Circle Cafe – Best Chicken In Town!

Circle cafe is commonly known in Media City for being a nice restaurant with calming ambiance serving fresh and healthy food from an interesting menu. I had tried their food and juices a few times, but never written a full-on review.

Fortunately though, they had opened a new branch in Jumeirah, Beach Park Plaza and it was about time I reviewed them!

Circle Cafe - Interior Shot

Circle cafe is such a warm place to be. A lot of warm looking colors, beautiful simplicity in every corner and feels like a modern comfort hub.

I really like their decoration and furniture as they are really pleasing to the eye.

Circle Cafe - Interior Shot - Tables

The Jumeirah Beach Park Plaza branch has plenty seating options all the way from outdoors (which is essentially in the mall) to comfortable warm seating inside, it is quite medium sized branch.

Walking in, we were welcomed by the staff as the location wasn’t really busy so we caught everyone’s attention and were offered to sit anywhere we felt like. Thinking outdoor would have been a nice change, we picked a table overlooking the mall.

Circle Cafe - Newspaper Menu

As soon as we settled on a table, we were presented with a Newspaper called Circle Times. This is actually their menu, but there is a classical element to Circle Cafe, and this Newspaper menu was just right!

Circle Cafe - Menu

Their menu is quite large (The above image was left high resolution to see their entire menu) with a broad range of healthy options ranging from starters, salads to main courses from all over the world.

The waiter was extremely helpful and had quite a lot of suggestions for us to try, and since I am writing this after the experience, he did not disappoint.

We did have quite a feast at Circle cafe, which is what makes this review a good mix of their menu, but for starters, great experience just visiting here.

We started things off with two small bites (Appetizers):

Circle Cafe - French Fries

Their french fries were pretty straight forward. I was hoping to see something different here, but they were regular fries and were fried well. Nothing special and nothing disappointing. This was served with some Ketchup on the side.

That was probably the least interesting thing in this review. Moving forward, I have a lot to say!

Circle Cafe - Pumpkin, Beetroot and Green Pepper Hummus Trio

This is another special small bite at Circle Cafe called “Pumpkin, Beetroot & Green Pepper Hummus Trio” which came served with basically baked slides of bagels with herbs. This was quite delicious actually and just the right starter for our meal!

The Pumpkin, Beetroot and Green Pepper Hummus was delicious, creamy and light flavored. It was just right. The baked bread did get everywhere and was a bit of a mess, but a delicious one.

Before jumping on to the main courses, we tried one of their bagel sandwiches.

Circle Cafe - Grilled Chicken Salad With Quinoa Tabbouleh

This is their, recommended, Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Quinoa Tabbouleh on the side.

The sandwich has grilled chicken breast, iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, mustard and mayo. it tasted very fresh, light and the flavors were perfectly complimenting each other. There is a special thing to this sandwich that made it a unique one.. The chicken!

The chicken we often get in the UAE, frankly, is a bit bland. It is often spiced up and marinated to give it much flavor, but this chicken was a tad more stringy, juicy and actually flavorful by itself. At first I thought this was probably very good marination, but later came to find out, it wasn’t just that.. more on that in a bit!

For now though, that is a very nice sandwich. The quinoa was fresh, and had a little tabbouleh-ness to it, but still was nice.

Lets move on to the mains, shall we?

Circle Cafe - Circle Lamb Kofta With Vegetable Couscous

The first main dish we ventured into was the Circle Lamb Kofta, served with Vegetable Couscous.

This was very nice as well! The kofta was very succulent, marinated well and grilled to a good temperature. It was well done, but hardly dry.

I would have expected some more flavor to it, but it was very nice. It was served with a garlic yogurt sauce on the side, as this is supposed to be an Arabic style dish.

The Vegetable Coucous though was very nice. I had a bit of couscous before, but never really liked them. This was very nice, soft, full of flavor and the vegetables were very nicely cooked. It did feel a bit like it was home-cooked.

Circle Cafe - Flattened Chicken

The star of the show for me would definitely be their Flattened Chicken. This was served with spiced sweet potato fries, thousand island and peri-peri sauce.

The fries were delicious, very well fried and full of flavor. Definitely better than the regular fries and the herbs on top gave it more flavor too.

The chicken was incredible! The grilling was perfect, the flavors were spot on (as mentioned before) and the peri-peri sauce was actually very spicy, just the way I like it!

I was still very curious about the chicken, and when I asked the waiter, I found out that the chicken is actually brought in from Brazil, which is why it distinctively tasted different than local chicken. Without a doubt, this chicken is worth trying.

We were absolutely stuffed but the waiter insisted we try a dessert, so we did..

Circle Cafe - Four Layer Cake

This is their Four Layer Cake, essentially four layers of chocolate cake. It was actually quite nice, thick and quite chocolate-filled but did not have anything special except that it felt like it was, again, home-made.

Lets face it, home-made food is delicious, but doesn’t necessarily blow your mind. I was still happy with this.

Overall, this was a very good dining experience. The place was just beautiful, the staff were very friendly, the menu was unique, fresh and healthy and the food was very appetizing and unique.

The service: It was brilliant. The staff were always smiling and helpful, we had a lot of questions and requests which were all catered for with a smile and when we had questions that the waiter did not know, he was more than happy to go find out. Overall, I could not complain about the service and they were always very quick to come, listen and serve.

The value: Circle cafe is known to be slightly pricer than average, but when you think about the lovely ambiance, location, staff, menu and quality of food, I think the place is quite reasonable. I would definitely pay as much and more for that Brazilian chicken again, that’s for sure!

The Place:   8 / 10
The Service: 8 / 10
The Food:    7.5 / 10

Overall: 7.8 / 10

I’d really recommend this place if you want a great selection of fresh, healthy and delicious dining options. It even gets better, they have a few branches located around Dubai.

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Posted by on October 20, 2015 in Dine In


Johnny Rockets – Is their new menu really new?

If there is one thing I dislike, it would be when restaurants I like change their menu. It isn’t fear of change or anything but they tend to lose their edge at times, or remove something that was actually really good. I heard that Johnny Rockets had a new menu and I really needed to check this out!

Johnny Rockets, apparently, is the first Burger place in the UAE (excluding fast food, of course) and only in the past few years started to really come out of its shell and open up in various locations and has gained a lot of popularity. I personally have visited nearly half their branches because I do like their burger and the whole atmosphere, but I will take this on, unbiased!

Johnny Rockets - Coke

I went to the Mall of the Emirates branch for this review.

Walking into the restaurant was typical Johnny Rockets. It looks, feels and sounds like a proper American diner with little Jukeboxes, pop-up straw holder, classic tissue holders, etc

Johnny Rockets - Table Setting

I really like this look and even the booths are in red leather and the counters look like old-school graphite. They have an identity, a style and a theme which I really like.

Walking in, the staff were excited wished and welcomed me as I walked in (Do note, they did not know I was reviewing them, as I like to do) and they showed me to a booth and was presented with their new menu.

Johnny Rockets - New Menu

If you’ve been to Johnny Rockets, the menu doesn’t look like it has changed, right? (The image is a high resolution so you can go through it) and the fact remains that, aside from a new strategy and a couple of new offerings, the menu is the same.. BUT

They have reworked their prices and patty sizes. Let me explain; in the past, their burgers were a bit bigger and costed roughly 36 Dhs on average. Some people found the burgers too big, so with this new work-around strategy, you will pay roughly 29 Dhs for a buger that is a bit smaller, but if you double the patty for 7 Dhs, to roughly 36 Dhs, you’d end up with more meat than you did before. Win Win!

How can you complain about better value for money?

The only concern I had with the location of this Johnny Rockets branch is the noise. It sits exactly where the Mall’s children play area and video games are, which gets a bit noisey. There is also quite a lot of noise from the foodcourt below too, but with a great view.

I ordered quite a few things to see if the change was noticeable and tried a few new menu items too!

Johnny Rockets - Smoke House Burger

To start things off, I went with one of my favorites, their Smoke House burger (single patty) which has; single beef patty, beef bacon, cheddar cheese, and their special Johnny Rockets barbecue ranch sauce.

To my satisfaction, there was no change in taste compared to before, which is a win. As for the taste itself, the burger is very nice. It is a tad on the greasy side, which some people may not like, but the burger is very flavorful, and delicious. There are bits where the beef bacon was a bit hard, but that is expected too. One thing in the burger that is not mentioned in the description is crispy onion rings, which was yummy and crispy. A lovely burger if you like meat with barbecue sauce.

Second on the list, is a new entry, their Garlic Teriyaki Chicken

Johnny Rockets - Garlic Teryaki Chicken

The part that surprised me in this chicken sandwich, and the part which I think is a rare occurrence (As I wouldn’t expect this all the time) is the extended piece of chicken!

The Garlic Chicken Teryaki has a delicious chicken patty, special bulgogi teryaki sauce, deep fried garlic, fresh lettuce and fresh tomatoes.

The chicken was tender, very nice and was juicy. Unfortunately, I did not get enough garlic or teryaki flavors as I would have expected. It was a very nice chicken sandwich, but I expected more flavor to be honest from the sauce department.

For sides, I had two. I started things off with their Jalapeno Poppers, which is a new entry on their menu.

Johnny Rockets - Jalepeno Poppers

In a way, these are the basic Jalapeno Poppers that you’d expect. Crunchy on the outside, filled with cheese and jalapeno, and it had nice flavors but nothing really blew my mind. It wasn’t too spicy or anything. I would say it was averagely nice.

Following the Poppers, I had ordered their Rocket Wings.

Johnny Rockets - Rocket Wings

I did not really enjoy these, which was disappointed as I love Chicken Wings! I ordered half in barbecue sauce and half in traditional buffalo sauce.

Before going into the sauces, the wings were small, and very dry. They were overcooked to my liking.

As for the sauces, the barbecue was nice, although I would have preferred more sauce, and the traditional buffalo sauce was super weird! It was not very spicy but had a very weird chemically kind of taste. It was weird, new to me and slightly strange, and definitely confused me. They may need to revisit the sauces, cooking their wings and amount of sauce they offer.

To accompany all this food, I had ordered their Vanilla Milkshake, as I know their milkshakes are always yum!

Johnny Rockets - Strawberry Milkshake

The flavors of the milkshake was really good and they give you a stainless steel cup which has some more! That was definitely a lot of milkshake, but it was so good! It had Ice cream too (thus the spoon) and was popping with flavor. Definitely delicious and thick!

Overall, the Johnny Rockets experience has not dipped at all. They maintain their amazing staff, good food and their delicious menu entries. Surely there are a few things that need working on, but as long as their burgers remain top-notch as they always have (which was my big concern with their new menu), I am happy!

The service: As expected, they maintained their service levels. Staff are always happy, smiling and serve with a passion. Everytime I would order a drink or so, they’d come over with a smile carrying the straw holder and lift it to pick one up. I was checked up on twice during my visit if I needed anything and the greetings when arriving and leaving are always appreciated.

Service is quick and there is always someone around to assist if needs be. When asked for recommendations they were familiar with the menu and had suggestions with certain orders. The only downfall would be that not all the staff are fully aware of why this new menu was created or how the mechanics work. I personally think if I can tell my customer that they’re getting more value for their money, they’d be happier than ever, and the staff did not know how to portray this to me.

The value: Considering their new strategy, I think the Johnny Rockets value has grown more than ever before. I would say they are priced a little bit below their competitors, if not similar and that is good thing as I do find their quality and selections quite big.

The Place: 7 / 10
The Service: 7 / 10
The Food: 6.5 / 10

Overall: 6.8 / 10

If you love burgers, and like me, want to try them all, I would definitely recommend Johnny Rockets. They have a great selection of delicious burgers. They even give you more burger for your money than ever before, how could we complain about that?


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Posted by on September 30, 2015 in Dine In


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Chickenow – Best Tenders In The World?

If you have read a few reviews on, you’ll know I love to take bold claims to the test. Chickenow has quite a big one, claiming to have “the world’s best tenders”.

You can imagine how that must have intrigued me! So, to take them on, I visited their Shiekh Zayed Road branch which is very conveniently located in a busy area right beside the Metro station. They have ample interior and outdoor seating but being that we are in Dubai and the weather couldn’t get any worse, I was definitely sitting inside.

Chickenow - Sheikh Zayed Road Branch


The only issue I have with Chickenow is the fact that the interior and outdoor lighting is extremely yellow! My pictures are edited to remove as much yellow tint as possible and after a while it was a tad too much for me.

They certainly went for a wood cabin look and the place looks nice and with a cozy feel. The counter is a typical fast food looking counter but quite well spaced out, you wont feel that your food is coming from the back of a dungeon as with other places. The salads are made right in front of you on the counter.

The staff were very nice, polite and welcoming when walking in.

Chickenow - Menu

Chickenow has an interesting menu with a variety of burgers (their highlight is that you can build your own burger), salads, chicken tenders and fried chicken (which can be ordered in different buckets)

Some branches have additional meals such as chicken kabsa, biryani and a signature Chickenow dish with gravy sauce.

Since this was my first visit, I needed some help ordering and thankfully, the staff were more than happy to assist me with my selection.. and boy what a selection I went for!

Chickenow - Cutlery And Condiments

I sat by the window where I found an interesting metal tray where they had stuffed in tissues, cutlery and some condiments. I have some mixed feelings about this and am concerned if the staff maintains the cleanliness of these, but they looked pretty clean to me.

Food did take a little time, but I heard that food at Chickenow is made quite fresh, so I was willing to wait and hoping it was worth the wait.

Within a few minutes, the food started to come… time for some excitement!

Chickenow - Nachos

Lets kick off with a few starters shall we? I started off with their Nachos and they were alright with little flavor, yummy jalapenos and two side sauces; a cheese dip and a garlic tomato sauce. The cheese dip was typical melted nacho cheese dip but the garlic tomato sauce was odd. Maybe they were thinking salsa, but the execution was quite different. It wasn’t bad but it was just different to what I was expecting and the garlic was a tad too strong.

All in all, it was a decent way to wait for my main dishes to come.

I had also sampled their coleslaw, mashed potatoes with gravy and sweet corn while waiting for my food. The coleslaw was not bad but not as flavorsome as I’ve previously had but the crunch of it felt fresh. The mashed potatoes were quite nice with good flavor and finally, the sweet corn was.. well.. as you’d expect from canned sweet corn.

But enough with the starters, lets get into the good stuff!

Chickenow - Southwest Salad

I had ordered their Southwest Salad with grilled chicken and yes, I was expecting some criticism ordering salad from a fast food place, but I wanted to try it out and see what it would be like.

The grilled chicken was very nice, tender and juicy. While some ingredients were really nice like the kidney beans and carrots, the rest had a bit of a refrigerated taste to it, which kind of killed it for me. There were some grilled potatoes on top, which were cold too. Perhaps try their Edamame salad, but i’d pass on the Southwest one.

Chickenow - Mediterranean Tortilla Wrap

First of the main dishes was the Mediterranean Chicken Wrap and before I get into it, there is one aspect of Chickenow which has to be mentioned, and that is that customers can order fried or grilled chicken options for all the orders of burgers and wraps.

Being that I had ordered 2 grilled chicken dishes, I went for fried chicken for this one. At first I wasn’t sure what flavors were they trying to achieve but in the end I figured it out. It was like an Arabic shawerma. The Mediterranean wrap has french fries, pickles, garlic and mayo sauces in it.

I am not sure if fried chicken worked with this kind of flavor, but I would surely recommend the grilled chicken instead. It was quite okay, but did not blow me away.

Chickenow - Meal For One - Chicken Tenders

Just when I was feeling a little skeptical about my dinner at Chickenow, the server brought on my Meal For One – which consists of three chicken tenders, french fries, coleslaw and a serving of grandma sauce.

Grandma sauce is Chickenow’s specialty sauce which is a south western style home made sauce that has amazing flavor! it is slightly salty, a slight tangyness to it with spice – delicious sauce!

The french fries were nice, had good seasoning and a good crunch. Are you ready for the tenders review?

The world’s best chicken tenders is the official claim and although I cannot ignorantly say they are, I can admit that they are very very good!

Without a doubt they beat any fast food chicken tenders I’ve ever had!

Chickenow - Juicy Chicken Tenders

I wanted to share how good the tenders are, so I cut it in half just to show that these chicken tenders are all Chicken! Some places have very little chicken covered in a huge amount of batter, while others have little of both resulting in super thin tenders. At Chickenow, it is clearly a thick cut of chicken that is super tender and juicy with a nice thin later of batter giving it the right amount flavor and crisp it needs. Great tenders.

Chickenow - Original Grilled Chicken Burger

Along with my tenders, they had served the Grandma Chicken Burger I had ordered with grilled chicken. It had chicken breast, turkey bacon, american cheese, iceberg lettuce, pickles, tomatoes and of course, grandma sauce!

It was a nice chicken burger with nice flavors, tender and juicy chicken breast and a nice soft bun. I would say this was a well put together burger. Considering you can create our own burger, you can tailor it to your exact liking but as far as ingredients go, it was pretty good.

Overall, If I had the choice between Chickenow and a competing fried chicken place, I would pick Chickenow without much thought. The restaurant is clean, nice and cozy, the staff are nice, down to earth and helpful, the food is quite decent but if I am visiting again, there is only one thing I would order and it is the same thing I would definitely recommend, the chicken tenders!

The service: As expected from a place like Chickenow – good, smiling and helpful staff who know the menu well and are able to make suggestions based on your mood. I had ordered two fried chicken meals and when I came to order a burger, they were like why not have it grilled instead so you can try out two fried and two grilled. This was quite nice as opposed to just letting me order what ever I wanted without thought. They were quick to serve and were around when anything was needed.

The value: The full Chickenow Menu can be found on their Facebook page, but their Meal For One tenders meal is for 38AED, which might be a little pricey compared to its direct competitors, but there are two main points to be made; the first is that the quality and flavors of the chicken tenders are on another level and secondly, there is a large variety of options on the Chickenow menu starting from 20AED or less.

The Place: 5 / 10
The Service: 6 / 10
The Food: 6 / 10

Overall: 5.7 / 10

If you like fast food or chicken tenders, you have to try Chickenow. The menu has a lot of options, but skip it all and go to the good stuff!

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Posted by on July 11, 2015 in Dine In


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Galito’s – Quality Peri-Peri Chicken

We all have tried at least one brand of Peri-Peri Chicken in the UAE and it is becoming more of a trend with competitors appearing regularly. Galito’s opened its doors in 1996 in South Africa and along the years opened in various South African cities and now the UAE as well. I was fortunate enough to give it a try at Yas Mall, Abu Dhabi one lovely afternoon.. Curious to know how it was? Lets go!

Galitos - Peri-Peri Sauces

Before we get into the lovely dishes, there is one thing that I learnt from my visit and chat with the general manager; the owners have not disconnected from the brand. I personally believe this is a factor that many international brands suffer from, where they franchise the name and it often goes to hell. We were told that the owners and various managers actually do visit all Galito’s branches world wide, check on produce, cooking, quality, ingredients and ensure that their true standards are maintained. This… is how restaurants should be managed!

The Galito’s promise: “We have recreated the excellence of home cooked nutrition so that you can enjoy ‘just like mom makes it’ chicken without the hassle. Our traditional marinade is made from all natural ingredients infused with selected herbs and spices. We take care to marinate each chicken for at least 24 hours until moist and tender and then they are ready for the Grill.Galito’s…Tastes like home!”

Galitos - View at Yas Mall

To kick things off, Galito’s is now open in 5 locations in Abu Dhabi, and I had the pleasure to enjoy the beautiful views at Yas Mall. Galito’s has nice indoor and outdoor seating, but as the weather was still acceptable at the time, we sat outdoors. I wouldn’t necessarily compliment their outdoor furniture as they were mostly plastic seats and ordinary shared tables.

Are you ready for the food now?

Galitos - Garlic Break and Chick-E-Naise

For the first starter, we had the Garlic Bread with Chick-E-Naise, which is essentially garlic bread with a chicken mayonnaise sauce. This is a new spin-off the traditional garlic bread, I liked it, but had a tad too much Chick-E-Naise. I’d recommend this to be ordered to share with 4 people rather than have more than one per person. Good flavors though.

Galitos - Perimmus and Pita

Alongside the garlic bread, we were presented with the Galito’s Perimmus and Pita bread. This was a very creamy and delicious hummus that was flavored with Peri-Peri. It had just the right amount of spice, thickness and texture. Absolutely loved it. If you like hummus, this will bring a new twist to your favorite starter.

Galitos - Melon Teaser, Laranji and Kiwi MojitoGalitos - African Blues

Galito’s also has an interesting list of mocktails and they certainly were not holding back on us! They brought on 4 out of the 5 mocktails from their menu.
Coco Melancia – Probably my least favorite of the mocktails. It had a nice, subtle blend of watermelon and coconut but did not entirely work for me and felt a bit bland.
Laranji – A very zesty blend of citrus flavors and strawberries. Certainly very refreshing and flavorful
Kiwi Mojito – My favorite, with the right blend of flavors and without a doubt, the yummiest mocktail they had!
Finally, they brought on the African Blues – a mix of peach and lychee. Not the flavors i had in mind and a tad too sweet for my liking, but was quite nice.

To keep it simple, the Kiwi Mojito was the only mocktail that we finished. Their mocktails were nice, but you need to find the one that works for you!

Galitos - Chicken Salad

Their Chicken Salad was as typical as can be. There were some nicely grilled chicken on top of very fresh and crunchy lettuce, tomatoes, capsicum and cucumbers with dressing on top. Nothing much to say here, other than this is definitely a nice, light and fresh salad, especially for the people looking for a healthier alternative.

Are you ready for the stars of the show?

Galitos - Prawn Espetada with O Porto Rice and Fries


If you’ve been to other Peri-Peri restaurants, chicken remains the highlight, and although it is at Galito’s they do give you options like the absolutely delicious Prawn Espetada that we tried! It comes with 2 sides of choice and we went with Sweet Potato Fries and O Porto Rice.

The Prawns were fantastic. A tad small, but had an incredible amount of flavor, and spice (especially since I asked for Hot spice). A certain favorite and I would recommend this if you love prawns.
The O Porto Rice was not as good as I had from competitors, a tad sticky and not as flavorful as I would expect.
The Sweet Potato Fries were standard, thick sweet potato cuts seasoned well.

Galitos - Mild Half Chicken with Salad

The moment of truth was here, the Peri-Peri Chicken. Before I jump into the chicken itself, the manager gave us a bit of information worth sharing with you. All Galito’s poultry is brought in daily from local farms, cleaned, prepared and marinated for 24 hours on a daily basis to ensure the highest quality of chicken at no compromise. They had introduced chicken livers as a dish on the menu and pulled it when the suppliers could not supply them to the Galito’s requirements… No compromise. Very nice chicken, fresh, delicious and healthy.

The chicken was definitely grilled very well, but perhaps a tad dry for my personal liking. The flavors were quite nice as we ordered mild spice and it gave me an opportunity to try their bottled sauces as well. The bottles are available for sale at Galito’s and my favorite would be the Hot spice, the rest were lacking in flavor to me.

Galitos - Burger Pizza with Fries

Visiting with children? They, too, can have some fun! There is a small kids section in the menu with interesting creations such as the Chicken Burger Pizza with Fries, which was as straight forward as can be in terms of taste with nothing special but a lot of fun for the kids.

Overall, Galito’s is a very good restaurant. They focus a lot on the brand values of taste, quality and fresh ingredients while being closely monitored by the people who initiated the brand. The staff are really helpful, nice and enthusiastic and were always there for any request. While all this is quite good, the question that is to be asked is, would you rather Galito’s or Nando’s?

I will leave that answer to you. Galito’s has its unique flavors, menu items and standards of freshness, quality and processes that are almost unprecedented.

The Service: It was very good. Plenty of happy staff serving both indoors, outdoors and always happy to serve. The manager and head chef were both around at all times to assist with any inquiries we had. They greeted us when we arrived and were happy to wish us well when we left.

The Value: One of the key factors of Galito’s message, or at least their message in South Africa, is to be offer great, fresh and delicious food at an affordable price. This is not exactly the case here in the UAE as Galito’s seem to follow the standard pricing for this kind of restaurant. The Prawn Espetada was AED109, Half a Chicken with One Side was AED45, Chicken Salad was AED26, etc.

The Place:    5.5 / 10
The Service: 6.5 / 10
The Food:      6  / 10

Overall: 6 / 10

If you happen to be at Al Wahda, Al Naeem, Dalma, Yas or Marina Mall in Abu Dhabi, I’d recommend you try Galito’s at least once. I would love to know your feedback too!

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Posted by on April 10, 2015 in Dine In


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Peppermill – Eastern Mangrove, Abu Dhabi

One of the best things about the UAE is the number of cuisines available, and Indian cuisine is almost everyone’s favorite. That is why I have been anticipating this review ever since I received the lunch invite!

They have several branches in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, but I was fortunate enough to get an invitation to the Eastern Mangrove one, with a gorgeous view!

Peppermill - Eastern Mangrove

Peppermill has a large indoor dining area and even outdoor seating for when the weather is just right with an exceptional view of the marina.

Peppermill - Eastern Mangrove Interior

For this review, I was seated indoors (as the weather wasn’t pleasant) and was welcomed by the restaurant manager. Can’t guarantee that my experience at the Eastern Mangrove would be the same in other branches but the manager was exceptionally knowledgeable about the food, their origins and how some dishes evolved into modern Indian menus. It was an absolute pleasure getting to discuss his favored dishes and hearing all about them. If you ever plan on visiting Peppermill at the Eastern mangrove, I recommend a quick chat with the manager!

Peppermill - Table Starters

All tables are served with the starters above, to get your palettes tickled with exceptional flavors of sweet, mint and spice.

Peppermill - Mulligatawny Soup

For my starter, I began with the Mulligatawny Soup, which is a unique Lentil Soup with a hint of basmati rice and chicken. The soup, surprisingly, resembled the light Arabic version of Lentil soup found in Levant cuisine. It was really flavorful, light, fresh and just the right start to a meal. The manager kindly walked me through the origins of lentil soup, and how the “poor man’s dish” became one of the most popular soups in indian cuisine. Definitely a great starter.

Peppermill - Karare Palak Chaat

This was an all-new for me, Karare Palak Chaat which is basically batter-fried spinach topped with mint, tamarind chutney and yoghurt sprinkled with spices and coriander. This is the first time I tasted spinach in this form, and I got to admit it was delicious. The starter did lose its form as it got soggy after some time, but while still crispy, it was delicious and popping with flavor.

Peppermill - Strawberry Colada

While waiting for the main dishes to be prepared, and boy were there many dishes waiting for me, I was presented with their Strawberry Colada, a refreshing drink if you’re into strawberries.

I often would want to try something new, but I was badly wanting to try the Butter Chicken!

Peppermill - Butter Chicken

Unfortunately for me, I was expecting wonders as I was impressed by Peppermill and the dish did not live up to the hyped expectations. Do not get me wrong, the Butter Chicken was very creamy, rich and nice, but it did not blow me away in terms of flavor. There was plenty in a serving for two people, and the chicken was tender, juicy and the cubes were just the right size. I liked it a lot, but was begging for a little more flavor. Maybe I am asking too much!

Peppermill - Garlic Cheese Naan and Pudina Paratha

The manager recommended two types of bread, the Garlic Cheese Naan and the Pudina Paratha. To be honest, they were delicious but admittedly, the Garlic Cheese Naan might not have been the best flavor to go with the Butter Chicken. The bread alone though, was amazing. The Pudina Paratha is essentially a whole wheat flat bread flavored with mint and this was just right, not too minty, and worked really well with the curry. The menu is huge and has over 10 types of bread!

Peppermill - Kadai Prawns

It wouldn’t be complete without a unique specialty dish by the chef, and I was lucky enough to get one! The dish is traditionally called the Kadai Paneer, which is Diced Indian Cottage Cheese cooked with onions and pepper, topped with fresh coriander seeds and red chilies, and the specialty dish was called Kadai Prawns, which was Black tiger prawns in a onion tomato mix & kadai spices. This was definitely the dish of the visit. The prawns were quite large, tasted extremely fresh, cooked to perfection and the spices just made it perfect! I loved every bit of it. As you can tell by now, I was served a lot of food and this was the only dish I actually finished.

If that wasn’t enough, they brought me a platter of Peppermill’s popular grills to try!

Peppermill - Mixed Kebab Platter

This platter was the only dish that wasn’t served in full size.. well.. there was no way I could eat all this food! Here are the three grills:

Seekh Kebab – Minced lamb with spices, hand rolled over in iron skewers, slow cooked in a clay oven. I really liked this and found it quite spicy. Certainly enough flavors to last you a while!
Tandoori Chicken – Chicken delicately spiced in rare spices and yoghurt baked in tandoor for enhanced flavors. This was also a very nice grill, I would have opted for more spice but certainly delicious.
Tandoori Malai Prawn – One of the nicest grilled prawns I had tasted in a while, very nice flavors, and lightly spiced.

It does seem like they are very good with prawns at Peppermill as both prawn dishes were exceptional.

Peppermill - Chicken Biryani

And just as I was about to explode, I was introduced to their Chicken Biryani

Lovely display and serving but the flavors lacked for me. The rice was cooked well, and the chicken was very tender but there was a lack in flavor. I had a quick chat with the manager as everything had a lot of flavor but the biryani didnt. He explained that there are various levels of spice that can be ordered and every level is one round of chili water applied to the biryani. I tried to have it spiced a bit and although it became a bit more flavorful, it wasn’t where I needed it to be.

I loved the rice, chicken and presentation for sure, but the overall biryani wasn’t up to expectation.

I was about to leave but then…

Peppermill - Shahi Tukda

The manager brought on the Shahi Tukda – Toasted brioche caramelized and served with pistachio ice cream drizzled with saffron sauce and topped with a pistachio biscotti (all made in house!). I cannot begin to express how incredible this dessert was. The little sponge-cake-like brioche in the bottom was super soft, the ice cream was to-die-for and together was just heavenly. I could not breathe but it would have been an absolute waste to not finish this, and so I did! Incredible dessert and not too sweet either with a lovely amount of pistachio to go around. Absolutely loved it.

Overall, this was an exceptional experience of Indian cuisine. Peppermill would be considered a high end Indian restaurant but it actually is quite decent. It was a great lunch with delicious, unique and fresh food, cooked by people who definitely knew what they were doing and served by people who knew the food just as much as the people who made it. The menu is huge, and has about a hundred or more dishes to choose from.

The Service: It was very good! I was there just when the lunch peak had begun and the amount of staff going around indoors and outdoors serving people was sufficient. Response times were decent and the staff were always incredibly happy to serve. I may keep repeating this, but the manager was truly the highlight of the staff at Peppermill. He had incredible knowledge of the dishes, their origins and ingredients.

The Value: A digital copy of the menu can be found here: and it is priced quite well for high end Indian cuisine.

The Place:    7 / 10
The Service: 8 / 10
The Food:     8 / 10

Overall: 7.7 / 10

If you are hungry for Indian Cuisine, Peppermill is a definitely recommendation. Great place, fresh ingredients, friendly staff and a must-have experience.


Posted by on March 30, 2015 in Dine In


Bloomsbury – Satisfy your sweet tooth

We all love desserts, but with so many choices around, it is hard to decide on where to go! A week ago though, I gave Bloomsbury a try, and boy what an experience that was!

Bloomsbury - Cupcake Collection

To start things off, there are plenty of dessert options in Dubai Mall and for Bloomsbury to stand out, they definitely needed to to be unique in every aspect from store ambiance, comfort, location, staff and of course, the product itself. It was early afternoon and I was feeling a little tired, so I decided to get some coffee before trying any cupcakes.

Bloomsbury - Black Coffee - Americano

Not that I am actually reviewing their coffee or anything, but it was nice. Bloomsbury is a nice little shop with decent seating of around 6 – 8 tables in a very cozy setting. The staff are polite, welcoming and happy to assist with any request.

They wanted me to try out a whole selection of cupcakes, not like I am going to ever complain about that!

Bloomsbury - Double Chocolate Heaven Cupcake

I started it off with their Double Chocolate Heaven Cupcake – Chocolate sponge topped with chocolate fudge icing and sprinkled with edible gold dust.

At first, I thought this was going to be an incredibly heavy chocolate cupcake, but it wasn’t heavy at all. It was a tad on the thick side but had a very nice chocolate flavor and the icing was just the right amount of sweetness. The gold dust made the top shine, but does not add anything in terms of flavor. No chocolate or sugar overload this was just right – thank god!

Bloomsbury - Diabetic Dream Cupcake

This is a special one, the Diabetic Dream Cupcake – Carrot sponge with labneh icing topped with toasted walnuts. What makes it a Diabetic’s dream? They only use a natural sweetener called Agave syrup for the icing.

It had a nice and familiar carrot cake base but the sponge was a tad on the thick side. Overall, if I could not have sugar, this would be incredible to have because it was sweet. I also thought Bloomsbury did a good job offering such options to its customers.

Bloomsbury - Bakewell Tart

It may look all innocent on the outside but this Bakewell Tart has a tangy heart – A sweet pastry tart with berry coulis and frangipane.

Not a taste that I could fall in love with, but surely interesting. The outer layer was like soft biscuit and crumbled when cut into, while the inside was soft but thick jam and ground almonds (frangipane), it has a unique tangy taste that needs to be tried and definitely a different taste to the region, which is understandable being of English origins.

Bloomsbury - Red Velvet Cupcake with Cream Cheese Icing

But, without a doubt, the star of the Bloomsbury show is their Red Velvet cupcake – A chocolate vanilla sponge with cream cheese icing.

I have only tried cream cheese icing a couple of times but the combination of that with a Red Velvet cupcake was amazing. This could be one of the best tasting cupcakes I’ve ever eaten. The cream cheese had amazing flavor while not being too sweet and the sponge itself was soft and not too sweet either – loved it. A must try, even when just passing by.

The thing that makes most of their cupcakes standout is the sugar they use. They import it specifically because it does not leave a grainy feel to their icing, which is an issue most cupcakes have. All their icing is smooth, soft and creamy.

Bloomsbury - Cheesecake

I also tried their Cheese Cake – Baked cream cheese cake on a base of crushed cookies.

Certainly one of the nicer cheese cakes I’ve tried in Dubai. It was soft, smooth and tasted very nice with good flavor. I believe the base could have been more crunchier as it had softened but overall a nice slice of cheese cake and not too sweet either.

Bloomsbury - Fool's Gold

In the end, they would not allow me to go before I tried something called the Fool’s Gold.

In essence, these are golden chocolate rocks with popping candy covered in gold dust and taste absolutely funny! The chocolate has nice flavor but it looks weird (they come in no specific shape) and once the popping candy start to go, it leaves a really hilarious party in your mouth!

Overall, I’d have to say the dessert experience at Bloomsbury is lovely. From the time you walk in, are greeted by the staff and welcomed by the display of cupcakes, till you sit down and let your taste buds go wild, Bloomsbury cover all the bases properly.

Some pictures from the display at Bloomsbury Dubai Mall:

Bloomsbury - Dubai Mall Display - Tarts Bloomsbury - Dubai Mall Display - Packages to go Bloomsbury - Dubai Mall Display - Double Chocolate Heaven Bloomsbury - Dubai Mall Display - Cupcakes and TartsBloomsbury - Dubai Mall Display - Cupcakes and Cakes

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Posted by on March 15, 2015 in Dine In


Nando’s – King of Peri-Peri Chicken

It has been quite a while since I’ve been to or ordered from Nando’s, and visiting one of their unique branches was worth writing about. This branch is actually in a hotel, Novotel Suites – Al Barsha, which means they also serve alcohol with their delicious Peri-Peri chicken.

Nando’s always has lovely, warm and simple decor and this branch is no different. They have a range of booths and tables with lovely artwork and Nando’s scripts on the walls.

Nandos - Wall Art

The menu at Nando’s is pretty standard and hasn’t changed in quite a long time. It ranges from a few sandwiches, Peri-Peri chicken, and a few specialty dishes.

Walking in, we were greeted by the staff who were quite helpful and assisted us to a table. We later decided to go for a booth that had just opened and they were quick to respond, clean and show us to the booth. Clearly, they maintain a consistent level of service as commonly known of Nando’s.

Nandos - Sauces Table Setting and Water

Right after ordering, they quickly brought us our water, napkins, utensils and a few sauces (Mild and Hot Peri-Peri and Ketchup).

Nandos - Open Kitchen

One of the nice things about this branch is how the kitchen is actually open, right beside the bar. Definitely a delight being able to see all the properly marinated chicken smoke while being placed on the flame grill and if that doesn’t get you salivating, I do not know what will!

Nando’s is known for having delicious chicken, so I wanted to go for one of their specialties this time.

Nandos - Espetada

This vertical skewer of deliciousness is the Nando’s Espetada. It comes with two small sides and I went for Peri-Peri fries and spicy rice.

You can choose your chicken in a variety of spice levels; lemon and herb, mild, hot and extra hot. In my opinion, nothing beats the hot spice because it has tons of flavor, can still burn your mouth but you’re still enjoying the food. Extra-hot more or less just burns your taste-buds off.

The chicken with hot Peri-Peri sauce, dare I say it, was nearly perfect. It was moist, grilled all the way through to perfection and oozing with flavor. The fries were regular fries with Peri-Peri powder on top, which gave it nice flavor while the spicy rice was a tad bland but spicy – nothing a little hot Peri-Peri sauce couldn’t fix.

Overall, there was little to complain about Nando’s. I do wish there were more updates to the menu with a broader variety of chicken dishes, especially for regulars who probably have tried it all. Also, some menu items made no sense in terms of value, for instance, 3 pieces of chicken wings costs 23 Dhs while 1/4th a chicken costs 21 Dhs.

The Service: It was good. The staff were friendly, quite speedy and were glad to help. They were around and easy to call, especially since this branch wasn’t really big. I did feel they could have presented themselves a bit more friendlier, with more smiles and cater for people’s comfort a bit more as with repeated requests (genuine requests, not being a prick), they stopped smiling.

The Value: Nando’s is known for their pricing vs quantity, where some dishes make more sense in terms of value than others. Their pricing isn’t too far off from this range of restaurants and I think 64 Dhs for an Espetada is quite alright, especially when keeping taste, ambiance, service and quality in mind.

The Place: 6.5 / 10
The Service: 6 / 10
The Food: 7.5 / 10

Overall: 6.7 / 10

If you have not tried Nando’s, you’re missing out on one of the nicest places to have a casual Peri-Peri chicken lunch or dinner. Definitely Recommended.

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Posted by on February 23, 2015 in Dine In


Mooyah – Is it the best burger in the UAE?

Lets start by what got me to this place.. The sign, that says “Congratulations Mooyah for winning the Kris Fade Show’s Best Burger in the UAE” which is quite a big claim!

Mooyah - Award

The place is quite funky but in the end, it is a fast food place – full tables and booths. There was an ordering station with an open kitchen behind it to see where all the juicy burgers were being made! Yum!

Walking in, they were very welcoming and happy to assist us in making our order, making sure we knew the variety of buns and patties they offered.

Mooyah - Menu

They have an interesting menu with 8 signature burgers which can be prepared with:
– A single or double patty
– Beef (Certified Angus Beef), chicken or veggie patties
– Three types of bun; white, wheat or iceberg lettuce

They also have 3 signature hot-dogs, kids meals, fries and extras, salads, and milkshakes. Don’t fancy any of the signature burgers? You can build your own burger too!

I love a little smokiness in my burgers so I decided to go for the Texas Burger meal.

Mooyah - Texas Meal

A thing to highlight is their fries, they are trans-fat free. I didn’t mind them and certainly didn’t fall in love with them. Don’t get me wrong, they’re pretty nice, but definitely not the best. Ever tried fries that seemed a bit empty from the inside? These are similar.
The quantity was quite decent to satisfy a hungry person and came quite hot, ready to be consumed! Loved their little metal trays too, very.. rugged.

Mooyah - Texas Burger

So how was the burger itself? After all, this won the Kris Fade Show’s award.. Verdict? It was quite nice! I ordered the double beef patty texas burger with white bread. It had cheddar cheese, fried onion strings, grilled onions, BBQ sauce and pickles. All in all, it had very nice flavor, a bit of crisp and the beef patty itself was really good. It was a tad greasy, but what fresh burger isn’t, right? The bun was super soft too!

I certainly enjoyed my meal, loved the burger, and the overall place was very comforting. But the question remains, is it the best burger i’ve ever had?

Mooyah - Funny Cow Board

I’d probably say no. It was very good, but to claim it was the best burger i’ve ever had, would be an overstatement. I would definitely visit again, and recommend Mooyah without a doubt. They had a giant blackboard, which I thought would be super cool for the kids!

Overall, if you have not tried Mooyah, you should. It definitely has something to offer every burger lover, great flavors, freshly prepared and the brand itself is just cool!

The Service: The staff were very kind and assisted us with a smile at all times. When I asked for additional sauces and wet-wipes, they immediately served us with a smile. Great staff.

The Value: I believe there are a variety of “burger place types” which are fast food, better than fast food, freshly prepared burgers, and gourmet. Mooyah seem to fit in the “freshly prepared burgers” (among others in the segment like shake shack, burger fuel, etc) and it seems to be around the same price range as well. I would say the meal is a tad pricer than I would like to pay for a burger, fries and drink of this type – then again, price is always relative and I had a great meal.

The Place: 6 / 10
The Service: 7 / 10
The Food: 7 / 10

Overall: 6.7 / 10

I recommend trying Mooyah if you’re near any of their branches in Jumeirah Al Wasl Square or Ibn Battuta – a great addition to the list of awesome burger places in Dubai.

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Posted by on February 13, 2015 in Dine In


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Day at Tche Tche Downtown

A franchise that’s always busy, but is it any good?


I have often come to Tche Tche but this is the first time to put it under the ihabdines microscope!

Tche Tche has a very nice atmosphere and a lot of people come here and spend the evening between chilling with friends and smoking shesha. On that front alone, the place is great. They have plenty of indoor and outdoor seating with dedicated areas for non smokers. The staff are average, greeting customers is optional to them and friendliness depends on how busy the restaurant is.

In this review I went on a lovely Saturday afternoon to chill have a light bite and enjoy time with friends. Their menu has a wide selection of starters, salads, sandwiches, and various main courses. Surely, the choices are plenty. Keeping it light, I started off with their Crunchy Panko Shrimp and Chicken Caesar Salad (no clue what Panko means..)

Let’s get started with the Shrimp shall we?


Let’s just put it this way, it’s very average frozen shrimp. What gets to me is the fact that these are shrimps right? I don’t want to see straight shrimp! Bland.

Let’s move on to the Caesar Salad, looked better at least.


Now I am already quite on edge with the experience here. The Ceasar Salad was quite alright. The lettuce was crunchy, the chicken was grilled quite nicely and was juicy but the salad was over seasoned. Also, I would have loved to see more green on the plate.

For the rest of the evening the seating was just great, the atmosphere was fabulous and the views are amazing as always.

Before leaving, I thought I’d try a sandwich for dinner..


That is what they call a Chicken Zinger Sandwich.. Supposedly a delicious sandwich with turkey, cheese, pickles and spicy chicken tenders. The truth is, I could barely tell the difference between the chicken and the bread! Bland, dry, tasteless, not spicy enough, cold and a complete disappointment. The whole dish was cold enough that parts of cheese hadn’t melted – this also showed they just used regular cheese slices..

Overall, to keep this simple, Tche Tche is a hang out spot, and a good one too – the location is great, the seating is comfortable, the overall atmosphere is lovely and the staff, if in the right mood, are good too, just don’t expect a lot from the menu.

Keep in mind that there are some menu items that either offer more value (priced low for a large dish) and other items that generally taste better. No excuse for not having decent other dishes, though.

The service: ordinary sums it up pretty well. They are alright, some are helpful, some aren’t. When they get busy they do not put in effort for customer service, and if you joke around you may get treated better – which isn’t necessarily a good thing on their behalf

The value: keeping in mind this is Downtown – Emaar Boulevard, the price is quite alright. All three dishes, 2 small bottles of water (they do not serve large ones), one American coffee totaled to around 140 Dhs.

The place – 7/10
The service – 5/10
The food – 3/10

Overall – 5/10

Want a place to hang out with friends in Downtown? Tche Tche is a nice cafe, not a restaurant.

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Posted by on February 7, 2015 in Dine In


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Breakfast at Carluccio’s Dubai Mall

It has been a while since I had a good breakfast and I heard that Carluccio’s launched a new breakfast menu, so it was a good time to go get me breakfast! It isn’t the first time I visit or review Carluccio’s, in fact, it was one of the first restaurants I reviewed on Ihab Dines, and it was a good experience back then, so I was curious to see what changed!

Carluccio’s is such a nice restaurant to visit, it actually has three parts, the inner most is more of a small store, then the indoor dining area and then finally their outdoor dining area. All modern, colorful & easy on the eye.

Carluccio's Indoor Dining AreaSeating options is plentiful, from circular booths, wall side couches, to long and short tables.

I walked in and a server appeared, greeted me and asked me where i’d like to sit. I really was spoiled for choice and ended up on a nice table near the window. The place is really beautiful, clean and very open. I really wanted to sit outside, but the weather certainly wasn’t supportive of that, unless I was willing to melt.

They brought me a menu, which wasn’t the breakfast menu at first, but admittedly, I arrived around 12PM. Surely I wanted lunch, but the point was breakfast and had to tell myself “Breakfast Ihab, breakfast”!

Carluccio's Breakfast Menu - Ihab Dines
The tables were set up with salt and pepper on a colorful plate. Funnily enough, salt was loose sea salt and I had to check (sorry for sticking my fingers into something I wasn’t going to use) but then again, it made me hope they change it every time a guest leaves.

Anyways, back to the breakfast menu, there was a large selection and I was clueless! I asked the waitress what she would recommend and she suggested I try the eggs benedict or colazione magnifica, which, not surprisingly, were the two menu entries with images.

Somehow it seemed people mostly ordered what they could see, and that is something I avoid but.. magnifica sounded strong! So magnifica it was.

Carluccio's Calozione Magnifica - Ihab Dines
While ordering, the waitress, with a smile, told me that I can now order their egg dishes with free-range eggs! I don’t get to see that often around here, and I love the fact that it is an option, which I gladly took.

The magnifica dish comes with two drinks, a coffee or tea & a juice. Kind of an interesting touch, to drink something while the meal is being prepared, and another once done. I’d like to see that more often.

So how magnifica was the magnifica? quite good actually. The dish came with eggs (cooked to liking) on a toast, sauteed mushrooms and grilled turkey. When the manager brought the dish over she even asked if I wanted some fresh black pepper.

The free-range eggs were scrambled in a very nice way, cooked well, and with good flavor. The mushrooms were sauteed well too and were flavorful! The grilled turkey were nice but hardly what i’d call grilled, they had light grill lines, which kind of made me feel it was more of a “grill effect” but still, were delicious.

Overall, it was a very nice breakfast, plenty of flavor and all cooked, put together and served very nicely. It was no surprise that even after I was done, around 1 PM, some people were still asking for the breakfast menu!

The Service: It was really good. There were plenty of waiters around at all times, and the ones responsible for each section did come around often and help out always with a nice smile. The manager was really nice as well, and she made sure she did the rounds too as one of the team; serving, assisting and even waiting at times.

The Value: I believe their prices are quite decent, and as would be expected of a place like Carluccio’s in Dubai Mall. The ordinary colazione magnifica costs 49Dhs, and with free-range eggs as ordered, was 61Dhs. I had ordered an additional bottle of water which was 16Dhs (Acqua Panna).

The Place:    7 / 10
The Service:  8 / 10
The Food:     7 / 10

Overall: 7.3 / 10

I recommended Carluccio’s before and they have only got better! I’d recommend it without doubt. Great breakfast, must try!

I got some images of some of their other breakfasts to get you hungry!

Eggs RoyaleEggs FlorentineEggs Benedict


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Posted by on May 14, 2014 in Dine In


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