Monday, September 30, 2013

The Biryani Experience

The first time I had Biryani was way back 2005 while I was doing my post-graduate study.  One of my classmates suggested we try this Persian eatery near the campus.  I was a bit hesitant since I was not that adventurous with food yet.  Since I don't want to be the killjoy of the group, I tagged along.  Majid's is a small eatery serving Persian food locally prepared everyday. 

The kababs, the yoghurt and the biryani were a delight to the tongue.  It is something you'd definitely be ordering again and again.  Before I could go on though, let me tell you what a biryani is.  Biryani is a dish based mostly with basmati rice mixed with different spices.  The dish is usually accompanied by chicken, mutton or fish.

A few months back, my sister and her family took me to Ras, an Indian buffet in Singapore.  It was everything I hoped for and more.  I had biryani for like three rounds!  And by the time I was in the middle of my second serving, my mouth was already burning and a thin sheet of sweat was already forming on my upper lip.  I love it!

Since I came here in Abu Dhabi, I have tried a few biryani but most of them are just plain forgettable.  Only a few that I could remember which I would definitely be ordering from again.  The first one is Green Darbar.  We discovered this place when we were living in Tourist Club area.  It was cheap but very filling.  One serving is already enough for two people.  And one weekday night I had a Biryani 101 crash course.  It was mouth burning, tummy filling and culturally enriching dinner.

Where else can you find all types of Indian food in one place?  Yes, the food court, but not just any food court, its at the food court of the extension of Madinat Zayed.

For our main meal - the biryani - our biryani guru lead us to Biryani Hut.  We had the Malabar Chicken Biryani and the Hyderabadi Biryani.  The prices for this biryani range from AED 14 and up.  Depending on the protein you will be choosing.

the feast

As part of our menu, we also had, Beef Fry, Dahl and Paneer Masala.  Our guide informed us that there are two ways to prepare beef fry the dry one and the wet one.  We ordered the dry one, I figured it would be spicier.  But actually its not.  The dahl is a vegetarian dish made of lentils cooked in their special spices. The winner of the night is the Paneer Masala.  It is a cheese dish cooked in a spicy masala sauce.  This made an absolute fiesta inside my mouth.  I simply love it.  It was burning hot and its sauce.  Plus it made me eat more rice than what I would have liked.

Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani

Malabar Chicken Biryani

The Malabar Chicken Biryani was highly recommended by our guide, and true enough, it was good.  It's not as what I usually have but its good.  Perfectly go well with the Paneer Masala.

Dahl and Beef Fry

Paneer Masala (I know it doesn't look appetizing - but looks can be deceiving!)

Our night ended when I could not swallow more rice anymore.  As much as I want to shove more paneer into my mouth, I just can't feel my tongue anymore.  The minute that it happened I can't wait to go home and gurgle some milk to take away the burning sensation.

It was a good mouth torture, but I will definitely do it again and again and again...besides, I always have a carton of milk standing by.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Rustic Dining at Le Pain Quotidien

While I was browsing the photos of my phone, I came across pictures of one of those dinner dates me and my husband had ages ago.  This dinner is one of the most memorable because it was the beginning of my affair with tartine. 

Blogging world, I would like to introduce to you the restaurant that makes my heart and my tummy do a flip-flop - Le Pain Quotidien.  Yes, I know it will take a lot of getting used to in pronouncing the name.  I practiced it in my head and a hundred times while taking a bath before visiting the restaurant.  Still, didn't nail it. It came out like I was talking and chewing something very very sticky at the same time.  It is actually read as "Le Pan Ko-Te-De-An."

The restaurant was right next to Starbucks in Al Najda St., at the ground floor of Twin Towers on the 13th street, this was January 2013.  Before we went there, I have already checked their menu to check what they offer and the price range of the shop.  I was prepared to have a three-course meal (had to skip lunch for this).

The place is just perfect for casual dining. Rustic and homey.  The place gives you that feeling of being in a great place that offers quality food.  The staff are warm and friendly and even helped you pronounced the words on the menu.

We ordered lemonades for drinks which arrived on time.  For our entree I ordered Chicken Mozzarella hot tartine while husbandry got the soup of the day.  The soup was good, just perfect for a cold night.  Perfect for winter time.  As for the tartine?  Well, what can I say.  It was love at first bite.  I just plainly love it.  I want to order more and forget about my main. The crunch of the bread plus the juicy chicken and cheese.

Homemade Lemonade

Soup of the Day: Corn and Mushroom

Chicken Mozzarella Tartine

For the main he got the Fisherman's pot and I got the Chicken chowder.  My husband enjoyed the meal but he was already full after the bowl of soup.  So he was not able to finish everything off.  As for my main, it was sort of dry.  The bread complements the chicken.  It was a bit salty for the creaminess of the chowder.  For dessert we only ordered one because we are already so stuffed but we just need to close the meal with something sweet.  Unfortunately, it was not that good.  My husband liked it because it was chocolate but nothing spectacular.

Chicken Chowder

Fisherman's Pot with Rosemary Potatoes

Chocolate Dome

In the end, the star of the night is the Tartine.  Hands down.  We ended the night a cup of Joe from the next door. 

Spoiler:  the branch here in Abu Dhabi has already closed the last we checked - July 2013.  We have to go to Dubai just to have those darn tartines.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Davao's Burger Trail

Before grilled burger patties came into the scene of Davao's gastronomic crowd, we were all contented with what Mcdonald's and Jollibee's burger offered.  It was nothing sensational.  That's why I don't usually order those burgers just because I don't like the taste plus the rumors that those patties were made from cultured organisms. 

copied from

Then entered Space Burger, first taste of those grilled burgers just made me fall in love with beef in a weird way.  Way back, when you want good burgers, Space Burger is the place to go.
copied from

 Over the years, burger joints opened and tried to compete with the "grilled" patties.  Before I left Davao for Abu Dhabi, Brother's Burger opened.  I was working for an American company and my all American boss just can't stop gushing about the steak burger of Brother's Burger.  To quote "it's exactly how American burgers should taste." 

copied from yahoo images

I think had his lunch there 2-3 times a week since it opened.  It's amazing he didn't get a a coronary with all those beef juices running into his veins.  Curious that I was, I decided to give it a go.  Since it recently opened the waiting time for the burger took an hour before you get what you have ordered.  For me, it was just too bland for my liking.

By 2012, another burger fever hit Davao and that is Gino's Burger.  I should give it to Gino's their patties are absolutely huge.  It was forgettable.  Then on my recent home coming, another burger joint was suggested by my brother.  It was advertised everywhere and I think they have 2 branches in Davao City.  One is along Quirino avenue and one is along Quimpo Boulevard near SM City Davao. 

So, one lunch break, I convinced my brother to sneak out for lunch to try the burger.  The venue is exactly what the name of the joint- backyard.  Plastic tables with the basic condiments as centerpiece.  They have a weekly promos so when were there the price for the fries were 50% off.  We ordered the Cheesy Bacon Burger and BB Philly Cheese Steak Burger.  We also ordered Jalapeno poppers as side.

The Menu - you can actually customize it!

The verdict:  on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest, it was an 8.  The burger was good, especially the buns with black sesame on top.  They even buttered it lightly inside.  It was just messy to eat.  So if you are planning to impress a girl on a date this is definitely not the place.  The Jalapeno popper is a letdown.  I was expecting a whole jalapeno stuffed with cheese then fried, but instead it was just a cheese fritter with bits of jalapeno inside.  But all in all it was good.  For the menu of Backyard Burger click here.

Tips on ordering...have it cooked medium my brother say it just gives you all the right juice to complete the burger.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Razon's Halo-Halo in Davao

Summer in the Philippines means beach, bikini and big servings of halo-halo. 


Halo-halo in vernacular means "mix."  This famous snack is exactly what it is called.  It is a mix of different texture of fruits, beans, pinipig topped with shaved ice and evaporated milk.  And if you feel like tipping the weighing scale more, a scoop or two of ice cream.  This is Philippine's version of Singapore's ice kachang.


On my last trip home, I keep hearing rumors that the recently opened Razon's in Gaisano Mall boasts the best halo-halo in the Philippines.  I have only tried a few halo-halo in my life since I'm not a big fan of the beans in it.  It is the basic ingredient of the halo-halo.  And if I have the choice, I would take that out from my glass.  That is also the reason why I keep on coming back to Aling Froping's in MTS in Davao since I can customized my halo-halo.  Like I could choose whatever will be "mixed" inside my glass.

So one rainy afternoon, we finally had the chance to test this so called "best halo-halo in the Philippines."  The shop at the 4th level of Gaisano Mall was small.  Small tables are cramped on the available space.  In fairness, the place is always packed.  Maybe because it could only accommodate a small crowd. 

Anyway, we ordered three halo-halo which costs Php 50.00 each.  I must say, it was not difficult to dig in.  The ice was incredibly smooth.  It was simply presented topped with two slices of leche flan to sweeten it up.  But my praise of this halo-halo stops there.  I was a bit disappointed that, there's not much fruit and beans (even if i don't like it) underneath all those glorious ice.  The ube jam was not even visible. 

All in all, the halo-halo was just "blah."  I would have enjoyed more Chowking's halo-halo than that from Razon's.  Even if it was loaded with lots of gelatin and beans, still I would be scooping a lot of contents.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Seoul Garden Singapore: Shabu-Shabu to the Next Level

A few months ago, when I stopped over Singapore for my last food binging before going back to the land of Shawarma, we went to my fave shabu-shabu spot in Singapore - Seoul Garden.

I discovered this amazing place way back in 2008 when we celebrated a birthday of a good friend.  Honestly, it was a pricey place, even if I was working that time.  The price would just give you a step back before handing in your hard-earned dollar.  The good thing though, it was worth every buck you pay.  You will definitely have your tummy bursting with so much Chinese and Malay food.

The first time I tried this restaurant was at Bugis Mall.  Actually, my second and third time was also there.  I didn't know they have other branches.  Anyway, we had it from Tampines Mall.  We came early so there were a lot of tables available.

We went there on a weekday so we paid for SGD 24.99 and SGD 6.99 for my niece who was soundly sleeping.  First stop, all the marinated meat section, which we dumped on the grilling plate.  In the middle of the grilling plate is a bowl where we could make our own soup too. 

We tried to be creative in making soup.  Unfortunately, we were too distracted between eating the cooked meat and the ready to eat goodies.  Honestly, it was overwhelming.  I wanted to try everything.  I was particularly curious of the Malay desserts.  And as my sister assured me, they were really really good.  She's right!  They didn't disappoint.

I was so full, that we have to walk it off on the floors of Mustafa Center (again!).  If ever I get to stop again in Singapore, no doubt, I' ll still drop by Seoul Garden, even if its expensive, the food is just simply great.