De Thali Restaurant & Peppermill

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For the love of Indian dishes:

Indian food is eaten from thalis or large plates, whereupon portions of the prepared dishes are served. A typical thali may include two or more gravies (one of which may be lentils), either rice or flat bread called roti (thin) or chapati (thick) or puri (fried); curds and optionally a sweet dish. Conventionally, the steward is required to serve the portions into the thalis as soon as it has been prepared, and that may be precisely why I did not have the fortune of taking the fresh shots as they arrived.

With limited photographs, I decided to combine two popular Indian restaurants, both of which graciously satisfy the curry appetite:

De Thali Restaurant:

Located at the food court of Madinat Zayed Shopping Centre, the menu is inspired from popular Indian must-haves – snacks and main course. We chose two favorites: Jhinga Nisha (Tandoor cooked Jumbo Prawns with a mint chutney); and Babhi Murgh (a kind of chicken gravy). Total cost inclusive of drinks came to AED 100 for 2 persons.

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Peppermill Restaurant:

The restaurant has two outlets in Abu Dhabi: one at Al Wahdah Mall extension and the other at the exotic Eastern Mangroves Promenade. This fine dining ambiance allows you to explore contemporary gourmet dishes within ornately decorated surroundings. It’s Raj style service is impressive and meticulously executed. They were able to cater to my mother’s request for special dietary requirements as well as recommended the most congenial dishes in line with the rest of our palettes. I managed to get a picture of some mouth watering starters, and I would recommend any of the ‘dum’ biryanis (slow cooked) for main courses. Featured are:

Calamari Gymkhana: – pictured at the top.

Karare Palak Chaat: (crispy batter fried spinach)

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The total cost for 5 persons, inclusive of drinks and condiments was AED 735.00. This place is recommended for its outdoor view, serene surroundings and commendable service.

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Romano’s Macaroni Grill

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Italian delights at the WTC

For those who have not yet ventured into Abu Dhabi’s own World Trade Centre, you have aptly missed the next big thing of the Emirate. The building or rather structure has been beautifully constructed in contemporary style stretching over Hamdan and Khalifa Street. A magnificent foray of international stores with infinitesimal brands line the insides of this place. There’s a dedicated dining floor catering to various cuisines, and we have been intently waiting for the opening of Romano’s Macaroni Grill for some Italian delightful presentations.

So what’s different about the restaurant?
After you have been escorted to your table, you will observe it has been topped with blank chart paper. Your attendant will introduce him/herself by inscribing her name on it with crayons. Feel free to write / draw or even comment upon it.

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Next, somewhere in between the entire staff get together and break into a pleasant song!

It’s simply inadequate for us to get into a restaurant and avoid ordering Calamari Fritti (pictured above) from the menu. We thus indulged ourselves into a generous serving of the crispy snack served crackling hot with tomato salsa.
For main courses, we were recommended pasta Farfalle and Grilled Chicken with spaghetti.

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And of course the Tiramisu, which my sister marveled upon. It was prepared very conventionally,  which made it more hard to resist and we scraped the dish clean in no time.

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The Meat Co

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Friday Lunch. Family Reunion.

A recently-turned-twenty-one cousin arrived for a month’s holiday at the desert capital along with her mother last weekend, and we had a lot to catch up on the family. There’s no better way to do this than over some great food at a great location. Qaryat al Beri, the souk / tourist arcade located at Bain Al Jisreen (between the bridges) seems to be the escape route for an exotic yet affordable meal by the canal side. Most of these restaurants have outdoor seating, a meal haven during cooler months.
It was a long drive from Al Shamka, the current residence of my cousin and her family, so by the time they arrived, our indomitable appetites made headway to the most advertised restaurant with all its tempting food posters at every corner.
The South African chain was visibly florid and ostentatious, with a smoking / non smoking seating. Most pompous display of winery I must say. The staff, were very obliging and catered to our orders with ease and precision. Entertainer vouchers were passed around giving us the liberty to choose from outstanding choices of grilled meats and poultry.
For starters we had a large bowl of Garden salad, the presentation of which was unexpectedly akin to a twig pot. The ‘soil’, as Mr. Sinfree (our attendant) explained was olive powder and truly delicious.

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Being in the mood for seafood, I asked for a grilled preparation and was promptly recommended a Red Snapper fish served with truffle Potatoes and prawn veloute (pictured above).
Other dishes in chicken included the Grilled Chicken Breasts with Lentil Salad and creamy garlic and chilli sauce:

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And the Wagyu Burger (200 gms) served with fries and crispy onion rings:

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Mr. Sinfree should be extolled for his effusive presence as well as efforts to proffer food based on our dietary requirements accurately. The experience of the reunion was memorable.

Jones the Grocer, Al Mamoura

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I can’t believe I haven’t blogged on this place yet, as I have been a frequent customer with my standard order of Traditional Fish and Chips since Jones the Grocer opened in the Al Mamoura Area. Several branches in and around the city also make this place a popular hangout.

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As the name suggests, it’s a Grocer’s stop, which means you will be seated among arrays of shelves showcasing organic ingredients and other daily merchandise. Quite an innovative venture for Abu Dhabi, I’d say. Cheese fans will love this place as they serve a delicious platter of your favorite cheese assortments. Check the online schedules for Masterclasses held at the branches too for those who would love to try their hand at cooking. They are also known for their popular “Wagyu Burgers’.

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We ordered a Traditional Fish and Chips and a ‘Jones Grilled Chicken Burger’ followed by Moist Chocolate Cake for dessert. I love this fish, which is fried to a crisp and served smoking hot in a platter with Fries, and ketchup. I know, I should be trying more options since this has been my umpteenth visit, but I simply cannot get passed this temptation from the menu.

A comfortable outdoor seating is also available for those who would like to laze around the sights of the developing area. It was also recently visited by Royalty – yes, the Sheikhs actually stopped over for coffee!

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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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Pearls & Caviar @ The Shangri-La Hotel

Pearls and Caviar is one of the fine-dining seafood restaurants located at the Shangri-La Hotel, Abu Dhabi on the far end of the hotel premises. The restaurant boasts of its exclusive view and surroundings, immaculate dinner service and mouth watering delicacies by a renowned chef, making the visitor’s experience of seafood truly worthwhile. Which is why I decided well two months in advance to visit this place and experience my seafood ecstasy for myself.

The plan was to dine alone, owing that my any time dining partner and sister would not be present during these Eid Holidays, and I tried to look forward to enjoying my own solitary company. However, there was a change in plans during the days nearing to this occasion. My best friend decided to accompany me, and offered to review the restaurant, this time from his own standpoint. I welcomed the initiative, especially since this was his first fine dining experience, and looked forward to it.

However, now the restaurant was faced with a challenge: My best friend is not a seafood person – he only enjoys the hammour, or the kind of fish that does not leave an overpowering fishy aftertaste. He’s normally the fast-foodie, does not understand why gourmet food comes in such small samples, does not enjoy veggies and cannot eat veal meats for religious reasons. His non “eatables” covered the rest of the entire menu. Therefore I requested the restaurant to present something that he would enjoy, and if it were possible to accommodate the out-of-menu preparation. They were happy to confirm it, while I looked forward to what they had to offer.

He is a simple and precise person, so this review will be largely objective and unbiased as conveyed to me, since this is his first. He found the service very friendly, and requested for an outdoor seating owing to the pleasant temperatures. The attendant introduced herself, and confirmed the special order request. I had reviewed the online menu much earlier, and set my taste-buds upon the many options from the Treasures of the Sea (3 course set menu). Unfortunately, when I got the menu card, I found that the items had been modified, and this revision was not updated online. For example, I looked forward to the Tiramisu and petit fours for dessert, but that was replaced. On a positive note there were several additions like Fish & Chips. Had I known earlier, I would have recommended it for my companion, and saved the chef of his special preparation.

We were both served an amuse-bouche: chilled sweet gazpacho having a distinct seafood flavor. Luckily my friend liked it, and had it with the assorted breads that were provided and refilled later.

Assorted Breads

Assorted Breads

Amuse Bouche @ Pearls & Caviar

Amuse Bouche @ Pearls & Caviar

My next course was appetizers:  a trio gourmet serving of – scallops served in cauliflower puree finesse, smoked salmon with grated beetroot, grilled octopus with fried fish finger. My friend found the finger tasty – well fried, succulent, and overall well presented.

Appetizers @ Pearls & Caviar

Appetizers @ Pearls & Caviar

For main course, I selected the grilled Halibut, while my friend was given a grilled chicken thigh with baked potato wedges and a sauce. While my halibut looked and tasted fantastic (it was cooked and served in a corn based cream sauce garnished with cornflakes; which I would say is very innovative, even my friend had a bit and loved it), my friend’s chicken was a sad surprise. The meat was cooked to dryness, and had there not been a sauce, the dish would’ve been hard to chew and unpalatable. Understandably, this does not belong to the menu, but still it could have had a nice and juicy finish. Some of the potato wedges were over cooked to a puree state.

Grilled Halibut in corn cream sauce and cornflakes

Grilled Halibut in corn cream sauce and cornflakes

Grilled Chicken

Grilled Chicken

Tiramisu and petit fours were ofcourse not on the menu any longer, and the attendant suggested the Pearls and Caviar Chocolate Pot – a chocolate fondant served with vanilla ice cream. Here again, we were disappointed that the fondant turned into a total ‘fondue’ instead and there was absolutely no cake or crumb. It simply liquefied with a single spoon touch, leaving us with a single scoop of ice cream [even the dessert spoon was uncleaned and had dried stains over it].

Pearls & Caviar Chocolate Pot

Pearls & Caviar Chocolate Pot

Anyways, so while I had my good moments in the appetizers and halibut, my best friend’s only recourse of the main dish and dessert were a tragedy. He definitely found the charge (AED 598) a bit too pricey for nothing that he could enjoy, and especially that this was his first time, and probably the last time he’s fine dining. However, he did convey his compliments about the service and the staff’s friendliness upon arrival.

His rating: 6 out of 10.

My rating:

View and surroundings: Excellent

Restaurant decor: Excellent

Service: Good

Presentation: Good, OK

Taste: Good

Value for money: Not sure.

The Noodle House: Menu Change

I’ve blogged before about my experience at the popular Noodle House, and there seems to be an announcement for all fans starting from today!

I was at the Noodle House last weekend as my sister had the usual appetite for Salt & Pepper Calamari, and while there, the attendants informed us of the menu change. The new additions can be view on their website: The Noodle House and is available for take away and delivery as well.

What’s more is the welcome addition of cooked rice to some of the main course dishes, so make sure to try these at your nearest outlet.

Thai Curry Laksa with Chicken & Shrimps @ The Noodle House

Thai Curry Laksa with Chicken & Shrimps @ The Noodle House

Thai Cashew Chicken @ The Noodle House

Thai Cashew Chicken @ The Noodle House

Nasi Goreng with Chicken Satay @ The Noodle House

Nasi Goreng with Chicken Satay @ The Noodle House

Salt & Pepper Calamari @ The Noodle House

Salt & Pepper Calamari @ The Noodle House

Outlet branches in Abu Dhabi located at:

Al Wahdah Mall: Ground Floor besides Costa Cafe

Souk Qaryat Al Beri: First Floor (Indoor and Outdoor sea view seating).