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  • Tuesday, February 17, 2015

    Asia de Cuba has a prime location at the St. Regis' Nation Towers Beachfront on the cornicheIf there’s a new restaurant that has generated a lot of buzz in Abu Dhabi over the past couple of weeks, it’s Asia de Cuba. Some of our readers might already be familiar with the brand, as it’s a well-established ‘Chino-Latino’ restaurant in New York and London, but will Asia de Cuba replicate its success in the Middle East?

    Early indications suggest the answer is a resounding yes, as people are flocking to experience the unique combination of Asian and Cuban cuisine on offer. Naturally, AroundTheUAE.com didn’t want to miss out and booked ourselves a table for dinner!

    Asia de Cuba, which boasts a prime location at the St. Regis' Nation Towers Beachfront on the corniche, has been designed to offer guests a vibrant and upbeat atmosphere. Aside from the main restaurant, the multi-faceted space includes a lounge, terrace bar and beach-side cabanas with stunning views of the Arabic Gulf.

    CLICK HERE TO VISIT AROUNDTHEUAE.COM'S FACEBOOK PAGE - LIKE US TO STAY UPDATED ON THE UAE'S LATEST ATTRACTIONS!

    One of Asia de Cuba Abu Dhabi's specialities... the Seared TunaWe must admit the restaurant interiors are amongst the best we have seen in Abu Dhabi… incredibly stylish and chic, but also playful and full of life. Designer Ian Baylis has combined touches of Cuban décor, beautiful Italian furniture and quirky lighting to create a venue that appeals in equal measure for lunch and dinner.

    And now, onto the food! The menu has been created by Executive Chef Luis Pous with inspiration from Havana’s China Town, otherwise known as Barrio Chino de La Habana. There are two menus on offer, the main food menu and bar bites, depending on whether guests would prefer a full-on meal or lighter snacks. After struggling to decide between the two, we ended up ordering from both menus!

    ALSO READ: OUR OPINION ON ABU DHABI'S ONLY REVOLVING RESTAURANT, STRATOS!

    From the bar bites, we selected Goat Cheese Fritters (with mango cucumber relish and jalapeno aioli), Chicken Chicharrones (with honey soy glaze) and Tuna Pica on crispy wontons, which is Asia de Cuba’s signature classic. From the main menu, we had Wagyu Strip Steak (with crispy chipotle soy potatoes and fresh hearts of palm salad) and Rocoto Miso Glazed Black Cod (with vegetable escabeche and avocado poblano purée). And finally for sides, we went for the Wok’d Yuca with Cuban mojo.

    Tempted? Don't miss out on Asia de Cuba's Guava Whipped Cheesecake with coconut tuile
    The food was extremely well cooked and full of flavour. To be honest, there was not a weak link amongst the dishes we selected and our plates were soon cleared. Top marks for the excellent presentation too, and a special thanks to our helpful waitress, who asked a few simple questions about our personal tastes and used the information to make some excellent recommendations from the menu.

    To complement the dining experience, an expert bar team will create tailored beverages to suit guests tastes. We ordered refreshing non-alcoholic cleansers, which were fantastic. A variety of handcrafted cocktails are also on offer, built from classic formulas and drawing inspiration from the national spirits of Cuba and Asia. Examples include signature Classic Heritage Rum Cocktails like the ‘Fresh Sugarcane Mojito’ and ‘Cuba Libre’, plus Original Craft Cocktails like the ‘Dihigo Martinez with Japanese whiskey, gin, sweet vermouth and Chinese plum’.

    Aside from the main restaurant, the multi-faceted space includes a lounge, terrace bar and beach-side cabanas with stunning views of the Arabic GulfDespite our full stomachs, the dessert menu was calling and we couldn’t resist! Again we turned to our waitress, who recommended the Tres Leches De Chocolate (with chocolate Szechuan peppercorn ice cream) and Guava Whipped Cheesecake (with coconut tuile). These are apparently the most popular dessert options at Asia de Cuba and were the perfect ending to our meal. Both come heavily recommended!

    After our visit to Asia de Cuba, we totally understand the hype this restaurant has generated. The venue was heaving and it’s obviously attracted a very high-end clientele, with everyone dressed to impress. While many restaurants take time to attract their target audience, this one seems to have become an instant hit.


    RESTAURANT REVIEW: Asia de Cuba, Abu Dhabi

    Posted at  2:00 AM  |  in  Restaurant  |  Read More»

    Asia de Cuba has a prime location at the St. Regis' Nation Towers Beachfront on the cornicheIf there’s a new restaurant that has generated a lot of buzz in Abu Dhabi over the past couple of weeks, it’s Asia de Cuba. Some of our readers might already be familiar with the brand, as it’s a well-established ‘Chino-Latino’ restaurant in New York and London, but will Asia de Cuba replicate its success in the Middle East?

    Early indications suggest the answer is a resounding yes, as people are flocking to experience the unique combination of Asian and Cuban cuisine on offer. Naturally, AroundTheUAE.com didn’t want to miss out and booked ourselves a table for dinner!

    Asia de Cuba, which boasts a prime location at the St. Regis' Nation Towers Beachfront on the corniche, has been designed to offer guests a vibrant and upbeat atmosphere. Aside from the main restaurant, the multi-faceted space includes a lounge, terrace bar and beach-side cabanas with stunning views of the Arabic Gulf.

    CLICK HERE TO VISIT AROUNDTHEUAE.COM'S FACEBOOK PAGE - LIKE US TO STAY UPDATED ON THE UAE'S LATEST ATTRACTIONS!

    One of Asia de Cuba Abu Dhabi's specialities... the Seared TunaWe must admit the restaurant interiors are amongst the best we have seen in Abu Dhabi… incredibly stylish and chic, but also playful and full of life. Designer Ian Baylis has combined touches of Cuban décor, beautiful Italian furniture and quirky lighting to create a venue that appeals in equal measure for lunch and dinner.

    And now, onto the food! The menu has been created by Executive Chef Luis Pous with inspiration from Havana’s China Town, otherwise known as Barrio Chino de La Habana. There are two menus on offer, the main food menu and bar bites, depending on whether guests would prefer a full-on meal or lighter snacks. After struggling to decide between the two, we ended up ordering from both menus!

    ALSO READ: OUR OPINION ON ABU DHABI'S ONLY REVOLVING RESTAURANT, STRATOS!

    From the bar bites, we selected Goat Cheese Fritters (with mango cucumber relish and jalapeno aioli), Chicken Chicharrones (with honey soy glaze) and Tuna Pica on crispy wontons, which is Asia de Cuba’s signature classic. From the main menu, we had Wagyu Strip Steak (with crispy chipotle soy potatoes and fresh hearts of palm salad) and Rocoto Miso Glazed Black Cod (with vegetable escabeche and avocado poblano purée). And finally for sides, we went for the Wok’d Yuca with Cuban mojo.

    Tempted? Don't miss out on Asia de Cuba's Guava Whipped Cheesecake with coconut tuile
    The food was extremely well cooked and full of flavour. To be honest, there was not a weak link amongst the dishes we selected and our plates were soon cleared. Top marks for the excellent presentation too, and a special thanks to our helpful waitress, who asked a few simple questions about our personal tastes and used the information to make some excellent recommendations from the menu.

    To complement the dining experience, an expert bar team will create tailored beverages to suit guests tastes. We ordered refreshing non-alcoholic cleansers, which were fantastic. A variety of handcrafted cocktails are also on offer, built from classic formulas and drawing inspiration from the national spirits of Cuba and Asia. Examples include signature Classic Heritage Rum Cocktails like the ‘Fresh Sugarcane Mojito’ and ‘Cuba Libre’, plus Original Craft Cocktails like the ‘Dihigo Martinez with Japanese whiskey, gin, sweet vermouth and Chinese plum’.

    Aside from the main restaurant, the multi-faceted space includes a lounge, terrace bar and beach-side cabanas with stunning views of the Arabic GulfDespite our full stomachs, the dessert menu was calling and we couldn’t resist! Again we turned to our waitress, who recommended the Tres Leches De Chocolate (with chocolate Szechuan peppercorn ice cream) and Guava Whipped Cheesecake (with coconut tuile). These are apparently the most popular dessert options at Asia de Cuba and were the perfect ending to our meal. Both come heavily recommended!

    After our visit to Asia de Cuba, we totally understand the hype this restaurant has generated. The venue was heaving and it’s obviously attracted a very high-end clientele, with everyone dressed to impress. While many restaurants take time to attract their target audience, this one seems to have become an instant hit.


    Tuesday, January 27, 2015

    Boasting a central location in Al Khalidiya, Mikado Café is different to the capital’s other Japanese offeringsWe’re big fans of Japanese cuisine at AroundTheUAE.com, as you might have gathered from our rave review of Inakaya. Imagine our delight, therefore, after hearing about the opening of a new Japanese café in Abu Dhabi!

    Boasting a central location in Al Khalidiya, Mikado Café is different to the capital’s other Japanese offerings. In contract to the high-end appeal of Inakaya – which promises a lavish, theatrical dining experience – Mikado Café is a more casual, down-to-earth option, where customers can relax with their family and friends, and enjoy an array of Japanese comfort food with subtle influences from the west.

    We ordered a selection of breakfast items, such as the peanut butter and marshmallow toast with chocolate toppingMikado Café is open between 8am and 11pm, seven days a week. We decided to visit in the morning and try the breakfast menu, although the lunch and dinner options seemed equally appealing… maybe next time!

    After receiving a warm welcome at the entrance, we were guided to our booth and handed the menu. The service here is excellent, the staff are really friendly and know the menu inside out, so don’t be afraid to ask if you need advice or information about the dishes on offer.

    CLICK HERE TO VISIT AROUNDTHEUAE.COM'S FACEBOOK PAGE - LIKE US TO STAY UPDATED ON THE UAE'S LATEST ATTRACTIONS!

    To be honest, we were tempted by everything on the menu and struggled to make a decision. In the end, we ordered a massive selection of different items, such as the Nutella and banana crepes, the waffles (served with fruits, whipped cream and maple syrup), and peanut butter and marshmallow toast with chocolate topping.

    Breads and pastries are baked daily by Head Pastry Chef Angelica Brioschi and Head Baker, Chef Yoshio NishiyamaWhy stop there? We also selected the pancakes and, for a touch of savoury, an omelette with chicken sausage and buttered shokupan toast. Although the risk of a gluttonous food coma was high, we savoured each and every bite. The food was delicious and a notch above the routine breakfasts that are often served in the UAE.

    A Japanese breakfast is also available, consisting of miso soup, Japanese omelette, grilled fish, rich and pickles. On this occasion, we were simply too full to consider it!

    ALSO READ: OUR OPINION ON ABU DHABI'S ONLY REVOLVING RESTAURANT, STRATOS!

    The drinks menu is also impressive. The iced teas at Mikado Café are really popular and we tried a couple of the jasmine green tea options (the passion fruit and grape flavours) and an uber healthy matcha green tea option (with mint and lime). Any beverage involving matcha is bang on trend at the moment, especially amongst the health conscious crowd. Mikado also offers the traditional hot latte and a soothing latte version… all the drinks we tried were incredibly well made, so take your pick!

    Mikado Cafe has chic wooden interiors and a highly trained team creating a welcoming ambience
    In conclusion, Mikado Café is a welcome addition to Abu Dhabi, and it’s great to have a new home-grown brand that has been specifically designed to meet the needs of UAE residents (kudos to Al Sayegh Group). Apparently it took over a year to develop the concept and finalise the right people, the right dishes and the right interior design.

    This attention to detail was obviously worthwhile and the café comes highly recommended. In fact, we were told a couple sitting in the booth next to ours have been visiting every weekend since the café opened, which speaks volumes.

    AroundTheUAE.com has been invited back to try the dinner options at Mikado Café and how could we decline? Stay tuned for a follow-up review in the near future!


    MORE RESTAURANT REVIEWS: Amalfi, Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi

    RESTAURANT REVIEW: Mikado Café, Abu Dhabi

    Posted at  7:15 AM  |  in  Restaurant  |  Read More»

    Boasting a central location in Al Khalidiya, Mikado Café is different to the capital’s other Japanese offeringsWe’re big fans of Japanese cuisine at AroundTheUAE.com, as you might have gathered from our rave review of Inakaya. Imagine our delight, therefore, after hearing about the opening of a new Japanese café in Abu Dhabi!

    Boasting a central location in Al Khalidiya, Mikado Café is different to the capital’s other Japanese offerings. In contract to the high-end appeal of Inakaya – which promises a lavish, theatrical dining experience – Mikado Café is a more casual, down-to-earth option, where customers can relax with their family and friends, and enjoy an array of Japanese comfort food with subtle influences from the west.

    We ordered a selection of breakfast items, such as the peanut butter and marshmallow toast with chocolate toppingMikado Café is open between 8am and 11pm, seven days a week. We decided to visit in the morning and try the breakfast menu, although the lunch and dinner options seemed equally appealing… maybe next time!

    After receiving a warm welcome at the entrance, we were guided to our booth and handed the menu. The service here is excellent, the staff are really friendly and know the menu inside out, so don’t be afraid to ask if you need advice or information about the dishes on offer.

    CLICK HERE TO VISIT AROUNDTHEUAE.COM'S FACEBOOK PAGE - LIKE US TO STAY UPDATED ON THE UAE'S LATEST ATTRACTIONS!

    To be honest, we were tempted by everything on the menu and struggled to make a decision. In the end, we ordered a massive selection of different items, such as the Nutella and banana crepes, the waffles (served with fruits, whipped cream and maple syrup), and peanut butter and marshmallow toast with chocolate topping.

    Breads and pastries are baked daily by Head Pastry Chef Angelica Brioschi and Head Baker, Chef Yoshio NishiyamaWhy stop there? We also selected the pancakes and, for a touch of savoury, an omelette with chicken sausage and buttered shokupan toast. Although the risk of a gluttonous food coma was high, we savoured each and every bite. The food was delicious and a notch above the routine breakfasts that are often served in the UAE.

    A Japanese breakfast is also available, consisting of miso soup, Japanese omelette, grilled fish, rich and pickles. On this occasion, we were simply too full to consider it!

    ALSO READ: OUR OPINION ON ABU DHABI'S ONLY REVOLVING RESTAURANT, STRATOS!

    The drinks menu is also impressive. The iced teas at Mikado Café are really popular and we tried a couple of the jasmine green tea options (the passion fruit and grape flavours) and an uber healthy matcha green tea option (with mint and lime). Any beverage involving matcha is bang on trend at the moment, especially amongst the health conscious crowd. Mikado also offers the traditional hot latte and a soothing latte version… all the drinks we tried were incredibly well made, so take your pick!

    Mikado Cafe has chic wooden interiors and a highly trained team creating a welcoming ambience
    In conclusion, Mikado Café is a welcome addition to Abu Dhabi, and it’s great to have a new home-grown brand that has been specifically designed to meet the needs of UAE residents (kudos to Al Sayegh Group). Apparently it took over a year to develop the concept and finalise the right people, the right dishes and the right interior design.

    This attention to detail was obviously worthwhile and the café comes highly recommended. In fact, we were told a couple sitting in the booth next to ours have been visiting every weekend since the café opened, which speaks volumes.

    AroundTheUAE.com has been invited back to try the dinner options at Mikado Café and how could we decline? Stay tuned for a follow-up review in the near future!


    MORE RESTAURANT REVIEWS: Amalfi, Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi

    Tuesday, December 23, 2014

    Its little surprise that weight loss is the number one resolution for most people in the UAEWow, is it really that time of year again? The countdown has officially commenced for the start of 2015, and that can only mean one thing… New Year’s resolutions!

    Its little surprise that weight loss is the number one resolution for most people in the UAE, especially after our bodies recover from the over-indulgent festive season.

    The good news is that AroundTheUAE.com has partnered with our friends at Nutridiet, a leading weight loss programme from Scandinavia, to recommend five simple steps that will leave you looking and feeling great in the New Year.

    And there’s even better news! We’re offering TWO winners the chance to win a month's supply of Nutridiet shakes each and a free nutritional consultation with the company’s head nutritionist. How cool is that? Keep reading to find out how to enter the competition.

    NUTRIDIET’S TOP FIVE WAYS TO LOSE WEIGHT IN 2015

    1.  Keep hydrated
    Keeping well hydrated by regularly drinking water is very important for an array of health benefits including the breakdown of fat and creating cellular energy within the body. A minimum of two litres a day is highly recommended.

    2.  Physical activity 
    Getting active is key for effective weight loss, however this does not mean vigorous training or intense workouts. A minimum of activities that break a sweat three times a week for over 30 minutes can have a significant impact on weight loss. Suggested enjoyable activities include fast walking, bike rides, and dancing, to get blood pumping and heart rates raised aiding cardiovascular fitness and fat burning.

    3.  Involve friends & family 
    Share you New Year’s resolution with your friends and family to add an element of accountability to personal goals. Close acquaintances can be the perfect support system, encouraging positive choices and can join in with the healthy lifestyle initiatives.

    4.  Get help from a nutritionist
    Find a credible source such as a qualified nutritionist, dietician or an expert in the field of health and nutrition who can tailor personal weight loss plans to the needs of each individual. Nutridiet customers receive customised programmes specific to achieving their goals, as well as being offered a live online chat platform with the head nutritionist, Dalia Shukri; who has a nutrition and dietetics degree.

    5.  Follow the Nutridiet Weight Loss Programme 
    Personalised programmes from one of the world’s leading certified weight loss systems can provide a structured approach to weight loss; Nutridiet’s nutritious shakes can replace meals for a safe and effective weight loss solution aiding healthy lifestyle.

    COMPETITION TIME!

    Nutridiet is a leading weight loss programme from ScandinaviaYou’ve read the useful hints, and now it’s time to win a month's supply of Nutridiet shakes, Sweden's number one weight loss product. Based on high quality soy protein, the meal replacement shakes contain just 110 calories, with three weight loss programmes on offer depending on your dieting goals.

    Furthermore, to get the most out of your Nutridiet routine, you will also receive a free consultation with Nutridiet's head nutritionist, who will guide you how to use the shakes.

    Two winners will be selected – you and a friend! To enter:

    1) ‘Like’ AroundTheUAE.com’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/uaeblog)
    2) Tag the friend (or friends) you would like to share the prize with in the Nutridiet competition post.

    Your friend(s) need to like the page too and winners must be resident in the UAE. It’s really that easy! The deadline is 1 January 2015… good luck!

    TOP 5: New Year’s Resolutions for Weight Loss (WITH COMPETITION!)

    Posted at  9:10 AM  |  in  Shopping  |  Read More»

    Its little surprise that weight loss is the number one resolution for most people in the UAEWow, is it really that time of year again? The countdown has officially commenced for the start of 2015, and that can only mean one thing… New Year’s resolutions!

    Its little surprise that weight loss is the number one resolution for most people in the UAE, especially after our bodies recover from the over-indulgent festive season.

    The good news is that AroundTheUAE.com has partnered with our friends at Nutridiet, a leading weight loss programme from Scandinavia, to recommend five simple steps that will leave you looking and feeling great in the New Year.

    And there’s even better news! We’re offering TWO winners the chance to win a month's supply of Nutridiet shakes each and a free nutritional consultation with the company’s head nutritionist. How cool is that? Keep reading to find out how to enter the competition.

    NUTRIDIET’S TOP FIVE WAYS TO LOSE WEIGHT IN 2015

    1.  Keep hydrated
    Keeping well hydrated by regularly drinking water is very important for an array of health benefits including the breakdown of fat and creating cellular energy within the body. A minimum of two litres a day is highly recommended.

    2.  Physical activity 
    Getting active is key for effective weight loss, however this does not mean vigorous training or intense workouts. A minimum of activities that break a sweat three times a week for over 30 minutes can have a significant impact on weight loss. Suggested enjoyable activities include fast walking, bike rides, and dancing, to get blood pumping and heart rates raised aiding cardiovascular fitness and fat burning.

    3.  Involve friends & family 
    Share you New Year’s resolution with your friends and family to add an element of accountability to personal goals. Close acquaintances can be the perfect support system, encouraging positive choices and can join in with the healthy lifestyle initiatives.

    4.  Get help from a nutritionist
    Find a credible source such as a qualified nutritionist, dietician or an expert in the field of health and nutrition who can tailor personal weight loss plans to the needs of each individual. Nutridiet customers receive customised programmes specific to achieving their goals, as well as being offered a live online chat platform with the head nutritionist, Dalia Shukri; who has a nutrition and dietetics degree.

    5.  Follow the Nutridiet Weight Loss Programme 
    Personalised programmes from one of the world’s leading certified weight loss systems can provide a structured approach to weight loss; Nutridiet’s nutritious shakes can replace meals for a safe and effective weight loss solution aiding healthy lifestyle.

    COMPETITION TIME!

    Nutridiet is a leading weight loss programme from ScandinaviaYou’ve read the useful hints, and now it’s time to win a month's supply of Nutridiet shakes, Sweden's number one weight loss product. Based on high quality soy protein, the meal replacement shakes contain just 110 calories, with three weight loss programmes on offer depending on your dieting goals.

    Furthermore, to get the most out of your Nutridiet routine, you will also receive a free consultation with Nutridiet's head nutritionist, who will guide you how to use the shakes.

    Two winners will be selected – you and a friend! To enter:

    1) ‘Like’ AroundTheUAE.com’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/uaeblog)
    2) Tag the friend (or friends) you would like to share the prize with in the Nutridiet competition post.

    Your friend(s) need to like the page too and winners must be resident in the UAE. It’s really that easy! The deadline is 1 January 2015… good luck!

    Sunday, December 14, 2014

    Stratos at Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi is the only rotating restaurant in the UAE capitalWith so many restaurants opening in Abu Dhabi over the past year, it’s never been more important to stand out from the crowd. However, consumers are becoming more and more demanding, and they are starting to lose interest in the usual innovations, such as being associated with a celebrity chef, achieving Michelin-star status, or selecting an off-the-beat theme. So, what’s next?

    Although rotating restaurants are not a new concept, they have a fantastic track-record across the world, with famous examples in Los Vegas, Seattle, Tokyo and Cape Town, amongst others. The concept arrived in the UAE capital some time back with Al Fanar, a European restaurant located at the top of Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi. And following a major one-year revamp, it was re-launched with much fanfare in September 2014 under a brand new name, Stratos.

    Each dish is created with seasonal produce sourced from the finest global suppliersEager to find out more, AroundTheUAE.com decided to visit the upscale lounge bar and grill for our latest review. As you might remember from our recent lunch at Amalfi – dubbed the best business lunch in Abu Dhabi (read the review here) - we’re already fans of Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi, so expectations were high!

    CLICK HERE TO VISIT AROUNDTHEUAE.COM'S FACEBOOK PAGE - LIKE US TO STAY UPDATED ON THE UAE'S LATEST ATTRACTIONS!

    After being seated at our table for dinner, we took a few minutes to admire the stylish décor. Stratos combines its black and gold colour scheme with modern and comfortable furnishing to create an ultra-luxurious setting, almost like the private members clubs that are popular with the rich and successful in Europe.

    Stratos combines its black and gold colour scheme with modern and comfortable furnishingOn the one side, dinners can watch the open kitchen as dishes from the menu are prepared under the watchful guidance of Executive Head Chef Justin Galea and Chef De Cuisine Grant Ballinger. However, the real highlight is the exquisite revolving view of Abu Dhabi’s cityscape on the opposite side of the restaurant.

    In total, it takes around an hour for the restaurant to complete its 360-degree rotation, with a variety of different settings to be enjoyed along the way, from downtown Abu Dhabi and the corniche, to Lulu Island and the Arabian Gulf. Apparently different speeds have been tested out and this was found to be the optimal for enjoying the views and avoiding the feeling of motion sickness.

    ALSO READ: IS INAKAYA THE MOST AUTHENTIC JAPANESE RESTAURANT IN ABU DHABI?

    The Strawberry Posset consists of strawberry granola, meringues, lemon sorbet and 20-year-old balsamicAnd let’s not forget about the food! Each dish is created with seasonal produce sourced from the finest global suppliers. For starters, there are around seven options in the a la carte menu, and we tried a little bit of everything, from the yellow fin tuna and parmesan gnocchi, to the lobster mac and cheese. YUM!

    The mains are essentially a grill selection and if you’re not sure where the start, the helpful staff will be more than happy to provide guidance. Between us, we tried the John Stone Grass Fed Rib Eye with Green Peppercorn Sauce and the Wagyu Tenderloin with Stratos Original BBQ Sauce. These were accompanied by a delicious range of sides, including Paris Mash, Creamed Sweet Corn, Hand Cut Chips, and our personal favourite, the Slow Braised Carrots with Mandarin Oil.

    Stratos transforms into a trendy after-dark venue with various DJs playing music until the early hoursAbu Dhabi has some amazing grills, which still give Stratos a run for their money, but on the whole we were left feeling satisfied and extremely full. If fact, we almost passed on dessert (most unlike us!), but were eventually convinced to try the Strawberry Posset, which consists of strawberry granola, meringues, lemon sorbet and 20-year-old balsamic. We were informed this is lighter on the stomach and provides the perfect ending to a meal… we couldn’t agree more!

    All-in-all, we recommend a visit to Stratos for the unique 360-degree views it offers over Abu Dhabi. And even if you don’t fancy a dinner there, other options include a gourmet afternoon tea, a sunset during cocktail hour, and a trendy after-dark atmosphere with various DJs playing music until the early hours.

    MORE RESTAURANT REVIEWS: Amalfi, Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi

    RESTAURANT REVIEW: Stratos, Abu Dhabi

    Posted at  6:43 AM  |  in  Restaurant  |  Read More»

    Stratos at Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi is the only rotating restaurant in the UAE capitalWith so many restaurants opening in Abu Dhabi over the past year, it’s never been more important to stand out from the crowd. However, consumers are becoming more and more demanding, and they are starting to lose interest in the usual innovations, such as being associated with a celebrity chef, achieving Michelin-star status, or selecting an off-the-beat theme. So, what’s next?

    Although rotating restaurants are not a new concept, they have a fantastic track-record across the world, with famous examples in Los Vegas, Seattle, Tokyo and Cape Town, amongst others. The concept arrived in the UAE capital some time back with Al Fanar, a European restaurant located at the top of Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi. And following a major one-year revamp, it was re-launched with much fanfare in September 2014 under a brand new name, Stratos.

    Each dish is created with seasonal produce sourced from the finest global suppliersEager to find out more, AroundTheUAE.com decided to visit the upscale lounge bar and grill for our latest review. As you might remember from our recent lunch at Amalfi – dubbed the best business lunch in Abu Dhabi (read the review here) - we’re already fans of Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi, so expectations were high!

    CLICK HERE TO VISIT AROUNDTHEUAE.COM'S FACEBOOK PAGE - LIKE US TO STAY UPDATED ON THE UAE'S LATEST ATTRACTIONS!

    After being seated at our table for dinner, we took a few minutes to admire the stylish décor. Stratos combines its black and gold colour scheme with modern and comfortable furnishing to create an ultra-luxurious setting, almost like the private members clubs that are popular with the rich and successful in Europe.

    Stratos combines its black and gold colour scheme with modern and comfortable furnishingOn the one side, dinners can watch the open kitchen as dishes from the menu are prepared under the watchful guidance of Executive Head Chef Justin Galea and Chef De Cuisine Grant Ballinger. However, the real highlight is the exquisite revolving view of Abu Dhabi’s cityscape on the opposite side of the restaurant.

    In total, it takes around an hour for the restaurant to complete its 360-degree rotation, with a variety of different settings to be enjoyed along the way, from downtown Abu Dhabi and the corniche, to Lulu Island and the Arabian Gulf. Apparently different speeds have been tested out and this was found to be the optimal for enjoying the views and avoiding the feeling of motion sickness.

    ALSO READ: IS INAKAYA THE MOST AUTHENTIC JAPANESE RESTAURANT IN ABU DHABI?

    The Strawberry Posset consists of strawberry granola, meringues, lemon sorbet and 20-year-old balsamicAnd let’s not forget about the food! Each dish is created with seasonal produce sourced from the finest global suppliers. For starters, there are around seven options in the a la carte menu, and we tried a little bit of everything, from the yellow fin tuna and parmesan gnocchi, to the lobster mac and cheese. YUM!

    The mains are essentially a grill selection and if you’re not sure where the start, the helpful staff will be more than happy to provide guidance. Between us, we tried the John Stone Grass Fed Rib Eye with Green Peppercorn Sauce and the Wagyu Tenderloin with Stratos Original BBQ Sauce. These were accompanied by a delicious range of sides, including Paris Mash, Creamed Sweet Corn, Hand Cut Chips, and our personal favourite, the Slow Braised Carrots with Mandarin Oil.

    Stratos transforms into a trendy after-dark venue with various DJs playing music until the early hoursAbu Dhabi has some amazing grills, which still give Stratos a run for their money, but on the whole we were left feeling satisfied and extremely full. If fact, we almost passed on dessert (most unlike us!), but were eventually convinced to try the Strawberry Posset, which consists of strawberry granola, meringues, lemon sorbet and 20-year-old balsamic. We were informed this is lighter on the stomach and provides the perfect ending to a meal… we couldn’t agree more!

    All-in-all, we recommend a visit to Stratos for the unique 360-degree views it offers over Abu Dhabi. And even if you don’t fancy a dinner there, other options include a gourmet afternoon tea, a sunset during cocktail hour, and a trendy after-dark atmosphere with various DJs playing music until the early hours.

    MORE RESTAURANT REVIEWS: Amalfi, Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi

    Monday, December 8, 2014

    Inakaya is located in the up-and-coming Venetian Village at Ritz-Carlton Grand CanalTrying a new restaurant can be a hit or miss experience, whether in the UAE or anywhere in the world. On the one hand, you might discover a hidden treasure, where the food, service and ambience not only meet your expectations, but exceed them.

    And on occasions, it’s the complete opposite, with a culinary journey so bad, you promise never to return. Luckily, our visit to Abu Dhabi’s recently opened Inakaya fit into the first category and we couldn’t be happier.

    Located in the up-and-coming Venetian Village at Ritz-Carlton Grand Canal, the ‘Inakaya’ brand might ring a bell for some readers. That’s because the Japanese restaurant, which opened its doors in the UAE less than two months ago, has been operating with much success in both New York and Tokyo for some time.

    CLICK HERE TO VISIT AROUNDTHEUAE.COM'S FACEBOOK PAGE - LIKE US TO STAY UPDATED ON THE UAE'S LATEST ATTRACTIONS!

    It seems that loyal patrons in both cities were besotted with the authentic, theatrical Japanese dining experience on offer at Inakaya. But would that same offering work in Abu Dhabi? In our opinion, the answer is a resounding yes!

    AroundTheUAE.com was treated to a delicious selection from the menu, including the black cod filletAt the heart of Inakaya’s distinctive dining experience is ‘robatayaki’, which transforms the Japanese grilling method into an exciting performance for guests. Upon arrival, our group was welcomed by enthusiastic staff in kimono and happi coat-style uniforms. We instantly noticed that the décor has a traditional and homely feel, but at the same time, offers a modern, stylish and upscale setting.

    We were seated facing the yakikata (grill-masters), who chanted a Japanese welcome to us in perfect unison, which was somewhat overwhelming but actually a really nice touch. Between our seats and the yakikata was a display of fresh fish, vegetables and other produce, allowing guests to know exactly what they’re ordering. After selecting from the menu, the dishes are cooked by the yakikata and passed directly to customers on traditional 1.2 metre-long paddles.

    ALSO READ: WHY ABU DHABI'S NEW JONES THE GROCER IS WORTH A VISIT! READ OUR REVIEW!

    Inakaya is more like visiting a special attraction, with so much authenticity that it almost felt like we were in Japan on a holidayThe team are led by Executive Chef Keneth Kim, who has 20 years of culinary experience in establishments such as Nobu in London, Sushico in Istanbul, and Honyaki in Dubai. We were treated to a delicious selection from the menu, from the tofu salad, miso soup and steamed vegetables for starters, and onto the black cod fillet and various chicken and meat dishes, all cooked to perfection.

    We thought the food was high on taste, without being too heavy on the stomach. In fact, we still had enough space to try the traditional ice cream, which proved a great way to end our extremely satisfying meal.

    Sanbon jime, a rhythmic clapping ‘thanking’ ceremony, offered an authentic and peaceful conclusion to the meal. If the timing is right, diners can participate in the mochi pounding ceremony – a New Year’s tradition that is a nightly occurrence at Inakaya.

    At the heart of Inakaya’s dining experience is robatayaki, which transforms the Japanese grilling method into an exciting performance
    The ceremony sees a lucky guest (yes, on this occasion it was us!) tasked with using a giant mortar-and-pestle to pound hot, cooked sticky rice into a delicious sweet rice cake; celebrities, including Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, have previously taken part in the tradition at Inakaya Tokyo.

    This highlights the fact that a trip to Inakaya offers more than the routine dining experience. It’s more like visiting a special attraction, with so much authenticity that it almost felt like we were in Japan on a holiday. It’s a welcome addition to Abu Dhabi’s restaurant scene and we cannot wait to return in the future.

    MORE RESTAURANT REVIEWS: Amalfi, Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi

    RESTAURANT REVIEW: Inakaya, Abu Dhabi

    Posted at  4:25 AM  |  in  Restaurant  |  Read More»

    Inakaya is located in the up-and-coming Venetian Village at Ritz-Carlton Grand CanalTrying a new restaurant can be a hit or miss experience, whether in the UAE or anywhere in the world. On the one hand, you might discover a hidden treasure, where the food, service and ambience not only meet your expectations, but exceed them.

    And on occasions, it’s the complete opposite, with a culinary journey so bad, you promise never to return. Luckily, our visit to Abu Dhabi’s recently opened Inakaya fit into the first category and we couldn’t be happier.

    Located in the up-and-coming Venetian Village at Ritz-Carlton Grand Canal, the ‘Inakaya’ brand might ring a bell for some readers. That’s because the Japanese restaurant, which opened its doors in the UAE less than two months ago, has been operating with much success in both New York and Tokyo for some time.

    CLICK HERE TO VISIT AROUNDTHEUAE.COM'S FACEBOOK PAGE - LIKE US TO STAY UPDATED ON THE UAE'S LATEST ATTRACTIONS!

    It seems that loyal patrons in both cities were besotted with the authentic, theatrical Japanese dining experience on offer at Inakaya. But would that same offering work in Abu Dhabi? In our opinion, the answer is a resounding yes!

    AroundTheUAE.com was treated to a delicious selection from the menu, including the black cod filletAt the heart of Inakaya’s distinctive dining experience is ‘robatayaki’, which transforms the Japanese grilling method into an exciting performance for guests. Upon arrival, our group was welcomed by enthusiastic staff in kimono and happi coat-style uniforms. We instantly noticed that the décor has a traditional and homely feel, but at the same time, offers a modern, stylish and upscale setting.

    We were seated facing the yakikata (grill-masters), who chanted a Japanese welcome to us in perfect unison, which was somewhat overwhelming but actually a really nice touch. Between our seats and the yakikata was a display of fresh fish, vegetables and other produce, allowing guests to know exactly what they’re ordering. After selecting from the menu, the dishes are cooked by the yakikata and passed directly to customers on traditional 1.2 metre-long paddles.

    ALSO READ: WHY ABU DHABI'S NEW JONES THE GROCER IS WORTH A VISIT! READ OUR REVIEW!

    Inakaya is more like visiting a special attraction, with so much authenticity that it almost felt like we were in Japan on a holidayThe team are led by Executive Chef Keneth Kim, who has 20 years of culinary experience in establishments such as Nobu in London, Sushico in Istanbul, and Honyaki in Dubai. We were treated to a delicious selection from the menu, from the tofu salad, miso soup and steamed vegetables for starters, and onto the black cod fillet and various chicken and meat dishes, all cooked to perfection.

    We thought the food was high on taste, without being too heavy on the stomach. In fact, we still had enough space to try the traditional ice cream, which proved a great way to end our extremely satisfying meal.

    Sanbon jime, a rhythmic clapping ‘thanking’ ceremony, offered an authentic and peaceful conclusion to the meal. If the timing is right, diners can participate in the mochi pounding ceremony – a New Year’s tradition that is a nightly occurrence at Inakaya.

    At the heart of Inakaya’s dining experience is robatayaki, which transforms the Japanese grilling method into an exciting performance
    The ceremony sees a lucky guest (yes, on this occasion it was us!) tasked with using a giant mortar-and-pestle to pound hot, cooked sticky rice into a delicious sweet rice cake; celebrities, including Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, have previously taken part in the tradition at Inakaya Tokyo.

    This highlights the fact that a trip to Inakaya offers more than the routine dining experience. It’s more like visiting a special attraction, with so much authenticity that it almost felt like we were in Japan on a holiday. It’s a welcome addition to Abu Dhabi’s restaurant scene and we cannot wait to return in the future.

    MORE RESTAURANT REVIEWS: Amalfi, Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi

    Thursday, December 4, 2014

    The Ramada Downtown Dubai is located in the emirate’s ultra-popular and trendy downtown districtAfter a hectic couple of weeks, it was time for AroundTheUAE.com to arrange another much-needed staycation to relax, unwind and recharge our batteries. Our chosen venue for the weekend? The Ramada Downtown Dubai, located in the emirate’s ultra-popular and trendy downtown district, next to Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall and other prized landmarks.

    The venue is fantastic – appealing to families on extended holidays, guests looking for a short getaway (like us) and business travellers attending conferences and exhibitions - and the term ‘room with a view’ couldn’t be more apt, but more about that later!

    CLICK HERE TO VISIT AROUNDTHEUAE.COM'S FACEBOOK PAGE - LIKE US TO STAY UPDATED ON THE UAE'S LATEST ATTRACTIONS!

    After battling through the local traffic and arriving at the four-star hotel, we made use of the complimentary valet parking and headed to the reception for a fast and pain-free check in service with friendly and helpful staff. What a breeze!

    There are 181 suites in total at The Ramada Downtown Dubai There are 181 suites in total at The Ramada Downtown Dubai and guests can choose between a studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and even a luxurious four-bedroom penthouse, depending on their requirements. All of them include a large bathroom with walk-in shower and separate bathtub, plus a fully equipped kitchen with dishwasher and washing machine. As we’re a couple with one young child, we selected the one-bedroom, which had more than enough space and all the facilities that we would need inside the suite for a comfortable stay.

    The first thing you notice upon entering the suite is not the modern and tasteful décor, but the amazing view! We’re talking direct, uninterrupted views of Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall and, our personal favourite, the stunning Dubai Fountains. There aren’t many properties in Dubai that can compete on that level!

    All suites include a large bathroom with walk-in shower and separate bathtubWith such a positive start, we were excited to check out the rest of the property, so after quickly unpacking, we visited the temperature-controlled outdoor swimming pool (one of our favourite hotspots during the stay, especially with the perfect weather at this time of year) and the gymnasium (confession time, we never visit gyms during a staycation, but it will definitely appeal to more active guests). For children, there is a separate kids pool, plus indoor and outdoor play areas, making it a family-friendly option for those with youngsters.

    ALSO READ: Don't miss our review of Al Bustan Centre and Residence, Dubai

    In terms of food, The Ramada Downtown Dubai boasts a revamped all-day dining venue, Kenza, which means ‘treasure’ in Arabic. The restaurant, formerly known as Orchid, opened around a month back and offers international cuisine with a Middle Eastern twist. Located on the second floor, it can accommodate 60 guests indoors and has 60 outdoor seats with Burj Khalifa views. The red and white interior design is complemented by a stylish wood finish and Arabic ornaments, giving the restaurant a more sophisticated and inviting ambiance.

    The Ramada Downtown Dubai boasts a revamped all-day dining venue, Kenza, which means treasure in ArabicOn top of that, you have countless dining venues within a stone’s throw of the hotel. In fact, everything’s on your doorstep, from world-class shopping to a massive multiplex cinema, and Dubai Metro links you to the rest of the emirate.

    As always, our weekend went past way too quickly, and we had a fantastic time. All-in-all, The Ramada Downtown is a winner in our eyes and offers a great product in the four-star hotel category, with equally good service. We’re not surprised that most of the hotel’s guests arrive from GCC countries, highlighting its appeal as a popular choice for business and leisure guests across the region.

    MORE HOTEL REVIEWS: Arjaan by Rotana Dubai Media City - 

    HOTEL REVIEW: Ramada Downtown, Dubai

    Posted at  3:04 AM  |  in  Hotel  |  Read More»

    The Ramada Downtown Dubai is located in the emirate’s ultra-popular and trendy downtown districtAfter a hectic couple of weeks, it was time for AroundTheUAE.com to arrange another much-needed staycation to relax, unwind and recharge our batteries. Our chosen venue for the weekend? The Ramada Downtown Dubai, located in the emirate’s ultra-popular and trendy downtown district, next to Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall and other prized landmarks.

    The venue is fantastic – appealing to families on extended holidays, guests looking for a short getaway (like us) and business travellers attending conferences and exhibitions - and the term ‘room with a view’ couldn’t be more apt, but more about that later!

    CLICK HERE TO VISIT AROUNDTHEUAE.COM'S FACEBOOK PAGE - LIKE US TO STAY UPDATED ON THE UAE'S LATEST ATTRACTIONS!

    After battling through the local traffic and arriving at the four-star hotel, we made use of the complimentary valet parking and headed to the reception for a fast and pain-free check in service with friendly and helpful staff. What a breeze!

    There are 181 suites in total at The Ramada Downtown Dubai There are 181 suites in total at The Ramada Downtown Dubai and guests can choose between a studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and even a luxurious four-bedroom penthouse, depending on their requirements. All of them include a large bathroom with walk-in shower and separate bathtub, plus a fully equipped kitchen with dishwasher and washing machine. As we’re a couple with one young child, we selected the one-bedroom, which had more than enough space and all the facilities that we would need inside the suite for a comfortable stay.

    The first thing you notice upon entering the suite is not the modern and tasteful décor, but the amazing view! We’re talking direct, uninterrupted views of Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall and, our personal favourite, the stunning Dubai Fountains. There aren’t many properties in Dubai that can compete on that level!

    All suites include a large bathroom with walk-in shower and separate bathtubWith such a positive start, we were excited to check out the rest of the property, so after quickly unpacking, we visited the temperature-controlled outdoor swimming pool (one of our favourite hotspots during the stay, especially with the perfect weather at this time of year) and the gymnasium (confession time, we never visit gyms during a staycation, but it will definitely appeal to more active guests). For children, there is a separate kids pool, plus indoor and outdoor play areas, making it a family-friendly option for those with youngsters.

    ALSO READ: Don't miss our review of Al Bustan Centre and Residence, Dubai

    In terms of food, The Ramada Downtown Dubai boasts a revamped all-day dining venue, Kenza, which means ‘treasure’ in Arabic. The restaurant, formerly known as Orchid, opened around a month back and offers international cuisine with a Middle Eastern twist. Located on the second floor, it can accommodate 60 guests indoors and has 60 outdoor seats with Burj Khalifa views. The red and white interior design is complemented by a stylish wood finish and Arabic ornaments, giving the restaurant a more sophisticated and inviting ambiance.

    The Ramada Downtown Dubai boasts a revamped all-day dining venue, Kenza, which means treasure in ArabicOn top of that, you have countless dining venues within a stone’s throw of the hotel. In fact, everything’s on your doorstep, from world-class shopping to a massive multiplex cinema, and Dubai Metro links you to the rest of the emirate.

    As always, our weekend went past way too quickly, and we had a fantastic time. All-in-all, The Ramada Downtown is a winner in our eyes and offers a great product in the four-star hotel category, with equally good service. We’re not surprised that most of the hotel’s guests arrive from GCC countries, highlighting its appeal as a popular choice for business and leisure guests across the region.

    MORE HOTEL REVIEWS: Arjaan by Rotana Dubai Media City - 

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