Urban Bites: Abu Dhabi Airport Road

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What does one do when one stays in Karama Street (or Old Airport Road as its so fondly known) and needs to find a convenient place to relax, read a book or simply meet for coffee…pasta maybe? Head to the mall? Not anymore…read on:

Urban Bites seems to be the answer to my long awaited need for convenience of time and distance, along with good menu options of pastas, salads and soups apart from hot beverages. The newly opened restaurant is located just across the street, a few blocks away from the Adnoc refuelling station (for those going in the direction of the airport). Here’s a bonus point: Healthy food options! My recommendation is to try the ‘Create your own salad’, where you are offered a variety of fresh, delicious options over the counter, and the attendant will mix your choices with a selected dressing. The ingredients are impressively numerous to be listed, and its a must-savor; what’s more is that you don’t have to be a salad-lover to relish this well prepared meal. The portions are generous, and the attendants guided me through the contents to make it perfect.

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My sister and usual eatery connoisseur, ordered a baguette with Cold cuts, equally fresh and delicious. Options available in wholemeal and brown, brown and rye breads too.

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So what’s different? Traditional Emarati Breakfast, Qastaleeyah. This is perhaps the first place I’ve observed, that confidently serves the Emarati breakfast item and dessert respectively. The interiors are clean, spacious, chic and very urban.

Dear Urbans, thank you for opening so close by!

Other branches in Abu Dhabi: Shining tower Khalidiya, Khalifa City A

Price for Baguette: AED 28

Price for Small Salad: AED 20; AED 30 with protein

Cappuccino: AED 14

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Gastronomic Vacation: Mumbai to Goa in a week

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Vacation with my sister has always been a call for adventure, thankfully without mishaps. Having recently quit my job, and taking advantage of my sister’s annual leave from work, we embarked on a short, one week trip around our 2 favorite places in India: Mumbai and Goa. The experience was momentous, and we covered several locations accomplishing thus, a most satisfying itenary. Some of the most poignant moments (including food ofcourse!) have been captured and put up for recommendation:

7 Kitchens, Palladium Hotel: Lunch Buffet

The sole deciding factor between buffet versus a la carte menu, was my appraisal of the ostensible desserts. 7 Kitchens is a renowned fine dining restaurant of the luxurious Palladium Hotel, situated at Worli, adjacent to Phoenix Mall at Lower Parel. The sophistication of the town, and the grand view of the skyline from the Worli Sea Link Bridge is what makes this trip worthwhile. We were greeted by an unprecedented wet spell that day, making our entrance a little less ostentatious than planned, (not that we were celebrities of any sort, but I believe that good hotels deserve a classy walk-in), nevertheless the intricate works and interiors were finely detailed, polished with much assiduity, and elegance. Atleast we had a plausible excuse to use the tersely polished marble bathrooms before settling for lunch. The buffet won hands down, after I observed their dedicated counter for pastries and my two favorites: Opera and Tiramisu.

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Lake View Cafe, Renaissance Hotel:

It was our lazy day, and so we missed brunch! While we entered the restaurant, the staff were carting away the tables and cloches and I managed to see what I had missed, regretfully. Had we made it for the brunch on time, I’m sure we would have enjoyed a most formidable spread. It was almost sunset, so we enjoyed a pasta dish each, followed by coffee. The place is highly recommended for its serene views of the Powai Lake, lawn and surroundings.

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Cidade De Goa Hotel:

Moving over to Goa, I would always recommend the stay at this fabulous hotel that has been my holiday destination for over a decade. It feels like I grew up here, as it has been the place of many family reunions, occasions and celebrations. Like us, there are plenty of Indian expats who are regular guests at the unchangeable hotel. If you manage to reserve during the peak season (we were informed that we had arrived during the wedding season), the costs could be exaggeratedly high, but you get to enjoy several aspects and locales of the hotel, which otherwise remain closed during the reasonably-priced monsoons. Sapiently, I would recommend you take time to discern how to enjoy your trip here. The entire five star resort is located by the beach, facing the shores of Donna Paula (a famous monumental town), with its water sports and beach activities for guests. Several restaurants, catering halls and cafes, indoor and outdoor are widely dispersed throughout the structure. The service is brilliant, and most satisfactory. Very accommodating staff, so to speak that gave us attention to every detail from our check in, special food orders, spa treatments and transport. The entire hotel was active with weddings, corporate conferences and live entertainments, etc. We never had a single prosaic moment during our stay here, and I know I never will have, hopefully for years to come.

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Mumbai International Terminal 2:

The most raved about terminal had just opened doors to us as we arrived in Mumbai, so a week later the place still smelled of fresh paint. A lot of effort, innovation and creative designs and construction by international designers and private investors have contributed to the florid look of Terminal 2 or T2 as it has been named. For all those who were otherwise used to the dingy predecessor, this sight will surely shake your inhibitions. The change is refreshing, remarkable, while several fine dining options as well as fast food courts have made their establishments. I wish I had more time for a fulfilling exploration of the area, and its many dining options, but we were stifled for time, and made it few minutes before boarding. The airport signboards clearly restrict everyone from photography, yet some obstinate few could not control their urge for selfies.

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Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche

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Brunch. Gourmet. Elegance.

The newly opened Sofitel Luxury Hotel propped at the outskirts of the Corniche recently introduced buffets and brunches at the Lounge restaurant, simply named Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche. The indubitable opulence of its interiors and impeccable sophistication can quell a first timer at the grand entrance. We were promptly attended to by a Guest Relations Officer who directed our steps to the extravagant brunch.

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This was the Friday Brunch Special, and the food as I observed, was a generous array of Lebanese and French themes, and a few Asian main courses. The arrangement can appear a little discordant, so it is advisable to peruse the buffet settings prior to starting your meals so as to avoid skipping a valuable course.

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A brief list of the ostensible varieties would include: Salad bars, Cheese and Assorted Bread bar, Cold cuts and a dedicated Seafood counter, Live Sushi Station, Mixed grills, Hot preparations of rice and gravies, Baked Servings of Salmon, Quail and meats. I would advise that you request for hot and freshly prepared / grilled meats in order to avoid them turning up on your plate cold and unchewable.

The ambiance boasts of a mollifying demeanor, that overlooks the shores of the Corniche. The charm of the restaurant, amidst its pompous elegance lies in its fastidious arrangements of interiors, lounge and table seats, cutlery and fountains. We were briefly entertained by a live band who delivered a remarkable performance perfectly adjunct to the weekend atmosphere.

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The eminent feature of this spread would have to be the Desserts. I simply loved the Eiffel Tower of cupcakes, cake pops, candies and pastries of sorts. Notably, I must appreciate the explicit service rendered to us by all the attendees, hostesses and manager alike, who assiduously looked into our requirements and comfort. Definitely recommended for gourmet enthusiasts.

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Russo’s New York Pizzeria

Pizza. Pasta. Tiramisu

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This would be my standard definition for typical Italian cuisine, and very rarely does a restaurant manage to surpass this combination amongst the existing Italian dining options in the city.

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A month ago I had been awestruck by the sheer size of a pizza being delivered from this restaurant, in a fairly gigantic box right across myself and a group of friends after having enjoyed a movie. The size did arouse my curiosity then, and after a great vacation this was the first restaurant I had to try. As seen before, Russo’s New York Pizzeria is all about sheer size! The gigantic masterpiece I was referring to is a 28″ pizza, with topping options catering to all kinds of preferences.

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The restaurant is part of the Gourmet Republic food plaza located in the extension of Al Wahdah Mall, and true to its promise, this place does not fail to seduce. The staff are very friendly and prompt in assisting with your seating and orders. The tables by the window offer you a view of the Al Wahdah Football lawns and stadium, a good entertainment seat if there were a match in progress for the sports connoisseurs.

Coming straight to the order, we selected Pesto Chicken Pizza (gluten free options also available), along with a fabulous Shrimp Tortellini Pasta. If it hadn’t been for just the two of us at the pizzeria that day, I would have loved to try several picks from their great menu options, but perhaps I’d have to save it for another definite visit.

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We were well attended to, and service was impressively prompt. Complimentary bread with pesto and tomato dips were also served. The food was profoundly delicious, and attendees made sure our order was satisfactory and enjoyable. I trust my pictures are ostensible enough for your judgement.

As always, the Italian trilogy is never complete without the Tiramisu, which was a delightful combination of mascarpone cheese and coffee dipped fingers. (Yet again) we were offered a generous portion, good enough to be shared by 4 persons. One doesn’t need to go too far in Abu Dhabi for worthwhile Italian cuisine, when it’s right at the heart of the city.

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While you enjoy the dining experience, do take a good look around the restaurant with it’s graceful lamp shades and pictures of New York and Italy that ornate the walls. My compliments to the efficient staff for making our experiences always momentous and looking forward to more visits soon.

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Branches also located at Dubai (Jumeirah Centre) and Sharjah (Sahara Centre Extension).

Cost of Pizza (Medium) – AED 55

Cost of Pasta – AED 55

Tiramisu – AED 28

Orient Treasures Restaurant

“What do you prefer to eat?”

Two years ago, when she asked me the question, I hesitated to answer. I knew that if I had said fish…or soup…or chicken, she would make that phone call, and voila! I would have a dish in front of me. Back then, I had just relocated to the office where my senior management were all present. Getting lunch was a challenge I thought, as I was used to the restaurants around the old office. My senior colleague, was a co-owner of a newly opened Filipino restaurant, that was the nearest from where I was. Being calorie conscious, I held an ignorant doubt that like most Asian platters, pinoy food too would contain either too much oil or too much spice. She pressed the question again, adamant that I should try.

“Do you have anything light?”, I finally asked back,

“What do you mean by light?”, she asked, resounding the vagueness of my question;

“Light…non-greasy, and non-spicy..?”

“All of our foods are light in that context, spice is an option ofcourse.”

Finally I said “chicken”, and waited till the dish came. It was a silog dish – Chiksilog. Silogs are dishes served with garlic rice, fried egg and pickled papaya strips called achara. Not only was this dish light, it was delicious. The chicken was cooked perfectly, the rice was portioned just right, and together with a fried sunny side up the meal was simply beautiful. With a dish so simple, and so conveniently available I was confident that the other dishes were as awesome as this. Of course, I had Filipina colleagues who gave me suggestions from time to time, and guided me across the food names. A guide through the silog list would be:

Chiksilog – Chicken, fried rice, fried egg

Longsilog – Sausages, fried rice, fried egg

Daingsilog – Fried fish (milkfish), fried rice, fried egg

Tapsilog – Cured beef, fried rice, fried egg

Tocilog – Honey barbeque sauced chicken, fried rice, fried egg (my personal favorite)

Cornsilog – Corned beef, fried rice, fried egg

Clockwise from Top Left: Tocilog, Chiksilog, Daingsilog, Tapsilog

Clockwise from Top Left: Tocilog, Chiksilog, Daingsilog, Tapsilog

Chicken Mamee with Fried Tofu

Chicken Mamee with fried Tofu

Chopsuey

Chopsuey

Orient Treasures by now has gained a reputed name all over Najda Street for their home-style cooked dishes, delivery service and new innovative additions to their menu. The restaurant manager – Ms. Relly is an over all talented lady both in and out of the kitchen. Whether its food presentation, delivery and even menu design and photography, she’s the best to rely on. The kitchen also has a team of efficient cooks behind the counter. It is preferred to enjoy the casual ambiance of the restaurant, but free delivery service is also provided for the sake of customer convenience. The restaurant is located at the heart of Najda Street, near to National Hospital. One of its best features is the budget meal service, which is available on a monthly contract basis, and has affordable hot meals served at your office desk. This restaurant is guaranteed to satisfy any nationality or varied foodie types with their choice of food. Just name your favorite, and like me you will get it hot on a platter.

Assorted Condiments

Assorted Condiments – Self Service

The restaurant has come up with Daily Buffet starting from today, and priced at AED 30. Combo meals are also available for AED 12. I recommend that one should check what this restaurant has to offer and meet the talented staff. I was also fortunate today to have tasted their ‘Taho’ – a light dessert made from soya milk custard, sugar, and tapioca. Its a specialty and a must-eat!

Fresh steaming Taho

Fresh steaming Taho

I’m looking forward for Orient Treasures to become the next big name in Abu Dhabi when it comes to daily meals / budget meals as they have been the only enterprise so far to have managed this so successfully and beautifully. Watch out for their progress on Orient Treasures Facebook page.

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The Village: One to One Hotel

Entertaining Spread…that’s about the best two words I could think of as soon as I saw the restaurant.

Those who are arriving here for the first time, will have some difficulty finding the location, therefore make sure to ask for the directions in advance and to be on time for the Friday Brunch outlaid between 12 pm – 4 pm. I was not expecting a large crowd, so I could call myself and my brunch companion really fortunate to have found a table. The Village is a large shisha tent, with indoor and outdoor seating arrangements, and we were recommended to sit inside so as to catch some entertainment that was being arranged for the customers.

Being famished, we commenced the buffet line and were welcomed to a wide array of assorted breads, salads and lentil soup. The menu was predominantly Lebanese, with a few continental main courses such as Grilled fish, Spaghetti and Sauteed mushrooms. Remarkably kid friendly, with a whole row of foods dedicated to children, lowered dishes of Chicken Nuggets, hot dogs, pastas, sandwiches and popcorn!

Among the main courses were: Grilled meats, assorted Fatayer, Noodles and the winner item: Lamb Rice. This rice is so flavorful, and with the meat well done, it simply melts in the mouth. There was also a Margarita pizza, Cheese stuffed bread and condiments of hummus, gravies and several sauces.

Noodles

Noodles

Assorted Fatayer

Assorted Fatayer

Lamb Rice

Lamb Rice

The entire while of picking up my main course items, I was distracted by the desserts counter. And from the other side, one cannot make out its expanse or contents, but I was looking forward to it especially after seeing another customer with a heap full of chocolate!

My wait was certainly not disappointing. The extraordinary array of desserts made me guilty for having taken a second round for main course, since many of the ones displayed were my all-time favorites: Chocolate Ganache Cake, Opera Cake, Cheese Cakes, Chocolate Mousse, Parfaits, Black Forest Cake, Crème Caramel, Baklava, Macaroons, Chocolate Brownies and much more. These complimented with steaming tea or coffee (also included in the buffet), made me request to see the Pastry Chef for a personal commendation.

Chocolate Brownies

Chocolate Brownies

Profiteroles & Fruit Cake

Profiteroles & Fruit Cake

Carrot cake

Carrot cake

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Crème Caramel

Crème Caramel

Chocolate Ganache Cake

Chocolate Ganache Cake

Live Entertainment

Live Entertainment

Chef Ziad, as he is well known in One to One Hotel, has a remarkable patisserie experience of over 30 years. His expert knowledge in chocolate and pastries is the secret behind the divine taste of all those desserts on display. He was humble and forthcoming enough to show me pictures of his works in the field of pastry making. I am confident that his expertise and talent will lead him to more successful heights. As for the chocolate cake, I firmly believe this was the one I have been looking for – the ever perfect complement of moist sponge and ganache.

Radisson Blu Resort: Fujeirah

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Lord of the Sea & Sky

You don’t need to travel too far to experience the trilogy of wind, water and rocks, when you can enjoy it at Radisson Blu Beach Resort, Fujairah. The room’s best stand-out is its view: a grasping abyss of pristine blue waters, over a horizon of rain clouds and mountains. All rooms have sea-overlooking balconies fitted with comfy chairs, thus making for a cozy coffee conversation. The beach is well maintained, clean and covering a lengthy expanse.

*Oops!* Seems, like I rushed the readers straight out the balcony, without mentioning the hotel. Being from an established group of Resorts, Radisson Blu does not fail to impress the guest with its quality location, interiors, comfort and value for money. Importantly, its the ambiance and Guest-relations that counts, and surely the hotel was not complacent on their delivery. From the time of your arrival to your departure, you are well taken care of by the Concierge, Receptionist and Housekeepers. At the lobby, after you have received your welcome drink, take a quick look around the hotel’s facilities. Some of the key attractions being:

  • Library: A cozy study room by the beach side equipped with divans, study tables and chairs, magazine desks, coffee tables, a large cabinet with selected novels, and a PC.
  • Spa: Facilitating both indoor spa and beach massages for the guest
  • Lounge: With a bar, Billiards table for smokers and non-smokers.
  • Kids Section: For parties and children’s access.
  • Dining Restaurants: all of which overlook the beach.

Even while you are escorted to the rooms, you can stop and enjoy the valley view from the corridor lounges: bright and well placed divans with coffee tables. The hotel has really invested in it’s guest luxury.

Corridor Lounge @ Radisson Blu Beach Resort

Corridor Lounge @ Radisson Blu Beach Resort

Our package included a night’s stay with breakfast. We dined at Breeze for breakfast and lunch. This restaurant is known for its extensive outdoor seating, and delicious buffet spreads of continental and Arab cuisines.

Breakfast spread included: Egg station, pancake and waffle station, Fouls Mesdames, Hash browns and Sausages, cold cuts, cheese counter, assorted breads, muffins and cakes (including Christmas Stollen!), an array of fresh juices, cereals. I observed they also served low calorie breakfast specials available in the a la carte menu.

Cereals @ Radisson Blu Beach Resort

Cereals @ Radisson Blu Beach Resort

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Cheese and Cold Cuts @ Radisson Blu Beach Resort

Fresh Fruit @ Radisson Blu Beach Resort

Fresh Fruit @ Radisson Blu Beach Resort

Fresh Juices @ Radisson Blu Beach Resort

Fresh Juices @ Radisson Blu Beach Resort

Muffins, Assorted Bread @ Radisson Blu Beach Resort

Muffins, Assorted Bread @ Radisson Blu Beach Resort

For lunch, we ordered from the menu, and the chef – Mr. Kant, was kind enough to accommodate our request for special diet food, making sure it was served as specified. My order was a Grilled Salmon cured with potato puree.

Grilled Salmon @ Radisson Blu Beach Resort

Grilled Salmon @ Radisson Blu Beach Resort

Desserts @ Radisson Blu Beach Resort

Desserts @ Radisson Blu Beach Resort

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All through our stay, I’d like to appreciate the hospitality of Mr. Savio D’Souza, who went out of his way to ensure our comfort at all times. The complete room reservation (even though it was at the last minute), to the food arrangements, as well as check-out was carried out with gracious and professional incumbency.  Mr. Savio, allow me to say that we shall be regular guests as long as you’re around.

Mr. Savio D'Souza

Mr. Savio D’Souza

This resort, is worth the long drive from other Emirates, for its scenic location, great service and awesome views. Make sure to book your next holiday at the place.