One of the buzzwords I foresee bleeding out of ears in 2019 is the term Chef’s Table. I see it being overused and abused. Lucky for us, Tresind Stuido will be the league of restaurants using it very rightly and justifiably, and I can personally vouch for how worthwhile and worth-every-penny their Chef’s Table experience is.
I had the pleasure of trying the Chef’s Table experience at Tresind Studio with M, and to say that we were absolutely floored would be a gross understatement. I went in with extremely high expectations, and they were not only entirely met but exceeded.
Tresind Studio is in the deep end of Tresind, and a stark contrast from the newly refurbed modern and trendy Tresind. More brightly lit, and with a sunnier and more vibrant feel, Tresind Studio is a finer and more elegant extension of Tresind, and feels like a completely separate place. Even it’s entrance is camouflaged into one of the walls next to the bar at Tresind.
The 16-course tasting menu was an ode to how far Himanshu Saini has come, and a twist on 16 of Tresind’s consistently best-selling dishes (but it will continue to evolve). I’ve witnessed seeing Himanshu grow, although he never started at the bottom to begin with. What’s heartwarming is that despite truly being one of the best chefs to be reckoned with in Dubai, he’s still a humble guy who makes every guest feel special and important, and the fact that he welcomes feedback shows that he’s a smart, customer-oriented guy who is able to find the fine line between creatively expressing himself and serving up what people will want to eat.
The names of the dishes were just simply the two predominant ingredients/flavors in each dish. It was a little reminiscent of how succinct and mysterious Gaggan’s menus are.
Our exceptional meal went something like this:
We started off with what I can best describe as Pani Puri Bingsu. Imagine all the flavors and textures of Pani Puri, but in a shaved-ice/Bingsu form. It was served into an ice bowl, to keep it from melting, and it was the most refreshing and perfect start to a meal in the desert we live in.
Next up, the cutest little quenelle of freshly churned homemade butter with chili pickle flavored missi roti.
I always find it the hardest to write about meals and experiences that make the most lasting impressions. I feel like words fail me in the ability to pen down and justly describe the flavors, nuances and feelings that one truly has to experience in person no narrative can do them justice. It is for this very reason that I’ve put off my review of Sushi Bar Yasuda for so long, but it’s about time I put this on the world wide web.
We went to Tokyo a couple of months ago. We fell completely an hopelessly in love with a city and a country that resonated with us on so many levels, and left us awestricken on so many more. Suffice to say, how phenomenal even the most unassuming meals were, played a big part in winning us over, from stomach to heart.
Believe it or not though, we had sushi only twice during a two week long trip! Yes, it was partially because we were enjoying the ramen, tempura and takoyaki to no end, but it was also because the first sushi meal we had there (a couple of days in) was shockingly underwhelming. The underwhelming sushi we had was ranked #1 on TripAdvisor, and had a line of at le ast 20 people outside.
We were so disappointed, that we just didn’t crave sushi again, and decided to save our appetite for our meal at Sushi Bar Yasuda. It was founded and is run by namesake Naomichi Yasuda, who has been making sushi since 1984, and we only came to know of him because my ultimate culinary hero Anthony Bourdain spoke highly of Yasuda in his shows. It just so happened that we ended up dining at Sushi Yasuda on Anthony Bourdain’s birthday itself. We could not have paid better tribute to the man who is (yes, IS still) the entire reason M and I became daring enough foodies to try everything (halal) at least once.
Bourdain first ate at the original Sushi Bar Yasuda in New York in 2007, and according to Yasuda, Bourdain used to eat there twice a month. In 2001, Bourdain asked Yasuda to explain sushi on his show. hen, when Yasula left, he moved back to Tokyo to open Sushi Bar Yasuda.
Located in the affluent Roppongi ward of Tokyo, Sushi Bar Yasuda can be reached via a combination of part subway and part short taxi ride (if you love to skimp on transport costs like I do). Otherwise, you could always just directly taxi from door to door.
I was told by my trusted foodie friend atozaatar.com that Yasuda is fun and fantastic, and I’ve got to hand it to him for definitely lightening the mood and the atmosphere. It was very relaxed, there was lots of conversation, and the biggest attraction for me was that we weren’t expected to dress formally.
We chose the Omakase menu, which starts at 14 pieces of sushi, ranging from USD 6 – 9 per piece of sushi, and then you can just ask for them to keep on coming, until you’re ready to stop. I think I stopped at around 18 pieces, but M went on till I lost count.
Here’s how it went down:
We started off with white fish, followed by tuna, sea bream, salmon, striped snapper sole tare, sardine, mackerel, ebi, uni, long mackerel, snow crab, another uni, scallop, toro, steelhead salmon, oyster, sweet shrimp, conger eel, eel, sweet sardines, toro scallion (which is his signature roll), and finally “Green Stuff”, which is just scallions and quite frankly- a rip off.
My favorites of the lot were the ebi- which has sweet shrimp meat with just the right amount of salt, the salmon- which was so beautifully umami with a squeeze of lime, the uni- this was the first time in my life I actually enjoyed uni, oyster- which is another thing I’m not usually fond of, the Conger eel, which tastes completely different from and much better than regular eel and the snow crab.
My least favorite was the one with the little sardines.
My grievance with said Omakase meal is that the chef is supposed to read your likes and dislikes and alter the following courses according to those preferences, but with Chef Yasuda, M and I were both served the exact same courses, despite us responding very differently to all of them and expressing our (varying) likes very vocally.
I had to, of course, ask Yasuda about Anthony Bourdain, and how close they were. He said that they weren’t particularly close but that Bourdain was a great guy and that when he moved to Tokyo, Bourdain (who Yasuda lovingly calls “Tony”), sent his assistant to find out if Naomichi Yasuda himself was making the sushi there.
Other fun facts we learnt:
Yasuda likes for the fish to be cold but the rice to be warm and I can’t overstate how much that worked
Yasuda does not go to the fish market at the crack of dawn. On the contrary, he goes around 10 a.m., after the best cuts are already sold out, and he takes on the challenge of salvaging and elevating the cheaper, unwanted cuts that most sushi chefs don’t even want!
He removes the white strip on top of the fish because that’s the skin and makes it chewy
It’s okay to use your fingers to eat cut sushi rolls.
Never combine ginger and sushi, or ginger and soy sauce. The ginger is a palate cleanser in between bites.
When dipping sushi into soy sauce, dip fish-side down, and in Japan we found it common for the fish to be cut a little longer than the rice and to sort of fall over- perhaps for easier dipping?
Never shake soy sauce off of sushi.
Like most chefs, Yasuda has quite the ego and was a little too cocky for me. Not enough chefs realize how attractive it is to be humble, and Chef Himanshu of Tresind and Chef Roberto of Waka are two great examples of chefs who are incredibly talented yet incredibly humble and receptive towards feedback. Heck, I’ve even met Gordon Ramsay and he was the friendliest, warmest and most approachable celebrity chef I’ve ever met- especially considering the fact that he’s the most famous of them all!
The entire dinner with Yasuda was a bit of a narcissistic monologue from him, and how he’s basically too cool to confine to the norms, and how he is the first and last of his kind and how his legacy will die with him. Although the sushi was fantastic, I think a large part of what makes Yasuda as popular as he is, is that there aren’t many (if any) sushi chefs in Tokyo of his caliber who speak and can engage their guests in English, but I have to admit I wasn’t a fan of The Yasuda Show very much. Nevertheless, it was an honor to be able to witness a sushi master craft such exquisite rolls of sushi with finesse and speed we’ve never witnesses before. In hindsight, I now wish we had gotten to try Sukiyabashi Jiro as well, but it’s nearly impossible to get a reservation there unless you’re staying at the Four Seasons (priceless..
I’m back with a restaurant review after 50 million years. I’ve still been eating out plenty, but not enough meals have been worthy of jotting down in this online diary of mine. I recently realized that I end up forgetting where I’ve had some of my most enjoyable meals, and every time anyone asks me for a recommendation, I blank out and can only recall the most recent ones and find myself having to refer to my own blog to refresh my memory. Enter, Ba Restaurant and Lounge, for this was an enjoyable meal, worth the calories, the time and going down on the record.
We went to Ba Restaurant and Lounge a couple of weeks ago, with a friend like family from out of town. He loves sushi, and I had heard from a fellow blogger (Hungry Young Woman) that the Japanese side of the menu at Ba was quite sumptuous, so I decided to accept a standing invite from them and trotted right over.
I have another friend though, whose opinions and insights I trust very much, and she wasn’t too impressed with Ba Restaurant and Lounge. To be fair though, she can’t eat any seafood and all she tried were mostly the pork dishes (which I naturally didn’t have any of), so I’m thinking the two of us had two very different experiences.
Here’s what I loved about Ba Restaurant and Lounge:
It didn’t feel dead despite being empty. It had a nice, romantic and private feel about it and is great for an intimate date night
The maki rolls. We tried the 4 best ones, and it was hard to pick which one of these we liked best, they were all incredibly delicious and the balance of flavors was -excuse the cliché- quite umami.
The black pepper beef was tender, succulent, and had a nice but not overpowering peppery sauce.
The seafood fried egg noodles were hands down the best of their kind I’ve had in Dubai. They were palpably finished off on a high flame in a very large wok, because that’s the only way one can impart that charred flavor to those perfectly slippery noodles.
The yuzu sorbet and tart was absolutely sublime. The perfectly light and refreshing end to an indulgent and extremely enjoyable meal.
Service was excellent. Our server, Deon, was welcoming, pleasant and accommodating.
Here’s what I didn’t like:
I wasn’t a super fan of the Kung Pao Chicken, wouldn’t order it again.
I didn’t like the dry hay-like fence forming a divide between the maki rolls on the otherwise shows topping platter. The ice sphere with color changing light under was a cool touch but the hay fence made it absolutely impossible for the person sitting on one side of the table to reach over for the sushi/maki on the other side of this Great Wall without having to turn the entire platter around.
Would I recommend Ba Restaurant and Lounge to those seeking a nice quiet place for a Japanese cum Chinese meal? For sure. So far, I’ve tried two F&B outlets at Fairmont the palm, this and Little Miss India, and both made for excellent meals and excellent service.
During my pre-trip research on Japan, I landed across some Youtube vlogs by Kim Dao talking about the best sheet masks and Japanese skincare and I was fascinated. I then put “sheet masks” on my souvenir list (because obviously I’m lazy and sheet masks require the least amount of work and effort), and figured I’ll just decide once I’m in Japan, what to buy or not.
I had no idea what awaited me though, because Japan is the land of drugstores, and 99.99% of all labels are only in Japanese. Yes, I haven’t been to South Korea yet, and I do hear the drug store situation in Seoul is next level (and they have a lot more labels in English there), but from the countries I’ve personally experienced, the skincare obsession in Japan was madness, and I wanted in!
Clear, dewy, glowing and untanned skin is considered a sign of beauty in Japan, and women go great lengths to take care of their skin here. Japanese skincare is big, big business, and I wish we had more (any!) Japanese skincare products in Dubai!
I have combination oily skin, so I was more on the lookout for oil-free products that hydrated rather than moisturized, but I do have some tips that would apply to everyone:
Some Pro Tips:
Whenever you see a big bold number 1 on the top left corner of a box, it means its a best selling product. It means you should probably pick that product over others, if facing a dilemma.
In Japan, they call toners “lotion”
Google Translate camera could end up being your best friend. Nearly all labels will be in Japanese, and the Google Translate camera can really help identify key terms and ingredients which will help you make a more educated decision on what to buy and what to leave.
Buy a silicon mask from a 100 yen store like Daiso, to wear on top of your sheet masks to hold them in place and for prevent the ones with less essence from drying out too quickly.
Individually packed masks or masks that come in packs of 10 have a lot more essence per mask than those that come in packs of 30.
At most department stores and drugstores, you can get a tax refund on purchases above 5000 yen, so it’s best to make a list and bulk-buy, and always remember to keep your passport with you to claim the tax refund/exemption but you probably already know that if you’ve read my tips on planning a trip to Japan.
Stores I would recommend buying your skin-care and make-up from are:
Marui (because I found some things here that I didn’t find in other places
Here’s a list of some of the products I got after doing as much research and Google translate as I could whilst standing in cramped, narrow drug-store aisles, getting irritated looks from passers by whose paths I was clearly blocking:
The first thing I bought was a pack of Kose Cosmeport Clear Turn under-eye sheet masks because (a) how cute and convenient are those packs? (b) Kim Dao said they’re good and (c) We were heading to Osaka from Tokyo that day, I had some time to kill at Tokyo station and decided to buy a pack and try it on the Skinkansen. Verdict: These were amazing. They’re very thin, nearly transparent, and made my eyes feel very relaxed! The red pack can be used around your mouth too, and the orange one is just for under-eye use. The only downside was how quickly they dry out, but I might be the only person who wants to keep sheet masks on for longer than 20 minutes. In 2017, this product remained one of Japan’s #1 products for 10 years in a row! These masks hydrate, moisturize, plump, help with fine lines and wrinkles, have hyaluronic acid, coenzyme Q10, and collagen. Collagen related products are abundant in Japan, and I loved that! The price for one of these packs was around 800 yen.
Another product I got very early on in the trip, was a pack of Suisai powdered face wash. This product is as great as the concept. My face always feels so clean and fresh after using one of these, especially on a hot and humid day of being out and about. It’s absolutely perfect for traveling, or for keeping in your bag, because (a) it’s so lightweight and (b) you don’t have to take out a big bottle in a public washroom and put it back in your bag every time you want to wash your face while on the go. Just empty one of those tiny containers into your palm,and toss them into the plastic recycling bin. Later, I got a box of the Cure powdered face wash too, but I haven’t tried it yet. I carry some in my bag only use these when I absolutely need to, because they’re expensive. This pack of Suisai cost around 1800 yen. To read more details on this, I’d recommend clicking here
Labo Labo Vitamin C pore cleansing lotion sheet masks. Pro Tip: In Japan they call “toner” a “lotion”. So, whenever you see a “lotion” in Japan, it means you have to use it instead of a toner in your skincare routine. Instead of what we call “lotion”, they have moisturizers or hydrating gels. Therefore, according to my calculations, this product should not be used as the final step in one’s skin care routine, but instead just before applying moisturizer or hydrating gel. It feels almost like water, but can cause tingling if you have sensitive skin, and easily absorbed by our skin. Its acidic properties remove dead skin and open up pores to allow better absorption of the skincare products that follow. In hindsight, I think this was my least favorite purchase, as it’s only one part of a 5 step skincare line by Labo Labo, and buying this toner/lotion in a bottle is probably more cost effective. This pack cost either 1600 yen or 1800 yen.
I’m not one for 7-step skincare routines, but I did begin to understand the importance of at least a 3-step one, and I accepted that it’s time I start using a toner. I’ve tried toners by Clinique and Lancome in the past and they both made my skin itch, excessively dry out, and break out even worse than before. I thought toners just aren’t for me, but I guess what I needed was an alcohol-free, lightweight toner. So, I got this 3-step Curel Sebum Control set, with foaming facewash, lotion (toner) and moisturizing gel. I can confidently confirm I got more educated on skincare during my 2 weeks in Japan than I did in my 31 years on Earth. Basically, even oily skin can be dry, and the dryness is what leads to excess oil production, which then turns into sebum which turns into acne. Therefore, it’s important to cleanse but also to hydrate/moisturize your skin so as to control sebum. Curel is apparently the number 1 dermatologist recommended brand for Japanese skincare, so I got myself these 3 bottles for around 5000 yen from Don Quijote and began seeing results in only 2 weeks. My skin now feels smoother, and cleaner. To be fair, I’m not using these products in isolation (I sheet masks 5 times a week), but I still feel they have a huge part to play in me looking less like Frankenstein’s monster. The facewash foam makes my skin feel cool and refreshed, the toner feels as light as water, and the moisturizing gel is also very lightweight. I’m already worried about how I’ll replace this once it runs out.
I got this one because of the extensive bordering on excessive advertisements that we kept seeing for Saborino sheet masks. The name itself is derived from the term “what you shouldn’t do”, because this sheet mask is for the super-lazy, and is a 7-in-1 solution from cleansing to priming in 60 seconds for those very rushed mornings. You can literally wake up, not wash your face, slap this on for 60 seconds and be ready to apply your make-up. I don’t wear make-up to work and can’t imagine not washing my face, so I save these only for when I have to head somewhere after work and want to apply make-up on in a very small timeframe or want to feel refreshed. The mask exudes a minty, cooling sensation that’s perfect for Dubai summers!