I was craving IKEAs plant balls and wanted to order some online, but the gravy that goes with them was sold out in the online store, so I decided to take the metro to the new IKEA at Festival Plaza in Jebel Ali and see if they had the gravy (and maybe pick up some Swedish candy too).
It was 100ºF+ outside, but IKEA isn’t that far from the metro station, so I decided to walk. That was a stupid decision, because the short walk felt like 7 years in the desert and when I finally walked into Festival Plaza, I was soaked in sweat. When my eye caught the Be.k sign I thought for a moment that it might be a mirage, but luckily, it wasn’t. It was for real. A Japanese dessert cafe right when you need it the most!
I’ve previously tried Be.k in Phnom Penh and they have the most delicious Japanese desserts, including a great selection of kakigori (Japanese shaved ice). Had the one with melon, and it was delicious. So refreshing with the melon balls and the kakigori together, and of course a lot of condensed milk drizzled on top.
Be.k Dessert Cafe, Ground Floor, Festival Plaza Mall, Jebel Ali Village, Dubai
We are moving from Dubai Marina in August, so I am trying to visit all my favorite restaurants in the Marina, JLT and JBR, while I still have them within walking distance.
Mythos has been my favorite Greek ever since they opened, and while it’s been some time since my last visit, it did not take long to remember, why I love that place so much. Mythos makes tzatziki with lots of dill, which I’m not always a fan of, but which works well for their version. The grilled pita bread is not included with the tzatziki, but something you pay extra for. I think I’ve been complaining about that on several occasions on this blog, but that’s a fact I have learned to live with:) Besides, I guess from a business perspective, it wouldn’t be such a good idea either, not charging for pita, and risking having people coming in just for tzatziki (and free pita bread).
For what might be our last meal at Mythos for a very long time, I had two of he dishes I always order; chicken souvlaki and grilled octopus. Rather simple dishes, but I’m telling you, anything from the grill at Mythos just blows your mind. I had a little too much tzatziki and Greek salad while waiting for our mains, so I had to get most of the chicken souvlaki to go, as I was already full, when it arrived at my table. Had it for lunch the following day, and it was still delicious.
It was a while ago that I first heard of Saigon, which is a new Vietnamese restaurant in JLT. Though the location is right where Vietnamese Foodies is located, so it took a while before I understood that Saigon was not part of Vietnamese Foodies, but a separate restaurant that just happen to be located right above Vietnamese Foodies.
I love Vietnamese Foodies, and I am forever grateful for finally having a good Vietnamese restaurant within walking distance. I therefore almost felt like a traitor, when I was sneaking up to Saigon instead the other day. Saigon opened some 8 months ago, and most people I know who has been there love the place, so my expectations were high, as I sat down at the table for lunch the other day.
A young guy gave me the menu and after I had been browsing for a while he came over and asked if he could help. I said that I was thinking about ordering two small soups, (they come in two sizes; “I’m tasting” and “regular”). He warned me that two of the tasting sizes would be too much for me, and suggested that I had an appetizer instead, so I settled for the Bún Cá (Vietnamese fish vermicelli) and some fresh spring rolls. The “I’m tasting” size turned out to be what I would consider main course size, and the Bún Cá was delicious. It is a new item on their menu, but I hope it is here to stay, as it was delicious. I also hope that both Vietnamese Foodies and Saigon are here to stay too, as both restaurants are very good. If forced to choose, I think I like Saigon just a tiny bit more, but that is solely based on that amazing Bún Cá.
Last week Poul and I were invited to come by for dinner at Sonamu, which is the Korean restaurant inside Asiana hotel in Deira. Sonamu is an old favorite of mine, and if you have read my blog for a while, you know that this is the place I always go for Korean bbq with my fellow real and fake (other adoptees) Koreans:)
Previously, Sonamu only did bbq nights on Tuesdays and Saturdays, but they have changed that, so now you can get their popular all-you-can-eat bbq set menu every night. Finally! I know a lot of people including me have been waiting for this, as it makes it a lot easier to arrange a K-bbq night out.
We tried the new starters, fried tofu salad and vegetable tuigim (Korean tempura), that comes with the bbq set menu. They were both tasty, though I must admit I miss the fresh onion salad they used to serve. Will ask if I can get that recipe. We also tried the selection of delicious sashimi, and a beautiful starter with prawns, scallops and asparagus (not part of the set menu), before it was time to fire up the grill. While other Korean restaurants serve different kinds of Korean bbq dishes, Sonamu is the only Korean restaurant in Dubai (as far as I am concerned), that lets you grill the meat yourself at the table. After watching the meat sizzle on the grill, you then wrap it in lettuce, add some of the sauces (they have added a delicious chimichurri to the sauce variants, which are served with the bbq), and eat. It’s delicious!
For dessert we got the signature Sonamu chocolate volcano. Not sure if they would call it their signature cake, but they have served that cake for dessert with the bbq set menu ever since I started coming there. Together with ice cream it is impossible to say no to, even if you are on the verge of food coma after the bbq.
We also tried the mango bingsu made with Sonamu’s new bingsu machine, and it was super delicious. And what is bingsu? It is a Korean dessert that some would say is similar to shaved ice, but that would be a shame. Good bingsu is like finely powdered snow that feels incredibly soft and fluffy in your mouth for that split second before it melts on your tongue. Bingsu is traditionally eaten with red bean paste, but today’s variants include all you could possibly think of, such as matcha, cereals and different kinds of fresh fruit and berries. I have had bingsu many times before, and I love it, but it was the first time for Poul to try it. Verdict? He liked it so much, he wold go back, just for the bingsu.
Sonamu’s executive chef and Korean national, James Kang, came to our table for a talk, and he told us so many interesting things that I almost burned the meat on the grill, as I was too busy listening to him. Chef Kang has been with Sonamu ever since they opened, and he told us that before he moved to Dubai to work for Sonamu, he used to work for the restaurant at Grand Hyatt Incheon and the airport in Seoul. Turned out that Poul and I had actually been to that restaurants, and had a really nice dinner, while Chef Kang was working there:)
Chef Kang also told us that Sonamu was originally called Gayeon (means fun, good spirit in Korean), but it was a difficult name to remember and to pronounce for non-Koreans. One day when they were working on the Korean pine wood decor for the restaurant, Chef Kang asked “why not call the restaurant Sonamu instead?” (sonamu means pine tree in Korean). The management agreed, and that is how the restaurant got its name:)
Our last meal before heading back to Dubai was breakfast at Polly, a new café on the busiest stretch of Gl. Kongevej. We ordered avocado toast with chorizo, Eggs Royale (Eggs Benedict with salmon), granola bowl and green juices and coffee. The avocado toast was really nice, and so was the granola bowl, but the hollandaise sauce for the Eggs Royale was so salty I had to spit out the bite I had stolen from Poul’s plate. Apparently, the table next to ours had the same issue with overly salty hollandaise and had just sent back their plate, when we took our first bite.
The issue was taken care of immediately, and the staff apologized sincerely and told us that our drinks would be on the house, and I was reminded of one of the things I like about service in Denmark; that staff are allowed to think for themselves and make decisions based on the obvious. In Dubai, such an incidence would in most cases require speaking to a manager, who would then probably have to speak to another manager, and the coffee would have turned cold, before getting anywhere. Apology accepted, and Polly, I’ll be back!
Before leaving for Dubai, Poul and I went out for dinner in Copenhagen. Our original plan was dinner at Høst, but it was fully booked, so we decided on Vækst instead. Høst and Vækst are both part of the Cofoco (Copenhagen Food Collective) group, known for monthly set menus at a good price.
I had the vegetarian set menu with daikon for a starter and cabbage shoots for a main course, while Poul had the regular set menu with mackerel and tenderloin. Copenhagen has really stepped up when it comes to vegetarian options, and skipping meat very rarely feels like a compromise.
My vegetarian dishes were delicious, and the different sauces added some heartiness to what could otherwise easily be dismissed as a bunch of rabbit food at first sight. Greener than green, packed with flavor and full of crunch, this was exactly what I had been hoping for.
I also tried some of Poul’s food, because when dining out, I am the worst. I would taste your food without asking first, and if I like your food better than my own, I might steal your plate if you look away.
We both had rhubarb and strawberries with white chocolate and buttermilk for dessert, which had a nice tartness to it, which you often find in Danish dessert and which I like a lot better than the overly sweet desserts I sometimes manage to order. A nice meal that tasted like Danish summer.
Yesterday, Denmark played match number two in the European Football Championship, and even though I am not very interested in football (or any other sport for that matter), I usually watch on TV when the national team is playing. We had a very dramatic first match in the tournament with Christian Eriksen collapsing on the field, and I think most of Denmark were sitting tight, to see how the team would do. Unfortunately, we lost, so things are not looking too good for Denmark, championship-wise.
We had smørrebrøds cake ordered from a local restaurant. This way of serving smørrebrød (with the topping on a big square of white bread instead of on individual slices of dark rye bread) was new to me, but apparently, it has been trending in Denmark for a while now.
Later that evening, it was time to turn on the lights of my new bottle decorations. I had some beautiful rosé wine bottles that I did not want to throw out, so my mom suggested that we turned them into decorative light bottles. You can buy LED string lights online, made for this specific purpose and with the battery holder inside the cork. I think they turned out really pretty, so now I am looking for green and brown wine bottles for the balcony in Dubai.
This weekend, I am with my parents in their vacation home, and today we went for lunch at Henne Strand, which is a small beach town at the Danish west coast. My parents always go to restaurant Strandgaarden for the pan fried plaice, which they claim is the best in Henne.
Pan-fried plaice one rye bread with remoulade is a real Danish classic, and if made the right way it is heavenly. The plaice should be fresh-out-of-the-water, then battered and pan-fried in butter until golden brown.
The plaice at Strandgaarden was just perfect, and if you are curious about trying this traditional Danish dish, I don’t think I could think of a better place to try it.
Henne Strand is very dog friendly, and most cafes and shops have water bowls out in front for the dogs. Many people also bring their dogs when having lunch at the cafes with outdoor seating. We brought Bella & Bølle, and except for a short-lived bark-off with a young Labrador, they did well today, resting quietly under the table.
In Denmark, the most common crab species is Brown Crab, which is caught in the North Sea (which, funny enough, is the sea along the Danish west coast). Getting the meat out is a lot of work, and crab is expensive, so it is not an everyday dish, but something to indulge in on weekends and for special occasions. Contrary to many other countries, in Denmark, we only eat the claws, not the body of the crab. In earlier days, it was common for fishermen to just break off the claw and throw the body of the crab back out in the sea where it would starve to death. So cruel! Luckily, this is now forbidden, and fishermen are only allowed to catch the whole crab.
I prefer the crab as natural as possible, just cooked in water with salt and dill, and served on top of a slice of toasted white bread with a squeeze of fresh lemon. We have fresh homegrown lemon at my parents’ place right now. They are from a lemon tree that Poul and I got, while we were living in Copenhagen, but that we sent in foster care with my parents when we were moving abroad. As you can see, it’s been thriving, and there are so many lemons now, we have troubles finding use for all of them.
The other day, I went for lunch at Seva Table, which is a plant-based cafe/yoga studio/meditation center in Jumeirah. Seva really feels like a quiet oasis in a city, which is otherwise known for running at 100mph, with a vibe not too different from that of Yoga Barn in Bali. At Seva, you can unwind and relax, while immersing yourself in yoga, meditation and healing, as well as delicious food that will make you feel good.
The food at Seva Table was delicious, and the homemade Love Potion hibiscus kombucha had a nice kick to it, which I think came from ginger or was it chili? On their website, they inform visitors that they only have a tiny kitchen and that the service might be slow, and yes, we did wait for quite a while for the food, but I enjoyed hanging out in the nice surroundings, and the wait did not really bother me.
Poul had the Mexicasian which is quinoa and other good stuff wrapped in nori, kind of like a big maki roll, and it was delicious. I often tend to over-order when dining at plant-based restaurants, as I am still in the process of learning to gauge how much food would be enough without animal protein. The eggless omelet at Seva, was more filling than what I had expected, so I had to get the almond butter toast to go. I ate it later as an afternoon snack, and it was really tasty. The oat bread tasted a bit like Danish rye bread, and was not too sweet, but a bit like the banana sandwiches my mom would made for my lunch box, when i was a kid.