SPECTACULAR FEAST

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Feasting on the spirit of Dubai with Cynthia Munoz and Chef Alan Gobeil in Zeta
Feasting on the spirit of Dubai with Cynthia Munoz and Chef Alan Gobeil in Zeta

Here’s a feast to beat all feasts. It pampers all my senses…there is light, sound, dance, music and ofcourse food. As though all this were not enough there is also the worlds tallest building and the worlds biggest choreographed fountain to keep me company. If the accompanying photograph had a video and sound track, heres what you’d see and hear… glittering and shimmering fountains leaping and swirling and twirling into the evening sky as different colored lights bathe and sway with them. These fountains dance to music and Whitney Houston’s husky ”I’ll always love you” echoes sensuously as the fountains sway to it’s melody. And as though blessing it all and taking the ringside seat like a benevolent all-caring Pasha is the worlds tallest building, The Burj Khalifa which shimmers glamorously. And right here while feasting on this spectacle I am feasting on the freshest of fare created by the brilliant Executive chef Alain Gobeil . All this is the glamorous Zeta Restaurant where the heart of Dubai seems to throb  in all it’s  glory. In many different ways.

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SINGAPORE SURPRISES

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Simone Arora, Zarine Khan, Connoor Kripalani Thadani, Urvashi talwar, Sajni Gill SSTANDING Raj Anand and Phillipe Chaumat In Singapore
Simone Arora, Zarine Khan, Connoor Kripalani Thadani, Urvashi talwar, Sajni Gill SSTANDING Raj Anand and Phillipe Chaumat In Singapore

I’m convinced that the very gorgeous Zarine Khan’s family is not only the first family of film in Bollywood but also of food as they are all super-gourmets. So when I met both mother-daughter  (Simone Arora)  super-talented celebrated home decor designers  I couldn’t resist getting all their Singapore foodie secrets from them. I spotted them at  the French showcase of innovations designs and trends in home and dining décor, Maison Objet, which I regularly attend in Paris and now past two years in Singapore. The dynamic Raj Anand and Philippe Chomat  welcomed them  to this  sprawling show, the second edition in Asia which displays cutting edge designs of tomorrow today.. Also here were superstylish Singaporean foodies… Urvashi Talwar, Sajni Gill, Singapore’s restaurateur and  home-décor entrepreneur and  best-selling author Conoor Kripalani Thadani, I not only got updated on the latest in dining trends but also  got the latest on where to eat in Singapore ..please email rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com, twitter, instagram @rashmiudaysingh and will share with you. Happily!

Review: Romano’s

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Italian

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Cracklingly new. Shiningly new. Newingly new. Now, that Ive hammered the message through about this brand new Italian restaurant, let me tell you that I got to know  about it not through a PR release or chef, but through my long-distance call to my very knowledgable foodie-dynamo buddy Dilip Joshi who  has answers to all (almost)  my questions.

 DECOR

Nudged into the armpit (almost) of my most beautiful T2 airport (Im quite crazily in love with it) the brand new JW Marriott glitters. Walk past the shimmery lobby with dripping chandeliers and youre in for a surprise. The sprawling, high ceilinged, dimly-lit dark wood, very handsome and macho  restaurant is a total contrast to it. A pleasant contrast. An open kitchen bustles into view and two staircases lead into the bar area on the mezzanine.

FOOD

Traditional Italian. Short menu. No pizzas. No Ossobuco coz no beef (ofcourse) Im told their chef is from Naples, but was on leave when we ate here. Food was still good. Which is a super sign. For starters, the Buratta (Rs 695)  (from Bangalore) was voluptuously creamy, kissed by basil pesto and a must try. It was the superlative  sea bass (Rs 1595) baked in parchment paper, flavorsome with lemon sauce and clams that was the star of the show. Delicious Pepper spring chicken  rosemary potatoes pickled  chillies (Rs 1295). Huge big sharing portion of delightful tiramisu (therefore priced at Rs 650).

   

MINUS POINTS

Okay! since it is not even a fortnight old, there being no Gelato no Proseco no Grappa is understandable. But why was the spaghetti alio olio so limp and overcooked? And the  

Scallops in  Butter brandy (Rs 745) with grit in them? Vegetarians need more dishes, please. The side dishes of vegetables do not count (though our side dish of green beans was yum) The sommelier was knowledgable, helpful, though the wine list could do with more Italian wines.

 

 

MY POINT

Though  Romano’s homestyle Italian menu and cooking aren’t particularly adventurous or inventive, (not enough vegetarian dishes) it’s dishes do a deft, unusual seesaw between heartiness and delicacy. These strengths and the restaurant’s macho cozy setting will take Romanos a long way.

P.S.Even though only a fortnight old, it was already quite packed.

 

ROMANO’S JW Marriott Sahar,  IA Project Road, T2 Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport 

28538661

RATING FOOD 3.5 DECOR 3.5 SERVICE 3.5

Open for dinner only

Meal for 2: Rs 5000

 

OSCARS OF FOOD…INDIAN WINNERS

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Stop press! Hot news for foodies. At the most prestigious “Asia’s 50 best” awards ceremony our very own Indian cuisine came up tops. Gaggan Anand,  a Kolkatta born, Bangkok based chef’s restaurant Gaggan was voted as Asia’s best restaurant.   Making it to this coveted list are restaurants from Mumbai, Delhi and Srilanka too.

 

 

Winners all...SEATED  William Drew (in a beige jacket) , Charles Reed (centre) Tetsuya Wakhuda (Lifetime achievement awardee) STANDING Rajesh Kewalramani, partner Gaggan, (Blue jacket)  JP Singh (Bukhara)  Gaggan (Asia’s best) Manish Mehtrotra (Indian Accent) Bindu Panicker (Bukhara) Dharshan Munidasa (Nihon Bashi and Ministry of crab) in Singapore.
Winners all…SEATED William Drew (in a beige jacket) , Charles Reed (centre) Tetsuya Wakhuda (Lifetime achievement awardee) STANDING Rajesh Kewalramani, partner Gaggan, (Blue jacket) JP Singh (Bukhara) Gaggan (Asia’s best) Manish Mehtrotra (Indian Accent) Bindu Panicker (Bukhara) Dharshan Munidasa (Nihon Bashi and Ministry of crab) in Singapore.

SNAPSHOT OF THE BEST

Please take a look at the photograph I shot in Singapore last week at the most prestigious Oscars of food awards… Asia’s 50 Best 2015. As you can see, there is many a winner from the Indian subcontinent along with Asia’s best our very own Gaggan as well as the lifetime achievement award winner the legendary Tetsuya Wakhuda.  Whoa! what excitement and anticipation there was before the awards were announced. And when Gaggan’s name

was announced there was an uproar of delight and celebration. And the hall was chocobloc with the crème de la crème of the foodie world. Superstar chefs had flown in from all continents, including South America. It’s here amidst all this spectacular talent that progressive  Indian cuisine  was honored.Kolkatta born, ponytailed  Indian chef partner Gaggan Anand and Rajesh Kewalramani’s restaurant “Gaggan” (Bangkok) was declared  “Asia’s best restaurant”.

Ive had the most mindblowing meal in Gaggan, Bangkok. Here this brilliantly creative chef makes art and science copulate in his kitchen and the results are astonishing. Our very own papdi chaat’s tangy, chatpatta flavours are recreated in a quivering white blob. The plump potato filled snack, the samosa appears on a plate in fantasy form and so on. Dish after dish delights.  Also here to receive the award  for India’s best restaurant was the brilliant Chef Manish Mehrotra. He transforms comforting and well-loved ingredients (aam papad, chyavanprash) and teases with surprises.Global favorites (foie gras, smoked salmon, truffle oil) are married with Indian regional dishes with panache.And therein lies the magic.

Interestingly long with this progressive Indian restaurant is the landmark Bukhara which has not changed it’s menu past 35 years. To receive the award for New Delhi’s award winning Bukhara’s rugged charm of the North West Frontier cuisine were chef JP Singh and Bindu Panicker.  Grand corporate chef Hemant Oberoi’s Wasabi was awarded too and he consistently and brilliantly marries authentic with creative and produces Japanese masterpieces follow. Im  delighted  that Dharshan Munidasa’s Ministry of Crab and Nihon Bashi from Srilanka are both  on the list. He dazzles us with outstanding and authentic flavours.

 

 

MUST FOLLOW

This is it. This are the ultimate guiding-lists you must follow if you are a global-foodie. Do you (like me) like to see the world through your tastebuds? I save up and travel to eat and to find the finest. The best. These are the “Worlds 50 best” and “Asia’s 50 best”  the most accurate snapshot of dining opinions. Meticulously, painstakingly compiled from votes of food writers and critics, chefs, restaurateurs and highly regarded ‘foodies’. Powering this initiative is the London based dynamic team of Charles Reed, group editor William Drew, Tim Brooke Webb and Rachel Quigley. Through the year they ensure that the voting process is carried on systematically and accurately throughout the different regions. Each time the  actual award ceremony becomes more spectacular than the last. Each time it has many more who’s who of the culinary word attending it. And each time it delivers an exciting and accurate compass to Asias 50 best and the Worlds 50 best restaurants. As William Drew, group editor  said

“Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants aims to celebrate success, reward innovation and hard work,” he ends with ” and provide diners with guidance on the greatest places to eat across the continent”.  Lets raise a toast of gratitude to that!

 


 

TOP 10 WINNERS 2015

Gaggan – Bangkok, Thailand (GagganAnand)

Narisawa – Tokyo, Japan (Yoshihiro Narisawa)

Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet – Shanghai, China (Paul Pairet)

NihonryoriRyugin – Tokyo, Japan (Siji Yamamoto)

Restaurant André – Singapore (André Chiang)

Amber – Hong Kong, China (Richard Ekkebus)

Nahm – Bangkok, Thailand (PrinPolsuk)

8½ Otto E Mezzo Bombana – Hong Kong, China (Umberto Bombana)

Waku Ghin – Singapore (Tetsuya Wakuda)

Jungsik – Seoul, Korea (Jung SikYim)

Review: ASADO

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Multi-cuisine

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Whats going on? Why has Bandra’s newest restaurant been proclaiming it is a “Latin American fine dining restaurant”? Help! I am seriously questioning my own knowledge of geography. Does  Latin America include Italy and Japan et al?  Ofcourse, this cuisine does have influences from all over the globe. But confusion gets more confounded when the waiter in Asado  tells me that “pasta is a Japanese dish”. Thankfully, my guest Pierre Ortoli has not only lived and worked in Buenes Aires  as has Dr Mathilde Richou osteopath but her father also has vineyards in Argentina. Our review follows

 DÉCOR

Kitschy or cute? Handpainted walls  recreate a quaint Latino town in this  65-seater. Clear blue skies, fake birds perched on fake lamp posts too. Outdoor seating too. Casual, relaxed ambiance.

 FOOD

So don’t get stuck on the label  and go looking for “Latin American” fare (they do have a few names of dishes from there. No ceviches). You’ll enjoy the flavorful edamame truffle risotto, okayish beef empanadas. It’s the Brazilian beef steak (Rs 2000 plus) done rare that dazzles. Both our desserts…churros and Tresleches were just about okay.

MINUS POINTS

Stodgy Kataifi prawns and vegetarian flautas. Ditto for the veg wraps. Fatty pork spare ribs, though Bbq sauce delicious. All the Vegetarian dishes we tried  were limp and floppy. The servers were uninformed about the cuisine.

MY POINT

Asado “Mumbai’s first Latin American fine dine”  doesn’t just flit tentatively across a few borders but knocks down a whole bunch of them altogether.

It bops around the globe and serves some okayish though expensive dishes and wines (our bill for three was Rs 14000, with wine). Our meal began with great expectations and ended with a whimper.

P.S. But then I walked outside onto Bandra’s SV road  and found myself wanting to give Asado the benefit of the doubt. It has the location. It has the enthusiasm. With better judgment, research, a lowering of prices and a Latin American trained chef perhaps it could live upto it’s ambitions. We wish it all the best!

ASADO  Monorama Chambers, Ground Floor, S V Road. Bandra West

Ph 6568 6666

RATING FOOD 2.5 SERVICE 2.5 DÉCOR 3

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Multi-cuisine bar

Good Wife
My fab foodie blind dates…Shayan Italia (the guy making fun gestures) Pooja, Jumana, Mohit, Jigar, Hunaina at The Good Wife

First Question: Is  BKC’s new wife any good? Answer:Take a look at the photograph I shot. Second Question: At The Good Wife, how was my foodie blind date with six readers? Answer: Take a look at the photograph. This new bar serves up  a cocktail  of  relaxed merriment which is infectious. I am absolutely over the moon to spend an evening here with my  fabulous foodie blind dates.

DECOR

There’s fun written all over this new bar. It’s large, has a warm, welcoming feel and is packed. We love the wall mural sketch with it’s  Neanderthal man, Batman and Spiderman  playing cards and so on. There is a choice of seating arrangements…comfy and dinner table too.

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FOOD AND DRINK

The co-host of Discovery Channel’s series Cocktail Kings spearheads the bar here. So there is drama and flavour, my drinking buddies rate these highly, be it  The Good Wife, a whisky sour cocktail ( sprayed with a vodka based black cardamom spray) or  The Wolf Of BKC, ( orange vodka based  with a rose aroma.) The tostada  sprout chat brims over with zing and texture and is a must try. Tasty Baby Lamb Sliders – and their vegetarian version of corn jalapeño sliders too.  Goodwife home salad, fresh and well made. Okayish though oversauced pasta ( Fetuccini, penne). Succulent Five spice crispy duck delights, Vanilla Panacotta and chocolate fondant pass muster.

 MINUS POINTS

Here’s the irrepressible Shayan Italia’s fun take on the Rosemary Chicken Tikka – “A touch dry for my liking and everyone questioned where the Rosemary was? I thought it being late and she may have gone to bed” It certainly was dry and lacklustre. Ditto for the  Forest Mushroom Filo, stodgy Chicken Gyoza,  and three Peppercorn Chicken. The roast chicken disappoints.
MY POINT

Why did the Rocking Tham brothers (of the award winning Trilogy fame) name this relaxed, fun, buzzing bar “The Good Wife”? I don’t know of any good wife who conceives cocktails with such imagination and mixes them with such skill or magnetizes such a buzzing crowd.  The food is a mixture of appealing and ho-hum.  Dont go for the food, go for a fun-time to this open-through-the-day bar. This Good wife is  a plausible cynosure of a fun night out and not just a grubby refuelling station.

P.S.Our Shayan Italia has the last word about The Good Wife “ The Queen Bee took so many of our photographs that we left the place like rock stars. In the end they all concluded that I was the one making the most of the evening, purely because I’m a complete loser, hopelessly single and still looking for “The Good Wife”

The Good Wife, The Capital, ground floor, Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC), call 40109433

Open 11.30 am to 1 am

RATING FOOD 3 SERVICE 3.5 DECOR 3.5

MEAL FOR 2: RS 2500


 

 MY FAB FOODIE BLIND DATES

This is it. This is why I love my work as foodcritic…to connect to and meet foodies Ive never met before. To feel the foodie pulse of the city through them, to discover new places, to get their reactions and ofcourse I absolutely love meeting them.  Each one is a gem: theyve taken the trouble to come from all over (Malabar hill, Jogeshwari, Ghatkopar, Khar.) The well-organised, dapper Jigar Parmar (@jigarparmar), construction maestro, foodie, diver  books the table in his name.  Ever helpful.  Mohit Chatrani (@hungrybawarchi) head chef,  blogger, YouTube channel owner gives his take on the food. Gorgeous girls sparkle the evening, be it Hunaina Sonsara  (@hu_nai_na)  housewife,stylist,foodie who loves travel Jumana huzefa electricwala, who is truly a multidimensional creative energy in human form.  @ jumanahuzefa proud homemaker,adventure lover who brings along a handpainted creative gift.  @PoojaDharani CS and Law student, Foodie and an aspiring Food Blogger charms. Not to be missed is the multi-talented, articulate, great fun (pl see photo again) Shayan Italia @biryani360  who has set just up  Biryani360 a great new concept Im yet to try. .

 HOW TO BE MY FOODIE DATE? Should you want to be my guest and dine with me, please email rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail,com, instagram, twitter @rashmiudaysingh and hashtag #dinewithrashmi. I will get in touch when Im back.  And even as you read this, I am in Singapore as jury chairperson of my region, attending “Asia’s 50 best restaurants” awards (crossing my fingers for our Indian winners). Watch this space!

RECIPE TO DAZZLE

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Qbara 1 (1)

I’m excited! I call it “to have your dazzle and eat it too”. Not only do I dine in the most exquisite symbol of Dubai but also come away with it’s treasured recipes for you. “Qbara” is the name of this sexily glamorous restaurant. “Qbara” the word is “Arabic” back to front. Qbara itself is Arabic dining inside-out. And so it is acknowledged to be  “the Dubai experience”.  It distills  Arabic flair, glamorizes  it and  modernizes it too.

Here, the glamorously sprawling  space seduces all the senses. Dramatically lit, with a brilliant interplay of light and shadow, it shimmers with a humongous and beautiful chandelier (of what seems to be large pearls). Beautiful hostesses lead you into a dimly lit, two leveled large dining area. As does the surrealistic  wall  with it’s  mesmerizing 3D sound and light effect.From the upper level, guests can look down on the restaurant in all its glory.

The food dazzles: dish after dish had visual and gustatory starbursts.The magic  comes on thick and fast…compressed, refreshing  sweet watermelon off set by the salty luscious shanklish cheese. The delightful falafel salad, followed by mellow, fragrant fish and rice,  succulent, robust  lamb. Delicate, raw Yellowtail and char-grilled spicy quail pieces, wrapped in vine leaves. The list goes on and on. My gracious hosts Alia Bin Hendi and Anass Allouch explain many an Arabic term and I feast on the conversation as I do on the fabulous food. Camels milk icecream in erotic embrace with crushed baklava delights. The piece de resistance? sensational honey and vanilla panacotta, topped with yards of sweet gossamer Iranian candyfloss pashmak.

Creating this magic is the extraordinarily gifted Colin Clague. Born in the Isle of man, Chef Clague  has worked with icons like Anton Mosimann and Sir Terence Conran, Clague has not only worked and travelled the world  but also spearheaded the pre-opening teams of the prestigious Burj Al Arab in Dubai, and executive chef of award-winning Japanese izakaya restaurants – Zuma in London and Dubai.

Coincidentally I have eaten at all the restaurants he worked in, including Pollen in Singapore. And each time Ive been delighted. Achieving such resounding flavors and texture takes serious skill and effort and Chef Colin Clague displays both.His dishes dazzle as does Qbara and I have many atreasured recipe from him. Should you need any please email rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com, twitter, instagram @rashmiudaysingh and I’ ll be happy to share them with you

 

Edible soup spoons

HAVE YOUR SPOON AND EAT IT TOO

Am absolutely delighted to present this to you: edible cutlery (spoons, chopsticks, plates and more)  made from flours, like the nourishing Jowar. Its yummy, nourishing, not made with any chemicals or preservatives yet has a shelf life of 18 months and it can even cut into hard foods.Whats more you can get this cutlery made in the flavors of your  choice! hot n spicy, onion and tomato, garlic, ginger, spicy or sweet…take your pick!
An amazing and yummy innovation that addresses ecological concerns like depletion of groundwater No wonder it was    was selected by the CII-USAID-World Resources Institute supported initiative called New Ventures as among the top ten sustainable businesses in the year 2006 – the year it was started. You can order online namaboomi

P.S This delightful information was given to me by Anjali Sharma should you have any such foodie favourites to share and have them written about, please email rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com, twitter, instagram @rashmiudaysingh  .

Review: BOMBAY CANTEEN

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Indian Cafe & Bar

We are rejoicing! Many reasons…not only is it a joyful experience but there is distinct joy in the food too. There is  a palpable youthful vibe not just in the ambiance, the staff, the diners but once again, in the food too. Bombay Canteen celebrates India and ofcourse Bombay.  Much like my brilliant world renowned artist guest Jaideep Mehrotra  whose  works embody the melting pot of cultures in our metropolis, a melange of the eastern & western sensibilities. Like the Sachin Sculpture at Sasmira Junction, which pays tribute to a local lad using state of the art material to create it.Both, he and his lovely wife Seema feel that ‘Bombay Canteen’ has both these elements and manages to capture them well in their flavours and presentation.

 

DECOR

Walk into this airy 4,000 sq. ft  of brilliantly done up space  and be charmed by the Bombay nostalgia in this unfinished “bungalow” with it’s stained glass, long rustic bar, printed tiles, manually lettered pricing boards.Thankfully it   does not degenerate into a themed cutesy cafe,

space,  Kudos to the Busride Design Studio.

NYC to MUMBAI

This Goan chef, worked in Mumbai and took NYC by storm way before glamorboy Vikas Khanna. I first met Chef Floyd Cardoz fifteen years ago, when I had been flown down to NYC  by Asia Society for a panel discussion on Indian food with the icons, Madhur Jaffrey  and Danny Meyer. I ate with Danny Meyer at “Tabla” , Floyds introduction of Indian food to America and loved it.  A couple of years ago, i ate at Floyd’s  “Northend grill” and came away disappointed. Both have since shut, Floyd still straddles both continents (Whitestreet in NYC and Bombay Canteen here). This one marks  his return to and celebration of Indian cuisine. Along with Chef Thomas  Zachiaras they use only local ingredients (many not served in restaurants) and evolve Indian cuisine by making it “cool”. Their passion shines through.

FOOD

Flavors and textures do a rocking jugalbandi! Like the crisp Arbi tuk and mugra chaat. Goan pulled pork does the dandiya with theplas. Eggs Kejriwal get yummier with Kerala coconutty chutney. It begins with the “chintus” (tiny floating snacks much like David Chang’s Ma Peche) super

Unda Curry Devilled Desi Eggs, paper-thin lotus-root fryums. Chhotas (salads, tacos and more) Badas (

Spiced Grilled Chicken Kaleji ) and we also ask for the “Patiala” ( large sharing dishes) fish. Chef Zachiaras’ coconutty My uncles mutton curry delights. Whoa! the rum-spiked Gulabnut, is Floyd’s improvement on the cronut, but for me its the fleshy guava tan ta tan ( tart tatin) with it’s red chilly icecream that works the magic. A fully stocked bar,c raft beers by The Gateway Brewing Co are the other upsides.

MINUS POINTS

My assistant calls to book the table in his name (I never book in mine) and is told they are booked up till 9.30pm.He persists and finally secures a booking for 7pmand for atleast the first two hours the cafe is more or less empty. The loud music jars and keep getting louder. Multi-Grain Khichdi, Steamed Kokum Idiyappam, banana deep fried pakodas

are ho hum. Infact, the vegetarian fare does not sparkle as much as the non veg one. Milk Braised Kashmiri Raan not available.Ice Cream Sandwich and masala chai popsicle sound better than they taste,

 

MY POINT

Balle balle! Indian cuisine gets its much needed complement of playfulness, modernism and global sophistication. Thankfully no molecular gastronomy here! No chicken tikka masala either!  Sure they don’t ace everything, the portions could be larger, the vegetarian fare more finetuned. Accessibility is the guiding ethos,  it is a go-to, drop-in (open for dinner only) canteen for enlightened food lovers on all budgets. I love the way this canteen  marries locally sourced, serious food with an ultra-casual, spontaneous dining ethos, Eating here feels unencumbered, honest and joyful…that word again!

P.S. I just hope this brand new Canteen keeps it up.

 

Bombay Canteen, Kamala Mills, S.B. Road, Lower Parel, Open for dinner only 7:00 pm – 1:00 am

Ph 49666666 Meal for 2 Rs 2000

RATING FOOD 4 SERVICE 4 DECOR 4

 

 

A BANQUET FOR THE SENSES

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Palace Hotel.

What you are holding in your hands is an open invitation to join me at a uniquely spectacular banquet. If you take a look at the accompanying photographs Ive shot, you may begin to get an idea of whats in store. Ofcourse, its just a whiff, a tiny flavor. It begins with the amazing breakfast safari in the magnificent desert and a platter of Bedouin breakfast. It ends with an elegant, authentic Thai meal in a Palace, with the worlds tallest singing and dancing fountains regaling us. In between I not only dine in world class restaurants. Meet world-renowned chefs (our very own Sanjeev Kapoor is here too) but also taste the food of a myriad restaurants in the “Beach canteen”, watch cooking classes, eat at the “Ripe market” in the park. The Dubai food festival not only serves up a flavor of the world but also the homegrown authentic, exoti Emirati ones. And I relish each one!

BREAKFAST IN THE DESERT

Its exhilerating to speed over rolling sanddunes. Nothing can match the vivid blue skies and cool desert  Februrary sunshine as we head towards the Bedouin camp. Here not only do I bask in the sun as I sip on the Arabic coffee (heady with cardamom and saffron,) but also chat with the chief of the Bedouins (looking majestic in his crisp white headgear). A bumpy roller coaster ride on a camel and my appetite is kickstarted. The wholesome Bedouin breakfast (please see photo) of wheat noodles (balaleet) with a whisper of sweetness, the airy light pancakes and “rotis” with zattaar nourish and energise. I couldve stayed on for hours but it’s time to drive on and watch wild animals in the conservation camp

PALACE OF PLEASURE

From the wilds of the desert to a luxuriously pampered dinner in the shimmering majestic, Arabian-inspired Palce hotel in Old Town, right near Dubai Mall. This Palace hotel sprawls langourously around the  placid lake. And it is in this lake that twinkling, dancing, singing fountains leap and piroutte in the sky. They provide an amazing backdrop to our dinner at Thiptara, the authentic Thai restaurant. It is here that Chef Chaiwat conjures  sweet, spicy magic.   In between tripping out on Thai dimsum, succulent Chicken satay and fragrant velvetty curries we converse with renowned chef Yousuf Khumayes from Saudi Arabia. He is here for the food festival and has not only been inaugurating but also sharing his views on healthy cooking at many a Food festival event. Explaining the exciting details of the Food festival (which is on till end of February) the dynamic director, Debora Greenwood elaborates on how this is a treat for foodies,

Through it all, I not only fall in love with this charming, Arabesque hotel which the dapper Fabrice Dufry helms but also nibble on the masterful Thai fare from which lemongrass, galanagal,

Makrut and other Thai herbs leap and delight. Much like the fountains around us.

MIDDLE EASTERN FUSION 

It’s a delight to meet the young, and down to earth,  renowned chef Yousef Khumayes who has been cooking since the age of four. Since then he’s certainly left a track of awards and accomplishments in his wake as an adult! Originally from Jeddah, (his mother is Irish) Chef Khumayes also has international exposure (having honed his skills in leading hotels and restaurants around the world) he has evolved a wide variety of culinary styles and techniques that he often blends in what he dubs ’Middle-Eastern Fusion’, something that is evident in his delicious, exciting, and surprising dishes. He continues to blaze trails in‘Top Chef’ creating  winning dishes and winning hearts too.

He shares with us one of his favorite yummy recipes

 

 

Scallops and quinoa salad:-

 

INGREDIENTS

8 ounces dry sea scallops/

4 teaspoons light soy sauce/4 tablespoons canola oil/

1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed

2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic / 3 cups water /1 teaspoon salt /1 cup sliced snow peas.  /1/3 cup rice vinegar/ 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil /1 cup sliced scallions / 1/3cup finely diced red peppers / 1/2 A red chilli finely chopped  /1/4 cup finely chopped fresh coriander

 

PREPARATION

Toss scallops with 2 teaspoons light soy sauce in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Place a large, pan on medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon canola oil and quinoa. Cook, stirring constantly, until the quinoa begins to colour, 7 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add water and salt and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over medium heat until the water is absorbed, about 18 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to the side, covered, for 8 minutes. Stir in snow peas, cover and leave for 7 minutes more.

Meanwhile, mix 3 tablespoons canola oil, with 2 teaspoon light soy sauce, vinegar and sesame oil. Add the quinoa and snow peas, scallions and bell pepper, mix to combine.

Remove the scallops from the marinade and dry. Heat a big pan on high till it’s really hot. Add the rest of the canola oil and cook the scallops, turning once, until golden brown, about 3minutes each side. Toss the scallops into the quinoa salad. Serve with coriander and a squeeze of fresh lime juice and enjoy.