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Dubai Healthcare City is fast growing as a foodie hub with number of restaurants and cafes opening. Memsaab Curry & Tandoor, an authentic North Indian and tandoor restaurant is the new addition to the dining scene in DHC.

Memsaab Curry & Tandoor has a bigger branch in JLT, the DHC one is a tiny outlet with a few tables indoors as well as outdoors. Nevertheless it is a cute and cosy venue with comfortable seating area.

The interiors are plain and simple. Though small, it is a decent and clean place to have a meal. Given a choice I would order from them rather than dining in the restaurant.

Their menu has North Indian as well as Indian Chinese cuisine and features a range of soups, salads, snacks, starters, mains and desserts along with cold and hot beverages. They have good options for vegetarians and non vegetarians. Being vegetarians, we ordered only the veg food.

On arriving we were served complimentary glasses of Jaljeera and colorful Namkeen with dips. We liked it. We also tried their refreshing Lassi.

As our starters, we ordered Paneer Tikka and Veg Seekh Kebab. The paneer tikka was alright but the seekh Kebab was way too spicy.

The highlight of our dinner was the main course. And every dish was perfectly cooked and tasted incredibly delicious. They make the best Dal Tadka in town and it is an absolute must-try.

We also loved their Miloni Tarkari which had a medley of veggies cooked in a rich and flavorful gravy. The Tandoori Rotis were fresh off the tandoor and went well with both our curries. The Sufiana Pulao made with a hint of saffron was fragrant and packed a delicious punch.

To indulge in our sweet cravings, we had the scrumptious Gulab Jamun. Best way to end a delicious Indian meal.

Overall, we enjoyed our dinner experience. Good food that is reasonably priced with generous quantity that is Memsaab Curry & Tandoor for you. The restaurant is worth trying or ordering, if you’re in DHC part of the city.

Phone: 04 526 9178

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Contemporary Japanese lounge and restaurant ONI has introduced their latest ‘Nomikai’ experience, an exciting and fun evening social drinking and dining experience unique to Japan and now in Dubai.

The ‘Nomikai’ experience happens every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 8pm onwards. Last Thursday I was at Oni along with my friend to experience this unique cultural concept.

Oni is located on Level 2 in Shangri-La Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road. The interiors of the venue is elegant, classy and uber cool. It has a main dining area, private dining area and a bar area.

The music was a bit loud to have an intimate conversation. But we loved the live saxophonist. The atmosphere was lively and energetic. On the Thursday evening, it was packed.

Their a la carte menu is vast and has something for everyone. For the ‘Nomikai’ experience they’ve a Yakimono Sharing Platter that is reasonably priced at AED 205.

While we were going through their menu we were served little bites of Japanese-inspired Amuse Bouche. ‘Nomikai’ experience features 3 cocktails- Fernando’s Winning Cocktail, The Oriental and Spicy Temptation. All the 3 cocktails were perfectly mixed and was super refreshing. The main highlight amongst their cocktail list was Fernando’s winning cocktail. A cocktail not to be missed if you visit ONI.

The Yakimono sharing platter consisted of Salmon Taco, Rock Shrimp Dynamite, Chef’s selection of Sushi Rolls, Chicken Gyoza and 2 types of Kusyiyaki. Our favorites were taco, sushi selection and gyoza.

We also tried Mushroom Mapo Tofu and Vegetable Ramen from their a la carte menu. The irresistible mushroom mapo tofu had tender tofu and mushrooms in a rich sauce topped with rice and seaweed. The ramen noodles was comfort in a bowl.

Ended our dinner with matcha flavored Oni Milk Cake. Though I’m not a big fan of milk cakes, their matcha milk cake was utterly delightful.

Overall we had a fabulous time at ONI. The food, the drinks, the atmosphere and the service was flawless. Their ‘Nomikai’ experience is unique and worth trying. You won’t be disappointed by their a la carte menu either.

Gather up your mates and head down to ONI for an evening with live music, great vibes and the best cocktails and sushi in town!

Timings: 6pm-3am daily

Phone: 04 405 2333

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Yesterday we visited Retro Feasts, one of the popular social eateries in the city for lunch. Inspired by childhood favorites, Retro Feasts is British chef Luke Thomas’s casual diner with quintessentially British vibes.

Tucked away at the stunning The Beach, JBR, it boasts of a gorgeous view. This cute little eatery has an indoor and outdoor dining area. The outdoor seating area is spectacular as it is close to the beach.

The quirky and kitschy interiors are super cool. The venue is filled with vintage Brit paraphernalia and has a retro chic atmosphere. The groovy music of the 80’s and 90’s playing in their music system was fantastic.

As the weather was too hot outside, we sat indoors. Best way to cool off in this heat is to have something refreshing, so we ordered their Hello Mello. It had watermelon shell filled with watermelon and sweet melon juice and watermelon chunks. As it is huge, Hello Mello is good for sharing.

Their menu features amazing comfort food and it is vegetarian friendly too. Retro Feast also serves breakfast. Being vegetarians, we ordered only the veg dishes.

Crudité & Hummus was light, tasty and nutritious. The moreish Skin on Fries went perfectly well with our 5 Bean Veggie Burger. Their utterly delicious veggie burger had smashed bean patty, red onion, Tzatziki, beet slaw and spicy sauce.

Loved the wholesome Falafel Shawarma that had pita bread stuffed with falafel, beet slaw, chili sauce, tahini and pickled onion. A must-try.

Ended our lunch with their divine-tasting Chocolate Fudge Cake and a cup of freshly brewed Cappuccino.

We loved our lunch experience at Retro Feasts and can’t wait to visit them again.

Timings

Saturday to Wednesday: 8am-11:30pm

Thursday & Friday: 8am-1am

Phone: 052 722 6462

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Al Nahda in Dubai is one locality that I’ve never explored though I’ve lived for 16 years in this city. All that changed yesterday afternoon when I visited the highly recommended Masala Wok for lunch.

Masala Wok is an Indo Chinese restaurant and the brainchild of Mr. Shareef, a passionate foodie and a dedicated home cook. On a Tuesday afternoon when we stepped into the restaurant we were surprised to see the venue fully packed. No wonder, it is so popular in Al Nahda and the surrounding areas.

The Indian-inspired interiors of the restaurant is vibrant, cheerful and welcoming. It is a cosy and a comfy venue and a great place to share a meal with family and friends.

Their menu is vast and varied with a range of Indian and Chinese dishes from soups, starters, salads to mains and desserts along with cold and hot beverages. They’ve good vegetarian and non vegetarian options. Being vegetarians, we only tried the veg dishes.

While we were going through the menu, we were offered a Welcome drink and a fried Snack.

To quench our thirst, we ordered Shikanji and Aam Panna. Both the drinks were cool and refreshing.

Starters

Paneer Maratha is a tandoor-cooked cottage cheese starter that was marinated and grilled to perfection. It was soft and had a melt-in-the-mouth quality. Paneer Maratha comes totally recommended.

The Crispy Corn was simple, crunchy and very tasty. We liked both their starters.

Mains

The Dal Makhani was rich, creamy and had an authentic taste and flavor. An absolute must-try when you visit or order from Masala Wok.

Vegetable Jalfrezi was a bit of a disappointment as it was lacking in flavor taste and texture.

Paneer Tikka Biryani was moderately spiced and packed a flavorful punch. It was served with Raita on the side.

We ordered an assortment of Indian Breads like garlic naan, rumali roti and chapati to go with our curries. All the breads were freshly made and went well with the curries.

Desserts

Piping hot Moong Dal Halwa was utterly delicious and moreish. We loved the Falooda too and it was perfect for the hot summer in Dubai.

Our lunch experience at Masala Wok was amazing. The food, the drinks, the service and the atmosphere was good. The pricing is reasonable and affordable, the portion-size is big. Masala Wok is worth visiting.

Phone: 04 286 8085

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Early this month my husband and I made an impromptu plan to visit Serbia during the Eid holidays. Serbia is one of those countries that is still off the popular tourist trails.

We traveled by direct Fly Dubai flight from Dubai to Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. It took us approximately 5 hours 20 minutes. There are direct flights from Dubai to Belgrade with different flight options.

For Indian passport holders there is Visa Exemption for a period of 30 days from the date of entry. You should have a return ticket and confirmed accommodation. We hardly spent 5 minutes at the passport control and the whole process went swiftly.

About Serbia

Serbia is a country located in the Balkans in Southeast Europe. It was part of former Yugoslavia. Serbia is rich in history, culture and natural resources.

Belgrade is the capital and largest city of Serbia. It is one of the oldest cities in Europe and built on the confluence of Sava and Danube rivers. Belgrade is known for its vibrant nightlife.

On our 5 day visit to Serbia, we stayed in Belgrade and explored the capital and other parts of Serbia.

What is the best time to visit Serbia?

Winter can be harsh in Serbia, so it is best to travel during April till September. The first week of June when we were there, the weather was hot during the day and pleasant in the evenings.

Where to stay?

Whether it is luxury or budget hotels, Belgrade has plenty of options. We stayed in the conveniently located and modern Hilton Belgrade.

Getting Around

Belgrade has public transport like buses, trams and taxis. The city doesn’t have Uber, but it has a local version known as CarGo. And we tried it a few times and it was safe and inexpensive.

Things to do and see in Serbia

We stayed in Belgrade for 4 nights and 5 days and explored the Belgrade city on our own as well as with a tourist company. And on 2 days we went on day trips to different parts of Serbia.

The first day we arrived from Dubai early in the noon and after checking in to our hotel, we had lunch at Sky Lounge which had excellent view, amazing food and cocktails. After that we spent our evening at Knez Mihailova, a lively pedestrian boulevard flanked by historical buildings.

On day 2, we went on Belgrade Big Tour: Top Attractions and Belgrade Neighborhoods. It was a whole day complete Belgrade experience with a small group of five including our guide and a driver. We were picked and dropped off at our hotel.

It was the most comprehensive and jam-packed full day tour of all the sights in Belgrade. A must-do trip if you’re visiting Belgrade for the first time. We visited all the important sights in city center and the surrounding areas. It was a combination of walking tour and a panoramic car tour. And in the afternoon we had a Serbian lunch. Some of the places we visited were:

Zemun

Zemun Citadel and Millennium Tower

St. Nicholas Church

Dedinje

Avala Mountain and Avala Tower

Museum of Yugoslav History and House of Flowers(the resting place of Josip Broz Tito)

Saint Sava Temple

Old and New Royal Palaces

Serbian Parliament

Monument of Nikola Tesla

Republic Square

Kalemegdan Fortress

Victor Monument

St. Marks Church

Military Museum

On day 3 we did a full day tour of Northern Serbia, Sremski Karlovci and Novi Sad. We were picked up from our hotel at 9am and dropped back at 6pm in the evening. Our first stop was at an Orthodox monastery in the region known as ‘The Holy Mountain of Serbia’, a lovely baroque town of Sremski Karlovci and we also visited the Chapel of Peace. The famous Bermet Wine is from this region and we tried this wine and few others wines at a local wine bar.

Our next stop was Petrovaradin Fortress that was built in 17th-18th century and from there we enjoyed the view of Danube and the city of Novi Sad. Next we visited the city center of Novi Sad, the second largest city in Serbia. We explored the city on our own and had lunch at a contemporary Serbian restaurant.

On day 4 we did a full day tour of Eastern Serbia Monasteries and Resava Cave from Belgrade. It was a 9 hour tour and we were picked and dropped at our hotel. We visited the Ravanica and Manasija Orthodox monasteries. Our traditional Serbian lunch was at a picturesque spot close to a Waterfall.

The last stop was an 80 million years old Resava Cave with its dramatic stalactites and stalagmites.

The last day or day 5, we had a relaxed day at the hotel and went on a scenic and informative 1 hour and 30 minutes Sava and Danube River cruise on a boat followed by lunch at a gorgeous restaurant on the river bank. And after that it was time to head over to the airport to catch a flight back home.

Overall our Serbian sojourn was amazing. Serbia is a beautiful country worth traveling and the people are really nice and friendly.

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I rarely visit Ajman for a meal in a restaurant, but this time I made an exception and drove down from Dubai with my family to The Grove in the picturesque Al Zorah Golf Club on Al Ittihad Road, Ajman.

The newly opened Grove is a Middle Eastern and Emirati restaurant in Ajman. It has a perfect location with beautiful view of the mangroves. The interiors of the restaurant is modern, chic and elegant. Filled with potted plants and shrubs, the restaurant has a refreshing and inviting vibe. There is a separate play area for children.

The Grove offers indoor and outdoor dining area. As the weather was too hot, we sat indoors. Their menu offers breakfast, lunch and dinner along with cold and hot beverages. They also serve Shisha.

For drinks, we ordered their fresh juices- Orange Juice, Orange Lemon Juice and Lemon Mint Juice. All the juices were freshly made and tasted good.

Their food menu has limited options for vegetarians. We started off with the richly flavored and healthy Spinach Dates Salad which had a medley of amazing ingredients.

Next we had the comforting Cream Cheese & Oman Chips Bread fresh off the oven from their bakery. We loved it.

The smoky-flavored Baba Ghanouj was well made and tasty. The Trio Dips consisting of Hummus, Mutabal and Muhammara were delicious and went well with the fresh Arabic Bread.

The Cheese Borek was crispy with delectable cheese, it was one of the standout dishes of the afternoon.

We liked the Spicy Potatoes too. The only dish we didn’t like was Fattet Samneh as it was bland and flavorless.

Being vegetarians, we couldn’t try their signature meat dishes like Lamb Shank Machboos, Lamb Shank Biryani, Mixed Grills and Kabab Orfali instead we had the Vegetable Pizza and Pasta Alfredo. The pizza was alright but the pasta Alfredo was incredibly good.

We ended our lunch with two of their desserts- Saffron Milk Cake and Kunafa Nabulsiya. I wish that the Saffron Milk Cake was moist and fluffy. But the utterly delightful and authentic Kunafa Nabulsiya was fantastic.

Overall, we enjoyed our dining experience at The Grove. The food, the drinks, the atmosphere and the service was great. The portion-size is generous and the pricing is reasonable. If you’re in Ajman or planning to visit Ajman, then you should definitely dine at The Grove.

Phone: 06 539 5398

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A little slice of Barcelona in Dubai? Yes! Say holà to Bebemos, the Barcelona-inspired Tapas bar and the latest addition to Le Meridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre on Airport Road.

The popular Spanish culinary tradition of Tapas comes to Dubai with Bebemos. You can expect authentic fare from different regions of Spain with ingredients sourced directly from Spain.

Entering Bebemos, it felt like we were transported back to one of the Tapas bar in downtown Barcelona that we visited four summers ago.

The Spanish-inspired interiors of the venue is colorful, cosy, classy and charming. Oozing with inviting vibes, Bebemos is an ideal place to have a meal with family and friends.

I loved the fact that the food menu wasn’t too big, so choosing was easy. The beverage menu offers wide range of Spanish wines, beers, cocktails, sangria, non alcoholic drinks and other spirits.

We started off with our favorite tipple- Estrella Draught Beer and Classic Sangria. Refreshing drinks to beat the heat.

While we were sipping on our drinks, our small plates of Tapas arrived. We started off with their simple yet delicious Signature Pan Con Tomate.

Padron peppers is my favorite Tapa, but I was disappointed as it was not available on that day. But the other delectable Tapas like Banderilla Skewers, Mushroom Croquettes and Potato Bravas made up for it.

We loved the moreish and smoky-flavored Vegetable Escalivada on Farmers Bread, a traditional Catalan starter.

Being vegetarians, we ordered the Grilled Vegetables and Mushroom Paella. The Paella was nourishing, vibrant and oh-so-comforting. If not done right, can ruin the flavor and texture. But the Paella at Bebemos ticked all the right boxes.

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Olives made for a good and nutritious side dish.

Ended our lunch with scrumptious Churros with chocolate and caramel dip.

Our dining experience at Bebemos was fabulous. The food, the drinks, the atmosphere and the service was great.

Timings: Everyday 12pm- 2am

Phone: 04 702 2455

Email: Restaurants.lmd@lemeridien.com

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Glad that vegan and healthy food is thriving in UAE lately. Many vegan and healthy food cafes are springing up all over the country and some of the restaurants are adding vegan options in their menu.

Recently Shakespeare and Co, the popular homegrown concept launched a new menu with diverse vegan options, breakfast specialties and refreshing drinks in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Northern Emirates.

We visited their spacious and gorgeous The Village Mall branch in Jumeirah, Dubai for lunch and tried the latest menu. Oozing vintage vibes the charming Village Mall branch is their first venue in UAE.

Before we ordered the food, we had two of their new drinks- Green Mist Booster and Berry-Lycheeous. Both the drinks were healthy, tasty and refreshing.

Some of the new dishes in the menu that we ordered were:

  • Warm Lentil Bowl is definitely the star of the new menu. It is a comforting and flavorsome dish that is not to be missed.
  • We should have given Burrito Bowl a miss as we found it quite heavy and bland. I didn’t like the cold rice in the burrito bowl as I prefer hot rice in my burrito.
  • Next we had the Cauli-Taco, a crispy cauliflower filling in a soft taco shell which was utterly delicious.
  • Vegan Grilled Cheese Sandwich was a wholesome and nutritious sandwich with spinach and vegan cheese that was grilled to perfection.
  • Rainbow Pad Thai looked colorful and exotic with a medley of veggies, gluten free fettuccine noodles, sautéed vegan protein bites, roasted peanuts, cilantro, spring onions, sesame oil and garlic soy sauce. It packed a flavorful punch.
  • The antioxidant-rich Açaí Bowl was delicious and moreish. It is good for breakfast or dessert, we had it as a dessert.
  • After lunch we ordered two new hot beverages from their menu – Red Velvet Latte and Spanish Latte. They’ve also introduced lactose free and almond milk options for coffee.

The new menu at Shakespeare and Co does not disappoint and there is something for everyone. The vegan options are not only healthy and nutritious, they’re delicious too. My next visit will be to try their new breakfast specialties.

Phone: 04 344 6228

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Last Wednesday I attended one of the most exciting event in town at Hard Rock Cafe Dubai– The exclusive preview of their new menu. It was a fabulous evening with great food, creative drinks and awesome music. Definitely, it was an evening to remember.

Located at the Dubai Festival City Mall, Hard Rock Cafe offers over 2700 square meters of space. The venue features a Rock Shop, a big stage for live performances, VIP function room, lounge, bar and a dining area.

The new menu preview was a media event and we got to try the whole new menu. And I must say there are many new additions to their starters and shareables, legendary steak burgers, salads, desserts, milkshakes and cocktails.

We began our evening with some of their new cocktails like Tropical Margarita, Rhythm & Rose Mule and Rock House Rum Punch along with house beverages.

Starters and Shareables had comforting dishes like Classic Nachos, Spinach & Artichoke Dip, One Night In Bangkok Spicy Shrimp, Three-Cheese & Roma Tomato Flatbread, All-American Sliders, Buffalo-Style Sliders and Whiskey Bacon Jam Sliders.

As a vegetarian I loved the spinach & artichoke dip and the flatbread while my media friends enjoyed the spicy shrimp and all their sliders.

Among their 2 newly introduced salads- Steak Salad and Fresh Beet Side Salad, we loved their super refreshing and flavorful beet salad.

Coming to their legendary steak burgers, there are 4 new ones including a plant-based vegetarian burger named Moving Mountains Burger. The 24-Karat Gold Leaf Burger, BBQ Bacon Cheese Burger and Double Decker Double Cheese Burger are their juicy and wholesome steak burgers.

The star of their burger menu is Dubai-style 24-Karat Gold Leaf Burger. What I really loved about the edible gold leaf and fresh steak burger is that on ordering this burger, AED 10 will be donated to the charity.

Hard Rock Cafe’s rich and creamy New York Cheesecake was moreish and delicious. So were their 2 new Boozy Milkshakes and non alcoholic Homemade Mini-Milkshakes in 2 delectable flavors- Cookies & Cream and Strawberry Cheesecake.

The new menu is amazing and their is something for everyone. Can’t wait to hit them up soon this summer.

Phone: 04 232 8900

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Last year I read Nejoud Al Yagout‘s debut novel and loved it. Recently when I got to know that her second book was published, I was eager to get a copy for myself. Her second novel When The Haboob Sings has a beautiful cover with amazing content inside.

I don’t want to compare this novel with her first one- ‘Motorbikes and Camels’ as both of them are unique in their own way. The novel starts slowly in the first few pages and then picks up pace. When The Haboob Sings is an unputdownable book and you will root for the protagonist Dunya from start till the end.

The word Haboob means a violent and oppressive wind blowing in summer, bringing sand from the desert.

Below is the excerpt from the book:

When Dunya Khair writes a controversial article in the newspaper challenging the status quo in her country, the response-ranging from adulation to death threats- is swift.

The story begins with the bold and brave writer Dunya Khair in prison. She takes us back in time and recounts the last two years of her life. So we get to know the circumstances that gets her behind the bars.

When Dunya, an independent, educated and freedom-loving woman writes a controversial article in the newspaper her life takes a drastic turn. The repercussions are numerous from dissolution of familial ties to downfall of her marriage, nervous breakdown and depression.

Can Dunya rise from the brink or from the haboob surrounding her? Without giving spoilers, I can say the ending is unexpected and dramatic.

Overall it is a great book, very relevant, intriguing and insightful. All the characters are believable and oh-so-real, especially the protagonist Dunya.

Some of the quotes that I liked from the novel:

“We each have internal landscapes and climates. Torrential rains have been plaguing my aura lately: there have been floods and even a tsunami warning. I am on high alert. But how do I escape from myself? There is nowhere to hide from the waves surging inside me. There is nowhere to turn from the rising sea levels.”

“But I could not find a pill to cure my heartache.”

“How can you stay away from me? I can barely sleep or eat. My life is being on autopilot. Everyday, hope and despair battle for ownership inside of me. And both my hope and despair revolve around you.”

“Why do we feel the need to announce our sexuality, our faith(or lack of it), our political inclinations, our likes and dislikes publicly? Why? And why do some people want us to keep our views private?”

“Nothing, to me, could match the freedom of not belonging to anything.”

“That’s the thing with writers. You’re all egotists, thinking only of yourselves, not how your writing can affect others.”

“Why do we do whatever we want to do abroad as long as we hide who we are here?”

“Prayer has always worked for me. I feel calm. There is something about talking to god that has always soothed me.”

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