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.

Zuma Brunch – Brunching Like a Gentleman

In a city known for its numerous high-end brunch offerings, everyone has their go to spot.  Some like Traiteur in the Park Hyatt, while some swear by the Al Qasr Brunch.  Both, exceptional in their own ways.

Some like the rowdy kind, filled with a bus load of pikey types, double fisting Coronas while balancing a margarita or two under each armpit.   Not my scene.

Me? I like to roll with a little bit of panache – like a Gentleman….Which brings me to the Zuma Brunch.



This Brunch has become one of the hottest reservations for a Friday afternoon in Dubai.  It gets booked up super early, and you have to plan way ahead – good thing that I am a planner.  It’s a family affair – The upstairs private dining area is converted into a play area for the little ones.  My son, even though he is allergic to all kinds of seafood, loves the Zuma brunch.  Kids used to be free – but now, they are half price or something.


How it works is like so – All the favourites are laid out near the sushi bar, and downstairs, around the Robata Grill.  In the back, near the elevator, there is a desert station – so far, all buffet style.  You take what you want, and get to select a main course from the menu.  Pricing – three tiers – (1) Non Alcoholic, (2) House Beverages and (3) Champers.  The non alcoholic tranche includes unlimited samplings of Zuma’s famed mocktails, which are delicious and varied.

So, we sit down, and we are offered up some fried squid, steamed and spicy edamame, and some miso soup.  Drink orders are taken, and then we are free to get what we want from the buffet.  The favourites are pretty much all here – a very strong selection of sushi/sashimi/maki, some kobe beef shabu shabu, ramen noodles, the steamed spinach with sesame, seaweed salad, sliced sea bass with yuzu and truffle, various sorts of tartare, beef sashimi, gyoza, a brilliant mushroom risotto, the obligatory yakitori skewers – the list literally goes on and on.  If you love something at Zuma from the a la carte menu, it’s probably being served up in the buffet.  One of the most tasty things they do is they roast a large ribeye roast on the robata – slice it up a perfect medium rare onto your plate and give you a little pile of flour de sel – salty, crunch, moist – magnificent.


Steamed Edamame


 Spicy Edamame


Mushroom Risotto – This is lovely. The rice is cooked al dente (was a little underdone for some on our table, but I like it this way.).   The flavour is earthy and robust, and there is a hint of truffle that you can catch.  It can be a little tough to find for the first timers – here is a clue – look in front of the grill.  There will be a wooden serving bowl with a wooden cover – lift up the cover and help yourself.




The Maki Counter – Soft Shell Crab (my favourite), Spicy Tuna, California, Zuma’s classic Chirashi Maki, tempura, egg, eel, cucumber – if you can name it, the sushi chefs can likely roll it and serve it up.  Everything is freshly made – there isn’t an exorbitant quantity of few items, like at many sushi buffets, so it keeps turnover high and the servers are always refreshing the offering.  The rolls are tightly wrapped, the rice is subtly flavoured, and the main ingredients are left to sing their own glory.  A little dip of soy, and you are good to go.


The fried heads from the shrimp served up for the sushi – they may look daunting, but if you haven’t tried them, and like soft shell crab, you MUST!  They are crunchy and packed with the flavour you would expect from the heads of shrimp, crawfish, lobster etc.  At a crawfish boil, you pinch the tail and suck the head.  Try these ones too – they are surprisingly tasty!


This came from the robata grill – lamb riblets and seared scallops.  The lamb was outstanding – crispy on the outside and moist, fatty and delicious on the inside.  Scallops – of course, delicious.  Just lightly seared, so not to damage the delicate insides – still cool and sweet on the inside, like these gems should taste like.  People who over cook or over prep scallops need to be put on trial.


These may look simple but if you head to this brunch, make sure you get the grilled chicken wings.  These are delicious – nothing on the menu is over spiced, so if you are someone who loves overtly spiced food, this is not for you – ingredients are of the highest quality, and are left relatively un-assaulted.  You can taste individual flavours, layers and really appreciate what you are eating, rather than focusing on sucking air between your two eye teeth, because what you are eating is so darn spicy!  Back to the wings – charcoal grilled, crispy, moist – fantastic.


Beef Yakitori and Black Cod Gyoza – Superbly tender beef on a bamboo skewer and grilled – served with a sweet teriyaki type sauce.  Some on the table considered the beef to be vastly underdone – in all fairness, the temperature was close to rare.  Perfection for me is a nice medium rare, but I don’t mind if it skews more towards rare, and less towards medium.  I thought they were very nice.  Not a big fan of the gyoza (dumpling) however, as the black cod inside was a little mushy for my taste – I thought it was unfair to take such a firm, flaky flesh and turn it into mush.


 Ramen – Take your noodles, get them freshly heated, add some toppings and enjoy – not my cup of tea, but people seemed to enjoy it.


Kobe Beef Shabu Shabu – An elegant take on what has become a fast food phenomenon.  A chef takes a few pieces of kobe beef, takes them lightly through a broth, and serves them up to you in a little bowl, with some sauce.  It was lovely!


A slice of the ribeye roast on the robata grill, with some flour de sel on the side.


On to the sushi course.  Sweet Shrimp (Ama Ebi) Nigiri in the foreground – Sweet Shrimp is served raw, as opposed to regular shrimp (you can see it at the back of the plate) which is served cooked.  A little slimy, but sublime. You see a piece of Salmon (Sake) Nigiri, and a Spicy Scallop Roll to right.  Won’t get into too much detail on these – Zuma is a highly rated Japanese restaurant.  Rest assured, all sushi is magnificent.

Octopus (Tako) and Tuna (Maguro) Sashimi


The Spicy Scallop Roll


This is what it all comes down to! The Toro.  In Sushi making, the most valued ingredient comes from Tuna and is called Toro.  This is the fatty cut of the fish (most likely from the belly).  There are two kinds usually – Otoro and Chutoro.  Otoro is the better, MUCH more expensive kind – obviously the kind of the buffet counter was not this type.  Regardless, melt in your moth delicious.  Compare the colour of the Toro with the Maguro (Tuna) a few pics above – the Maguro is a vivid red – almost maroon.  The Toro is a light pink, with clearly visible marbling.  Texture wise, the Maguro is fleshier, tougher, more rigid, if that makes sense (it’s still lovely!) – the Toro is tender, buttery, melt in your mouth, and so rich.  This is magnificent stuff, which you must put on your gastronomy bucket list!


What happens when you take a regular piece of sushi, and gently torch the fish?  You get the Aburi style of sushi preparation.  The taste changes – you are not cooking the fish here, but merely caramelizing the very top of it – this elevates the taste to another level.  You get the fish, and the seasoned rice, but you get a new dimension of smoke, sweetness from the caramelization, and an enhanced aroma.  Very, very tasty.


Salmon (Sake) and Maguro Sashimi

After eating all of the above, if you thought you were done, think again.  Zuma has a list of main courses for you to choose from.  The Adults get to choose from the main menu, and the kids get a choice of mini burgers/sliders, fish and chips, nuggets etc.  My lil guy picked the mini burgers.  On the main menu, you have your choice of (cut and paste from the Zuma menu):


Spicy Beef Tenderloin with Sesame, Chilli and Sweet Soy – A Zuma staple.  A beautiful, tender cut of beef tenderloin, grilled and served with a sweet, and spicy sauce.  Very well prepared, and hard not to like.


Miso Marinated Black Cod, Wrapped in Hoba Leaf – Zuma’s version of the Nobu classic.  Very good, but as mentioned in my Nobu review, Nobu is still number 1.


Jumbo Tiger Prawn with Yuzu Pepper – Firstly, apologies – the picture came after I had already started pecking away.  Very nice sized Prawn, with the meat already cut into bit size pieces that make eating it with a pair of chopsticks very simple.  The Yuzu Pepper sauce provided a very nice citrus backdrop to bring out the delicate flavour of the prawn.


And finally, the little guy’s mini burgers and fries!

I’m not much of a desert person, as anyone visiting our home will tell you.  We always seem to focus entirely on the dinner itself – desert, when it is remembered at all, is largely just thrown together at the last-minute.   That being said, I didn’t take any pictures of the desert station.  They have the obligatory chocolate fountain, cakes and ice cream, but where there seems to be a large line up for is the belgian waffle station – waffles are made up to order, and there is a smorgasbord of toppings that you can pile on – from chocolate sauce and whipped creams to berries and other fruit.  The chocolate offerings are present, but me, the non desert eater, would like to recommend two things:

1.  Green Tea and Banana Cake with Hot Toffee Sauce – The cake is cut tall and some hot sauce is poured over it to order.  Its fantastic.

2.  Chawan Mushi – The egg custard – Its rich, and smooth and just amazing.  There is a passionfruit foam they put on top with some exotic fruits and it’s just magnificent.

So obviously, I like this place.  A fantastic afternoon our with my family to our favourite brunch in town.  Would highly recommend this for anyone who hasn’t tried it – you really can’t go wrong – everything is delicious.  A wonderful way to try out all of Zuma’s wonderful offerings, without going through the a la carte menu, one by one.

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.

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.


Al Dimyati & Iskandaron Restaurant – Lamb Chops in Karama

So, I have been hearing about this magical place, in the inner depths of Karama, where the most magnificent lamb chops were served up, fresh of the grill.  A wonderland that offered its patrons with the crispiest, lightest, fluffiest little falafels, and the smoothest, creamiest, most luscious hummus.  When asked what the restaurant’s name was – no one remembered.  When asked for directions – people were guarded and vague.  It seemed like people wanted to keep this hidden gem, hidden.  Finally, this week, our friends, the AB’s offered to take us here, along with Mr. and Mrs. Z.  T’was a Tuesday night – 8.30 pm – we hoped traffic would be light – we made our way to Karama.

Ok – so this place, Dimyati, is down the road, across from the Karama Post Office.  Parking is tough, so as you get closer to the restaurant, park in the first spot you see.


This is it.  My first view of lamb chop nirvana.  I was told it was a hole in the wall – it is.  The veterans, Mr. and Mrs. AB had told us that the lamb chops are sold out daily, so they had to be reserved, in advance of our arrival.  Mrs. AB took care of that – 3kg’s were put on hold.  Its a clean, simple place – formica tables, plastic chairs, and a very limited menu.  A variety of kebabs, the lamb chops, falafel, french fries, and sandwiches, with whatever you want inside them.  We had the lamb chops reserved, but other than that, we got individual plates of hummus, falafel and two plates (8 pieces) of ground lamb kebab.  It was a lot of food – much of it got wrapped up to take home.  Total damage was around AED 450 – which is SUPER HIGH for a normal meal at Al Dimyati.  The lamb chops were the bulk of the bill – AED 100 per KG – we had 3.  This place is VERY nominally priced other wise.


Out came a plate of falafel.  Fresh out of the deep fryer.  Honestly, some of the best falafel I have ever had.  Im not a falafel connoisseur, by any means, but I have had my fair share – these were outstanding.  Small, crisp, golden balls – cooked all the way through (there is a school of falafel artistry that insists on leaving the insides soft and a hair underdone – I’m not a fan of this method, as I don’t like the smell of rawness that I swear I get when biting into these.)  From what I have read – the falafel served at Al Dimyati are prepared in the Palestinian style – again, someone who knows the nuances of falafel cookery, please do let me know if I’m off base.  Very light, not oily at all – I wrapped them up inside a tear of fresh pita bread, added some tahini sauce, a few dashes of vinegary Louisiana hot sauce (complete with bald eagle graphics on the sticker) and indulged.  My phone died at this point, hence the lack of pictures on this particular post.  We went through the first plate of felafel very quickly, and ordered a second and then a third.  Oh yeah, the individual servings of hummus were also excellent – creamy, luscious and all those adjectives that I had heard…..all true.  On to the main event.


The lamb chops arrives fresh off the grill.  Something that I have encountered in most people who don’t live in North America or Europe tend to eat their beef/lamb cooked all the way through – with no trace of pink in the middle.  Steaks are preferred medium well/well done and lamb is cooked till its grey on the inside.  These lamb chops arrived cooked to a perfect medium – they were moist, salty and delicious.  It was obvious that the chops had been trimmed of a lot of fat, because there was only trace amounts around the edges – what you really got was beautifully cooked lamb meat, with just the perfect hints of charred fat – something that I feel gives lamb its unique, gamey flavour.   The plate above shows 1 kilo of chops – incase you want an idea of how much you want to order when you visit.   Just to set expectations accurately – these are not heavily spiced, in the typical South Asian style.  This is NOT your typical Pakistani chicken tikka/seekh kabab type shop.  The meat here is seasoned with salt – some would say a little too much salt.  The salt is a perfect backdrop, complementing the meat – you don’t need all those heavy spices – the lamb speaks for it self.


I ordered a couple of plates of the kebabs shown above – we had entirely too much food, as it was, but I saw a table next to us getting them, and I really wanted to try them for myself.  Again, seasoned with salt, the ground lamb was grilled on skewers and immediately brought to our table.  The kebabs arrived steaming hot, to the point where it was difficult to use your fingers to break of chunks.  Delicious – but need to be eaten hot.  As they cooled down, the glistening juices that you can see in the picture started to solidify (fat) a little, which took away from the experience.  

So sum everything up – the food at Al Dimyati needs to be experienced in house.  I’m sure if you got takeout, it wouldn’t be as delicious as eating the chops and kebabs in house.  A word of caution – this is a very basic restaurant.  Plates are few and far between.   It’s not fancy.  BUT – the food is delicious, cheap and plentiful.  Service is courteous, quick and very pleasant.  The bill is extremely reasonable.  A very nice evening out, and a great experience in a part of Dubai that I am less familiar with.   Thanks to the AB’s for introducing us to their secret spot – sorry for blowing the covers right off – now you will have to reserve your chops 3 days in advance!

Till next time.

China Club, Radisson Blu Deira Dubai – You Dim Sum, You Lose Sum

Woke up on a beautiful sunny, cool, Friday morning the other week, and thought to myself – why not take the family out for a cheeky Dim Sum lunch.  A Yum Cha experience, if you will.  When we had first landed in Dubai, back in 2008, my brother and sister in law had taken us to this lovely Chinese Restaurant, in the Radison Blu Hotel, Deira – The China Club.  It was a friday afternoon, the place was packed, was very tough to get a table, and I remembered the food being top notch.  The cherry on the cake was that, seated next to us, were Saif Ali Khan and Karina Kapoor – a meal and a show.

Recalling how full the restaurant was, I was surprised when China Club quickly confirmed my table for three, at 1 pm.   So, we make the trek out to Deira – restaurant looks a little smaller than what I remember, but pleasant enough.  We were seated quickly at our table and our drink orders were taken – I would highly recommend their home made ice tea, which is available flavoured with either Lychee or Lemmon – I took the Lychee option and it was delicious….and refills were free.


For the meal – its really a simple option.  One price gets you unlimited Dim Sum – there is a list on your table, and you can order what you want, and it is brought around.



A decent selection, as you can see above, is decent, and the price is very nominal – sub AED 100 per person.  We pretty much ordered everything, plus we ordered a Peking Duck, a la carte.   The food itself, was hit and miss.  Some things were good (not great) and some were not so great.



Superior Siew Mai with Crab Roe – the chicken filling was dense and provided a nice chew.  Texture wise, it was nice, but not too much going on in the flavour department.  I had to douse my dumpling in some chilli/soy sauce hybrid, which I concocted on the table.



Mince shrimp wrapped in tofu skin – blah, uneventful, forgettable.   Could have dipped the menu into the sauce and had a similar experience.



Steamed Chicken with Mushroom and Ginger Dumpling – this was quite good, actually.  The ginger notes were spicy, and provided a great balance to the subtlety of the mushroom and the chicken.



The above is a selection of the fried dim sum.  With the exception of the shrimp wrapped in the spring roll wrapper, the rest was a bit of a hot mess.  Oily, soggy, cool – not fun at all.  The deep fried seafood wontons (top right) were a disaster – they could have been filled with any paste at all – no taste of seafood whatsoever – thankfully there was a sweet chill sauce that helped mask all the things that were going wrong.  The squid rings….chewy, which is exactly how i DON’T like my calamari.  The shrimp roll thingies (Crispy Fried Prawn in Golden Pocket) were ok – relatively speaking – but then again, the bar on this plate, was set exceptionally low.


Yang Chow Wok Fried Rice – this was absolutely awesome.  One of the best fried rice dishes that I have ever had.  The rice was perfectly wok fried, to the point where there was a little bit of char on some of the grains.  This contributed to the wonderful aroma, and the smoke flavour I got from eating it, was scrumptious.  The one complaint – the serving size was small, to the point of being comical.  However, they were quick to bring out more, when asked.   Definitely the highlight of the meal.



Har Gau Shrimp Dumplings – very nice.  Nice chunky pieces of shrimp for the filling – very nice texture, and silky smooth wrapper.  Enjoyed this one, and had thirds.



LOVE the Steamed BBQ Chicken Buns.  LOVE them.  Sticky, sweet chicken filling inside and airy, fluffy steamed bun.  Rare to find a better combination – dipped in soy and chilli oil, its a magical thing.



The Peking Duck – Please scroll to the bottom.



The Peking Duck – this is where the lunch truly went pear shaped.  This was terribly.  Look at the pictures……now lets think of what makes Peking Duck so special:

  • Shiny, Crispy, Light, Glistening, Caramelised Skin
  • Moist, tender, pink, succulent meat
  • Slightly fatty aroma, that makes you want to scoff it down as soon as its set out in front of you
  • Light pancakes, with fresh cucumber and spring onion, and some sweet, rich hoisin sauce

Now lets look back at the picture.  The skin was anything but shiny, crispy, light, glistening etc.  It was, in fact, dull, limp, soggy, and extremely unappetising.  The duck meat was grey, dry, stringy and tough.  The fat wasn’t melt in your mouth, buttery and complimentary – it was like a cold fat cap – stick to the roof of your mouth, kinda fat.

We put it in the pancakes, slathered on the hoisin, but got nowhere.  We left it, pretty much as it, and continued with the Dim Sum.

It was a nice afternoon – got to hang out with my family on a beautiful day in Dubai.  The food was a mixed bag – but the Peking Duck was a major disappointment.  With the options available now, for dim sum in the city, especially in New Dubai, and the location of this restaurant in Deira in relation to where we live – I doubt  that we will be making a return trip here anytime soon.  I do, however, keep fond memories, as The China Club was the very first Friday Brunch type experiences my family and I had when we first landed in Dubai – we have a lovely picture of my wife and my son, who was then 18 months old, in the hotel lobby.

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







Sea World Seafood Restaurant – New Location, Same Great Experience

Sea World Seafood Restaurant - Dubai

Sea World Seafood Restaurant – Dubai


When I first came to Dubai in 2008, for an interview, over the May 24 long weekend in Canada, my Brother and Sister in Law took my to the old Sea World Seafood restaurant, in my tremendously jet lagged state (Toronto-Las Vegas-Toronto-Dubai-Toronto…….in 5 days).  It was located above the Safestway Supermarket, on Sh. Zayed Road, and I remember falling in love with the food.  Iced trays loaded with fresh, regionally sourced fish and shell fish, a long list of different cooking styles/sauces, and your imagination to put various combinations together, to take you to seafood nirvana.  Pick what you want, how you want it cooked, and wait for it to come to you.

When my wife, son and I made the permanent move here, later that year, this was one of our favourite places to head to on the weekends – firstly, my wife loves shellfish (not so crazy about fish, however), and secondly, we didn’t have any help, so the fact that this restaurant was extremely kid friendly, and had lots of open place where my 18 month old could wander around and explore, made it an obvious choice for ourselves, and for when we had to entertain.  About a year (maybe a little longer) ago, we saw that the famous neon red lobster, that identified this landmark, switched off, and the restaurant made the move further down the road, to a smaller location.   We didn’t give the new venue a try, until this past week – it was like a sweet homecoming!  The location is more compact, but I think this makes it feel more like a restaurant, and less like an auditorium.  The staff was still attentive, quick, and friendly…….and the food was still delicious.  I don’t think we are going to be waiting a year to visit Sea World again.

So, we get to the restaurant and head straight for the seafood display – the old restaurant had the displayed set up in a giant circle – with live fish tanks in the centre – the new location, accounting for more limited real estate, has a long line of counters, ice, and seafood.  A couple of tanks were in the back, with fresh hamour, lobster and mud Crabs.  The iced display had, from what I can recall – hamour, red snapper, kingfish, jumbo shrimp, calamari, crab (the small ones – not the king/snow crab), baby shark, barracuda, mussels, ladyfingers, Omani lobster…..and many more, which I can’t, for the life of me, recall.  The cooking styles/sauces available were printed out and laminated, and placed along the counter – also, the lady assisting us by pushing a tiny, shopping trolley, and loading it up with the ingredients we selected, was very helpful in recommending what cooking styles would suit which particular ingredient best.  At the end of the counter there was a small section with vegetables, that could be cooked either with Oyster Sauce or with Hot Chilli Lemon Sauce.

We had:

  1. Ladyfingers – Deep fried in a light crispy batter
  2. Calamari – Deep fried with a spicy, salty, slightly salt salsa made of scallions and garlic
  3. Crab in Chef’s special sauce
  4. Steamed Sherri in a spicy lemon sauce
  5. King Prawns – shelled, cooked Thermidor style
  6. Stir fried Morning Glory in spicy oil
  7. Mixed mushrooms in oyster sauce
  8. Vegetable Fried Rice

Fried Ladyfinger


Ladyfingers – Deep Fried in a Light, Crispy Batter – Seriously, you have to try these.  Ladyfingers ( I have heard them called other names also…..lets just go with ladyfingers) are a small fish, with bones running down the center, which makes them very easy to debone and eat.  These arrived hot and crispy – you tear the meat off, and its light and flaky – very mild flavour.  You can dunk it in the sweet chilli sauce that the restaurant provides, but ask for the spicy lemon sauce – use that to dunk – very nice way to start your meal.

Fresh Crab in Chef's Special Sauce

Fresh Crab in Chef’s Special Sauce – I know the picture looks like a whole bunch of cut up veggies – but there really was a lot of crab inside……..seriously.  The Chef’s special sauce turned out to be a variant of yellow curry – I remember it being thicker and more rich in flavour, so it was a bit of a let down, but the crab itself was delicious.  Plump, sweet pieces, still in their shell (I prefer the legs/body over the claws) – way to many veggies put in, obviously, but all in all – satisfying.


Steamed Sherri – I like Sherri (Emperor Bream??).  It’s not a delicate fish, but, rather, has a firm, meaty flesh.  But I find that it goes well with whatever its cooked/paired with.  This dish was very simply prepared – steamed and put into a tart, slightly spicy broth.  No fats, not too much salt – just the natural flavours of its few ingredients speaking for themselves – and very fragrant too.  I would love to eat this at home, for dinner, with a nice salad, on a regular basis – have to see what can be done about that.

King Prawn

King Prawn – Thermidor style.  So, these jumbo beauties arrives, shelled, chopped up and put into these little foil baskets.  They had been baked with cheese and mushrooms!  Not the healthiest thing in the world, but delicious!  The shrimp was cooked perfectly – read not rubbery!

Stir Fried Morning Glory

Stir Fried Morning Glory – WOW.  For those who don’t know what morning glory is, get yourself to Wikipedia and familiarise your self with this leafy wonder (   I thought this was an ingredient exclusive to South East Asian cuisine, but it seems like it’s used in the Sub-Continent too.  Very simple to prepare – get the Morning Glory leaves – clean – quickly stir fry with some garlic – eat.  I have used these as a staple side, since I first tried them numerous years ago.  It’s like a spinach, but less spinachy in flavour – the texture also holds up better to stir frying that spinach does – meaning it maintains a crunch, a snap and a chew, which spinach tends to go limp.  Highly recommend it.

Mushrooms in Oyster Sauce


Mixed Mushrooms in Oyster Sauce – A combination of white, button mushrooms, and Chinese mushrooms.  Pretty much tasted as it would sound.  I love the Chinese mushrooms, and the meaty chew they provide.  Good


Veggie Fried Rice


I would have never thought that the most simple, overlooked part of an Asian themed meal would have turned out to be the start.  At Sea World, you are given the option of steamed or fried rice with your meal.  We opted for the fried rice, and what came was the above.  Looks fairly ordinary?  It may, but after eating this, I realized that whoever cooked it was a genius.  Cooking in a wok is an art – one that many try, but few succeed in.  Cooking in a wok requires a very high temperature, and minimal time in the pan.  High heat/low time.   This fried rice was extraordinary – the chef had kept it in the wok long enough, and  a temperature high enough, to give it a wonderful smoky flavour – something that is VERY rare in fried rice.  Usually you get a greasy (and probably tasty) concoction but this was light with charred little bits of veggies and rice.  Going for the fried rice alone, next time, would be worth it.

Till next time – Sahtein.