Bluewaters Island is not just Dubai’s latest waterfront destination, it is also the quirkiest and the most futuristic. No, I do not say that because of the giant Ferris wheel that is based on this island. I know that ‘Ain Dubai’ is a bit of a marvel due its sheer size but it is actually the huge UFO like steel installations that give the Island this futuristic feel.
Of the four restaurants that have so far opened up on the island, one stands out because of it’s fun concept and bold branding. It would be safe to say that ‘The Selfish Bull’ is the quintessential Bluewaters Island restaurant. Yes, it is fun to feast on fresh seafood but it is the ability to do the unthinkable which makes dining at The Selfish Bull such an absolute delight.
Imagine ordering half a lobster because that is what you do when you are in the middle of the sea but also receiving a rack of ribs with your order. Sounds preposterous right? Apparently, it is not. Not only can your lobster come with a side of spare ribs but you can also order it with some juicy lamb chops. If that doesn’t work, there is always the option of a T bone with jumbo shrimps or maybe even a tenderloin steak with some scallops. You could also choose a live mud crab from the display tanks and have it cooked with a zesty black pepper sauce. Everything is possible at the Selfish Bull.
If you want to take it easy, there is the lobster bisque which is a creamy lobster soup cooked with celery, carrots and chives or the Tom Yum, which is a classic Thai spicy soup with shrimps, squid, mushrooms and lemon grass. My favorite was the French Onion Soup which was served in a bread bowl, topped with croutons and cheese.
One of the things that new restaurants struggle with is consistency in service. It takes a while for the service staff to get comfortable in their new roles. The service at the Selfish Bull was impeccable. From seating to order placement and communication to billing; everything was handled with perfection. There was always someone at hand if we needed assistance but the staff were never intrusive. They left us to finish our meal at a leisurely pace, as we soaked in the beautiful view from the terrace. All we had to do to get their attention was to glance in their direction and nod. It was such a pleasure to dine there and congratulations to the restaurant on covering all bases.
It was February of this year when I went for the Mad Hatter’s birthday party at Sugar Factory. Read about it here. Guess what? The year has not yet ended and yours truly has been signed up as a brand ambassador for the Sugar Factory. Considering the fact that this place is a regular hangout for celebs like Kylie and Kendall Jenner, Britney Spears, Drake, Nicole Scherzinger, Kim Kardashian and Eva Longoria – this my friends is a pretty cool thing, even if I do say so myself :p .
So, the first order of the day was for me the go and try out the brand-new menu at Sugar Factory Dubai and give my honest opinion on the new additions (I know right? What a hard life!) So that’s just what I did.
I got to try some of the new items and liked most all them but I am going to list some of my favorites here.
Whatever you do, please do try out the Bao Wao which is a trio of soft Bao buns filled with crispy chicken and sriracha sauce, buffalo chicken and beef teriyaki respectively.
I also recommend the chicken Cheetos blowout burger. The name is pretty self-explanatory but let me describe it just in case. Think of crispy chicken fried with a melted cheese filling, lettuce, tomato, fried egg, beef bacon and ginger tomato chili jam along with Cheetos and truffle mayonnaise in a brioche bun. It is called the ‘cheese blowout’ burger because every time you bite into that crispy breaded chicken, your mouth is flooded by warm gooey cheese. The smooth texture of this cheese along with the crunch from the Cheetos and the crispy chicken itself is an experience that should not be missed.
If you enjoy your meats like me, you will love the slow braised lamb shank with wasabi mashed potato. To be honest, a pure meat dish can always be a hit or a miss depending on various factors but I ordered this anyway because I knew it would look great on instagram! Guess what, this chance paid off because not only did it look awesome in the photos but the tender meat was literally falling off the bone and together with the wasabi kick from the mashed potatoes, it provided a well-rounded and fulfilling experience.
Another interesting addition to the menu are the mac and cheese pops. Think deep fried balls of crumbed macaroni and cheese on a stick, served on a bed of marinara sauce. Sounds insane right? They taste was out of this world too. That moment when you take the first bite and the cheese explodes in your mouth is just so unforgettable. I can still recall that experience as if it happened just a moment ago.
One thing I noticed about Sugar Factory was that the presentation and theatrics form a part of the overall experience. From the giant goblets of wonderful smokey mocktails to the desserts that were given finishing touches at your table – everything had a performance element to it. The way the Mai Tai was poured and presented, the method of using a blowtorch to burn through a deconstructed Tiramisu ball – everything required our full attention and it was almost as if we were a part of the interactive process.
At the end of the meal, we were presented with a mirrored tray on which the chef created a dessert called the canvas of the world in front of our eyes. It had among other things, a chocolate fudge and Nutella cake, Oreo Soil, Lotus Soil, Fanta cake, fruit caviar, a chocolate ice cream stick and a deconstructed Tiramisu. Head over to my instagram account to see a short video of the dessert being created. The finished tray is pictured above.
Whether you feel like trying out something familiar and simple like a pasta or a pizza or if you are in the mood for an elaborate creation, the new menu at Sugar Factory has something for everyone. I will be returning again soon because there are still some items that I need to try. Meanwhile, if you have any recommendations, please do let me know!
If you are a fan of Asian food and have been in Dubai long enough, you must have dined at one of the Noodle House restaurants at some point in your life. If you are a fan of Asian Food and were living in or visiting Lahore some time between 2006 and 2009, chances are that you would have either dined at Noodle House Lahore or would have heard someone raving about how wonderfully authentic the Wasabi prawns were. Unfortunately, that is a thing of the past because Noodle House Lahore is no more. The restaurant decided to shut down their operation some years ago.
So when our young friend, Lahore’s design prodigy Hamza Bokhari was in town fresh on the heels of his London Fashion Week showcase, we thought to ourselves, “Where best to take him out than to a restaurant he used to love but can’t get any more of in Lahore?” So that ladies and gents is how we ended up at the Noodle House for the umpteenth time.
We picked the Madinat Jumeirah location and did the customary Souq Madinat stroll before arriving unannounced. After being greeted with the same big smiles we have grown accustomed to we were immediately ushered to our favorite corner of the restaurant. Our waitress patiently answered all our questions before handing us along with the usual order pad, a pictorial menu which I had not seen earlier. I love the order pad because it comes with a cool pen that you use to put a check next to the items you want and then hand it over to your server. It is an efficient process and was one of the unique things about Noodle House. They probably had to come up with a new menu with pictures of food on it because A) Their customers do not have the brain power anymore to imagine what a Peking Duck would look like. B) Their customers enjoy looking at pictures. C) Their customers cannot read. Whatever the case may be, the old order pad is also available and you can order off either of the two.
The lights were bright enough to ensure we could see each others faces and discuss the neck tattoo of the young lady on the table next to ours (Yes I have told you before, we are weird like that). They were also dim enough to act as a conduit between all the different people on all the different tables who seemed to be intimately connected through their love of good food. The background music was loud enough to suppress any sounds from the open kitchen yet low enough to allow us to have a conversation. Mixed with the low rumble of chatter from all the other tables, it created a unique soundtrack to our Asian meal.
The first time I ordered the Thai chicken with cashew nuts was because it had 3 little chilli peppers next to it on the menu. I do sometimes like to burn my mouth till the taste buds go numb but after all the beef Vindaloos, Sombrero chilli bean bombs and Thai chilli papaya salad that I have devoured in my lifetime, this was in my opinion, mildly spiced. A word of caution though; never ever use my judgement on chilli to form your opinion on whether a dish is too hot or not. Everyone has a different threshold for handling chilli and mine is just off the charts by all standards. Having said that, I would also like to say that there is a whole melange of flavors in the dish and the chilli is just one element. All of them compliment each other to create the unmistakably unique Noodle House taste. So, I strongly recommend you sample the cashew nut chicken there at least once while you live in Dubai.
We also ordered the Szechuan crispy beef, the wok fried chili prawns & calamari and the Singapore Noodles. Like the cashew nut chicken, the crispy beef and wok fried prawns included a serving of steamed rice. The Singapore noodles were basically rice vermicelli noodles tossed with some chicken, prawns and vegetables. It was the only dish that needed some extra soy sauce to enhance the flavor. The wok fried chilli prawns and calamari were lightly spiced but the chilli did not overpower the taste of the seafood. It was lightly sauteed so the prawns were less rubbery and more creamy. That along with the chewy calamari and steamed rice created a medley of different textures in your mouth.
The crispy beef was voted as everyone’s favourite dish of the evening because it was essentially 3 dishes rolled into one. Such experimentation can often result in disaster but this dish was an absolute delight and none of us could stop raving about it. The texture of the dish was that of a dry fried Chinese beef, the unmistakable aroma was like a lemongrass beef stir fry and the final kick was delivered by the Schezwan sauce.
You never know what life might throw at you next. Before you move on to greener pastures or your time in Dubai comes to an end, if you have not done so yet please do head down to the Noodle House and try the Crispy Szechuan beef and the Chicken cashew nut. This is a home grown Dubai restaurant that has branched out to Doha, Jeddah, Cyprus, Moscow and for a while to Lahore. Unless your next stop is one of these cities, you may never again get a chance to sample 3 recipes being rolled into one.