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BIG FAT FOOD GUIDE! #1 | MAY

 

   

BFGG_MAY
 


 

If I would get a Dirham every time someone would ask me “What is your favourite restaurant in Dubai?” I would be a big baller billionaire. I always thought that I had quite a good grasp on my knowledge of must visit hot-spots in Dubai, however as new restaurants popping up every day it is incredibly hard to keep my list of must visit places updated. That’s when I decided that I have to start SIN’S BIG FAT FOOD GUIDE! *including healthy options too ;-). From nightlife hotspots to romantic restaurants, sooner or later it will all be documented in my new Dubai food black book. Starting off with the first edition today you can read all about the places that made an impact on my taste buds in the last month.

 


 

FOOD GUIDE INDEX – MAY

 

SOLO VINO BAR
JF STREETFOOD
CIRCLE CAFÉ
TOKO
BLUE MARLIN BRUNCH

 


SOLO VINO BAR – WINE & CHEESE TASTING

 

WHAT?
A wine and cheese pairing at Solo Dubai is the perfect way to break the week and forget about work. Best way to enjoy this to the fullest is to round a group of friends and cab your way to Raffles hotel. 

 

DECOR
The restaurants interior is truly a hidden gem which I only realised when the manager gave me a little tour in the restaurant. The super cool Pop art decorations add a capital F to Fun and the private dining area is ultimate Luxury. High ceilings and mirrored walls make the space eye extremely big but the decor and lighting still maintain a cosy feeling. The brick walls add rustic feeling which is complimented with the colourful quirky bulls-heads on the walls.

 

AMBIENCE
What started off as a quiet restaurant soon turned into a cosy hip hotspot. The crowd was very mixed varying from emirates crew, to business man, to Raffles hotel guest, to groups of  friends. The music was chill and the lighting made you easily forget about your surroundings.. or perhaps it was the fun crowd I was with :-)

 

SERVICE
The staff was extremely nice and very helpful and most of them call Italy their home. That explains why I got so impressed with their knowledge of the cheese and wine they served us. We even managed to get a few extra drops of our favourite wines.

 

FOOD
As I am a sucker for cheese (blame it on Holland) this pairing is perfect for me! You get to try 5 different cheeses paired with a combination of red and white wines. Don’t expect to leave the venue with a full tummy as the cheese portions are medium sized however the pairing is an extreme good value for the price.

 

A+
My favourite part of the night was the blue cheese with the sweet white wine pairing. As I am definitely not a wine expert, or a huge wine drinker, a sweet wine is a bit easier to drink away for me. The blue cheese had such a lovely creamy texture and the taste was nice and mild.

 

FUN FACT
Did you know that the purpose of swirling wine in a glass is to aerate the wine and release vapors, evaporating from the sides of the glass, for you to smell?

 

DETAILS

Each Tuesday – 5 wines + 5 cheeses – 120 AED
Solo vino & bistro
Raffles Hotel

04 370 8999

 


 

JF STREETFOOD

 

WHAT?
The Middle East’s home-grown fast-casual restaurant brand formerly known as Just falafel, reinforces its philosophy in bringing the world’s oldest recorded street food in a modern day dining experience with a new brand and concept – JF Street Food. And with that in place the launch of the new menu quickly followed.

 

THE DECOR
When entering JF street food – which is located in marina – the first place you pass is a funky crayon art wall on which the customers can engage by leaving a quirky message. We obviously had to make our mark and with that you immediately feel that this is a fun place! Decorated with colourful chairs and a broken brick wallpaper, this place might feel small but it is big enough to do what it is set up for – deliver tasteful and quick street food with a fun and innovative twist.

 

AMBIENCE
The restaurant is surprisingly welcoming. Even though the place is packed with people, everyone managed to find their own little corner to nibble on their quick bites. Don’t be surprised if you are sharing a table with a stranger, it is all part of the street food ambience!

 

SERVICE
While ordering our food at the counter our server explains us friendly how to compose the perfect JF street food. He tells us with passion about their fresh ingredients and the history of the tasteful menu. Within minutes he hooks us up with our food!

 

FOOD

Are you ready for it? I introduce to you THE “Shawurger”! Yes, it is what you think it is, a hybrid between two much-loved, classic snacks – the shawarma and a hamburger – which brings the East and West together to offer something new to the market. The Chicken Shawurger is served in a soft potato bun, a bed of lettuce, tomatoes, onion, French fries and drizzled with a garlic mayo sauce. The Beef Shawurger follows a classic Beef Shawarma recipe that includes a parsley onion mix, pickles, tomatoes and JF’s special Tahina sauce put together in the same potato bun.

 

A+
The best part of our food was the sweet potato fries, for which I would come back any time! Nice and crisp from the outside and soft and warm from the inside. If I may add an extra A+ it would be the super delicious sauces – with the spicy Chicken tikka sauce ranked on #1!

 

FUN FACT
JF streetfood was started in Dubai by the Just Falafel group which now have over 38 outlets in the region! ( Sounds like a big baller gold mine!)

 

DETAILS
JF Streetfood
Park Island Towers, Dubai Marina
04 4529966

 


CIRCLE CAFÉ  
 

 

WHAT?
Circle café is a homely casual dining cafe in the middle of Business Bay. It might be a bit hard to find but as this place serves something I have not seen much of in Dubai it is worth the search. Specialised in healthy home-made food Circle café originally started with simple NYC-style bagels but they soon expanded their menu with freshly tossed salads, hand crafted sandwiches and home-made dessert.

 

THE DECOR

Funny enough, the grey walls with white decor accents at circle café looks quite similar to my decor at home! The interior has a relaxed but modern touch and the cool display cabinets are filled with vintage wanna-have items.

 

AMBIENCE
As the business bay location is fairly new it feels like tumble weeds and crickets are a must accessory but when you meet the owners of Circle café this feeling soon disappears. Full of life the two ladies come and chat to everyone that is in the restaurant. The later it gets – the fuller the restaurants fills up. Even the newspaper style menu has quite some personal stories about the restaurant which makes you feel like you are eating at your friend’s home.

 

SERVICE
The service was very quick and staff was helpful. the lady serving me explained the menu and she had a great knowledge of the menu and the ingredients.

 

FOOD
If you are a health freak, then Circle café will be your new regular hangout. We tried a variation of the bagels which were absolutely divine. The must try bagel is the Brie cheese and apple, a perfect combination of flavours. I also tried the risotto which unfortunately was not fully to my taste. I am not a huge fan of al Dente which I believe was the style of cooking for this dish. On the other hand I could not stop myself from the small bite bagel chips which seemed to have a seasoning of Za’atar. Usually I am the last one to eat anything with Za’atar but the truffle tarma must had a magical effect on my taste buds. A highlight was the polenta which came as a side dish, but to me this could pass as a main. Pretty good stuff! The whole weed salad was a bit of a bummer as I secretively wanted to add a big sprinkle of salt however, overall the dishes tasted extremely healthy and you could feel it was all made with the freshest ingredients.

 

 
A+
After a bit of trying I eventually found out my favourites menu items. The Salads, Sandwiches and bagels are definitely one of the best I have had in a while, especially knowing how hard it is to get a good healthy and fresh sandwich in Dubai. Also try out the crab salad, it is Yummy! I will definitely come back when I am on a crash holiday diet, as every bite here is one you won’t regret when you stand on the scale.

 

FUN FACT
Did you know that the founders of Circle café Mira and Rama eat everyday at their own restaurant? Seriously, every single day without exception!
 

DETAILS
Circle café
Bay Square
04 552 1403


 

TOKO

 

WHAT?
If you haven’t heard of Toko Dubai yet you must have lost your ears. As a well-known Sydney born brand, TOKO will serve you with Japanese ‘izakaya’ style dishes in a beautifully designed setting.  Located in the luxury boutique Vida Hotel Downtown, the venue includes a restaurant, lounge, expansive terrace, private dining, and multiple bars (in case one bar isn’t enough :-)). You can expect some serious culinary cooking techniques and dishes with a don’t try this at home warning sign. Trust me, it will not turn out as good as Toko will serve you. (Unless a Samurai knife is your best friend of course.)

 

 
THE DECOR
From start to finish you can just see that Toko has it right. Every corner is decorated with detail which you certainly feel as it looks like you are sitting in a real life Tokyo hot spot. The artworks that are scattered on the walls throughout the restaurant actually made me get off my chair to have a closer look. Supplied by Opra gallery the Asian inspired artworks feature the talent of several designers which I had to look up! (If you are in to art you have to google Hiro Ando, Patrick Boussignac, Ryoko Watanabe, Britto and Mari Kim to see more of their work) On the outside terrace the beautiful blue sky is covered with something even more colourful than that; A stunning cloud of bright hued Japanese umbrellas, just like the ones that make you smile when you get them in your cocktail!

 

AMBIENCE
As I been twice to Toko (can’t get enough of this place) the ambience in the afternoon and evening is a difference of day and night however that does not mean than one is better than the other. During the day it feels like a fun vibrant day in Tokyo – not that I have ever been but still. Ready to explore different areas in order to find exciting Japanese discoveries the open kitchen is definitely worth a peek while the outside dining area is the most charming Japanese blossom terrace I have seen in Dubai. (without the blossom though but you get the feeling right?) In the evening the lights are softly dimmed and you can feel the mysterious and romantic vibe that make this place even more Vibrant. The music? 
Phenomenal Soul and Funk band Abri and Funk Radius regularly play their tunes which is one of the key ingredient to a fine dining experience.

 

SERVICE
I wonder if being uber cool is one of the skills TOKO request in their vacancies when searching for staff as one thing is for sure; with this hip place comes hip waiters. As skilled as a Japanese Samurai every move they make is correct; from the timing of the drinks to the serving speed of the dishes. They even have really good chat. (We almost asked the waiter chap from Manchester to come and join our table)

 

FOOD
As you might have read before, I am a huge fan of Asian food, especially when it is cooked in a high quality like at Toko. The authentic Japanese street food is all about sharing, but when food is so good, it is hard to not get to greedy while sharing. We Started off with the Salmon tatar and sweet potato crisp. The clean and fresh smell of the salmon tasted so nice on top of the sweet potato crisps, a perfect example of fast food VS healthy in one bite. The edamame was slightly overcooked as I prefer the beans a little bit more medium cooked but when the tuna tartar came our this was soon forgotten. A-melt-in-the-mouth texture of truffle infused tuna on top of a perfectly crisp cooked toast felt like a bite of heaven. We tried the standard sushi maki’s such as spicy Tuna, California roll and yellow tail sushi, all prepared to perfection which you should expect from a signature Japanese dish. We also had scallops that were cooked with skill –  perfect texture and temperature. All of the food was presented as if it was a work of art and the freshness of the fish was like it was just caught this morning from the ocean. As if that was not enough we had to try the recommended Wagyu beef, but at that point we could only stare and watch the steak sizzle on the hot plate. It was the guilt feeling of eyes bigger than our stomach which made us try a final bite of the heavenly beef before I opened the zipper of my dress to catch my breath and finish off with a Chilli cocktail. I am not quite sure how I got home after that. I believe I was in a food coma, Zero regrets.

 

A+
Don’t even know how to pick the best dish. Perhaps the Wagyu steak? Or maybe the truffle infused tuna tartar. Oh no wait, maybe the Black Cod?

 

FUN FACT
Did you know that in the book of Japanese sushi table manners it is frowned up on to dip your ginger in the Soy sauce? The pickled ginger is meant to be served as a palate cleanser in between sushi and nigiri pieces, but the common misunderstanding is to dip pickled ginger into the soy sauce or to put the pickled ginger on top of nigiri sushi – whose flavour is already complete and balanced. So in the future, no more dipping! – Nahh don’t think so.
 

DETAILS
Toko
Vida hotel, downtown – near Burj Khalifa
04 442 8383

 


 

BLUE MARLIN BRUNCH

 

WHAT?

BLUE MARLIN IBIZA UAE is one of the most popular beach clubs in Ibiza and the Dubai based franchise surprisingly never fails to keep up with the high created expectations of her bigger sister. Besides from one of the few venues in Dubai to impress me over and over again with their DJ lineup you can also expect a unique new concept of dining and relaxing in style. Flavours brought to you from the shores of the Mediterranean, combined with Japanese hints of the orient always make me experience and enjoy the extraordinary cuisine, top service and a guaranteed good day out. After finishing your plate you can also enjoy late afternoon cocktails on the beach and swim in the cool waters of the bay, so good that you can spot me here at least twice a month!

 

THE DECOR

Located in Ghantoot, which is a 40 minutes drive from Dubai, the beach club spreads itself over two floors. On the upper deck you can enjoy sit down dinners and on the ground floor terrace music lovers usually move their feet to the beat while dancing around the white furniture and VIP table setup. On arrival, the sound of Ibiza house tunes will lure you into the architectural haven surrounded by white canopies and clear wavy waters where you can indulge in the venue’s lush bay and comfortable sun loungers. The decor is minimalist, with white chairs, sofas and tables covering the terrace decking floor. As if that all does not sound attractive enough, the massive shrubs and palm trees makes you feel like you are in a hidden secluded beach paradise – true story right there.

 

AMBIENCE

While overlooking the VIP terrace and beach you can enjoy the latest eclectic tunes played by international dj’s that will make you feel like you are truly in Ibiza. Not into your music? The fashion crowd surely will give you something to look at, so save your latest fashion triangle bikini for this hotspot. Still feel like you need to impress more? Why not arrive straight to the club by Yacht if you’ve got plenty of dirhams to spare?

 

SERVICE

From the moment you arrive it is pretty clear; you have to be hot to work here. Modelesque waiters and waitresses dresses in white and blue are all kitted out with a Walkie talkie for excellent and fast service. The staff knows what they are doing as they are clearly trained for the pressure and fast pace a day club requires. The staff truly pampers and takes care of you while you rub in your factor 50 to protect yourself from the Desert heat.

 

FOOD

As blue marlin Emphasises on fresh and healthy products, you can be ensured with the best ingredients from around the world, prepared with creativity and flair. A Great pallet of signature dishes like the diced yellow fin Tuna Tartar served with Avocado, a rich variety of sushi and tasty Yakitori chicken skewers are guaranteed to bring you a culinary adventure.

 

A+

For a true super hero feel you must try out the water activities such as finding your balance while paddle boarding, jumping on a huge inflatable blow up structure (more fun after a few sangria’s) or be a superman look-a-like by changing into a water jet pack suit for some serious flyboarding above the water surface. (Advised to try this before the sangria..)

 

FUN FACT

Did you know that in China they used several other materials than wood to make chopsticks? For example, rulers in Asia often used silver chopsticks as they were convinced that silver would change color if the food is poisoned. Gold chopsticks were also used, but only the highest among the nobility were allowed (and able) to do this. This was yet another way, emperors could show that they were above the common folk, who would use wooden or metal chopsticks. Perhaps a new opportunity for a Dubai trend? Bye bye Bugatti – hello gold chopsticks!

 

DETAILS
Blue Marlin Ibiza – UAE
Golden Tulip hotel – Ghantoot – Abu Dhabi
056 113 3400

 


 

I Hope you enjoyed reading the first edition of SIN’S BIG FAT FOOD GUIDE! Please let me know what your favourite restaurants are and perhaps you have already been to one of the places above? Don’t leave before you share with me what you absolutely love and passionately hate, I can’t wait to hear!
 
Much love, Samantha


 
 
 

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Comments

  1. Crei says:

    An avid fan of Just Falafel here! The food at Circle Café looks tempting too. Would like to try them out soon! Great review!

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