Meet Miss Tess

It makes me extremely happy to witness Dubai flourishing with unforgettable dining experiences. As the world moves away sitting nicely face-to-face and chewing in silence accompanied by outdated piano tunes, cheeky new entertainment is to the rescue. Miss Tess at Taj Hotel is that kind of place: immerse yourself in street style Asian cuisine at its tastiest, funniest and brightest. Walk-ins are most welcome for example. Booking a table is suggested for bigger groups or for Korean BBQ. Being a girl from the boring generation, I called to reserve a wonderful spot on the terrace facing the Burj.

The appearance of Miss Tess is inspired by the true story of an Asian woman who grew up learning to cook the delicacies of her continent and sharing her skills and knowledge with the loved ones. Under its roof Miss Tess unites the most common and exotic options from Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan, China, Korea, Indonesia and Thailand (thought I spotted a few Malay specialities too).

Strolling through Miss Tess is a pleasure. The open space is visually divided into zones representing different cultures, and my eyes jumped from one fun detail to another. Think delicate Japanese partitions, Chinese lamps, Korean beauty magazines, wisdom posters and so much much more to discover for yourself. I randomly walked into some local warriors who made my night to take a crazier turn.

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Turns out, every Monday Miss Tess challenges the brave and foodies to a one-of-a-kind hot noodle challenge. Every participant is obliged to sign a form and commit to strict rules, which involve limitation in time, strategies, beverages and even napkins. The challenge starts with the arrival of the team, who cheer, chant, observe and judge, and, obviously the noodles. The whole place turns upside down during the next twenty minute and it’s a great pleasure to watch faces of walking guests trying to figure out what’s going on.

The challenge is challenge indeed. A big fan of Ting Irie’s burning hot off-menu wings, I could barely handle a few bites of Miss Tess’s noodles. The secret sauce consists of special chillies, dried chillies and fresh chillies plus something super mega spicy that made me sob. Please do not let the few veggies on the top fool you. This dish is hot hot hot. Compete only if you are physically and spiritually fit. No exception.

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Once done with the challenge (lost by me), do dig into other bits and bites as everything on the menu is longing for attention and review. No matter what you choose or where you sit, I promise you won’t forget Miss Tess until the next visit

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The magic of Ninive

Once upon a time in the ancient city of Niniveh, former capital of the Neo-Assyrian Empire and oldest urban centre in Mesopotamia, there was a secret terrace. Shielded from curious eyes by the mysterious Hanging Garden and massive stone walls, the place was a legend. A few centuries later, the World Wonder secluded courtyard has been reborn in the open space of Jumeirah Emirates Towers. Niniveh became Ninive

Surrounded by ever-busy Sheikh Zayed highway, glittering downtown lights and the hussle of the financial district, Ninive of Dubai is a brilliant idea. It caters to the growing need of every cosmopolitan city for a little paradise of greenery, privacy and peace. A place that looks good, feels good and contributes to goodness. That’s what Ninive is for me.P2189000.JPGDecorated in the best traditions of One Thousand and One Nights, where gold is everybody’s favourite colour, Ninive communicates Arabian luxury and guest’s comfort as the priority. The interior elements, accented with warm light lanterns, fluffy cushions, low foamy divans and a feeling of privacy, make you immediately forget all your worries. The focus on complete divine relaxation is partly achieved by impressive service, and partly by wafts of shisha travelling with the breeze from table to table. P2188986.JPGDespite all the effort and skill of clearly mega expensive designers, the best part of Ninive is the luxury of the open night sky, shining with stars. While seated in the restaurant, one falls under an illusion of dining in some fancy Indiana Jone’s camp in the middle of a new adventure. Surprisingly the urban look of nearby skyscrapers adds charm to the restaurant’s view. It’s so easy to spend a night away on those snugly cushions without noticing the time. My simple dinner with a friend lasted four hours. Fortunately valet parking is complimentary.

P2188963.JPGNinive, like the neighbouring La Cantine du Fauborg, is run by chef Gilles Bosque, Gordon Ramsay’s right-hand man. The menu is created with a deep understanding of present desire for an unforgettable experience, exclusive food magic at the table and pomegranate seeds. The later was elegantly sprinkled on several mouth-watering appis, which didn’t last long. I especially enjoyed the absence of ceviche, a dish that the majority of Dubai restaurants tend to force into their cuisine recently.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere is no strict definition of Ninive’s cuisine type. It’s noticeably influenced by the Middle East, Persia, South Asia and nearby states, however things aren’t easy. I appreciated the trend of moving away from serving a boring spread of stereotypical dishes towards crafting the new Haute Arabic food couture to impress and startle.

Chef Ibrahim

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I spotted chef Ibrahim right at the entrance. Confidently powerful in the kitchen, he projects charm, charisma and a love of food. Easily mesmerized by super skilled professionals, I couldn’t keep my eyes or iPhone off him. Intrigued by my non-stop flash, chef Ibrahim laughed and visited my table for a quick chat. He was as entertaining in conversation as in the kitchen.

Chef of the bar Marc

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Marc is another personality not to miss at Ninive. Many guests stop by the bar just for an opportunity to observe this awesome guy and share a bunch of jokes. Enigmatic, always on the go, anxious in a fun way and incredibly skilled, Marc is a character that could be plucked from Cirque du Soleil. I knew there was something cheeky in his past watching the way Marc tossed a napkin next to me. That’s for me to know and for you to discover.

Haitham

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Haitham was introduced to my table half way through the dinner and for the first few appearances I kept on referring to him as Olivier. He never corrected me, smiling rather charmingly. He captivates attention with a soft approach to service, sharp attentiveness and enthusiasm. Haitham concurred my heart by performing a master class of Moroccan tea pouring, sharing a few secrets with me.

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Buzzy, fun, diverse and never boring, Soho Garden in Dubai

A few months ago Soho Garden opened in Dubai, channelling the spirit of London’s most extravagant entertainment district. Usually open from 5pm, for a short time every Friday there is a unique opportunity to hang out in Soho’s open air from afternoon to sunset and then evening. Exciting, no? Take a sneak peak at the Sunset Brunch.

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Spread between four bars, two rooftop terraces, several wall art pieces and numerous tables of various shapes, the Sunset Brunch is one of a kind. Buzzy, fun, diverse and never boring there is a lot on offer. With the view on futuristic Maydan hotel a glimpse on Downtown’s skyline, the scenery changes colours and patterns following the movement of the sun.

 

 

Sunshine on arrival slowly fades away leaving you with a cool breeze and blushing sky. At dusk the colourful lights, neons and lamps kick in turning this eclectic venue into a little nightlife town. DJs turn up the music mixing lounge, pop songs and luring crowds to the dance floor. No surprise many stay for the after party past midnight. Well, the next day is Saturday, that’s why!

 

 

Soho Garden’s brunch menu is short, trendy and quite healthy offering a choice of one dish each from a course of four, and it’s lots of fun to share when eating in a bigger group. I particularly enjoyed my creamy burrata as a starter and a deliciously juicy mega burger on a tasty fluffy bun with an aioli to remember. A look around confirmed it was a popular choice but they didn’t run out and everyone got their selection.

 

 

A big fan of tea with my dessert, I looked at my server with the eyes of “Puss in Boots” and a very special cuppa with lots of fresh mint magically appeared in front of me. Supporting my victory with a slice of an extra dessert (Alaska) stolen from a friend, I obviously felt delighted with the life and myself. What a great brunch!

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P.S. Soho Garden is getting an exciting addition; Soho Beach and I can’t wait to discover it!

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Maison de Juliette in Dubai

The continuously growing La Mer neighbourhood now has its own casual dining French restaurant and bakery, Maison de Juliette. Decorated in a delightful high tea party theme with spacious outdoor terrace, blue hues, colourful furniture, light reflecting tables and bright giant lamps, this place creates a charming morning vibe that slowly transforms into the romanticism of Provence after dark.

Intended to attract foodies craving simple but absolutely delicious Gastronomy Francaise, and families to share big heart-warming dinners, Maison de Juliette focuses on warm and inviting dishes from the South Eastern region of France bordering the Mediterranean, the Provence. P1265432.JPG

Provence is loved for sunshine, warm climate and rich soil, and is considered by many as the garden of the country. No wonder Provencal cuisine is known for bright dishes powered with locally produced vegetables including aubergine, ripe tomatoes, bell peppers, olives, asparagus and my all times favourite artichokes. The menu at the Maison de Juliette in Dubai is not an exception. P1265438.JPG

Interestingly the restaurant is run by the Parisian Chef Aris, who willingly decided to move away from the stereotypes of high dining in the capital towards the deliciousness of a few ingredients focused cuisine. He seems to enjoy delivering rich, colourful and thoughtfully styled dishes, pleasing both the eye and taste buds. His seared tuna rolled in pistachios, accompanied by a generous portion of a green salad, is my all time favourite. Try goat cheese glazed in honey, creamy burrata on toast, and the warm seafood platter with intense sauce and a bit of foam (they are French after all).

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Be surprised by your server suggesting the right beverage to accompany your starter, main or a desert, or offering a mocktail to try based on your current mood. The pastry and desserts are so good, please do not leave without a little taste or two.

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