and a sprawling bar on the other.  My first impression – its empty – on second glance, no its not!  While other restaurants tend to cram in tables, Frioul has left ample space between tables, to let guests maintain a sense of privacy – somewhere where you can sit and speak openly with friends without having to worry if the person sitting 8 inches away from you, at the next table, car hear what you are saying.  Oh, and they have a jazz band and a phenomenally talented singer in house!  The proprietors have definitely spent some money on the fit out – and it shows – from the dining room to the washrooms – very elegant.

The staff was impeccable – friendly, courteous, professional and quick.  We were led to our table and seated – very plush comfortable seating.  We had a combination of couches and chairs and both were built to encourage the guest to linger – again, very atypical to a restaurant that this will be and has been compared to in Dubai – who it seems is all about the fastest turnaround possible.  A wide selection was ordered off the menu and we sat back to enjoy the music – its fantastic!  Old school favourites delivered in a flawless, silky voice by a seasoned chanteuse who knows she is good and has the confidence that shows that.

The bread basket comes out – not your usual white or brown – around 5 different choices.  What looked the most interesting was what the waiter called their brioche.  Didn’t look much like other brioches I have had – imagine Cinabon.  The small ones, not the giant ones.  Minus the fruit and raison.  Concentric circles of flakey, soft, crispy delicious delight.  Outstanding.  To compliment the brioche, we were served little plates of Fromage Blanc.



What a pleasant change from the usual various types of butter/tapenade that is served at these kinds of restaurants with the bread.  This was topped with some fresh lemon zest, which elevated an already creamy and tangy topping, which complimented the warm, flaky brioche perfectly.

As I had mentioned earlier – we did pretty much order everything off the menu.  Management was kind enough to send over a few things for us to try as well, on the house – very gracious of them!  We had:

Basil Crostini with Tomato Tartare

Poached Lobster, Heirloom Tomato and Peach Salad

Scallop Ceviche with Oyster Mayo

Violet Artichokes, Sweet Garden Peas with Lemon and Basil

Seabass, Lemon and Fennel

Roasted Scallop and Shellfish Risotto

Spinach and Taleggio Garlic Bread

Baked Bone Marrow

Cote De Boeuf

Roasted Beets with Fromage Blanc

Salmon, Pan Fried Foie Gras, Carrot and Orange Puree

Sole Goujons, Yoghurt, Capers and Baked Potatoes

Red Prawns, Chilli, Mango and Mint

Steamed Cod with Lemon Grass

Mushroom Fricassee

As a whole, we had ordered entirely too much food, but it was all excellent.  It was delivered quickly, was cooked perfectly, servers were smiling and ensuring no glasses were every empty.  It would have been nearly flawless, if not for the Poached Lobster.  May as well get the comments on that out of the way, before waxing poetic about the rest of the meal.

Poached Lobster, Heirloom Tomato and Peach Salad



So, where is the lobster, you ask.  Took us, and the waiter, a few minutes to figure this out.  Once we did locate the 2 small medallions of lobster under the mountain of tomatoes and peaches, I found them to be overcooked and tough – very chewy, and plastic, to be honest.  The tomatoes were very fresh and paired with the tart/sweet peaches well.  The salad was lightly dressed, which was just the way it should have been dressed – the intended sweetness of the lobster would have been ideal, had they not been overcooked.   I like the combination of the ingredients, and have recently embarked on a love affair with artisanal tomatoes – so this kind of hit the spot.  Hopefully next time the chef will actually remember he has the lobster in the poaching liquid – and not forget about it until its rubber.

Basil Crostini with Tomato Tartare – Very simple and very tasty.  CRISP Baguette slices topped with a basil pesto and served with a side of diced fresh tomatoes.  Great, clean way to kick off a meal and get the taste buds going.



Scallop Ceviche with Oyster Mayo – A beautiful, simple dish.  Lovely fresh scallop, sliced thin and served with some greens for a crunch.  Sweet, tender, smooth – excellent.



Violet Artichokes, Sweet Garden Peas with Lemon and Basil


Seabass, Lemon and Fennel – Another very fresh offering from the kitchen.  Seabass crudo with lemon and lemon zest – Tastes and smells just like you would expect a Mediterranean summer to.  This is an excellent plate.


Spinach and Taleggio Garlic Bread – Crisp, Garlicky, Cheesy – whats not to love?


Baked Bone Marrow – Unfortunately, by the time I got done taking the picture, it was all gone!  But it looks good, and was served with some crisp toast points on which the marrow could be spread.  Look at the lovely escargot on the plate as well!


Cote De Boeuf – Those who have read this blog before understand my passion for good beef.  I have always maintained that one of the best cuts of beef in town is the Ribeye at LPM.  I stand by that, but mark my words…….there is a new contender in town.  Cote De Bouef is a fancy name for a bone in ribeye.  This is tier 1 quality beef, folks.  Marbled throughout, melt in your mouth deliciousness.   Cooked to a perfect medium rare, the beef was well charred on the outside, and juicy, moist and red in the center – look at the way its glistening below.  Because I am as critical as I am, the only thing I could point out to the kitchen was perhaps they could pay attention to add a little more seasoning to the meat, as it was a little bland….but thats easy enough to rectify when you have such a perfectly cooked, high quality piece of beef – a quick hit of salt and I was on my way.  P.S. My son just looked at this picture, licked his lips and made my promise to take him to the restaurant next weekend!


Roasted Beets with Fromage Blanc – I’m not crazy about beets, but well prepared.


Roasted Scallop and Shellfish Risotto – What a lovely risotto!  The rice was cooked al dente, as I like it.  The scallops, as you can see, were cooked well – there could have been a little better sear on the them, but better to err on the side of caution and stop before they became overcooked and rubbery.  I liked the crunch of the carrot in the rice – I haven’t had this before, but I quite enjoyed it.  I can swear I tasted a bit of saffron in the risotto, which added to its luscious flavour profile.  I will be ordering one of these for myself, next time.


Salmon, Pan Fried Foie Gras, Carrot and Orange Puree – Nicely cooked filets of salmon served on a lovely, orangey carrot puree and topped with wonderfully rich, seared foie gras.


Red Prawns, Chilli, Mango and Mint – Though posted later in this entry, this is a very fresh way to start your meal.  Large, meaty prawns served on a bed of mango salsa.  Didn’t feel much heat from the chill, however – but I didn’t mind.  I liked the sweet backdrop that amplified the natural taste of the Red Prawns.  Very impressive.


Steamed Cod with Lemon Grass –  Lovely, flaky medallions of cod, steamed with Lemon Grass.  I remember it tasting very nice, and the cod being lovely and flaky.  But I wish I had paid more attention to it – the foam and the drizzle of what I am hoping is truffle oil looks very interesting.  I would order this again, for the presentation alone!


Sole Goujons, Yoghurt, Capers and Baked Potatoes – Frioul’s interpretation of fish and chips.  Fried goujons of Sole, crispy on the outside and moist inside, served along with baby baked potatoes and a yoghurt “tartar” sauce.  Very nice.


Looking back, in retrospect, at all the pictures, the menu offered at Frioul does seem to personify the Mediterranean, on a plate.  The dishes were elegant – simple – using the finest of ingredients.  I walked away stuffed, but not in a bad way – The food was light and delicious.  A few small tweaks here and there, are to be expected of a restaurant so early into its life.

When you say French Mediteranean, the obvious comparison always comes up – how does it compare to La Petite Maison in the DIFC.  Tough question – LPM has been around for years – Frioul is brand new.  Ingredients used are top notch in both places.  The Chefs are both very skilled.  I like the fact that Frioul has kept its menu unique – offering a new selection of dishes – other competitors have kept their menu’s very similar to LPM and direct comparisons are inevitable.  I think the valet parking option at Madinat Jumeirah will help traffic into Frioul.  But here is one thing that I think Frioul has going for itself – the vibe was very relaxed, fun.  LPM has become a tough reservation to get – diners are usually kept waiting for extended periods of time, well past their reservation time, while their table is prepared.  Service seems to be hurried, and it does seem that the restaurant feels you, as a patron, should feel privileged to be eating there.   This is a dangerous attitude in the service industry, where the fickle customer is king, and business can be easily lost if the right competitor comes along.  Granted the location for DIFC is a massive plus, I think Frioul could be this competitor.  I really enjoyed the feeling of the restaurant – the space given to diners, the attentive service, the live jazz music, the lack of post-work poseurs preening at the bar with their Tomatinis.  Look – don’t get me wrong.  LPM is consistently excellent – there is a reason why its the bellweather that all new restaurants offering a similar style of dining are judged.  What I am trying to say, that I’m a little done with the pomposity and the sheer effort that goes into a night out there.  I think Frioul offers a very relaxed alternative – and for this, I plan to be a repeat customer.

Frioul – Bravo on a job well done.  You have a restaurant you should be very proud of.  I wish you the all the best in your journey, and look forward to becoming a regular.


Mahesh Lunch Home – Seafood Paradise in Bur Dubai


Thursday night – it had been a long week, and the weekend was here.  The Boss, B, says, “We are going to try a new seafood place in Bur Dubai!”  She swears I do something called an “inside eye roll” when I find her plans suspect (I don’t, for the record) – my friends, there was nothing as subtle as an “inside eye roll” when I heard this suggestion – it was an all out OUTSIDE EYE ROLL.  All I wanted was to curl up, in bed, watch the latex episode of Game of Thrones, order in a nice Doner sandwich and be asleep by 10pm.   The Boss always tells me that she is never wrong, and I should blindly follow her lead – a part of me wants to say no, but its hard to argue when its the Gospel truth.  So, Bur Dubai, here we come.

Mahesh Lunch Home Seafood Restaurant – now THAT’s a name.  Head towards Bur Juman Mall in Bur Dubai – this is across the street from it.  If you know where the original purveyor of Korean Fried Chicken goodness is (Kimchicken, AKA Bon Chon), this is right next door to it – in like with the Park Regent Kris Krin hotel (long names seem to be a neighbourhood thing.)  An average looking storefront – you walk into a holding area, which is tiny and holds a tank for live mud crabs, topped by a tank for live lobster………and a lectern like desk with a hostess behind it.  On my right, a small door leading to the dining room.  Kinda felt like I owed the hostess a password so I could be let into the back room of a China Town restaurant for the nightly, dodgy, game of chance.  My mind works in strange ways when I am sleepy – it had been a long week, remember?

Ok, so we get to our table.  Lots of families – lots of chatter – lots of smiles and general all-round feeling of mirth – a good vibe that usually preempts a solid dining experience.  A little background – I read on the website today, “Established in 1977 the restaurant has completed its Silver Jubliee i.e 25 years of serving its guest. The restaurant was started by Mr. S.C. Karkera.  The first Manglorean cuisine restaurant in Mumbai serves home-style food which tempts its guest to come here again and again. Mr. Karkerra himself have his lunch and dinner in the restaurant.”  Nice – a little provenance – a little history – a little pedigree.  Should be interesting.  The menu is extensive – primarily seafood based (as the name would suggest), with a few chicken and vegetarian options.  We stick to seafood, primarily.  There are 4 of us, but, as usual, order for 8.  Before I go any further, let me just say this.  If you like seafood, you MUST immediately make a reservation at Mahesh.  The service is excellent.  The atmosphere is casual and loud.  The food is OUTSTANDING.  Skip the appetisers and go for the crab and lobster.  The daal makhani was very respectable as well.

We get (apologies in advance for the quality of the pictures – technical issues with the IPhone):


Bombay Duck Fry

Crab Tandoori

Crab Butter Pepper Garlic

Prawns Koliwada

Prawns Tandoori

Pomfret Masala Fry

Lobster Green Chilli (or something like that)

Bombay Duck Fry (Bombil Fry):  To those unfamiliar to Bombay Duck (its really not a duck), it is the local name for a lizard fish.   The etymology of the term Bombay Duck is fascinating – if you get a chance, take a look at   I’ve heard of my mother rave about this dish (she was born in Bombay), but I had never tried it – when I saw it on the menu, I had to.   Very well prepared, but the taste didn’t jump out – a little bit oily, in my opinion.  I didn’t notice a defined flavour or aroma – just a well fried fillet o’ fish.  Not bad, but not a stand out.



Tandoori Prawns:  The prawns, albeit small, were very well cooked.  The chef knows his way around prawn, for sure, because the the prawn was cooked for just the right amount of time, avoiding the usual rubbery prawn that is served in South Asian restaurants, and the tandoori marinade added a slight heat, which one would expect.  I would have loved to have seen an option for a larger prawn on the menu – of course at a different price point – because I loved the marinade and the preparation.  I would have liked to see that paired with a more meaty, substantial prawn.   I think the combination would be dynamite.


Prawns Koliwada – Tasty small shrimp (pardon my interchanging use of the words shrimp and prawn), coated in spiced besan (gram/chickpea flour) batter, and flash fried.  Again, very well cooked, and a prefect little crispy snack to start of the meal with.  Unlike the Tandoori Shrimp, I didn’t find myself yearning for a larger piece of protein.  There were a nice size – perfect little poppers that bursted with texture and flavour in your mouth.


Tandoori Crab – The reason why we came to Mahesh – the crab.  We were told be a friend, that we had to order the tandoori crab and the butter pepper garlic crab at Mahesh.  This friend, HK, had been eating at the Mumbai branches of Mahesh for years, and was waiting for the Dubai branch to open – needless to say, he requires no menu when ordering.  The thing I liked about Mahesh was that there was no surprise when it came to pricing the crab and lobster.  The waiters bought out a selection of crab and lobster (live) and each showed a clearly marked price – the customer is free to choose exactly which one they want.  We picked 2 healthy sized mud crabs and a pretty giant lobster.  Crab 1 arrived – Tandoori.  AMAZING!.  The smokey fragrance it was infused with was intoxicating.  It wasn’t overly spiced, but had a little something on it that just lingered on your palate but didn’t bring enough heat to result in the delicate, sweet flavour of the delicious crab meat being lost.  The fragrance of the smoke from the tandoor permeated each bite.  This is truly one of the tastiest things I have tasted in a very long time.  Highly recommend this one.



Crab Butter Pepper Garlic – I loved the Tandoori Crab, and thought nothing could beat that.  This puppy came close – like within a hair’s distance from eating it.  It is DELICIOUS.  Not spicy at all, but as you can see from the picture below, LOADED with garlic – which I adore.  The garlic is cooked in the butter and pepper so its crispy (make sure you ask your waiter to spoon a mound of the “masala”, the garlic, onto your plate to accompany the crab.  Again, the crab was cooked beautifully and the crispy garlic was magnificent.  Highly recommend this one too.


Lobster Green Chilli – Again, delicious.  If I were to go back, I don’t think I would order this style of preparation again, however  Though it was lovely, I kept thinking through this course that had it been cooked in the Tandoor over, like crab #1, the result would have been glorious.  Tandoori Lobster.  This version had chopped up chunks of lobster in a tomato and chili paste.  Lobster was tender and the sauce was pretty good.  To sponge and scoop up various sauces we had ordered two different kinds of break – of course, the naan and something called Appam, which was entirely new to me.  Appam (pic 2 – not from the restaurant, but taken from the Internet) is a crepe like concoction, originating from South India, made from fermented rice batter and coconut milk.  Whats not to like, eh?  If you have ever had a masala dosa, its similar to the dosa component of that.  Very nice addition to the meal and perfect for the sauces and the daal.



Pomfret Masala Fry – I was expecting a very spicy dish, but what came out was fairly mild.  Slices of pomfret in a tangy tomato sauce. It was a nice – the sauce was rich and complex, and the fish just tasted fresh.  I love pomfret, and this was cooked so the meat was juicy and fall off the bond tender.  The Appam was perfect to scoop up the accompanying sauce, which was not runny, but thick.  If I were to order this again, however, I think I would ask for the sauce to be made with more punch – some more heat.  But all in all, a well balanced dish.


Hats off to HK for this amazing recommendation.  I see Mahesh Lunch House Seafood Restaurant definitely joining the ranks of my Go To restaurants in Dubai.  While sitting at the table, The Boss and I thought of at least 6 out of towers we just HAD to bring here for the crab.  Its a great place for a quiet, relaxed, casual dinner – no fuss and no pretense.  Excellent and quick service, outstanding food, weighty menu (which leaves me wanting to try new and exciting dishes on my next visit) and relaxed vibe.  Definitely going back.  Standout dishes – Tandoori Crab, Butter Pepper Garlic Crab, Tandoori Prawns and Appam.   Those will be staples going forward – rest, I look forward to trying.

Till Next Time.

Wingsters – “Say Hello To My Little Wings”


A quick shout out to Wingsters in the Dubai Marina – I’ve heard about this new place that’s opened up that has taken a very basic concept, and executed it flawlessly.  I’ve been saying for years that there is no real chicken wing place in Dubai, and there exists a gaping hole – I’ve told many an inspired restaurateur to adopt this concept and fill said hole – none listened.  It seems the people behind Wingsters ( saw a similar opportunity and seized it – good on them.   Chicken Wings, a variety of different sauces/flavours, burgers, shakes.  Simple. Easy.

One problem – its in the Dubai Marina.  Well, not really a problem, but a problem for me. People who know me know my thing – my aversion to the Marina and to Downtown Dubai.  I tend to have a strict no go policy to both places (exclusion for my barber, who happens to be in the Grosvenor House Hotel, and he I only visit early mornings on the weekends).  I just don’t do it.  If they deliver, awesome, but I ain’t battling traffic to go eat somewhere.  I had called Wingsters a few weeks ago, asking if they would delivery to my home in Al Barsha 3 – they said no – only Al Barsha 1.  This was a little baffling to me, as Al Barsha 3 is actually closer to them than Barsha 1 – but anyway.

So, today, I found myself, post haircut/shave, in the Marina area – the clock was creeping close to lunch time, and I had an inspired though – Wingsters?  Could I get some takeaway?  I hit up their Facebook page, got a couple of flavours of wings that sounded good, and put in a call to have them prepared.  Little did I know, that it’s so close to the Barber – I was there in no time.   For those who don’t know the location, head down the main Marina road (going from Dubai towards the Marina Mall).  Pass the Metro Station.  Look out for the SAS Radisson Hotel (there is a Mama Mia Italian Restaurant on the corner) – Make a right there and your immediate right again, so you are behind the hotel.  Wingsters is on your right.

I had ordered 3 sets of 8 wings – to get a nice sample of the offering.  I was concerned about the quality of the chicken wings – wings found in this part of the world seem to be, well, small.  I was curious to see what these guys would serve up.  It’s a organised crime themed menu, as promised by the name of the restaurant, their “Say Hello To My Little Wings” tagline, and the black fedoras the servers in the restaurant wear.  The menu has items such as The Don (Chicken Salad), The Escobar (A Beef Burger) and The Tommy Gun (Chicken Sandwich).  The wing flavours have unique names too – I ordered:

1.  The Godfather (Spicy BBQ)

2.  The Dillinger (Garlic Parmesan)

3.  The Hitman (Classic Buffalo)

They were boxing them up when I walked in – my first impression – nice – large styrofoam containers, a little plastic container of blue cheese dressing, some carrots and celery – promising, so far.  The wings were put into the container, and they looked good – I’m getting to a happy place now.   The proprietor was there and gave me a good tip – if the wings are cold by the time you get home, pop them into a pre heated over for a couple of minutes and they will come back to life.  Sage advice from a man who knows his chicken wings – if you put them into a microwave they get soggy and gross – ovens are the way to go.   Fortunately, they were still warm by the time I got them home (hint Wingsters – Al Barsha 3 is pretty close if you would like to include that in your revised delivery area :))

Before I get into how the wings were, let me share with you how I mentally evaluate a wing.  There is a science to the perfect serving of Wings – it’s not simple.  The key factors are:

1. Size of the Wing – The Meat / Bone Ratio.  We will rank this from a lowly 1 (the typical wing of a malnourished pigeon) to a mighty 10 (the Ultimate Warrior-esque wing from a hormonally enhanced falcon)

2. Sauciness – The Sauce / Meat Ratio.  We will rank this from an arid 1(show me the sauce) to a dripping 10 (would you like some wings with that sauce)

3.  The Delivery – The Drums / Flats ratio.  This is crucial.  An equal ratio of drums/flats rounds off an ideal wing experience – Don’t try to stick me with too many flats!

How does Wingsters score?

1. Size of the Wing – A very respectable 7ish – I’m impressed with the size of the wings that Wingsters was able to source.  Those who are Dubai veterans will understand why this was impressive – usually we get wings that can best be described as “toothpicks” (thanks Ahmad!).  Very meaty wing – both the drums and the flats.   You actually got a good portion of meat once you got past the crispy skin.  A lovely nugget of moist chicken, a bit of crispy, well seasoned skin, all covered with a coating of very tasty sauce.

2.  Sauciness – I like my wings more saucy than dry – I usually ask for some extra sauce on the side.  These were, again, a saucy 7.  Each wing was very evenly coated with a glistening coating of sauce, without the sauce pooling on the bottom of the container, getting the lower layers all soggy.

3.  The Delivery – Excellent.  Seemed like a 50/50 split.  Can’t really ask for more than this.


The Godfather – Look at these beauties glisten! What a rich, delicious, spicy, smoky, sweet and lightly spicy sauce this was.  A very robust flavour profile in a sticky, stick to your fingers kinda sauce, that implores you to lick you fingers clean when you are done.  Highly recommend this one.






The Dillinger – Very impressive.  Creamy, garlicy with a very pronounced parmesan flavour.  Even coating of sauce on each wing.





The Hitman – I was very curious about trying this flavour.  I’ve had many interpretations of a “Buffalo” wing through my lifelong chicken wing odyssey – my benchmark was the original wing, from the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY.  Some were close, some, not so much.  Close doesn’t necessarily mean good – some that were close in flavour fell well short of some of the hotwing variations I have tried.  In my opinion, my perfect Buffalo Wing should have a butter based sauce.  Vinegar should be present – I should get a vinegar hit in the back of my throat.  There should be heat – I’m not heat crazy, so there should be a definite heat present, but I don’t want my sinuses cleared.   These were very close to my benchmark – As you can see, there is no thick sauce on these wings.  Butter based? Check.  Vinegar? Check.  Slight heat? Check.  This is a very, very tasty Buffalo style wing.



Sweet Potato Fries – Gotta have some fries with the wings.  Sweet potato? Even better.  Wingsters gave a little side of this chipotle aioli to dip the fries into – this is fantastic.  The Smoky/Spicy aioli contrasted and paired with the sweet potato amazingly well.  Definitely ordering these again.  My only recommendation – need more of the aioli – was very small portion – the container should at least be filled up to the top!


So – Wings were excellent. Fries were excellent.  Any downside?  I had two concerns.  The first is the side of carrots and celery.  Take a look at the pics above – especially the ones of The Dillinger.  Don’t think much more needs to be said about this – details, guys.  The second concern I had was the Blue Cheese dressing.  For the quality that was the wings/sauce, the Blue Cheese fell well short of the mark.  No chunky pieces of blue cheese that comes in a quality dressing – no sharp flavour burst in your mouth, as a backdrop to the creamy, cool dressing.   Weak dressing – this didn’t matter much when eating The Godfather and The Dillinger, but you need a good Blue Cheese to go with The Hitman.  Lets pick up the slack on this.

All in all, I wake up this morning, thinking about the wings I had yesterday.  It’s 10 am, and I just checked out to the website to see when they open.  I think I will be ordering up some more wings for lunch today.  Kudos to Wingsters to bringing quality wings to Dubai – it was much-needed.  I hope you keep the quality up, consistency high and widen your delivery area.

I woke up thinking about when I can get a repeat performance of a yesterday’s lunch.  That’s impressive!  If you like wings, you have to try this place.

Till next time.

Shogun Media City – Shoulda Called it Harakiri Instead

There are some old school establishments in Dubai, that are a part of most people’s restaurant rotations.  One of these is the classic Shogun, in Al Ghurair Center in Deira.   This is home to cook it yourself Korean BBQ – Kalbi and Bulgogi are the standards, and some like the chicken and shrimp too.  I, being a purist, stick with the standard options.  Some nice chill sauce, some crisp lettuce to wrap up the tasty, meaty morsels in, and some kimchi on the side – I’m Golden.  Shogun does a good job of bringing this to those of us craving Korean food in Dubai.

So, obviously, when we saw the signs that Shogun was opening in Media City, in New Dubai, we were ecstatic – the wait was on – and on – and on – and on – and on – and on………  A year plus later, we got the call from our friends, who live next door – it was open.  Plans were made, cars were loaded, and the short trip was made.  Nice set up – obviously some money has been spent on the interior.  We were seated, menus were provided and then the news was broken – no permits yet to allow for table side cooking.  The food would need to be prepared in the kitchen and then served – ok…….not ideal, but let’s go for it.

Out comes the variety of kimchi – overall, clean, fresh tasting.  Can feel the subtleties of the more mild varieties and can feel the punch of the more pungent varieties with ease.  Cool and crisp – soft and smooth – I liked it.


Some radish, some carrot – pickled with some chilli, hence the redness.  Not overpowering at all, but crisp, and slightly sweet, with a bit of an afterbite.


Bean Sprouts – Very clean flavours – nothing overpowering at all.  I like the cool crisp feeling of the sprouts in my mouth.  Defined flavours of sesame seed oil provides a background smokiness, which is very pleasant.


Bean Curd and asparagus – Didn’t try this one.  Not a fan of bean curd.


This was very tasty – never had eggplant served with kimchi before, but this was slightly stewed, which took away from the meaty texture that can come with eggplant sometimes.  Was very tender and cooked through.  Nice.



The classic, spicy, vinegared cabbage kimchi.  Strong flavours, crispy cabbage, good balance, and not too spicy.  A nice punch to the palate.

So why the negativity around the title you ask, if everything was good up to this point.  Remember, the kimchi comes out automatically, virtually immediately.  We are now about 9 minutes into the ride.  Minute 10, disaster.

The first thing we had actually ordered front he menu was spicy tuna rolls, just to get things kicked off.  The old Shogun has a surprisingly good sushi chef, so I assumed it would be a similar offering here.  Wrong.


Spicy Tuna Rolls – The rice was mushy, the rolls were opening up when dipped in the soy, the tuna just wasn’t seasoned well, and the hot sauce permeated through the rice (as you can see above) rather than staying constricted with the tuna mixture.  The parsley garnish was a little odd, also.  Ok, so not disastrous, per se, but the foreshadowing on what was to come was unmistakable.

For the main courses, of course we had ordered the Kalbi and the Bulgogi.  If any of you have been reading this blog since late last year, you will recall that I take my Korean ribs pretty seriously (  When I think Bulgogi I think perfection – a beautifully marbled piece of beef rib, cut thin so the meat is tender, fatty, juicy delicious.  According to Wikipedia, “It is listed at number 41 on the World’s 50 most delicious foods readers’ poll complied by CNN Go in 2011″.  The flavours are complex – yet simple.  Sweet Soy, brown sugar, garlic, onions, sesame oil – classic Korean BBQ flavours.  You grill it up so it’s slightly charred on the outside, yet medium rare inside – wrap it up with some rice and chill paste/oil in a crisp cool lettuce leaf and you have perfection.  This is what its supposed to look like:


And this is what we got:


Sorry? Are you sure this is the grilled Kalbi? Yes Sir….Kalbi.  Think of everything I described above.  Forget it.  Think greasy, oily, spicy, overcooked, stewed/stir fried, SPICY – this was more dopiaza than grilled Kalbi.  Korea with a 200 year stopover in Kerala, onwards to Media City.  This was not what I ordered.  They gave us the lettuce leaves, but I should have asked for some Naan bread.  Terrible – absolutely awful.

Bulgogi – Korea’s most beloved bbq dish.  Instead of using a rib, it uses thinly sliced rib eye steak or sirloin steak, but the flavour profile for the marinade is very similar to the Kalbi marinade.  Sweet-ish.   This is what was served:


This was best described by one of our friends as a fairly decent Tawa Gosht.  It was tough, spicy, oily and, all in all – miserable.  Just miserable.


The chill oil was the highlight of the meal – it was salty and spicy.  I spooned some on my white rice, and filled up on this.

New restaurant – teething pains – I get it.  Maybe I should give it another shot – A friend was told by the manager of the original that they were having some trouble with their meat supplier, and hence the inconsistency with the quality.  My question:  (1) Why serve it  (2) Doesn’t justify the horrible flavour/preparation.

I wish I could give it another shot – I really do – but I can’t and won’t.  There are too many good options out there for me to go back here again.  If I can make it better at home, I’m not about to pay for a mediocre version at a restaurant.  Sorry Shogun.

Till Next Time.

Royal China – The Emperor’s Comfort Food

RC Logo

Chinese food for me has always been one of my go to comfort food options.  Moving to Dubai from Toronto, I was used to a more traditional Cantonese/Hong Kong style cuisine,  given the large number of immigrants from that geographical area in the Greater Toronto Area.  The other variation to this style of cooking available around town was the Hakka style.  Lets get one thing straight – this isn’t your Chinese Hakka cuisine – the kind actually from China.  It’s the bastardized South Asian adaptation of the Hakka style – fried, spicy, greasy, cheap, and usually delicious.

My Cantonese local in the Toronto area was a very plain (read down market) restaurant that sat two steps down from the street, in a nondescript strip mall in Richmond Hill  – Simple formica tables with plastic chairs – each table with a stack of napkins, and a big jar of chilli oil – not just any ordinary chilli oil, but the most special variety.  This chilli oil carried some heat, for sure, but it was also salty.   Putting that over some white rice resulted in an amazing, smoky, salty, spicy rice/sauce combo which went just perfectly with all their dishes.  The roast duck, stir fried crab with garlic, steamed Grouper, lobster in black bean sauce – magnificent.  So, when we moved to Dubai, we found an abundance of Hakka Chinese restaurants (special shout out to Mandarin Tree in Al Barsha) but were struggling to find The One.  Then, it came.


Royal China opened a couple of years ago in the DIFC (of course).  I had eaten at the ones in London a number of times – especially at the Canary Wharf location, as its right between the office and the hotel I usually stay at, and is perfectly placed for a quick takeout on the way back to the room.  I have to admit – i always remember it being good, but I wasn’t jumping out of my seat, making a run for Royal China at the crack of noon,  in time for their first serving of Crispy Noodles with Seafood.   I thought I would make it over when I did – wish I would have made that first run, because I could have squeezed in a couple of more meals here.

My love affair with Royal China started with some lunch time pickups.  I make an order, and one of our runners would head down and pick it up for me (no delivery).  Next step, I made it in for a sit-down lunch, on a quiet Sunday – this was probably at the suggestion of ZA, who has his own special chopsticks reserved for him at the restaurant.  But, when it really struck home for me was when I brought my wife and 6-year-old in for a weekend lunch – though the fit out / location would make it a fancy shmancy place, I was so pleasantly surprised by the graciousness, enthusiasm, hospitality shown by the staff towards my young son.  We sat around a table, tried different things, and had a wonderful family lunch.   It has become sort of weekend thing for us now – we try to make it there whenever we can – and have a nice family meal by ourselves, or with friends – kids always welcome!  I remember the owner once mentioning that he and his family had a favourite place in London that they used to go to every weekend with the family when they lived there – they wanted to recreate that feel and vibe here in Dubai.  Mission Accomplished.

On to the food.  I found myself at Royal China, on the back of an invitation by ZA and AMA – kids and all.  Being open to anything, but just making sure that there was something for my little guy to eat, as he is allergic to seafood, I let ZA run with the ordering process.  Like LPM, there is nothing not good on the menu – you can’t go wrong.  Recently, I wanted something small and new to try – I ordered the fried tofu with five spice.  I don’t know why I ordered this, considering I don’t really like tofu, but I did.  Three words – FAN TAS TIC.  Squares of creamy tofu, quickly fried and dusted with a spice blend (I’m going to guess and say there are five spices in that blend??)  But, I digress.  So, ZA ordered up a big spread.  Some thoughts below:


Pan Seared Chicken Dumpling – My son loves this one.  It’s not sticky, because it’s not steamed, and anything he can pick up with his little fingers and toss in his mouth, is appreciated.  A staple on our table.


Crispy Shredded Chili Beef


Some Baked Pastry Thing I didn’t try – but sure looks good!


One of my favourites – Steamed Fish in Special Soy Sauce


Hot And Sour Soup – Normally, when served this kind of soup at a restaurant, I always find the need to doctor it with the house soy and vinegar and chilli sauces.  Not here – a perfect balance of hot and sour – just as it should be.  Consistency is perfect – not lumpy, clumpy or thick, as this soup can be at times.  Silky smooth with some beautiful, clean pieces of chicken and velvety tofu.  Perfect pick me up, and an ideal comfort food.


A Classic – Szechuan Prawn.  Lightly battered and fried jumbo prawns served hot and fresh.  Nice crispy bite and the sweetness of the prawn is visible from the start.  That gets offset by a slight, lingering heat from the chilli and the saltiness that is inherent in the background.


Steamed Barbecue Chicken Buns – My son can go through two plates of these in a sitting.  He LOVES them, and so do I.  The dough is steamed to perfection – light, airy, and definitely not doughy and heavy.  The chicken on the inside is sticky and sweet – together, its heaven.  He likes them as they are – I like them dunked into some chill oil.IMG_1781
Steamed Prawn Dumplings – Another must have when visiting RC.  Lightly seasoned prawns inside a lovely, slightly chewy outside.  Steaming hot (obviously) so be careful on the first bite.  I like them dipped in some soy, for some saltiness.  Lovely.

Amazing food, perfect service, super friendly staff, can’t go wrong menu, and the best Peking Duck in Dubai (which I didn’t order on this visit).  Family friendly on the weekends, but oozing class for a special business dinner as well.  RC, is my favourite Chinese restaurant in Dubai, and one of the go to places to take out-of-town guests when they are visiting.  Being in the DIFC makes it very accessible – I just wish they had delivery!  All in all, truly the Emperor’s Comfort Food.

Till Next Time

The Act – Stage Fright From The Get-Go!





The Act in the Shangri La hotel in Dubai opened to much fanfare around a year ago – another supper club type concept, that seem to so en vogue these days – a high end meal with some entertainment to enjoy.   The restaurant to convert into a nightclub around the bewitching hour.  I can’t believe it took me so long to make it over here, but, finally we decided to make a reservation for a Thursday night for dinner.   I don’t like being late, especially if I have a table reserved at a restaurant – unfortunately, sometimes, sh1t happens.   On that particular night, we caught some traffic almost immediately in front of the hotel, which prevented us from making it into the parking area on time, and we were running around 15 minutes late.   Now, i would have usually called, but as I had not made the booking (it was in my name, with my number provided), I didn’t have the number handy.  So, my phone rings – hello?  Its one of the hostesses – I get absolutely chastised!  Scolded like a little child – Asked if i knew it was rude to be late, and I should never be late again, should I book a table there again!  Absolute disbelief silenced me for a second, and then as I was about to launch into a tirade, I remembered – there were around 5 other couple who were hoping to enjoy a fun night out, and my verbally undressing the person on the other end of the phone would only prevent any chance from this happening.  So, I told them I would be there shortly, and hung up.


We got up to the restaurant with the rest of our party, and behind 2 non-descript doors, with the signs reading “No Photography” we walked into the venue.  First impression – very nice – set up like an ornate theatre, with the stage in the front, dinner tables scattered through the room, some lounge tables interspersed, and a balcony upstairs, with what I assumed were lounge tables.  I had a quick word with the manager when we walked in, explaining to him my disappointment with the way one of the staff had behaved on the phone, and he was deeply apologetic.   He led us over to the table that had been reserved – the table was in line with the stage – What?  How are we supposed to watch the show if we are seated exactly stage right – in line with the end of the stage?  By this time, I was starving, and couldn’t have cared less – I just wanted to eat and leave.  The ladies told the manager that the table was unacceptable, and after what seemed like an eternity of back and forth (part of which included one of the waitresses copping major ‘tude) we were moved to a table immediately in front of the stage.   Great – lets order.  The menu offers diners a tasting menu – 3 options for the table – 3 starters, 3 main courses / 4 starters, 4 main courses / 5 starters, 5 main courses.   We went for the 4/4 option and got to selecting – I don’t get this sharing concept – what can’t I just get what I want to eat?  Why make things more complicated than they need to be?  Ok – whatever.  I honestly can’t remember what we ordered to eat – it was that forgettable.  The ceviche appetisers were actually quite good – everything else was just blah.  I wish I could provide more, in terms of details – I feel like I’m not doing this review justice, but, honestly, blah is a good adjective.




Salmon Tartare served on a crispy wonton




Ceviche with Wasabi – Yellowtail 


Eggplant Carpaccio


Grilled Asparagus with Truffles – The highlight of the meal


Tagliatelle with Mushrooms, Truffle and Chili Paste


Grilled Lamb Chops (I seem to be consuming a lot of lamb chops!)


Potato Gratin


Burrata – Ol’ Faithful

I didn’t even take a picture of the deserts – I was that unimpressed.  I remember we ordered the Tres Leches cake – I remember being excited about getting this – I was disappointed.  If you have never had the opportunity to taste good Tres Leches (Three Milk) cake YOU MUST!  Its sponge cake thats been soaked in 3 kinds of milk (evaporated, condensed and cream) – its super moist (as something soaked in milk would be) – what we got was dry and crumbly.  If you want good Tres Leches, go to Maria Bonita’s Taco Shop in Umm Suqeim – now THAT’s some cake!

The show?  The performers were good – good singing, nice acrobatics – started too late, and by that time, I was so PO’d that we could have had anything on that stage, and it’s impact would have been reduced.  Apologies to the performers – I know you work super hard, but the evening was doomed from the get-go.

Till Next Time (though not at The Act)

La Petite Maison – You’re Still the One

La Petite Maison Logo

La Petite Maison, or LPM is it is fondly known, opened in Dubai a couple of years ago with a bang.  It was the restaurant that everyone was talking about – Nicoise Cuisine at its finest.  A little bit of St. Tropez in Dubai.  Here we are – March, 2014 – it remains the best meal in town – hand’s down – without a doubt in my head.  Getting a table on the weekends is close to impossible, but if you do manage to get a reservation, you can be assured that what you will be served will consistently be excellent.

So, the AB’s, ZA’s and the Clan M met up at the Jamil Naqsh exhibition on Saturday night for a quick look see on what was cooking in the world of Islamic caligraphy.  Underwhelmed, I was glad that the stunning Mrs. M had a lovely dinner lined up for us at a place I was looking forward to trying.  While we were wrapping up at the art exhibition, Mrs. AB got a brilliant idea – why don’t we all go to LPM.  Great – let’s do it – but wouldn’t it be impossible to get a table, for 3 couples, at the last-minute?   Mrs. AB whips out her phone, dials a few numbers and, BOOM – water into wine.  A table for 6 was made available – and not at some random time – 8.30 pm, sir – prime time, baby.  Alternate plans were quickly put aside and we made our way over to the restaurant, which was virtually next door to the Naqsh exhibition.  We were led to the back of the restaurant – The Chairman’s Table, suitable for at least 10 was waiting our arrival.

So we settle in, a bottle of still and a bottle of sparkling makes its way over – some other bevvies are ordered.  The menu is, and has been, pretty standard.  Everyone has their standard go to items, but i love trying something that I would have never tried on my own at LPM – just to see how the chef interprets these simple (simple does not equate to less than prime, in terms of quality) ingredients and elevates them through the stratosphere.   Food is served family style – for the table to share – so everyone gets to try everything.  Usually, I’m not the sharing sort – but I was guilted into it (actually, I wasn’t planning on sharing, but then I saw the lamb chops and the duck on the table, and decided to get guilted into it)!

For the starters and main courses we ordered:

Salad de Haricots Verts au Foie Gras

Betteraves Marinées

Salade de Lentilles Vertes

Ratatouille avec Féta

Burrata et Tomates

Carpacio de Boeuf

Crevettes Ti’des – l’Huile d’Olive

Risotto aux Champignons

Rigatoni aux Cépes

Entrecôte Grillée

Canard a l’orange

Pommes de Terre Gratinées

Every single item was sublime.  The ingredients were simple, as I mentioned before, but fresh, bright, and uncomplicated.  The dishes are not complicated in their presentation – each ingredient can be tasted and appreciated.  It truly is elevated cuisine.   Something as simple as eggplant, peppers, tomatoes and feta – I had never ordered this before – it was amazing.

The pics and the breakdown:


Each table is set up with some tomatoes and lemon (Alexander McQueen clutch not included).  Just a little something to tide you over until the food starts being rolled out.  Get in there – sliced up the tomatoes, drizzled a little olive oil and lemon over them, cracked on a little pepper and some salt – delicious.  Then, out came the apps:


Betteraves Marinées – Marinated Beetroot.  This is a perfect example of LPM’s genius.  Who would have ever thunk to order this?  Not me.  Mrs. AB’s choice – a favourite, she declares.  You have never tried this before???? *GASP*  Me:  I am not a fan of beetroot.  Shut up she says – try it.  WOW.  There are like 6 pieces of beetroot shown, right.  They were marinated/pickled/brined so delicately – you got the sweet of the beetroot, you got some vinegary tartness which balanced the natural sweetness perfectly – never too overbearing.  This was amazing.  Soft without being mushy – wonderful flavour.  It’s really hard to describe the complex layers of flavour, because they don’t exist.  Simple food, simple ingredients – just elevated.  Definitely adding this on my list of go to items.


Salad de Haricots Verts au Foie Gras – Green Bean Salad with Foie Gras.  One of my favourite starters.  A green bean salad, lightly dressed, with some small chunks of foie gras tossed in.  Love the smooth texture of the foie while feeling the snap of the beans – the soft sweetness of the dressing marries everything together.


Salade de Lentilles Vertes – Green Lentil Salad.  The secret to this beauty is apples.  Lentils, scallions, red onion, celery (i think), marinated in an apple juice linked marinade, with some crunchy chunks of apple tossed into the mix.  The lentils are the definite star here, and the apples add a sparkle.



Ratatouille avec Féta – Ratatoille with Feta.  So, here was the surprise contended.  4 ingredients.  Eggplant, Tomatoes, Sweet Peppers and Feta.  Some olive oil.  Thats it.  Lightly cooked together to bring this masterpiece to light.  Unreal – the eggplant was meaty, without being tough.  The peppers were sweet.  The tomatoes still had some firmness, and didn’t melt into the rest, making a salaan of sorts.  The feta – wow.  Normally, I find feta to be overly salty.  It’s a crumbly cheese, particularly the Greek variety – the Middle Eastern types, less so.  This feta was smooth – velvety – a texture sort of like fresh cottage cheese, but without the “I don’t taste much like anything other than milk” vibe to it.  It was salty, of course, but not like the store-bought feta I have had.  Really very very good.



Burrata et Tomates – Burrata cheese with Tomatoes.  LPM must go through 90% of Dubai Burrata imports.  This is the KING of all LPM apps, and is usually a fixture on most tables.  A piece of burrata cheese, some sweet mini tomatoes, some basil and olive oil.  If you like burrata, this is some of the best I’ve had, anywhere.  If you haven’t tried burrata, and are a cheese lover, particularly if you like fresh mozzarella, you HAVE to try this.  Burrata is basically a pouch of fresh mozzarella, filled with pieces of mozzarella and cream.  Its unbelievable.  The creaminess of the cheese paired with the brightness/sweetness of the tomato is divine.


Carpacio de Boeuf – Beef Capriccio.  Raw beef, pounded paper thin and served with Olive Oil.  Whats not to love.



Crevettes Ti’des – l’Huile d’Olive – Prawn in warm olive oil.   If the burrata is the King, then, this appetizer is most definitely the Queen.  4 jumbo pieces of prawns, sliced in half, and served very very lightly poached in a warm, lemony, olive oil.  You think this would be greasy, soggy, and heavy – think again.  The prawns are sweet and keep their unique texture.   The olive oil is wonderful, and with the lemon, you not only want to keep dipping the prawn in it while eating it, you want to mop it up with the fresh bread that is served.  5 stars.

On to the main courses:


Risotto aux Champignons – Mushroom Risotto.  Not one that I order, but something that the boss, a.k.a. Mrs. M, loves.  Very smooth and creamy, the risotto.  Great earthy flavour of the mushrooms.  A warning – if you are someone who likes their risotto rice cooked through until its soft, this is not one for you.  The rice is served quite al dente – I am partial to this, but some on the table were not.  Delicious, but just a heads up.


Rigatoni aux Cépes – Rigatoni Pasta with Mushrooms.  Again, a favourite of Mrs. M.  She and Mrs. ZA ordered this and the risotto to share between themselves.  Didn’t really taste this, but it smelled good.  The ladies liked it.


Entrecôte Grillée – Grilled Ribeye Steak.  La Piece de Resistance.  In a city with numerous (not all great) steakhouses, its ironic that the best steak in town can actually be found at a restaurant that does not bill itself as a steakhouse.   Now, don’t get me wrong.  You can get a fantastic meal at Ruths Chris, the Rib Room, Center Cut or Seafire (and some even swear by the old school joints on the other side of the bridge) – but trust this die-hard carnivore and beef enthusiast when he tells you – this is THE best steak in town.  A succulent piece of tender beef, stunningly laced with ribbons of fat that melt through the muscle and give every morsel that enters your mouth a tender explosion of beefy, salty goodness.  A nice, easily removable, fat cap, which I personally love to eat rests around the steak.  Not marinated – just seasoned with salt. Served with a mustard sauce, of sorts.  This is living, ladies and gentlemen.  I like my beef medium rare – perfectly cooked – nicely seared on the outside, while keeping the centre a mouth-watering red.  I love this, and my fellow beef enthusiast from Karachi, the Prince of Chiniot, AA, will agree with everything written above!


Canard a l’orange – Duck with an Orange Sauce.  Usually, when you get served Duck a L’orange, you end up with a sickly sweet, goopy sauce onto of either a well cooked or crap cooked piece of duck.  I like duck – some don’t, but I’m rather partial to it.  But, i tend to stick to ordering a pan seared beast of Muscovy duck or something, and away from the goopy sauces.  This was a choice of Mr. AB, who insisted that we try it.  I’m impressed.  The sauce did have a sweet undertone to it, but it was hardly overpowering.  It actually suited the duck perfectly, because rather than the fatty breast meat, we had two lean leg pieces, and the slightly sweet orange sauce complimented the earthy dark meet very well.  The duck was cooked perfectly – the outer bits were crispy, while the inside was moist, flavourful and tender.  Very nice.


Grilled Lamb Chops – I think the picture speaks for itself.  These were amazing, meaty, tender lamb chops, perfectly grilled.  Delicious.  No heavy spices – very simple.  A little mint sauce on the side.  Excellent.


A little Pommes de Terre Gratinées (potato gratin) on the side.  Feasting.

Then, it was desert time!


French Toast – I love French Toast, you say.  I remember my mother making it for me, while I was still in school.  A couple of pieces of white bread, dipped in a sweet eggy milky batter then fried.  Heaven on a plate right?  ALMOST.  The LPM French Toast, my friends, is truly heaven on a plate.  Do you see the caramelization on the top of the brioche?  Soft, moist, sweet (but not over sweet) – a little bit of bitter crispness on the outside, where the sugars did exactly what they were supposed to do.  I didn’t eat the ice-cream, but usually its cinnamon flavoured.  I know some people are thinking – French Toast?  For desert? Fine dining?  Listen – don’t even think about it – when you find yourself eating at this restaurant (and, I mean, why wouldn’t you – either you are already a fan, or you have seen the pictures/descriptions above and have handwritten it into your bucket list – right at the top) just get the French Toast.


Usually, its the French Toast for me, when at LPM.  So, Mrs. M was in the mood for something chocolatey – and ordered the Mousse.   My friends, this is no ordinary, gelatinous mousse.  What arrived, as you can see above, is a mousse/soufflé hybrid. Oven baked, obviously, with a soufflé like crust on top.  So, I’m thinking….this is mousse?  I dip my spoon, crack the crust, and lurking underneath is the most luscious, velveteen dark chocolate mousse you have ever seen.  The crust, in itself, is delicious, but the inside – like a fine piece of dark chocolate, not too sweet, melting over your tongue, minus the textural viscosity and denseness that comes with fine dark chocolate melting on your tongue.  This was lighter – easier to eat bowls of.  Excellent.

Finally – Mr. AB was insistent that we try the cheesecake.  I love cheesecake, but after such a large meal, I wasn’t in the mood for a heavy desert.  He insisted that we get a piece – Mrs. AB insisted that she would get her own, as sharing deserts was not an area where compromises were made.  This beautifully symmetrical piece of cheesecake comes out with some strawberry compote on the side.  Good looking – do you see the thickness of the crust – paper thing.  I’m intrigued.  But, how will the filling be? Will it have the usual thick, heavy texture (not that I don’t like the Cheesecake Factory style cheesecakes – I am just too full by this time)?  The first bite was magical – again, not too sweet (this seems to be a theme through all the deserts at La Petite, and I like it).  The inside was light, creamy, but LIGHT!  A vanilla flavour – you can probably see the specks of vanilla bean in the filling above.   Truly outstanding.  Both the chocolate mousse and the cheesecake were new experiences for me – I’m still going to get the French Toast, but I will stop and think for a few minutes.  Maybe I’ll get all three?  Most definitely #firstworldproblems.

I concluded this a long time ago – but this conclusion was further supported by my going deeper into LPM’s menu on this visit.  There is not a bad dish on the menu.  You don’t like a particular ingredient?  At LPM, you probably will.  It’s unbelievable how the kitchen maintains the consistency it does, for as long as it has.  I had heard that a number of the employees had left to join another restaurant in Dubai, that opened fairly recently – you honestly, wouldn’t know it.  LPM hasn’t missed a beat, and the customer’s are still in love.  You will find me eating here, as often as I can, for as long as the guys here continue to do what they do best.  LPM, you’re still the one.

Till Next Time.

Nobu – Often Imitated, Never Duplicated (#Firstworldproblems)


For all the Zuma and Okku nuts out there, let me break the pecking order down for you:

  1. Nobu
  2. have to leave a spot
  3. Zuma
  4. Okku

WHAT??? But Zuma is so happening!  Have the seen the crowd at Okku?  My friends….this is mytastingmenu…..not mysocialdiary.   Bar none, Nobu wins the culinary battle 10 times out of 10.   I mean, talk about first world problems – don’t think you can go wrong with any of the above, but when it comes down to short straws, Nobu is King.  Zuma and Okku have more ambience and scenery – but Nobu has soul, depth, gravitas……..Nobu is Palm Beach……the others, Tampa (maybe Miami).

People have been hearing me rave about my love for Nobu – I inevitably end up eating at this restaurant, whenever I find myself in a city with a local Nobu.  I know the menu cold.  I know I’m going to get perfection, no matter what I order – there is no such thing as a bad choice at Nobu.  Everything is good.  So, here goes.  I hope my words in this entry do the love I feel for this restaurant justice.

So, we sneak out for a cheeky Nobu run last weekend – ordered the usual:

  • Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeno
  • Salmon Sashimi with Dried Miso
  • Miso Eggplant
  • Scallop and Foie Gras Vanilla Den Miso
  • Miso Spinach Salad
  • Rock Shrimp Tempura
  • Miso Black Cod
  • Beef Toban Yaki
  • Beef Tenderloin with Dried Miso
  • King Crab Leg with Shisho Salsa

Everything was outstanding – not much of a review to really do.


Beef tenderloin with dried miso – if you like beef carpaccio, and you haven’t tried this Nobu speciality, you must.  The beef is melt in your mouth delicious and has a fantastic fragrance of truffle.  The dried miso on top provides a nice crack/snap contrast the the smooth texture of the beef.  Its melt in your mouth delicious.


This is a classic – Yellowtail jalapeño sashimi.  Nobu uses a lot of Yuzu sauce in its various cold dishes.  What is Yuzu you ask?  Yuzu is a tart Asian citrus fruit –  This is a very simple dish if you break it down.  Beautiful, fresh yellowtail.  Tiny slice of jalapeño pepper.  1 little leaf of cilantro.  Some light, fragrant, sour sauce into which to dip.  Put it all together, and its wow.


First time trying this plate, actually – Salmon sashimi with dried miso.   At first taste, I wasn’t terribly impressed.  Salmon sashimi – fresh – nice.  But then the dried miso hits you.  The powder melts on your tongue – its beautiful.  I may be completely off base, but it tasted earthy, creamy and very rich.  It was a perfect sucker punch, when I was least expecting it.  Aaaah Salmon….POW – here is the kicker.  Very nice.


Seared scallop with seared foie gras – Was good, but not knock my socks off great.   Seared scallops – i like it.  Seared foie gras – i like it.  Put them together with some vanilla glaze – was ok.  Scallop was a little over cooked, I thought – a bit rubbery.  No repeat performance here, for me.


Rock Shrimp Tempura with Creamy Spicy Sauce – An oldie but most definitely a goodie.  Plump, meaty shrimp.  Creamy sauce covering the fried morsels of love – slight taste of spice.  If you like PF Changs’ dynamite shrimp – these are those, kicked up a notch.


I love the freshness of the salads at Nobu.  Usually i get the garden greens, because i love the tart dressing so much.  This time, we tried the baby spinach with miso.  It was wonderful.  Looking back – lots of miso was consumed during the evening!


One of my favourite dishes in Dubai.  Do you have a friend or loved one who doesn’t like eggplant?  Get them to eat this – they will be converted.  This is more candy and less vegetable.  The eggplant is covered in a sweet miso paste and then grilled in the over, so the flesh is super tender, moist and caramelised.  It melts in your mouth, and is one of the most delicious flavours I have ever eaten.  No sharing allowed for the Eggplant Miso!


The fish that made Nobu famous.  The Miso Glazed Black Cod.  What is Black Cod?  Its not really cod actually.  It used to be sold as Sablefish – some marketing genius decided to change the name to Black Cod, mark up the price, and here we are today.  The fish is flaky and delicious and has a firm flesh that can be cooked in a variety of ways.  My pet peeve with miso black cod is when the chef leaves it mushy and underdone from inside (read review on Toko for more on this).  Nobu’s is fantastic – look at the caramelisation in the picture below.  It flakes easily with a fork, and a salty/sweet/rich and amazing. The marinate this fish for a number of days, prior to cooking it, so the flavours have made their way through every bite you take – which is quite a treat.  The red/white stalk is actually pickled ginger – perfect for a quick palate cleansing.



Beef Toban Yaki – Be careful of this one when it arrives to your table, as it is served sizzling, and a flaming hot.  Gorgeous rare beef, mushrooms, some greens served up with Sake, Yuzu and Soy.  Simple.  Complex. Delicious.  If your beef is underdone, just hold it on the sizzling plate, and cook it to the temperature of your liking.  Highly recommend this one.


Wow – look at the marling on that piece of tuna!  Delicate rice base – delightfully seasoned.  Tiny smear of wasabi under the fish.  Gorgeous piece of tune.  Art.

IMG_1634Sweet Shrimp Sushi – beautiful


Till next time.


Toko – Yet Another Black Cod In Town

We visited Toko, the new Japanese restaurant in the recently launched Vida Hotel, in Downtown Dubai recently.  Dubai has its fair share of high end, Japanese fusion restaurant, the likes of Nobu, Zuma and Okku, so I wanted to check out the new kid on the block, and see what set it apart.  My wife and I are very different in the way we rank our restaurants – she weights more towards the ambience.  I put more weight on the food and servicemore.  So, the way I rank the aforementioned restaurants, is as follows:

1.  Nobu

2. Zuma

3. Okku

After visiting Toko, I would put it somewhere in line with Okku.  Food was good – when you are talking about high end Japanese food, it can’t really be bad.  It’s all good – its the slight nuances that set one restaurant apart from the other.  Nobu has the food – its solid, every single time.  The service is on point, and there is no distraction with the loud music and crowd.  Zuma and Okku are more nightclub than restaurants.  Toko is calmer – like Nobu with the style of Zuma.  As for the food….in line with Okku.

I was starving when I visited, and only 1 dish really stood out in my mind, so please excuse the lack of lengthy descriptions – I should have written this immediately after eating here.

Lets start with what was outstanding:

Foie Gras Sushi


Foie Gras Nigri – this was outstanding.  The Foie was perfectly seared, placed on a delicate finger of rice, seasoned lightly, and infused with the fragrance of Truffle.  Amazing.  So good, we ordered an encore round.  Very expensive, however, at AED 50 per piece, but immensely worth it.

The rest of the food, as mentioned above, was good.  Pictures below.  Service was ok – drinks took too long to come, as did the edamame.  Drinks order was off when it did finally arrive.  Probably just teething problems, which won’t stop me from going back.  I hear they now have an Omikase menu, which I am actually looking forward to trying.  I hear its extensive and very moderately priced.  Till next time.

Miso Glazed Black Cod

Miso Glazed Black Cod – Beautifully caramelised and cooked perfectly through.  The flesh was flaky, moist

and delicious.  Very tasty.

miso eggplant

Miso Grilled Eggplant – Nice.  Miso was not as sweet as I, personally, like.  Nobu’s comp is like candy.  This was good, but no candy.


California Rolls, Spicy Tuna Rolls, Soft Shell Crab Spider Roll – Taste was good, but the rolls were wrapped a little loosely, so some fell apart when being lifted with the chopsticks and dipped in the Soy.

Grilled Mushrooms

Obviously, the Robata mushrooms were pretty good!

Seared Sirloin

As was the sirloin – it was served with a lovely, coarse sea salt, which provided a fantastic contrast in texture and a salty bite to a perfectly cook piece of beef.

sticky lamb ribs

Not my favourite – sticky lamb ribs.  They were good, but not my cup of tea.

Yellowtail sashimiYellowtail Sashimi – Nobu would describe it as new style.  Pleasant taste, and a very fresh fragrance.  Good.

Izel – Latin Artistry



We visited a new Dubai hotspot, Izel (Conrad Hotel, Dubai), recently – we had heard a lot about the live Colombian band and the South American menu, so we thought we would give it a whirl.  The mighty RM was visiting from Hong Kong, and keeping his love of Salsa dancing in mind, it seemed like the perfect spot.  First impression of Izel…..BIG.  It’s a massive space, split into two areas – the bar area, with a few tables, and a dining area.  I was a little underwhelmed by the layout, with the dining area seeming cafeteria like, but the bar area was slick.  There are a number of South/Central American stone statues (Inca…..I have no clue) placed around the space – not crowded at all, and with the music at a volume that is conducive to conversation.  We were, however, seated in the dining room, smack dab in front of the stage/dance floor.  The band (see below – apologies for the dodgy picture) were excellent, if you are into Latin music (which I am not), though our proximity to the stage/speakers made it almost impossible to hear what the person next to you was saying.



The first thing to be brought to our table was a lovely bread basket – and sitting in the middle of it was the golden nugget of the carbohydrate world – the pão de queijo.  If you haven’t had this, I would strongly recommend you try it – It’s a round ball, slightly crispy on the outside, but wonderfully cheesy, soft and chewy on the inside.  I like it best with some chimichuri sauce ladled onto it, but, alas, none was to be found at Izel.  These little treasure morsels were quickly devoured and a large plate of them was ordered for the table. For those who want to make these at home, the Internet says they are made either of Casava flour or Tapioca flour, instead of all-purpose flour.



Next came the appetizers for the table – a wide variety was ordered to share, and all in all, not really bad.  I’m not crazy about this kind of food, so I would have rather been elsewhere, but, have to admit – overall, it was rather tasty.  I can’t remember the names of all these dishes, so please excuse me.  I’ve been a little lazy with this blog, so I have forgotten some – I’ll try my best to describe what I remember.

Quesadillas De Tinga




This was a baked cheese tart of some kind – using Manchego cheese, if I recall correctly.


Empanadas Nortenas


Empanadas – A samosa like dumpling, stuffed with seasoned ground beef and fried.


Ceviche De Salmon


Salmon Ceviche – very nice, clean flavours.  Bright citrus snap to complement the creamy texture of the Salmon.




Corn fritters – very….corny.


Callos Pacifico


Callos Pacifico – Seared Scallops – this was delicious.  The Scallops were sweet and perfectly cooked – the sear from the pan amplified the texture and delicate flavour of the Scallops.


Ceviche De Chochos


This was a surprise hit – A corn mash baked in corn husks served with a salad of corn and beans.  I love corn, and the hot/cold thing this app had going on was fantastic.  I wish I remember the name of it so I could order it again, if I ever go back.


On to the mains – I, as usual, had the steak.  Bife De Chorizo, which is a fancy way of saying Sirloin.  It was served with Asparagus and charred tomatoes (SPECTACULAR TOMATOES).  It looked really good – but the steak was cold.  I ordered it medium rare, and it was cooked perfectly as seen in picture number 2 below.  The beef was seasoned well, and it had a lovely fat cap – it was just Cold.


Bife De Chorizo

Sirloin - Cut


Friends had the Prawn risotto and my wife had the Mushroom risotto. Both, were decent.

Risotto De Mar

Prawn Risotto

Risotto De Hongos

Mushroom Risotto


All in all – not a bad night out.  Food is passable – ambience is decent.  I would sit in the bar the next time, with a nice cigar, and try to enjoy the music from afar.  I probably wouldn’t suggest it as a go to spot for dinner – but then again, Latin food (other than Tacos) and I don’t really mix.  Entire evening? 6/10