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:-
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
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.
Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Asian
I’m a “Shabu shabu” fan. Dunking thin slivers of raw beef (preferably Wagyu) in a pot of boiling broth on my table and then pampering my palate with the pristine flavors and textures has been one of my passions around the world. Alas! this Japanese “Shabu shabu” comes to Mumbai’s “Hai Bao” in a totally different (mainly seafood, veggies added on) but flamboyant avatar to Juhu’s new eatery. It has it’s fans (like the family I bump into here) They’re totally hooked “The concept is cool, shabu shabu a knockout, addons are superb, it’s a filling yet light meal” say the well known dashing fashion designers Riyaz and Reshma Gangji who along with Aman and Ananya eat here regularly. Also checking out this new restaurant is the brilliant Chef Himanshu Taneja, passionate and adventurous foodie wanting to try out all that is new in the city. Hai bao has serious detractors @chingypatel (Absolutely avoidable! Terrible food and service! People get enticed cause the Shabu Shabu concept is relatively new in India.) @TaariniNB
(you have to pretty much cook their own food, including the meats. Kinda painful.)
The truth lies somewhere in between.
Profusion of plants (mainly artificial) in this sea facing, high-ceilinged restaurant with wooden furniture.
You name it, they got it. Over the past few months they’ve added on plenty of Chinese dishes especially for the Indian palate (Vegetarian soups, Paneer soya chilly, Chicken crushed pepper, chicken Sichuan pepper. Many vegetarian options too.) Their version of “Shabu shabu” dunking and cooking raw seafood and meats in a choice of broth ((Tom Yum/ Laksa /Clear Seafood ) with 24 varieties of sauces is a filling, tasty option. Try the Hanbun combo ( dumplings, fish fillet, cuttle fish, prawns, chicken, eggs and a range of vegetarian options like pakchoy, shitake mushrooms and broccoli.You could opt for the barbecue grill on the table too. Try the Prawns in shells enlivened with garlic and mellow with butter, well made
Scallops in white sauce and an okayish panfried pomfret. Attentive service under Leo Pinto, (Ipad menus, fancy call buttons connected to waiters wrists et al ) add a dimension to the experience.
Some of the raw seafood (for the Shabu Shabu) is not fresh. Thick skinned Chicken kothay, Veg kothay. Avoid the insipid Laksa broth, the tasteless Hokkein rice. Stay clear of the oversweet and strange desserts, be it the tender coconut with strands of fresh malai jellied and reset in a hollowed coconut shell or the syrupy sweet mango pudding.
“Profusion” accurately describes Hai Bao… from the number of dishes, cuisines, versions of “Shabu Shabu”, dipping sauces to the number of plants here. Since opening they’ve hiked up set lunch price from 499 to 599 and 999 (with Shabu shabu). The non veg Shabu shabu meal, enough for 4 to 6 (priced between 1100 to 1999) and veg (Rs 750). Generous portions. Authentic flavors give way to robust, spicy Chindian ones. Adaptation, thy name is “Haibao”.
HAIBAO , opposite Ramada Palm Grove, Juhu Tara Road, Ph 26101800
Open lunch and dinner
Meal for 2 Rs 2000
FOOD 3 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5
YOUR REVIEWS OF HAI BAO
Your reviews are invaluable. A zillion thanks. Been flooded with your twitter and instagram and mail reviews (firstname.lastname@example.org, @rashmiudaysingh) Sorry unable to print all your reviews due to space constraint.
MUST GO @crazyloveshoesOh amazing! Just amazing!!
@meghna0205Omg I’ve been dying to go here for ages!
@mumbaifoodieBeen there twice last month! Really love the shabu shabu concept.
@foodavalanche ( the shabu shabu tastes brilliant though it’s for a min of 5 or 6 – keep some space for the the laksa soup & their coconut desert.)
@sozzlebeeShabu shabu finally in india.. Went thete almost 6 months back.. Lovely selection of seafood n meats… Quantity definately humongous.. Got excellent service but drinks need to be worked on bigg time…
DON’T GO @vanillachic89Not the best option of people who love to eat meat but aren’t great at cooking it – the taste was great but too much effort – and ended up feeling more stressed that relaxed.
@chingypatelAbsolutely avoidable! Terrible food and service! People get enticed cause the Shabu Shabu concept is relatively new in India.
#Haibao very very avoidable. Dodgy meat, insipid broths and rather cloying service. Pity because its a good concept.