Sunday, August 10, 2014

To hype or not to hype: Qbara

So it's been one of those weekends where I haven't moved out of my bed. Not because I'm lazy but since there's been a coughing-sneezing-blockage-stuffiness-headache-the-works-type-of-situation. Oh yeah. Fab combo

With that beautiful image in mind, I've been meaning to try this place for a long long time but that applies to a lot of places and keeping up can be a tad bit difficult.

I've heard a lot about Qbara! From the dishes to the atmosphere to the music, pretty much everything has been very positively 'hyped'. The other day, I got around for a quick Saturday night dinner with a friend. I'm sure you already knew that from my Instagram ;)

Here's my take on whether Qbara lives up to it's hype.

I really liked the fact that Qbara was located somewhere a little different. Super easy to find when you're in the wafi/pyramids area.

The venue itself was gorgeous! Absolutely gorgeous. Beautifully warm dim lighting, cool light projections against a huge wall, amazing music with remixed slow jams... just what I like. The place itself wasn't busy so a heads up for you, we were notified Tuesdays & Thursdays are the busiest so plan in advance if you're heading on those days.

We were seated upstairs. On the way to our table, we passed by the wine bar, enjoyed the glass window edges overlooking the downstairs seating area and the hues of purple/blue/pink light projections on the giant wall.

I've heard a couple of recommended small dishes so without any time to waste, we ordered the 'Crispy soft shell crab "saj", garlic & harissa and the 'Lobster kibbeh with fresh herbs, avocado labneh'.

Soft shell crab was amazing! Seriously good. The crab meat tasted really fresh and tender. The texture resembled a falafel because of the crunch factor. The harissa was the perfect added kick - not too spicy, I actually could have had it a little spicier - but can definitely suit all. The garlic wasn't overpowering either, and trust me, I love me a hit of garlic. Also, great portion. Highly, highly recommended.

Kibbeh was good. I am a huge fan of kubba (how we pronounce it in Iraqi). I always remember my grandma hand making her delicious kubba, which nothing can beat, even Qbara - sorry :) Anyways, these were crunchy, had a decent amount of lobster - not dry at all, and that avocado labneh was yummy! If you know me by now, you know I love me some avocados. It's hard to ignore it on any menu I see. The labneh was creamy with chunks of avocado and swirled in olive oil. Nice topping to the kibbeh.

Our main was a shared pot of "Chicken tagine, preserved lemon, apricot & walnuts" with a side of (I don't remember the exact name but this is what it was) Spiced brown rice with puy lentils & fried onions.

Delicious! Succulent generous portions of chicken, balanced flavors of spices, fruits, nuts and a delightful addition of cooked quinces (similar to pears)! The rice went so well with this dish. I highly recommend this combo if you are looking for vibrant flavors with a twist but keeping true to authentic Moroccan palette. I absolutely love dishes with fruit, nuts and spices - have grown up eating such types of dishes and can't get enough.

Although I regret it now, we were just way too full at the time to order any dessert. Another excuse to go visit Qbara now :)

As for the service, it was great. Food came really fast and all the waiters were quite knowledgable of the menu.

For good quality food with generous portions, great service & music, and a clear concept of original dishes with an added twist, let the hype continue about Qbara!


Friday, August 8, 2014

Once upon a foodie in London... Part 3: B&L, Spun, Ceviche, Mix

How are you? Has anyone asked you that today? If not, I'm asking right now... and I hope you're doing great :) 

My London diary has come to an end. Until next time that is. Somehow at the beginning of the series, I thought I had this all planned out. 3 parts was just enough to cover it all... and suddenly it seems that I'm squashing a whole lot in this part. Woops! You now know that I'm not a huge 'numbers' person. 

Just grab a cup of tea, relax and enjoy the read...

Part 3 - let's roll!

Burger & Lobster

I'm sure this already grabbed your attention. Everyone and their grandma seems to know and love this place. I went for the first time with a big bunch of hungry girls. It was a great combo. 

Here's the low down. There's a burger, a lobster roll and a lobster on the menu. That's it. Clear and simple. Since I have a weakness for burgers, as you very well know, I still wanted to try the famous lobster roll everyone speaks about. So my sister and I decided to share the two.

Oh my. I now know the hype behind that lobster roll. Perfectly cooked lobster. Creamy. Lemony and the hit of chives tops it off. Delicious! Highly recommended. As for the burger, it was good. Decent size. Simple ingredients and great portion of sides.

Loved the simplicity of this place and would definitely go back for good food and service.

Spun Candy

For those who don't know, Spun Candy is a super cute candy store which allows you to custom make your own candy, even of your own face! How cool. Opening soon in Candylicious Dubai, I had the chance to tour Spun Candy in Covent Garden, the headquarters. Check out their UAE Instagram to keep up with them. 

They also had a mini pop-up shop in Selfridges. Their signature candy is the hard candy "London Mix" which is so cute for souvenir gifting if you're traveling back from London. It's a very interesting concept and watching the candy makers in action at the store is such a cool experience. I'm excited for what's to come in Dubai!


Situated in the vibrant area of Soho, a delightful Peruvian kitchen awaited us for a dinner of endless ceviches and tapas. I loved the place! The ambiance, the decor, the staff, the music and the menu. Oh my. It's half kitchen/half bar with super dim lighting - just how I like it - and it's not that large but also not as 'cosy' as a lot of the places in London can be.

'Don Ceviche'

We ordered everything from king fish & watermelon ceviche to braised beef tongue. The stand outs included 'Don Ceviche' - fresh sea bass in amarillo chilli tiger's milk, radish, limo chilli, sweet potato & red onions, 'Sakura Maru' - tiradito of thinly sliced salmon Nikkei tiger's milk made satsumas, mirin, soy sauce & limo chilli (tangy and delicious) and 'Lenguas' - braised beef tongue and caramelised onion, cassava mash & aji limo chimichurri.  As usual I'll keep it real and say I didn't try the tongue but everyone else on the table did and said it was amazing. I felt it was a little too fatty of a meat for me.

Definitely go to Ceviche for a night out in Soho before or after catching a broadway show :) we went after Phantom of the opera and was an awesome duo for the night.

Mix: Chipotle/Wasabi

I thought I'd add in a couple of 'bits and bobs' that I experienced over here. I've heard a ton about Chipotle and since I'm a big fan of good Mexican, I gave it a try.

There's no pretty image to really show here but their burritos are bomb diggity GOOD. Stuffed with vibrant flavors, fresh ingredients and generous portions, I can see why this place is always packed in London. Dubai, get on it!

I personally think we lack affordable every day sushi places that we can order during work or have weekday meals at. That's something London is known for. One of the most popular ones is Wasabi. There are ready made sushi combo platters or you can pick and choose your own. I tried out both ways and really enjoyed it. Definitely give it a try. If you wanna see my sushi picnic with wasabi, check out my Instagram here.

Thanks for tuning in... Happy weekend!