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I was visiting the garden city of Al Ain with my family on a weekend, we decided to stop for an early dinner at the newly opened Triangle restaurant and cafe located in Al Jimi Mall. It is a space where people come together for good food.

Triangle is a restaurant concept from Kuwait and now opened its first outlet in Al Ain, UAE. Triangle is popular for triangular mini burgers, sandwiches and good comfort food in a chic ambience.

When we visited them on a Saturday evening, they were packed with people waiting in line to be seated. Its only been open for a few weeks and already has become popular.

The venue is trendy, sleek and stylish with modern and sharp interiors. It has an open kitchen concept with dim lighting. Triangle has a spacious indoor dining area as well as an al-fresco style outdoor dining area.

We started with their special beverages- Rose Pomegranate, Blue Lagoon and Mojito. Though the drinks were refreshing, they were too sweet.

Being vegetarians, we ordered only the veg dishes and the vegetarian options are limited. Some of the dishes that we ordered were:

  • The Cave Man Salad (veg on request) was loaded with too much cheese and potato crisps. It was too heavy and didn’t taste great.
  • Super delicious Mushroom Pillows was the highlight of our dinner, it had crispy fried wild mushroom and cheese in Cajun mushroom sauce.
  • The kids loved the Smoked Jar Fries. It is the fries-lovers ultimate dream come true as it had crispy homemade fries, smoked chili, cheese sauce, signature special sauce and potato sticks.
  • As our main course we had Rosa Pasta and Mushroom Risotto. While the pasta was utterly delicious and flavorful, the risotto was disappointing.
  • Dessert was the indulgent and delightful Avalanche. It had a combination of chocolate brownie cake, served with marshmallow and chocolate sauce.
  • We ended our dinner with a cup of freshly brewed Cappuccino.

Overall, we had a good experience. There were few hits and misses. If you live in Al Ain or visiting Al Ain, then you can give them a try.

Phone: 03 763 2224

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Rainy weather calls for a Mumbai-style spicy and flavorful comfort food. And to indulge in our cravings on a rainy Dubai evening we visited Mumbai Express Restaurant & Cafe, a fast-food restaurant serving Mumbai street food classics.

Mumbai Express just celebrated its 7th anniversary and throughout these seven years, it has been consistently serving good food. I’ve always ordered from them since they opened in Dubai, but for the very first time I visited their restaurant yesterday with my family.

Located in the foodie hub of Karama, Mumbai Express is a simple and frills-free restaurant with basic decor and has an indoor and outdoor dining space. It is one of those venues where food does the talking.

The restaurant is open early in the morning till late in the night and they serve breakfast too. Mumbai Express is a pure vegetarian restaurant and their menu features a wide range of Mumbai fast food delicacies, snacks, chaats, sandwiches, pizzas, appetizers, mains, Indian Chinese food, desserts along with hot and cold beverages.

We started off with the refreshing glasses of Chaas and Mango Lassi. They’ve an impressive list of cold beverages.

The best Indian Chaat to have on a rainy day is Pani Puri. And the Pani Puri at Mumbai Express was awesome, just like what you will get in the streets of Mumbai.

Next we had the delicious Kutchi Dabeli that had soft bread stuffed with potatoes, different chutneys, sev, peanuts and spices.

Pav Bhaji is the most popular street food in Mumbai and Mumbai Express’s Pav Bhaji will transport you to the streets of Mumbai. A must-try if you visit the restaurant.

Chole Bhature was oily but super delicious and perfectly done. If you like Chole Bhature, you should definitely order it at Mumbai Express.

We ordered Gulab Jamun and Paan Ice Cream for dessert. While the Gulab Jamun tasted scrumptious, the Paan Ice Cream was a disappointment as it had overpowering flavor.

Overall, we had a great experience at Mumbai Express. The food, the drinks and the service was good. The pricing is reasonable and affordable.

Phone: 04 526 0119

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Which is your favorite place for chai in Dubai? If tea is your favorite brew then you cannot miss Project Chaiwala. I would always visit their pop-ups in most of the food festivals in town. Recently I heard that Project Chaiwala has opened their first permanent location and I gathered my tea-loving family and headed there.

Located within Cinema Akil at the arty hub of Alserkal Avenue, Project Chaiwala is an all-day dining chai diner. It provides the perfect combination to indulge in their famous chai with delicious street food in a lively atmosphere.

The venue is cute and cosy with an outdoor area. Whether it is indoors or outdoors, Project Chaiwala has a lovely and energetic vibe. We loved the fact that we could watch our chai being brewed when we sat inside the cafe.

The venue is open from 12 noon-10pm and offers authentic chai experience inspired by tea culture from around the world. You can expect unique yet genuine take on chai from them.

We tried three of their chai- Karak Chai, Masala Chai and PCW Signature Chai. We liked all the three of them, but our favorite was the Karak Chai as its taste and flavor transported us to the bustling streets of Mumbai, India.

Their menu also features matcha tea, iced tea and few other varieties of tea.

To go along with the tea, they’ve comfort food. We ordered Sweet Potato Masala Fries, Chili Cheese Toast, Vada Pav and The Desi Smashmosa to eat. Each and every dish was packed with authentic and delectable flavor and taste. We especially loved their spicy yet utterly delightful chili cheese toast and the extremely delicious Desi smashmosa, which is their version of Samosa chaat.

Our experience at Project Chaiwala was fabulous. Amazing tea, great food, impeccable service in a vibrant and friendly atmosphere, that sums up Project Chaiwala. A must-visit venue for all the chai lovers in the city.

Phone: 0585246362

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Last week we visited Moreish, a newly opened European-style bistro offering vegetarian and vegan food. It is a passionate venture of a foodie family based in Dubai. Expect beautifully handcrafted, creative and comfort food at its best.

Quote from the creative head behind the concept:

As a bunch who love to cook, feed and serenade, our home has always echoed with music and laughter, filled with stories and food. All we’ve ever wanted to do was bring this experience to the table, and Moreish is a tiny little extension of our home.

Moreish is a cute and cosy al-fresco styled venue with an indoor and outdoor dining space, tucked away in the bustling lanes of Oud Metha.

The interiors of Moreish is tastefully done in light hues with comfortable seating area. We loved the personal touch given to small details from the menu to the walls and the music. The venue oozes positivity.

The menu at Moreish features an all-day breakfast, sandwiches, wraps, gourmet burgers, soups, salads, pastas, appetizers, mains and desserts along with cold and hot beverages.

We started with two of their super refreshing mocktails- Mango Bancco and Jalapeño Kick. After that we ordered their signature Roasted Pumpkin Soup. The comforting and creamy roasted pumpkin soup had us asking for more.

Appetizer

Grilled Peach & Pesto Bruschetta was different but in a nice way, simple and utterly delicious. No wonder it is one of the popular dishes in their menu.

Lemongrass Skewers which had lemongrass marinated paneer/cottage cheese in a smoked pepper and mango emulsion was flavorful and tasty.

Mains

Couscous with Chickpea Stew was the numero uno dish that we had at Moreish. It was one unique dish with three distinctly different flavors of beetroot couscous, chickpea stew and tomato-olive relish. A must-try dish.

Polenta Steak was another standout dish that we relished. It was wholesome and satisfying. A vegan polenta steak with ratatouille and pesto cream sauce that is worth ordering, either for lunch or dinner.

Dessert

Banoffee Parfait was the only thing we didn’t like. It was lacking in flavor and taste. We were glad to know that they will be replacing it in their upcoming new menu.

We enjoyed our lunch experience at Moreish. It is a venue we would want to visit again. Moreish comes totally recommended.

Phone: 04 396 1396

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Another country ticked off my bucket list when I visited Vietnam recently. My family and I spent our last week of 2018 in Vietnam. Our first stop was Ho Chi Minh City or formerly known as Saigon.

We traveled by direct Emirates flight from Dubai to Ho Chi Minh City. It took us 6 hours 50 minutes. There are daily direct flights from Dubai to Ho Chi Minh City and the capital Hanoi.

Indians can apply for Vietnam Visa on Arrival(VOA) and for that we have to apply online on their website to obtain the approval letter to pick up visa at the airports in Vietnam.

About Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City is in South Vietnam and it is the most populous city in Vietnam. Under the French rule, it was the capital of French Indochina. Now it is the financial and business hub of Vietnam.

Ho Chi Minh City has a long history and fascinating culture. It is a destination where the old meets the new; with French architecture, tall skyscrapers as well as temples and exquisite pagodas.

What is the best time to visit this city?

Anytime of the year is good to visit, but the drier months of December till April is the best time to visit Ho Chi Minh City.

Where to stay?

Ho Chi Minh City offers all kinds of accommodation from luxury hotels to medium-range and low-budget hotels, hostels, hotel apartments, home stays etc.

We stayed in the historic luxury 5 star hotel overlooking the Saigon River – The Hotel Majestic that was built in 1925. It is a great location and is situated in the corner of famous Dong Khoi Street.

Getting around the city

Ho Chi Minh city is notorious for its traffic. They’ve motorbike taxis, bicycles, metered taxis, buses and metro. Transportation is cheap and affordable.

Things to see and do in Ho Chi Minh City

We stayed in the city for 4 days and 3 nights. For 2 days, we had booked tours with tourist agency and the other 2 days we explored on our own.

The scars left behind by the Vietnam War is felt in many places in the city. Ho Chi Minh City is home to historic monuments, Buddhist temples, museums, art galleries, botanical garden, eateries etc.

Must-visit places in the city:

  • Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral
  • War Remnants Museum
  • Cu Chi Tunnels
  • Binh Tay Market and Ben Thanh Market
  • Cao Dai Temple
  • Jade Emperor Pagoda
  • Réunification Palace
  • Ho Chi Minh Central Post Office
  • Mariamman Hindu Temple
  • Thien Hau Temple
  • Bitexco Financial Tower
  • Opera House
  • Dong Khoi Street
  • Saigon Zoo and the Botanical Gardens
  • Fine Arts Museum
  • Vietnamese Street Food Tour
  • Try Vietnamese Coffee and delectable Vietnamese Cuisine

Except Cu Chi Tunnels which is in the outskirts of the city, everything else we explored on our own. We did a half day tour of Cu Chi Tunnels with a local tourist agency. While visiting Ho Chi Minh, Cu Chi Tunnels must be first on your itinerary list and you cannot miss it.

Another must-do trip from Ho Chi Minh City is a day-trip to Mekong Delta. We were picked up from our hotel from the tourist agency in a mini van and were taken on a scenic route from the city through rice paddies and small villages to My Tho. It took us one and a half hours from the city.

Our first stop was at Vinh Trang Pagoda, one of the iconic landmarks of the region. After that we enjoyed a 3-hour boating trip at Mekong Delta. It was amazing exploring the Mekong river canals by rowing sampan.

We had a Vietnamese lunch at a garden restaurant on riverbank. After our lunch we visited the beautiful Unicorn Island. And there we discovered how to make coconut candies and also tried some. We also tried local fruits, sweets and wines. It was a day filled with fun and adventure.

The vibrant Ho Chi Minh City is the biggest city in Vietnam. It is a lively, noisy and dynamic city. The best way to explore Vietnam is by starting with Ho Chi Minh City.

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Thai food lovers rejoice, there is a brand new Thai restaurant in town. The newly opened Master of Wok is a frills-free restaurant offering delicious Thai food in an atmosphere that will transport you to the beautiful nation of Thailand.

Located in the buzzing street of 2nd December Street in Satwa, Master of Wok opened last week. When we visited them on a Sunday night for dinner, the restaurant was packed to full capacity.

The restaurant is small and cosy with Thai-inspired decor. The interiors of the venue reminded me of small Thai eateries which I visited in Phuket.

Master of Wok’s menu features a wide range of dishes including Thai classics. It has good options for seafood eaters , non vegetarians, vegetarians and vegans. Being vegetarians, we tried only the veg dishes.

Their beverage menu offers Thai drinks, we went for the fresh Coconut Water that was served in its shell adorned with bright pink orchid.

Our waitress Elaine was helpful in suggesting what to order. We also chatted up with chef Songpol and discussed about Thai food.

Some of the dishes that we ordered were:

Starters

While we were going through their food menu, they offered us complimentary platter of Crackers with their special dip.

Som Tam Salad or the green papaya salad was refreshingly crunchy, spicy and tasty. This light salad was a great way to start our dinner.

Next we had the steamed Vegetable Gyoza which was stuffed with veggies. It was flavorful and delicious.

Main Course

As chef Songpol recommended Pad Hed Nang Fah, we ordered this curry. It had stir fried long mushrooms in a mushroom sauce. We loved the exquisite taste and it is a must-try dish for all mushroom lovers.

The classic green curry Gang Kiew Wan was full of authentic flavor.

The healthy Wild Brown Rice went well with both the curries.

Pad Quinoa was the highlight of our dinner. It had a healthy and nourishing combination of stir-fried quinoa with mixed veggies and soy sauce. This extremely delectable dish comes totally recommended.

Dessert

Compared to the amazing starters and mains, the desserts were a bit of a let down. We had Sticky Rice with Mango and Tab Tim Krob. Both were ok, but not extraordinary.

Overall, our experience at Master of Wok was fantastic. The food, the drinks, the service and the atmosphere was good. The prices were pocket friendly. Definitely recommend this place for all Thai food lovers.

Phone: 04 336 0065

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Does a venue named Turkish Steak Restaurant has anything for vegetarians or vegans to offer? You’ll be surprised by numerous vegetarian/vegan dishes in their menu. As vegetarians we were pleasantly surprised by their flavorful offering.

Located in the lovely suburbs of Jumeirah opposite to Mercato Mall, Turkish Steak Restaurant is an authentic Turkish restaurant and cafe. Their menu features breakfast, cold and hot appetizers, soups, salads, mains, steaks, grills, pides, pastas, desserts with cold and hot beverages.

Turkish Steak Restaurant also offers shisha. It is a spacious venue sprawled across two floors with an outdoor dining area. The modern interiors of the restaurant looks nice and it has a spectacular view of the iconic Burj Khalifa. As the weather was pleasant in the afternoon we sat outdoors.

They have an impressive list of fresh juices, mocktails and cold shakes in their beverage menu. We ordered two of their mocktails Drunk Melon and homemade Mint Lemonade. Both were refreshing and well made.

Some of the dishes that we ordered were:

  • Crunchy, healthy and tasty Gavurdagi Salad which is their signature Turkish salad.
  • Next we had their Cold Mezze Platter and it consisted of Hummus, Moutabel, Baba Ganoush, Muhammara, Coban Salad and Yogurt with purslane. Each and every dish was distinctly different and rich in flavor. We thoroughly enjoyed it.
  • Their moreish Baked Cheese Mushroom was fresh from the oven.
  • Crisp Cheese Rolls were delightful.
  • We tried two of their freshly baked and comforting pides- Veggie Pide and Cheese Pide. They were amazing.
  • The Turkish Bread that came along with our meal had a homemade goodness.

Our favorite part of our lunch was the dessert. We had Baklava with ice cream and Katmer. Both the desserts were rich, indulgent and absolutely delicious.

We rounded it off with authentic Turkish Coffee and Turkish Tea.

The food, the drinks, the atmosphere, the view, the service and the hospitality was outstanding. We can’t wait to visit them again and try their breakfast menu.

Phone: 04 344 3033

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Last week my little girl had a holiday and she wanted to go to a burger joint, so we made a plan to visit Lads Burger for lunch. They have been open for six months and I recently came across them as one of my friends had posted pictures of their burgers on Instagram.

Located in Jumeirah 3, Lads Burger is a cute little venue with an indoor and outdoor seating area. Its walls are adorned with frames of quirky quotes. They’ve an open kitchen and peppy English songs playing in the background.

The menu at Lads Burger features burgers, sides, pastas, desserts, milkshakes and cold beverages. They also have a breakfast menu.

The impressive thing about them is that Water Bottle is offered Free with every meal. How incredible is that!

Being vegetarians we tried only the veg dishes in their menu. The drinks that we ordered were the refreshing Lemon Mojito and super indulgent Cotton Candy Milkshake. My little girl loved their colorful and delicious milkshake.

The Vegan Burger Combo that we had was served with Coleslaw Salad, Fries, Onion Rings and Mozzarella Fingers. All the sides were amazing and the Vegan Burger was made with fresh veggies, iceberg lettuce, homemade pickles and vegan sauce. The special bun for the burger was made from dark wheat and oats. We loved the Vegan Burger, it was hearty, flavorful and packed a delicious punch.

Next we had the utterly delightful Margherita Pasta which had Tortiglioni pasta in pink sauce with Parmesan cheese.

For dessert we ordered the Ice Burger which is rare to find in other restaurants. It had baked doughnut stuffed with berry ice cream and topped with sprinkles and Cheerios. Though it looked good, it didn’t taste great. The baked doughnut was too dry and somehow the combination didn’t work for us.

Overall, we enjoyed our lunch experience at Lads Burger. The food, the drinks, the service and the atmosphere was fantastic. Premium quality and fresh food that is reasonably priced. Lads Burger is a must-visit burger joint for all burger lovers.

Phone: 04 339 02 00/ 800-LADS

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Few months ago, I was recommended to read a book with a quirky title named Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by couple of my friends. Glad that I immediately ordered the deeply moving and funny book online. Now, I’m recommending this beautiful read to everyone.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is Gail Honeyman‘s debut novel. She is the Costa Book Award’s winner and also the book of the year winner at the British Book Awards for her amazing debut novel.

The book focuses on loneliness, the new cancer as rightly said by the author. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is a funny, compassionate, warm, dark, sad and thought provoking book. What an incredible debut novel!

Excerpt of the novel:

She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.

Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.

The main character Eleanor leads a simple and secluded life where she goes to her office every week and on weekends she is home drinking vodka and eating pizza. She does not have any friends and her only social life consists of a phone call with her mother every week.

Eleanor is lonely, awkward and lacking in social skills. She has been through a terrible childhood trauma with a visible scar on her face. The walls Eleanor has built around herself is about to break as she makes a friend. How will the change affect her?

I loved the book and it took me on a roller coaster emotional journey. A terrific debut that is not to be missed.

Some of my favorite quotes from the book:

“A woman who knew her own mind and scorned the conventions of polite society. We were going to get along just fine.”

“No thank you,” I said. “I don’t want to accept a drink from you, because then I would be obliged to purchase one for you in return, and I’m afraid I’m simply not interested in spending two drinks’ worth of time with you.”

“When the silence and the aloneness press down around me, crushing me, carving through me like ice, I need to speak aloud sometimes if only for proof of life.”

“I took one of my hands in the other, tried to imagine what it would feel like if it was another person’s hand holding mine.”

“Grief is the price we pay for love, so they say. The price is far too high.”

“She looked at him with so much love that I had to turn away. At least I know what love looks like, I told myself. That’s something. No one had never looked at me like that, but I’d be able to recognize it if they ever did.”

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I have lost count of the number of new hotels that have opened up in in Dubai recently. We Dubai residents are totally spoilt for choice. Last Friday we visited the newly opened lifestyle property Studio M Arabian Plaza by Millennium Hotels and Resorts for lunch at their all-day dining restaurant Level M.

Located in the M level of the hotel, the restaurant launched a family-friendly Friday lunch deal on 1st March and we were one of the first ones to try it.

Level M has a modern, minimalistic and vibrant interiors. It is a spacious and family-friendly venue with bright and natural lighting. A decent place to share a meal with family and friends.

The Friday lunch we attended was a buffet but they also have an a la carte menu with good options. So if you’re not in a mood for buffet, you can order from a la carte menu.

Level M’s Friday lunch deal includes a rolling buffet spread featuring international cuisine with all-time classic dishes like biryani, sea bass and tenderloin. It also features live cooking stations. The buffet is limited and does not offer huge variety. And vegetarians do not have much options.

But the dishes that we tried were good. We especially liked their healthy salads, avocado hummus and stuffed truffle chili tomato. Assorted breads were also available along with the mains.

There were desserts like panna cotta, mango custard, choco-chip cake and chocolate cake. The choco-chip cake was delicious and worth trying.

Overall, we had a good experience. They need to add more vegetarian dishes in the buffet. And the service needs to be a bit more quick and attentive. The pricing is reasonable and affordable.

Phone: 04 215 4444

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