After having spent at least 10 nights in different YAS Island properties over the last couple of years, I considered myself a bit of an expert on all things YAS. It has in fact been the staycation destination of choice for many of my friends as well. There is just so much to do – like a staycation superstore so to speak, with a section catering to everyone in the group or family.
Despite all of this, something was amiss from our YAS island escapades. I had not yet been able to put a finger on it but it dawned upon me, just as I lay my eyes on some of the most meticulously crafted red velvet pancakes on this side of the Arabian Desert. To be honest, I’m not much of a pancake guy but there I was like an aggressive paparazzo, edging out my fellow bloggers in a bid to get the most Instagram worthy shot. Not the kind of impression I wanted to leave my new-found friends with but you have to see these edible works of art to truly understand the basis for my slightly deranged behavior. Luckily, I did manage to get a couple of good shots for my blog.
Despite all my excitement upon the sight of these red velvet pancakes, they were only part of my wonderful breakfast escape. The real discovery was something that will now be a part of my Yas island experiences for times to come. Between the mundane hotel breakfasts and all the cookie cutter mall outlets there was not one place that stood out for breakfast like the Ferrari world stands out among theme parks or the Yas Marina circuit stands out for motor sports. Whether it’s for the F1 race, the roller coaster, house music marathon or the concert weekend, whatever our next excuse is for a Yas Island staycation I know exactly where I would be having the most important meal of the day. Located just a stone’s throw from the Yas mainland, on the private island of Muneera is the quintessential YAS breakfast spot.
Whether you can devour a couple of pancakes for breakfast or if you fall within the health freak category, the food alone will make your trip down to this beach front property worth its while. May I suggest the granola and Greek yoghurt parfait if you are the counting calories type. Food however, is only part of the offering. Expansive glass windows were letting in enough light to turn an amateur photographer like me into Francesco Tonelli. They also gave panoramic views of the golden beach and glorious ocean.
I love a good Egg Benedict, the kind that is not too firm and not too supple. You know, the kind that you prick with your fork and watch the yolk as it oozes out all the way to the bun below. Ok, maybe you don’t agree with me on that last part but you know what I mean, right? Those were the kind of eggs served that morning and there was a covering of bacon too.
The service was a bit lackluster but that kind of worked at the time. We were embroiled in a deep and meaningful conversation about something that must have been important while we soaked in the uninterrupted views of the ocean. Time was irrelevant at that moment so we didn’t mind the wait but it would be nice if the restaurant improves its service, it is after all the quintessential YAS Island breakfast joint. 😉
we were greeted by Spider Man and a Green dude who looked like he was going to get his ass kicked by Spider Man pretty soon. There was also this other dude who looked like he could be the star of his own comic book but I couldn’t quite remember who he was.
We hardly went to restaurants as kids. My father’s idea of a big meal out was to prepare a bigger meal at home. He would bring the chefs home and we would watch them as they prepared a Pakistani feast for the same 30 or 40 people that always showed up. Besides the stuffed lamb and the usual partridge masala, there would be a breakfast counter with halwa (sweet dish made of semolina, almonds and cardamom) chana (chickpea) masala and a guy serving piping hot puris (deep fried flaky bread) straight from the gigantic karrahi (wok).
Well, all that happened in Pakistan at my dad’s old country house and it was in another time. Now Mishal and I can barely fit ourselves into our tiny kitchen (or into any of our old jeans for that matter but that is a completely different subject) and honestly I am not sure if I even know 30 or 40 people. Even if I did, the thought of 10 kids tearing down my living room and doing jumping jacks on my sofa is a bit concerning to say the least. Thankfully though, that would never be a problem now because I have discovered a magical place where kids can be kids and adults can be kids too; or they can just remain adults. Nobody would judge them.
As we got out of the elevator and turned the corner towards Flow Kitchen, we were greeted by Spider Man and a Green dude who looked like he was going to get his ass kicked by Spider Man pretty soon. There was also this other dude who looked like he could be the star of his own comic book but I couldn’t quite remember who he was. “Welcome to Flow Kitchen” said the usher standing next to the green dude as I snapped back to reality. “Is this your first time here?” “Yes” I said while the kid in the corner did a Skywalker maneuver with his light sabre. “Mr and Mrs Chaudhry, please follow me” she said and we walked into a large hall which was flooded by the light coming in from the gigantic window that looked into the ocean.
Cheese Room at Flow Kitchen
Cheese room at flow kitchen
Most people seemed like they had either just been to or were about to head out to the beach but there were a couple of people with jackets who seemed just as content and at ease as the guy in yellow flip flops. I without my flip flops and jacket also felt quiet comfortable in the hustle and bustle of what increasingly seemed to resemble a dining room of a Market Hall. There was a cart serving steamed dumplings next to a stand with every possible kind of bread on display.
Pre cut and pre tossed salads are so old school, so there was a cart that had the most beautiful vegetables on display. You would choose what you want and this lady would peel, chop, toss and season your salad before you could say organic. PS Did you know that rock salts come in 5 flavors including charcoal and vanilla?
Some places have totally excluded the breakfast element from their brunches which is quiet sad because brunch is traditionally supposed to be between breakfast and lunch so you should have items from both meals on the menu. Flow Kitchen is as big on breakfast as it is on family. There were sausages, hash browns and beans but the best thing were the eggs. There was a separate stand serving eggs benedict and you could add spinach, chicken, turkey or even roasted pine nuts if you wanted. The yolk was nice and runny just as it should be. There is nothing that offends me more than an overcooked egg.
I am still not a fan of the ‘serve a dish from every country’ doctrine that the brunches seem to have adopted in Dubai but I guess it makes sense if they can make it a part of the theme. A family brunch caters to the whole family so it would only be fair to serve all kinds of cuisine. There is always one dish or type of cuisine that stands out at every brunch. It could be a pasta or a sheesh kebab or even the entire seafood menu. I could not find that one dish at the Ultimate family brunch. The Morrocan lamb tagine was as divine as the Italian margarita pizza and the pesto on the baked salmon was as fine as the wasabi in the soy sauce. This was a foodie’s paradise and I did not want to go back home.
Not everyone in the family enjoys the complications of a sophisticated meal and sometimes all you crave is a good burger with lots of ketchup and some mayonnaise. For those fussy eaters, there was a special kids menu which I would have gladly read out to my seven month old milk junkie had she not been so fascinated with the colorful cakes and gummy bears on display. Despite there being so many kids at the restaurant, it was nothing like my father’s old house. There was no one diving head first off the tables, nobody drawing their parent’s faces on the walls and no one following them around and telling them to behave. The chaos had been allowed to flourish in an organised way albeit confined to the perimeter of the adjoining hall. There were two hours worth of activities which included face painting, balloon twisting, a magic show and arts and crafts. Heck there was even a PlayStation for older kids and for adults who refuse to grow up.
Among the countless dessert options there was a red velvet cake and a decadent chocolate cake that stood out for me but the most popular sweet thing seemed to be the white cupcakes with inverted test tubes stuck on them. The tubes had a raspberry filling which you poured on to the cake. I had to save some room for coconut ice cream (which I had later with warm apple pie) so didn’t really get around to trying it but the theatrics of the tube and the raspberry syrup kept us from slipping into a food coma before we got to the ice cream.
There are so many things I have not described or spoken about like the warm flaky crust of the Moroccon chicken pie or the fresh Irish oysters on ice but I can’t do it because then this review would never end. What I would like to say is that I had not thought of my father’s old house for a long time. Even less of the 30 or 40 familiar faces that kept showing up at all his grand feasts. That changed yesterday. I thought of my family again and any restaurant that can make you do that has got to be special.