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Ceviche, 3 Fils, Jumeirah Fishing Harbour, Dubai

3 Fils is the restaurant that has been the talk of the town ever since it opened, but because they have this no-reservation policy (=expect looong lines), + it is a long drive from where we live, it was not until recently, I finally made it to the restaurant. Some of our oldest and dearest friends from our first years in Dubai were visiting again for the first time since they left the city, so I knew I had to come up with something better than Carluccio’s, and I suggested that we tried 3 Fils. Luckily, the wait was only about 30 minutes that night, which was manageable.

3 Fils is primarily known for their Japan-centered fusions, and all the food is served as small plates to share. I usually like that concept as it gives you the opportunity to try several different things, but I must admit that I struggled to hide my disappointment as the Tripple Cooked Chips we ordered turned out to be a sad-looking serving of six(!) potato wedges. Come on! Nobody eats only six potato wedges (or two, if you are three persons sharing as we were).

Otherwise, the meal was a smooth ride down the main road of not-so-unique, but definitely tasty, Japanese fusion dishes plus a few less ordinary encounters. I particularly liked the Asparagus Tempura, because eggs and asparagus together = yum. I also really liked the ceviche which was one of the specials that night, and the grilled octopus was a safe bet too.

The Spicy Beef Tartare was sister T’s favorite, and the Corn Waffle with Pulled Beef was easy to love. Unfortunately, the Volcano Roll looked like something running around at Yo Sushi, and the Indomie (noodle dish with beef chorizo asparagus and snow peas), which sounded good on paper, turned out to be a rather bland experience. The other noodle dish, the Sakura Ebi with dried shrimp, lobster oil and garlic was much much better.

The Karak Ice Cream dessert was quite a show with an ice cream cone getting smashed at the table. A must-order, just for the table performance. The Napoleon made a more discreet entry, but I really liked the mix of different textures and flavors.

Was it worth the drive? Yes, if not solely for the food, then for the nice surroundings.

Who should go? It’s a great place to take visitors, and if you live in Dubai, you’ll most certainly bump into someone you know, as 3 Fils seems to be very popular among the expats down here.

How much does it cost? We ordered what we felt like, and the final bill was just a bit more than 200AED per person. That is very reasonable for Dubai.

3 Fils do not serve alcohol, but there are many nice alcohol-free alternatives. Try the Lowlander Botanical Beer. The fruity flavor goes really well with most of the food on the menu.


3 Fils, Jumeirah Fishing Harbour, Dubai

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Bubble tea, trypophobia

Do images of bubble tea make you uncomfortable? Lotus seed pods? Chia pudding? I met with a friend for breakfast the other day, and she told me that one of the main reasons why she does not like chia pudding is that she feels repelled by the pattern the chia seeds make. I knew exactly what she meant, because certain patterns of closely packed holes or bumps also make me feel disgusted. Sounds crazy I know, and that is why it is not something I would go around telling everybody. In fact, my friend N is the first person I shared this with. Though while it is still debated whether trypophobia -fear of holes- is indeed a real phobia, there is no doubt that there are a lot of us out there, who just don’t like those patterns.

My first trypophobia memory goes back to when I was about 7 years old, making hot chocolate. I remember how disgusted I felt from seeing burned milk in a pot (burned milk happened a lot that time during my initial cooking adventures). I get the same feeling when seeing a lotus seed pod filled with holes, or a glass of bubble tea as in the photos in this post, though except from feeling disgusted I do not experience any other symptoms. Apparently, some people experience symptoms similar to anxiety attacks, so I guess my trypophobia would be considered rather mild.

Out of curiosity, I am doing a poll on Instagram to find out how widespread trypophobia is among my Instagram friends. Will post the results here later.   

Bubble tea, trypophobia
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Khachapuri, Favourite Choice, Eastern European and Russian restaurant, JLT, Dubai

I visited Atlanta a couple of years ago and I loved the city, so when an old university friend told me he was going to Georgia, I immediately started rambling about all the delicious food he should try. Peaches..Fried chicken and waffles.. it was not until I mentioned that I regretted that I didn’t go see the Coca Cola building that we realized we were not talking about the same Georgia. He meant Georgia, the country in Eastern Europe, while I was talking about Georgia, the U.S. state:)

Khachapuri is a traditional cheese bread from Georgia (the country), and one mouthwatering photo after another just kept popping up from a JLT restaurant called Favourite Choice. Now I would usually be skeptical towards any restaurant with a name like that, especially, when a closer look revealed that the place was serving “European food”. Though the khachapuri looked too good to ignore, so I decided to give it a try.

I’m happy that I did, because Favourite Choice turned out to be a really good choice for Eastern European food. The khachapuri was delicious, loaded with cheese and topped with a fried egg, and so heavy there is no way you would be able to finish it in one go. Especially not, if you got carried away and ordered a lot of other dishes, as I did:)

The vegetarian Borscht soup was tasty, and got even better topped with sour cream. Gotta love that bright red color too. I also had the Shuba salad, which is a colorful dish with layers of chopped pickled herring, beetroot and potatoes. The pickled herring is similar to the kind of herring that we eat in Denmark, and I really liked that dish.

I was curious about the piroshki, so I ordered a few just to try, but I ended up taking them home, as I was too full to even squeeze down a tiny bite. I reheated them later and had them with a cup of tea, perfect as an afternoon snack.


Favourite Choice, Ground Floor HDS Tower, Cluster F, JLT, Dubai

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Bla Bla Beach Club, JBR, Dubai

Earlier this year, much awaited Bla Bla finally opened its doors at the far-away end of JBR next to Sheraton. This part of JBR Beach also hosts a large playground and has traditionally drawn a crowd of toddlers + moms & dads, but with Bla Bla, there is reason to expect some changes in the demography. Bla Bla is an adults-only entertainment venue featuring 20 bars and 3 restaurants in addition to the giant beach club in the center of it all. JBR, get ready to party!

Together with C from LiloneoftheAshes, I went to have a closer look at Bla Bla and a couple of drinks in the afternoon sun. C had previously been to Bla Bla for breakfast, and she was talking warmly about the too-good-to-be-true 65AED breakfast deal, which, as far as I can see, is still on.

None of us had brought swim wear, so we found a nice table in the far corner close to the bar, but at a comfortable distance to the splashing action in the pool. The cocktails were standard beach club cocktails served in plastic glasses of the fancier kind, but the snacks we order (a hotdog and Crispy Rice Avocado) were better than I had expected. The guy who took care of our table was nice and friendly and checked on us regularly, even though our table was a bit off the beaten track.  

We arrived right when the Ladies’ Day was coming to an end, and most of the other guests had been partying for hours. The vibe at the beach club was very similar to your average Vegas day club, which is probably a good thing for the 20-somethings, but which I, to be honest, am starting to feel a little too old for.

Then who should visit Bla Bla Beach Club?

Bla Bla is no doubt a fun place for the party crowd looking for some daytime fun by the pool. There are some really good deals during the week, including the Miami Beats Ladies’ Day, which we happened to crash, on Tuesdays with free flow of drinks and snacks for ladies for 150AED.


Bla Bla Beach Club, The Beach JBR, Dubai

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Global Village in Dubai

Global Village is a big amusement park/outdoor market in Dubai. It is only a 20-minute drive from Dubai Marina, but except for a half-hearted attempt in June, 7 years ago (when the park was closed for the summer) I had never been to Global Village until a couple of weeks ago, when I finally decided to go. While Global Village is certainly a great spot for families, I was surprised to see how much more the park has to offer.

The market section of the park features 20-something country-themed pavilions with snacks and souvenirs, but the main draw (for me) is the numerous food stalls selling authentic, delicious street food from all over the world.

You know how I have been complaining about how hard it is to find authentic Thai food in Dubai? Well not in Global Village. At the Floating Market you can find seafood salads (yum woon sen), Pad Thai and papaya salad (som tam) which is just as delicious (and spicy) as in the streets of Bangkok, and if you want to sit down at a table while enjoying your dinner, try the Dubai-famous tom yum soup at Yahya, it’s delicious.

Compared to other theme parks I have visited, Global Village come off as unique and authentic in a way that feels very true to the spirit of Dubai. The real magic begins after sunset, when neon lights of all colors of the rainbow light up the park and all the pavilions, and the 5 hours we were there just flew. Will definitely be back soon, and if you are considering going, here is a quick guide:

When to visit Global Village?

Global Village is open in the cooler months (October 25- April 18 in 2021) all days from 4pm to midnight (1am on Thursdays and Fridays). Mondays are reserved for ladies and families only.

It is after dark that the park really comes alive, so I would recommend arriving around 6pm.

The park is busy on weekends (Thursday and Friday), so if you want a more laid-back experience (and shorter lines to the attractions), try to go during one of the weekdays instead.

How to get to Global Village?

Global Village is a 20-minutes ride from Dubai Marina by car or Uber outside rush hours. There is plenty of free parking close to the Gate of the World entrance, but if you arrive with Uber, ask the driver to drop you off at the Cultural Gate.

Hypothetically, you could take the metro and a bus to get to Global Village, but it is not something I had been looking into.

My favorite spots in Global Village

The Floating Market

Indulge in delicious street food served from the small boats in the canal. Most of the boats are serving Thai food such as grilled squid, grilled oysters and irresistibly spicy salads, but there is also a ramen boat that looked promising, but that I did not have the time to try.

Yemen Pavilion

This is the place to go shopping for handcrafted souvenirs, spices and the famous Yemeni honey. Among the pavilions we visited, this felt like the most authentic one.

The Athens Slingshot

If you are looking for a thrilling ride, you have to try the Athens Slingshot. I don’t remember the last time I laughed and screamed so much.

The Wheel of the World

It is only up there you realize have large Global Village is. You get two rounds with the wheel so use the first round to enjoy the view, leaving your phone in your bag, and use the second round to take photos.

Some of the things I want to try next time

Ripley’s Believe It Or Not

I was very close at visiting Ripley’s, because it is always good fun, but I decided to save it for later, and spend the time exploring the Global Village essentials instead.

Indian Chaat Bazaar

A street full of stalls selling chaat and other kinds of Indian sweets. This is the place to go for vegetarian food in Global Village, and choosing between the Floating Market and the Indian Chaat Bazaar was a difficult choice. Next time I will head straight to the chaat.

Zombie Laser Tag Arena

This attraction was closed due to covid-19, but when it opens again, I will be there!

Haunted House

What can I say? I love this kind of places.

How much does it cost to visit Global Village?

The entrance fee is only 15AED, and a lot of people just visit the park to enjoy the nice views and relax on the big lawn in the middle. Food and beverages are reasonably priced compared to Downtown and the Marina, and you won’t have any troubles finding meals below 50AED. Expect to spend 150-200AED or more on an evening at Global Village with meals, shopping and a couple of rides at the Carnaval.

Nice to know, read this before you go

The park is very popular among locals and people dress conservatively. No alcohol is served at the park.

It can get chilly after dark, so you might want to bring a jacket or a scarf to wear after sunset.

Remember that Mondays are ladies and families only, so single guys would need to pick another day for their visit.  

If you want to try one of the Carnaval attractions, you have to buy a card in advance which you can charge with the desired amount at one of the small booths. Most rides suited for adults are around 25AED, but the Slingshot is 65AED


Read more about Global Village on the Global Village website

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Al Bait Al Qadeem, Emirati restaurant in Deira, Dubai

I was visiting Al Bait Al Qadeem (let’s just call it Al Bait) last month to shoot some images and videos for my new recipe project, but before getting to work, I was treated to a delicious dinner with specialties from the region.

I really liked all the different sauces and condiments. In spite of being in Dubai for almost a decade, this was my first time to try mehyawah (anchovy sauce) which is a popular staple in Emirati kitchens. According to the leaflet on the table at Al Bait, mehyawah was brought to the Gulf region some 400 years ago by Portuguese sailors. You don’t really see it in the grocery stores down here, but if you get hooked (as I did), you can buy it from the reception at Al Bait.

The roasted lamb shank was so tender the meat just fell off the bone, and it tasted delicious together with the rice with dried cherries and pistachios. The samboosa (Emirati samosas) had a fusion-style filling of mozzarella and chicken, and a delicious green semi-spicy dipping sauce. A great starter, before diving into more hardcore authentic items at the menu.

The restaurant is located in a beautiful old house dating back to 1909, but even though the traditional indoor seating area was tempting, I opted for a table outside. The patio felt like an oasis right in the middle of the Deira hustle and bustle at the outskirts of the souk, and after sunset, this was no doubt the most beautiful part of the restaurant.   

It is easy to write off Al Bait as just another tourist trap, but that would be a shame. Yes, there is a shop catering to Korean tourists (temporarily closed) on the rooftop terrace, and yes, the menu features several regional cuisines + Indian food(!), but the food is well-prepared and authentic within the respective categories, and the staff is genuinely kind. If your usual habitat is the Marina or Downtown Dubai, you will also be pleasantly surprised by the inexpensive dishes, that leaves no excuse for not getting both starters and dessert.


Al Bait, Opposite Al Ahmadiya School, Al Ahmadiya Street, Near Heritage House, Al Ras, Dubai. Tel: + 971-56 496 3338 The restaurant can be a little tricky to find, so give them a call if you get lost

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A guide to bubble tea in Dubai

I love all the fancy new teas from Asia, but it has taken surprisingly long for them to make it to Dubai. In Dubai Marina/JBR there are no real bubble tea shops of the dedicated kind that only sells tea, so unless you are ready to travel for your tea, you have to order online, and to help you out, I have therefore put together this mini guide to bubble tea (and other kinds of fancy tea) with home delivery to Dubai Marina.

Latea

Latea is probably the closest you come to the fancy tea shops some of you might know from Asia. They make all the trending teas to perfection and offer a good range of add-ons such as crystal jelly, pudding and scrambled cheese. My favorite are the fruit teas, which all come with lots of fresh fruit bits, but if you are curious about cheese tea, Latea should also be your first choice. Their cheese tea is on par with the top cheese tea places I have tried in Asia, and their peach & strawberry cheese tea would most definitely get you hooked.

Latea, Ibn Battuta Mall, Dubai. They are on Talabat for home delivery.

Otea Cafe, bubble tea in Dubai

OTea

I really like the bubble tea at Otea. The tapioca pearls have the right kind of bounce, and you can choose the level of sweetness of your drink. OTea also sells different kinds of fruit teas, which you can turn into cheese tea, with a cream cheese topping add-on. The owner is from Hong Kong, so in addition to bubble tea, you also find a selection of Hong Kong-style items including egg waffles (plain and chocolate) and Cocktail buns (buns with coconut filling), which have a nice, homemade touch.

Otea is located at the ground level at exit 1 at Dubai Internet City Metro Station. The cafe offers home delivery on Talabat for the Dubai Marina area.

Read my blog post about OTea>>

Yakitate bubble tea Dubai

Yakitate

Yakitate is a cute Japanese cafe/resto in Ibn Battuta Mall. They have a good selection of milk teas, which can all be boba-fied by adding tapioca pearls. There are also a bunch of other add-ons available such as coffee jelly, ice cream and mini-mochi, and even though they do not specialize in bubble tea, the ones I have tried have all been decent. However, the main reason why I order from Yakitate is that they have the cutest cakes and pastries. Try the matcha mochi roll cake (with a layer of mochi), it is delicious.

Yakitate, Ibn Battuta Mall, Dubai. They are on Talabat for home delivery

The Hub 7 bubble tea Dubai

The Hub 7

This pan-asian/international restaurant in JLT serves up a surprisingly decent boba, and if you go for the regular milk tea base (as opposed to the premium milk tea) it is also one of the most budget-friendly bubble teas around. They have a good selection of add-ons including popping boba (the thin-skinned pearls that burst when you bite them, a bit like fruit-flavored salmon roe) but I find their regular tapioca pearls to be a bit too soft for my taste.

The Hub 7, Cluster M, JLT, Dubai. They are on Deliveroo for home delivery.

Wokyo, Thai Iced Tea bubble tea Dubai

Wokyo

I added Wokyo to this list when I was in the very beginning of my research, but I probably should have left them out, as they only have one choice of boba: Thai Iced Tea with an option to add tapioca pearls. The Thai iced tea is nice, but they are not very generous with the tapioca pearls, which are also very soft. If you are ordering from Wokyo anyway (their veggie ramen are the best in town), the Thai Tea Boba might be a good side order, but if you are only after bubble tea, there are better places around.

Wokyo, Cluster J, JLT, Dubai. You can order food delivery directly from their website.

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Recipe: Vegan Swedish Semlor

by Sanne
Vegan Swedish Semlor Recipe

In Sweden, Fettisdagen (Shrove Tuesday/Fat Tuesday) used to mark the last day before Lent – the Christian fasting period – so this was the day to binge eat and the feast typically included wheat rolls in warm milk (the first kind of semla (before the ritual fasting began. Those wheat rolls really stuck, and over the years, fettisdagen became synonymous with semlor (plural of semla) in Sweden.

Today’s semla has a filling of whipped cream and almond paste, but many Swedes still like their semla with milk, and contrary to the Danish fastelavnsbolle, with a few exceptions, the semla does not seem to have changed much over time. In fact, there is a strange “do not touch my good old semla” attitude among most Swedes, but one exception is the vegan semla. Many Swedes are going green these days, and vegan semlor seem to be one of the few variations that have been accepted by the Swedes and are here to stay.

I have long been curious about vegan baking, and semlor seemed to be a good, but challenging place to start as the traditional semla both has egg and lots of dairy. I was particularly concerned about how to find a good egg substitute, so I asked vegan friend Waz, what she thought. She mentioned that apple sauce would probably do the trick, and I found that it worked out great.

For the whipped cream, I chose coconut cream as it is widely available, but I know there are better cream substitutes out there, so feel free to pick whatever you like. If you also go for coconut cream, make sure to chill the cans in the fridge a minimum of 3-4 hours before use, so the white cream gets solid and separates easily from the clear liquid coconut milk.

The semlor have to cool off before you can add the filling, or the cream will melt and turn runny, so count in at least a couple of hours after baking before they are ready to be filled with cream and almond paste.

Recipe – Vegan Swedish Semlor (makes 12)

Ingredients:

Wheat rolls:

1 package active dry yeast (2tbsp)

1/2 cup melted plant-based butter for baking

1 cup almond milk

1/4 cup agave syrup/nectar

A pinch of salt

2 tsp ground cardamom

3.5 cups all-purpose flour (might need a little more)

Whipped Cream Filling

1 can full fat coconut cream

1tbsp confectioner’s sugar

1 tsp vanilla sugar (optional)

Almond paste filling

11/4 cup almond flour

2 tbsp apple sauce

2 tbsp confectioner’s sugar or 1.5 tbsp agave syrup

1/4 cup almond milk

Directions:

Melt the butter and mix in the almond milk. Heat until lukewarm.

Combine almond milk and butter with yeast, agave syrup and salt in a bowl.

Add flour and cardamom and knead or mix at low speed for 10 minutes.

Cover the bowl and let the dough rise in a warm place for 1 hour

Almond Paste Filling:

Mix almond flour, applesauce, almond milk and confectioner’s sugar/agave syrup to a thick paste. Done!

Now on to the rolls again:

Divide the dough into 12 pieces and shape into balls.

Let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes and preheat the oven to 375ºF

Brush the rolls with cold coffee (optional) before baking for 8-10 minutes (until the surface is golden brown)

Let the rolls cool completely (that is 3-4 hours) before proceeding.

In the meantime whip the cream. If you are using coconut cream, take the cans from the fridge. Scoop out the white, solid cream and place it in a bowl. Try to avoid getting any of the clear liquid (the milk) in the bowl, as it will make the coconut cream runny.

Mix the cream with an electrical mixer for 2-3 minutes and you will have rather heavy, but sufficiently fluffy whipped coconut cream. Place in the fridge until using.

Back to the rolls. Now it is time to add the filling

Cut out a triangular “lid” from each roll

Add almond paste

Add whipped cream

Put the lid back on top of the cream

Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar

Ready to serve!

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Little Lamb (Xiao Wei Yang) Chinese hotpot at JBR, Dubai

I absolutely love hotpot, and since Little Lamb opened at JBR I have been a regular, so I consider myself a bit of a Little Lamb hot pot veteran. I therefore thought I would share this mini guide to hotpot and Little Lamb, so those of you, who have not yet tried it, have a starting point, when going there for the first time.

Little Lamb does not take reservations, so on weekends you might have to queue up to get a table. If you want to avoid waiting time, try to go early on weekdays (before 6pm). Though even when there is a line, it tends to move quickly, and I do not recall that I have ever waited more than 20 minutes.

The soup

You can choose among different kinds of broth to cook the ingredients in. If in doubt, I recommend the 50-50 hot pot, with one half of spicy soup and one half of mild soup. The spicy soup is very spicy, but also the most popular and the more expensive of the two kinds.

The staff hands you a tablet, so you can browse the menu and place your order. If you are not sure about what to order, I suggest that you get one of the set menus. The set menus include soup, vegetables and different kinds of meat and seafood. The cheapest one is around 100AED (depending on the type of soup you choose) and there is plenty of food for 2 people.

Scallion Pancake

The scallion pancake tastes like Korean pajeon (a kind of thick savory pancake with spring onions). Good as a starter or a snack while you are cooking the other ingredients. Nice dipped in a mix of sesame oil and soy sauce from the sauce buffet.

Fried Spring Rolls

Crispy and delicious and also good with soy sauce or the sweet-and-sour sauce from the sauce buffet. So tasty I suspect they might be homemade.

Mongolian thick noodles

Broad noodles with a slightly chewy texture. They need a little more cooking time than the regular noodles and taste a bit like Japanese udon. Really delicious dipped in sesame sauce.

Cola

If you order a large cola, you get a giant 2-liter bottle, but because the food is so spicy and salty, it is usually not a problem to empty the bottle during the meal. If you want to try something else than cola, I can recommend a can of the sweet Chinese herbal tea, which I always forget the name of (a red can with yellow letters).

Regarding meat

Of the cheaper meat cuts, the lamb meat is the best and juiciest.

All the other things

I also like the fresh bean curd, which is the skin that forms on top of heated soy milk. It has a fun, slightly spongy texture, and does not taste of much, but it is fun to eat. The fish balls and meatballs are rather boring, and I am pretty sure they are of the ready-made kind that originates from a bag in the freezer. I eat them because they are included in the set menu, but they are not something I would order separately. The fried rice is also nice, but very filling, so unless you are there with a bunch of friends, skip that one and focus on the hot pot items.

Speaking of sauce

After cooking your hot pot ingredients, you dip the food in sauce and eat it, and it is the sauces at Little Lamb that really add the silver lining. This is what makes hot pot so delicious.

The sauce buffet is at the back of the restaurant, so after placing your order, this is where you go to mix your own sauce according to your preferences. If you are not familiar with the sauces and condiments, you can try this mixture that I always make:

Sesame sauce (should fill up most of the small sauce bowl)

Oyster sauce (approx. 1 tsp)

Black bean sauce (1/2 tsp)

Chili oil (1/4 tsp), be careful, it is very spicy

Garlic oil (½ tsp)

Sprinkle with coriander on top and mix everything together. Tastes divine!


Little Lamb (Xiao Wei Yang) is featured in my guide to Chinese restaurants in Dubai >>

I have previously written another guide to Little Lamb (Xiao Wei Yang), which you can read here >>

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The sneaky lion game

by Sanne
Bella & Bølle, Danish Swedish Farmdogs

Bella has this game that she loves playing with Bølle and it is really fun to watch. It starts with Bella sneaking around in the far end of the garden, while Bølle is at the patio, pretending not to see her. When Bølle finally looks at Bella, she stands completely still, but as soon, as Bølle looks away, she quietly sneaks up on him again, like a lion in the savanna. When she gets close enough, she initiates her “attack” and rushes to surprise him:)

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