A woman holding donate on her mouth

Is She the Ultimate #SupportLocal Crusader?

‘@dxbfooddiaries ‘dishes’ on the city’s dining scene.

Las Vegas native Jen Sahi – a.k.a. @dxbfooddiaries – knows a thing or two about food! Not only did she grow up eating chicken feet, jellyfish, and black preserved eggs, but she also set up a food club in college. Today, she showcases local kitchen heroes in Dubai, racking up nearly 20,000 followers in the process. Here, she tells The Gaggler what her family (really) thinks of her being an influencer, why supporting local restaurants is so important, and which hidden gems are downright rave-worthy.


How did you get into the foodie social media world?


I come from a huge foodie family – everyone loves to eat, they have huge appetites, and they’re all good cooks. Growing up in an Asian household, I grew up eating all sorts of weird and wonderful things that most Americans would never dream of touching, like chicken feet, jellyfish, black preserved eggs.

Food has always been a big part of my life and influenced many of my big decisions, including where to travel and go to university. In fact, my alma mater has been ranked the best college food in the entire United States. I spent my free time baking when I was in high school and even secured funding to start up a food club in college.

The original social media foodie in my family is my Uncle Keh, who’s been posting food photos on Facebook before it ever became popular. I used to think it was naff until six years ago, when I started posting my own photos about food. I realised that he had the right idea all along!


What deems a restaurant “worthy of being featured”?


I’m a marketer by profession and love a high-quality product with a solid story behind it. I tend to feature the kind of places that appeal to me, places where I would happily spend money. These tend to be fine casual or fine dining venues, independent homegrown concepts, or celebrity chef restaurants.

I’m also a big fan of anything with an unusual flavour combination (honey butter chips, anyone?), a good gimmick (rainbow grilled cheese), or anything different and new – the potato-and-egg breakfast naan at LDC Kitchen is definitely worth a try. And if there’s a good story behind it, even better!


What caused you to focus on homegrown brands in the UAE?


I have a digital marketing agency and was working with quite a few small businesses that seriously felt the pain during lockdown last year. One of them posted that quote about buying from a small business because an actual person does a happy dance and it really resonated with me. Coronavirus hit everyone hard, but it’s the independent businesses and homegrown brands that were struggling the most.

I therefore made a point during lockdown to support as many of them as I could by purchasing food from them (directly, not via an aggregator) and posting about them through my networks. I was literally ordering out seven days a week for eight whole weeks until my husband reined me in. 

Since then, it’s really stuck with me. I still try to support independent restaurants, local concepts, and budding foodpreneurs as much as I can. It’s a really special feeling to share in the passion and enthusiasm of the chef, owner, or founder of a homegrown business.


What are some of your go-to homegrown restaurants?


The list is too long! Clearly, I love eating out and I love supporting some of the friends I’ve made along the way.

  • Reif Othman I love all of his restaurants – this man is brilliant, dedicated, and such an inspiration.
  • Boca I’m a big fan of Boca and head chef Matthijs Stinnissen, their collaborations, and how they constantly champion sustainability.
  • Trèsind Studio and Trèsind are two of my favourites – executive chef Himanshu Saini is extremely creative, they’re constantly evolving their menus, and the cocktails are excellent.
  • The Lighthouse I’m addicted to the Greek salad and cortado at d3 and Mall of the Emirates, and there’s two new outlets on the way.
  • Depachika Food Hall at Nakheel Mall is one of my favourite places as it’s such a unique space full of well-curated food – plus, I can’t resist the chicken souvlaki wrap at Kilikio by Mythos.
  • Slab I really rate Omar Rodrigues of Slab, now at Mercato Mall – he has excellent taste and I’m always impressed (the preserved lemon burrata and broccoli quinoa salad are superb). 
  • 21 Grams I love 21 Grams and Stasha – the owner has such great energy, the space is so peaceful, and the food is always excellent, but I don’t visit as much as I should!


What do your friends and family think of your life as a food influencer?


They think it’s an easy life, but they don’t realise that a lot of time goes into creating content, so it’s basically like having a second (unpaid) full-time job!


What brought you to Dubai? 


In 2007, I was headhunted from London for a marketing job in Dubai and came here, only to find that I loved it because the lifestyle was similar to Las Vegas, where I grew up – but better! I left a few years later only, to return in 2012 and have been here ever since.


Can you list a few must-visit hidden gems or homegrown restaurants that you can’t stop raving about?


  • Orfali Bros – I have a lot of respect for Fatafeat chef Mohammed Orfali and really love his new restaurant, Orfali Bros, at Wasl 51. It’s an intimate dining experience with Mohammed in charge of the kitchen, while his brothers Omar and Wassim are in charge of the pastries.
  • Kinoya – this is the much-awaited restaurant from A Story of Food, an izakaya-style Japanese restaurant – book a seat at the ramen counter and watch Neha do what she does best.
  • Fulvio’s at Time Out Market, the hottest foodie destination at the moment and requires multiple visits to do it justice. Every outlet is worth a visit, but I honestly can’t visit Time Out Market without ordering the pumpkin ravioli at Fulvio’s by the talented chef behind Il Borro and Alici.
  • Terra – this neighborhood restaurant is tucked away in the Waitrose shopping center in Al Thanya, has a lovely garden terrace, and serves an amazing short rib tagliatelle.
  • Dough by 1762 – the new pizza pop-up at 1762 Stripped in JLT only recently launched, serving up pizza after 5pm and firmly on my list to try this week.
  • Dishtrict – this is a unique concept by the team behind Moshi that brought us Chips Oman maki – it has a big menu of fun fusion dishes, but the must-order is the Thai arancini.

Follow Jen for major dining inspiration and don’t forget to support local – it makes them do a happy dance every time you order!


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House of Pops restaurant van

Of Ice Cream and Ingenuity – Meet Marcela

The entrepreneur on her vision, lightbulb moment, and more.

Did you know that tomorrow is Women’s Entrepreneurship Day? Created to celebrate, empower, and support women in business in order to alleviate poverty, the day is marked annually on November 19. Supporting the initiative, we’re continuing our series on female entrepreneurs today. In the past, we’ve spoken with the likes of Leena Al Abbas, Claire Lambert, Mona Kattan, and Emma Burdett about their entrepreneurial journeys, proving that the insights of Dubai’s female self-starters bring with them countless nuggets of wisdom. Case in point?Marcela Sancho, who is all about bringing guilt-free treats to the city.

After popping out for ice cream with her partner one afternoon in 2018, she was shocked by the lack of healthy options on offer for those looking for something that wasn’t packed with sugar, preservatives, or calories. Tapping into her partner’s extensive experience in the region’s frozen treats business, Marcela set about creating a refreshing and healthy alternative to what was available, co-founding House of Pops in the process. Not only is it the only Dubai-based ice cream brand with zero plastic packaging, but itsvegan all-natural fruit pops also contain no preservatives, colourings, E-numbers, nor refined sugar.

Marcela Sancho


Marcela Sancho


House of Pops



What was your ‘lightbulb’ moment?

One day, I was with my partner, out for ice cream and shocked that we couldn’t really see anything that was healthy on offer. Everything was high in sugar, high in fat, and packed with empty calories. Health and wellness had become a global trend, and more UAE consumers were moving into this category at the time, so that was our opportunity to take up the challenge and fill the gap in the market.

What was your vision when you first launched your business?

We wanted to be the number one choice when people thought of healthier ice cream, and create the healthiest form of ice cream that we possibly could. We wanted to be the first to bring the change – a disruption into this category – and believed we could have a strong share in the ice cream business, especially since my partner had extensive experience in the industry. Our mission was to provide consumers with an option to delight themselves guilt-free and, so, House of Pops was born. We launched our products at a farmers’ market and sold 100 pops that day. That was a great day.

best Ice Cream Dubai

Has the pandemic affected your business negatively or positively?

It had a positive effect. When people were locked at home, they were looking for something to indulge in to make themselves happy, and House of Pops was the perfect solution as a healthy treat. We already had a very strong e-commerce structure in place, so we were able to cope with the demand. We experienced a channel growth of 10 times its size before COVID-19.

What drives you every day?

The passion to achieve sustainable growth for the business, tackle new opportunities of development from the product range, and expand the brand internationally. The business has been working for four years – we’ve successfully opened several shops and want to expand our franchise model. It’s been sold to other countries in the GCC, and this is where our focus is at the moment.

Do you have a favourite business mentor?

Jim Rhon and his practical approach. He preaches accountability. This is very powerful, as he made me realise that I can change and drive change in my life and in my business. I stopped pointing out why things went wrong, justifying it with external factors, and started to ask myself what I could’ve done differently or better. This is how I learned. He also explains why it’s important to not only have clear priorities, but also allocate energy and a share of mind to them to get results. When time is limited as an entrepreneur, this becomes very helpful.

Which books/podcasts/blogs do you follow, and why?

I usually like to listen to interviews. You can learn a lot from other people’s experience, irrespective of the field they are in. From sportsmen like MMA fighter Conor McGregor to Michelle Obama, it gives me the motivation and sense of community that I need. I can relate to a lot of the struggles that they speak about, and how they overcame them to reach the place where they are today.

What’s one piece of advice that you would give to a budding entrepreneur?

Set your concept and give it a try. Have your goals straight. Speak to people in the field. Understand challenges that you might face so that you don’t repeat them again. Read a lot about your idea and your concept. Be like a sponge.

What are five things one must consider before launching a business?

  1. Make sure that the insights make sense.
  2. Make sure that the business is scalable – it should be a business, not a hobby.
  3. Understand the financials on bringing the idea to life. Do you have them or do you need external investment?
  4. Have the right skills to develop the idea. If you don’t have them, get the right team (outsourced or in-house).
  5. Find something unique in your proposition. This will make you build a successful company. We are at a time where a lot of services and products are being offered, so ask yourself, ‘Why people would choose my product?

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Michelin Guide Abu Dhabi 2023

Revealed: Michelin Guide Abu Dhabi 2023 Winners

Read on to see who took the top spot.

The verdict is out – the inaugural edition of the Michelin Guide Abu Dhabi shortlisted 42 restaurants for stars covering 16 types of cuisines, featuring the best the capital has to offer. Three restaurants received one Michelin star and four restaurants were awarded the Bib Gourmand, which is given to those who offer good food at moderate prices. In addition, three special awards were also given out. 

The Michelin Guide’s Abu Dhabi edition comes just months after the Dubai guide was released earlier this year, which saw 69 restaurants serving 21 cuisines. Two restaurants received two Michelin stars, nine restaurants received one Michelin star, and 14 eateries were named Bib Gourmand restaurants.

“The wonderful diversity of the cuisine proposed by these three restaurants [in the Abu Dhabi guide] perfectly illustrate the curiosity of local gourmets, as well as how Abu Dhabi welcomes international cultures to make them shine at their best level,” said Gwendal Poullennec, International Director of the Michelin Guide.

“This first Michelin Guide Abu Dhabi selection is the beginning of a long journey for a city with unlimited gastronomic potential,” he added. “Our inspectors discovered a rich variety of cuisines offered in Abu Dhabi, from creative dishes conceived by some of the world’s most renowned chefs, to traditional cuisines of the region: Middle Eastern, Lebanese and, of course, Emirati.”

“This is the first step,” said H.E. Saleh Mohammed Algeziry, Director General of the tourism sector at the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism, who emphasised to restaurateurs that not achieving a star, or even not being shortlisted for the Michelin Guide, does not mean a restaurant doesn’t have the potential to do so in the future. One star each was awarded to Talea by Antonio Guida for its family-style Italian food, Hakkasan for traditional Cantonese fare, and 99 Sushi Bar for a contemporary take on Japanese cuisine. 

The four restaurants awarded the Bib Gourmand are Almayass, Beirut Sur Mer, Otoro, and Tazal. In a vibrant black-tie event held at Emirates Palace last night, the award ceremony was followed by a five-course dinner with a menu curated by international Michelin-starred chefs, Bjorn Frantzen of Frantzen in Sweden and Cheryl Koh of Les Amis in Singapore included. Read on for the full list of winners – many have been featured in Gaggler in the past.

All Michelin Guide winners on stage

The Complete Winners List

One Michelin Star:

  • 99 Sushi Bar
  • Hakkasan
  • Talea by Antonio Guida

Bib Gourmand:

  • Almayass
  • Beirut Sur Mer
  • Otoro
  • Tazal


  • Al Mrzab
  • Butcher & Still
  • Byblos Sur Mer
  • Cafe James
  • Café Milano
  • Catch by St. Regis
  • Cipriani
  • Coya
  • Dai Pai Dong
  • Finz
  • Fishmarket
  • Fouquet’s
  • Grand Beirut
  • Hoi An
  • Li Beirut
  • Li Jiang
  • LPM
  • Market Kitchen
  • Martabaan by Hemant Oberoi
  • Mazi
  • Meylas
  • Mijana
  • Moksh
  • Namak
  • NIRI
  • Oak Room
  • Oii
  • Paradiso
  • Punjab Grill
  • Shang Palace
  • Silk & Spice
  • Tean
  • VaKaVa Pan Latin Grill and Lounge by Richard Sandoval
  • Villa Toscana
  • Zuma

Service Award:

  • Rawad Hamdan and team, Li Beirut

Sommelier Award:

  • Marlon Nuque, Zuma

Young Chef Award:

  • Luigi Stinga, Talea by Antonio Guida
Photo: Tazal

What Is the Michelin Food Guide?

Published since the 1900s, the Michelin Guide is one of the oldest and most prestigious food guides in existence, focusing its criteria squarely on the quality of cooking and ingredients as well as the presentation rather than the ambiance or decor of an eatery. The guide rates restaurants anonymously using an in-house team of inspectors and food critics employed directly by Michelin.

Using the same criteria and methodology to evaluate candidates for each category, the guide rates restaurants from one to three stars, as well as curates the Bib Gourmand list of restaurants that offer quality cooking at reasonable prices. Currently, the Michelin guide covers over 30 destinations around the world.

How Is a Michelin Star Awarded?

Inspectors anonymously visit eateries for evaluation and rely on the following:

  1. quality of the ingredients
  2. mastery of cooking
  3. harmony of the flavours
  4. expression of the chef’s personality in the cuisine
  5. consistency, both over time and across the entire menu

What Are the Different Types of Michelin Distinctions?

One Michelin star denotes a restaurant with high-quality cooking that’s worth stopping by for. Two Michelin stars are for restaurants with excellent cooking that’s not only worth a detour, but also reflects the personality and talent of the chef and team.

Three Michelin stars indicate exceptional cuisine that’s worth planning a journey for. In this category, the award is given for the superlative cooking of chefs at the peak of their profession. The ingredients are exemplary, the cooking is elevated to an art form, and their dishes are often destined to become classics. This is the most difficult award to achieve and maintain.

Michelin Guide-selected restaurants are those that have the potential to gain a star or feature on the Bib Gourmand list in the future. Restaurants on the Bib Gourmand list are those where inspectors consider they found good-quality cooking for good value.


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Best Places to Celebrate Birthday in Abu Dhabi

Celebrating Your Birthday in the Capital?

This one’s just for you.

Birthdays are always a very special day, regardless of how many candles you are blowing. And if you live in Abu Dhabi or happen to be around on your big day? Well, the city has plenty in terms of restaurants where you can mark the occasion with friends and family. Read on.

Villa Toscana

With its flavourful yet simple Tuscan cuisine, Villa Toscana is among the capital’s greatest locations to enjoy a memorable dining experience. A birthday party held here is a great opportunity to see how elegantly Italian specialties are served. The restaurant’s interior is decorated with paintings that cover the walls and ceilings of the dining area and a collection of dark wood furnishings in an antique finish. Although dining at Villa Toscana is never inexpensive, the good news is that everything this venue has to offer is suited to special occasions.

Villa Toscana, The St. Regis Abu Dhabi, [email protected], 02 694 4553

Villa Toscana

COYA Abu Dhabi

This hip and trendy Peruvian eatery was always going to be tough to beat. In fact, it continued to rack up dining awards because of its fresh ceviches, flavourful tacos, and countless other outstanding dishes. We urge you to try it if you haven’t already, whether it’s for a relaxed day out or your birthday celebrations – an immersive experience inspired by vibrant Latin American culture awaits!

COYA Abu Dhabi, The Galleria Al Maryah Island, [email protected], 02 306 7000

Byblos Sur Mer

If you’re looking to accent your birthday celebrations with authentic Lebanese dishes and breathtaking views, then the always elegant Byblos Sur Mer is where it’s at – panoramic views of the private marina are available to diners at this restaurant, which is located inside InterContinental Abu Dhabi. The sheer range of hot and cold mezzeh, each ideal for sharing, is just the proverbial cherry on top.

Byblos Sur Mer, InterContinental Abu Dhabi, 800 423 463 


Looking to stray from the standard birthday dinner and explore uniquely interpreted Asian cuisine? Zuma is the spot for you. Serving some of the city’s most delicious and inventive Japanese dishes, this is where Abu Dhabi’s young and trendy crowd gathers – and rightfully so. The restaurant’s alluring waterfront views are enough to instantly get people in the festive spirit. For a special occasion, we suggest going izakaya style, ordering dishes that are designed to be shared at the table.

Zuma, The Galleria Al Maryah Island, 02 401 5900


Cho Gao Marina Walk

Live DJs, a playful atmosphere, and Pan-Asian flavours come together in this enormous restaurant that also boasts has a roomy terrace that overlooks the waterfront and transforms into a sleek al fresco lounge every evening. You and your friends can dine on the likes of fresh sashimi, spicy Thai curry, and fragrant Vietnamese salads before moving over to the bar area for a round of drinks.

Cho Gao Marina Walk, InterContinental Abu Dhabi, 800 423 463

Kopitiam by Chandy’s

For a birthday dinner that’s entirely unexpected, head to Kopitiam for a laidback night rife with Malaysian cuisine. This recently opened restaurant in Abu Dhabi already has a cult following owing to authentic dishes like char kway kak, char kway teow, and nasi lemak done right. Go on, mix it up this birthday!

Kopitiam by Chandy’s, Al Falah Street, 050 234 7278


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Non alcoholic drinks Recipes

Welcome to Sober October

Hangovers and brain fog be gone.

NoLo is a secret worth sharing. Hidden behind a set of heavy doors on the 24th floor of Dusit Thani Dubai hotel, Dubai’s first dry bar is anchored not in alcohol, but creative zero-proof cocktails served in a dimly lit setting where lounge music and city views set the tone for conversation. But more on that in a minute. With the arrival of October, social drinkers across the UK are taking on the Sober October challenge, giving up alcohol in order to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support – an altruistic Dry January, if you will. And although the movement originated in the UK, anyone can sign up and participate, inevitably reaping a whole host of health benefits in the process. 

In fact, lower blood pressure, a regeneration of damaged liver cells, a reduction in insulin resistance, a healthier body weight, and a lowered risk of cancer with each year of sobriety are just some of the health benefits of quitting, according to American Addiction Centers. It’s no wonder that non-alcoholic concoctions have soared in popularity across the globe in recent years, but arguably, they’re most favoured in the Middle East owing to cultural and religious factors. Add to that the region’s well-documented obsession with social media, and the days of sodas and saccharine mocktails appearing on the last page of a drinks menu are gradually on the way out. Now, they’re Instagrammable, well thought out, and boast complex flavours suited to the adult palate.

“We have this word in Italian, sfigato, which comes to mind when one goes into a bar and asks for a non-alcoholic drink. It translates to ‘an unlucky person’. But we live in the Middle East, of course,” says Giovanni Depergola, the instructor of Dry Mixology and Bartending courses at the International Centre for Culinary Arts. “We are bartenders at the end of day, but we like to be called mixologists so we can charge more,” he says with a chuckle. “I’m also an educator, so for me, training is a very serious matter. My passion for dry mixology stems from the passion that I have for cocktails – all that showmanship, all that theatricality deserves a spot in the non-alcoholic category.” 

Non alcoholic drinks Recipes

As an F&B industry insider, Depergola noticed a gap in the market that had to be addressed. “All I saw was carbonated drinks and canned juices and, with time, I said, ‘Come on, we’re good at making cocktails, so why not use the same flavours, the same glassware, the same shaking techniques to serve something that we are proud of?’ Because I wasn’t proud to serve something in a can with ice and a slice of lemon.” Elsewhere, British entrepreneur Erika Doyle also noticed the lack of non-alcoholic drinks on offer, leading to the launch of Drink Dry, a one-stop shop for options that are not only premium, but also high in taste and low in sugar. 

“One of the misconceptions that people in the West have about the Middle East is that it’s such a huge market for non-alcoholic drinks because there are so many non-drinkers who want to drink, but can’t,” she says. “If you’ve always been told that drinking is bad for you, then our products aren’t the answer to all your prayers. Unlike ex-drinkers and the sober curious, I’m not giving non-drinkers a solution because they don’t have a problem to begin with.” Instead, Drink Dry is exploring how to introduce new ways of drinking to non-drinkers. “It’s likely that they’ve only been drinking very sugary drinks, so what we’re doing is introducing healthier ways of drinking without necessarily referencing their alcoholic counterparts.” NoLo, meanwhile, has added a social aspect to this rising trend, catering to mindful drinkers and health-conscious individuals ready for a night out. 

Dusit Thani Dubai

Incidentally, the name of this new drinking den is a portmanteau of ‘no alcohol’ and ‘low worries’, a carefree mindset reflected in its brightly coloured seating and anthropomorphic art. Over on the menu, of course, is where its star attraction – both classic and experimental cocktails – awaits. Created in conjunction with Lyre’s, widely considered the leading independent non-alcoholic spirits brand, they span the likes of Immune Highball, Thai Basil Smash, and Spice Date Espresso Martini. Those in search of the familiar, meanwhile, will appreciate Lyre’s zero-proof take on the G&T, the mojito, the martini, the Amalfi spritz, and the amaretto sour – all created to imitate the taste and mouthfeel of the originals. And in the meantime, the team at NoLo shares three alcohol-free recipes in honour of Sober October.

1. Lyre’s Mediterranean G&T


  • 45ml Lyre’s Dry London Spirit
  • 120ml Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic
  • 1 orange slice
  • 1 sprig rosemary (for garnish)


  1. Fill a tall glass ¾ full of ice.
  2. Pour in the ingredients and gently stir to combine.
  3. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary.

2. Date Old Fashioned


  • 60ml Lyre’s American Malt
  • 15ml date syrup
  • 4 dashes chocolate/walnut bitters
  • 4 dashes orange bitters
  • 1 date (for garnish)


  1. Stir all the ingredients in a mixing glass.
  2. Pour into a short tumbler over block ice.
  3. Garnish with a skewered date.

3. Bedtime Story


  • 30ml Lyre’s Amaretti
  • 45ml strong chai
  • 15ml coconut milk
  • 7.5ml maple syrup
  • pink salt and star anise (for garnish)


  1. Prepare the strong chai by steeping two chai teabags in 125ml near-boiling water for five minutes.
  2. Remove the teabags and let cool.
  3. Dry shake (without ice), then wet shake (with ice added) the ingredients.
  4. Strain into a cocktail or coupette glass.
  5. Garnish with star anise and a sprinkle of pink salt.

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Best Brunch Spots in Dubai

5 Brunch Spots Boasting City Views in Dubai

Weekends just got better.

Getting out of bed on weekends is always a challenge, but there’s nothing like brunch to get anyone up and running! It’s one of the best ways to spend quality time with friends, family, or a special someone. Now, take your brunch game to the next level by sipping your mimosas while you feast your eyes on stunning city views. Here are five brunch spots in Dubai that win our vote.

Marina Social by Jason Atherton

Founded by Michelin-star chef Jason Atherton, Marina Social is more than just your typical restaurant. It redefines social dining through its open gallery concept and dessert bars that offers guests a peek into the magic that happens in the kitchen. This glamorous destination at InterContinental also features an exclusive ‘Social Table’ where its patrons can enjoy a unique dining experience that consists of only the best selection of champagne, teas, cigars, and more. Enjoy a delicious meal with panoramic views of the city with your inner circle in this elegant joint – and don’t forget to share a side or two! 

Marina Social by Jason Atherton, InterContinental Dubai Marina, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud St., Dubai Marina, 04 446 6664, [email protected]

CÉ LA VI Dubai

A classic stop among brunch lovers, Cé La Vi owns the spot for being one of the city’s best destinations for contemporary Asian cuisine. Its famous Brunch on 54 on Saturdays offers guests an elevated brunch experience that combines a gastronomic set menu, incomparable views of the Burj Khalifa, and groovy music to make the dining affair like no other. With the restaurant name taking its roots from the famous French saying c’est la vie – that’s life – this spot truly paints a picture of Dubai’s best.

CÉ LA VI, Level 54, Address Sky View Hotel Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard, 04 582 6111, [email protected]

CÉ LA VI Dubai

Source: @celavidubai

Hola Rooftop

This chic Dubai restaurant puts a twist on your usual brunch experience. Hola Rooftop transports its guests to the islands of Ibiza, Formentera, and Mallorca without ever leaving its premium spot atop The Meydan Hotel. The Mediterranean-inspired rooftop lounge offers delectable Spanish dishes paired with refreshing drinks and live entertainment with a remarkable golf course view in the backdrop.

Hola Rooftop, The Meydan Hotel, Nad Al Sheba 1, 056 358 3333, rsrvit.com


Located at The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, Bubbalicious showcases over 10 live cooking stations in three restaurants within the resort: Baba, Sui Mui, and Mina’s Kitchen. With such a diverse selection, guests will be treated to a wide array of menu items that includes Indian and Asian dishes, seafood delicacies, mouth-watering roasts, and more. Don’t miss the roaming acrobats and live band sure to make this feast one to remember.

Bubbalicious, The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, Dubai Marina, 04 399 4141, www.marriott.com

MOOD Rooftop Lounge

Perched atop The Meydan Hotel, this lavish rooftop dining spot is a go-to for local and international flavours and a laid-back atmosphere that lets guests unwind and socialise with their companions. Each dish is proudly made with top-quality ingredients and prepared with utmost care from the kitchen to the table. Crowd favourites include the charred king prawn, veggie sushi, and the truffle chicken & mushroom pizza.

MOOD Rooftop Lounge, The Meydan Hotel, Nad Al Sheba, 054 440 0227, www.moodrooftop.com


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Tips To Reduce Food Waste

6 (Simple) Tips to Reduce Food Waste

According to the experts at EroeGo.

Consider this: nearly 821 million people worldwide don’t have access to enough food, while a third of all the food produced around the world goes to waste. To say these statistics are unacceptable would be an understatement. But what exactly is food waste? It’s defined as produce ‘of good quality fit for consumption’, but ‘doesn’t get consumed because it is discarded’. Take peculiar-looking or misshapen fruit and vegetables. 

Between 20% and 40% of produce that has an unusual shape or size, or that’s marked or discoloured, is thrown away before it even leaves the farm because it doesn’t meet the market’s aesthetic standards – and that’s exactly where EroeGo steps in. The first start-up dedicated to fighting food waste in the UAE, EroeGo is impact-driven, providing meals to two people facing hunger for every box sold while allowing its customers to purchase fruits and vegetables discarded by producers at a discount. A win-win, essentially. Here, the experts at EroeGo share a handful of tips and tricks to reduce food waste at home.

Easy Ways to Reduce Your Food Waste

1. The Date Update

There are many different food waste solutions, and simply knowing the difference between the ‘sell by’, ‘best before’, and ‘use by’ dates is one of the easiest. These dates are used by companies to let us know when it’s likely that food will go bad, but they’re often still confusing for consumers. The ‘sell by’ date is used to inform retailers when they should take the item off their shelves. Meanwhile, the ‘best before’ is about quality, and the ‘use by’ is about safety. Make a point of buying items that are close to their ‘best before’ dates – they’re perfectly safe to eat, they’re usually cheaper to buy, and it’ll stop them from being discarded.

2. In a Jam

If you have some very ripe stone fruits lying around, they’re really easy to turn into a scrumptious homemade jam – and it’s not as daunting as it sounds. By simply adding sugar and a little bit of lemon juice, you’ve got the recipe for a winning preserve that’s perfect on pancakes, stuffed into French toast, or just enjoyed with a dollop of natural yoghurt. You can even use both the flesh and the skin here. The stone will have to be taken out, but to avoid creating food waste, it can always be added to the compost heap. For even less waste, reuse one of the glass jars that you already have in your cupboard for storage.

3. Drink Up

It doesn’t matter how overripe fruit looks – as long as they still taste good, they’ll work perfectly in a smoothie. And even if you don’t fancy one right now, you can still chop the fruit and freeze it in a ziplock bag until you’re ready for one. When you come to actually whipping up your delicious drink, it’s so simple to just throw the frozen fruit into the blender with some yoghurt and other fruits or vegetables. Not a smoothie fan? Opt for flavoured water. As fruit gets older, it usually gets an intense sweetness, so just chop up your orange, pineapple, or strawberries and add it to a jug of water for a more exciting way to stay hydrated. Bonus: if you leave it in the fridge overnight, it’ll infuse with an even stronger flavour.

Ways to Reduce Your Food Waste

4. One Man’s Treasure

Compost just refers to the natural decaying of organic matter. When you throw scraps on a big compost pile, it all naturally breaks down into a nutrient-rich fertiliser that’s great for your garden. There’s a huge range of stuff you can put on there – from banana skins, apple cores, and avocado pits to leftover bread, coffee grounds, and egg shells. You have to be careful with some items, though. You shouldn’t add anything oily or greasy, nor any animal products (think: milk, meat, butter, and cheese). Having a compost heap in your garden is a really great way to reduce food waste because any fruit or vegetable peels you may have, or any groceries that have gone bad, can be converted into something naturally beneficial.

5. A Family Affair

Get the kids on board, too – it can make the whole process a lot more fun. In fact, getting the whole family involved could end up being your greatest food waste solution yet. Because kids love getting creative in the kitchen, why not get them to help you cook up more tasty treats that’ll use up even more fruits and vegetables? From putting overripe berries in muffins to making crisps out of leftover vegetables and baking old apples into a crumble, there are plenty of recipes around that they will love. Not only is it a great way to help them get their five-a-day, but it’s also a good way to use food that might otherwise end up in the bin.

Preventing Wasted Food At Home

6. Taking Stock

Making homemade stock is one of the many small things we all can do to help prevent food waste, especially if you’re looking for a way to use up peels and scraps. Not only will you really be getting the most out of your groceries, but it’ll also help you out – stock always comes in useful for cooking. It’s easy to do, too. Just keep your vegetable trimmings aside during the week. As you’re cooking, wash those leftover bits, cut scraps into smaller and more manageable chunks, and put them into an airtight container or ziplock bag along with any peels you’ve saved. Once you’ve saved up one ziplock bag full, you’re ready to make stock. It will last for about one week in the fridge, or up to six months in the freezer.


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International Day of Friendship

6 Ways to Celebrate International Friendship Day

Celebrate Your BFF tomorrow!

Living as an expat in the UAE without your family close by (or even in the same time zone) can be lonely, and that’s why your friends become your family and closest confidants. We suggest that you take this opportunity – it’s International Friendship Day tomorrow – to salute your besties and high-five their awesomeness with a proper celebration. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

A Brunch of Friends

CMP Bar & Grill, The Pointe, Palm Jumeirah

Treat your bestie to the American-style The Over Easy Brunch at CMP Bar & Grill, which serves yummy breakfast dishes from traditional cheddar biscuits to short-rib Benedict coupled with bottomless Bloody Marys and mimosas every Saturday from 11am to 3pm. 

CMP Bar & Grill, The Pointe, Palm Jumeirah, 04 580 7983, www.cmprestaurants.com, from AED 95

Mission: Break Out

NoWayOut Escape Room, JLT and CityWalk

Escape room NoWayOut is sure to get your adrenaline pumping and have you and your friends on your toes. There are four escape rooms to choose from with themes such as fantasy, mystery, horror, and history – with just one hour to ‘escape’. Think you and your friends have the teamwork and creativity to do it?

NoWayOut Escape Room, JLT and CityWalk, 04 243 8208, www.nowayout.ae

Into the (Aquatic) Abyss

Deep Dive Dubai, Nad Al Sheba

Fight off the summer heat by taking your friends for a dive into an underwater abandoned city at Deep Dive Dubai. The world’s deepest swimming pool welcomes all – from absolute beginners to experienced divers – with various packages that focus on snorkelling, diving, and freediving. We recommend the Discover Scuba Diving experience for beginners, where you’ll be introduced to the essentials of scuba diving and diving equipment, practise in shallow water, and explore the underwater city!

Deep Dive Dubai, Nad Al Sheba 1, 04 501 9444, www.deepdivedubai.com, from AED 1,800 for the Discover Scuba Diving experience

Of Girls and Guns

Caracal Shooting Club, Al Maqtaa, Abu Dhabi

Enjoy the thrill of guns blazing – with the best standards of safety and security, of course – at the Caracal Shooting Club in Al Forsan International Sports Resort. Choose from more than 25 types of handguns and rifles in .22 and 9mm calibres. Plus, they also have an indoor archery range! Beginners need not fret as all new visitors are provided with a safety briefing.

Caracal Shooting Club, Al Maqtaa, Abu Dhabi, 02 441 6404, www.alforsan.com, from AED 160

Easy Does It

Anantara Eastern Mangroves Abu Dhabi Hotel

Delve into a world of healing and escape at the award-winning Anantara Spa in Abu Dhabi. Located far from the hustle-bustle of the city centre, near the serene mangroves, Anantara offers a chance to wind down in luxury with your besties. Cleanse your skin at the Turkish hammam which can seat up to eight people, enjoy a traditional Thai massage, and top it all off with their signature hydropeptide ultimate anti-wrinkle facial spa treatment for a day spent well. 

Anantara Eastern Mangroves Abu Dhabi Hotel, 056 188 7658, www.anantara.com, from AED 80

That ’50s Show

SAUCE, Noora Tower, Al Habtoor City

Whether you and your BFF are early birds or love a sleep-in, the retro-fabulous breakfast menu at SAUCE is the ultimate breakfast date! Expect to dine on hearty and wholesome dishes like Croiffle (a waffle made from homemade croissant dough and topped with honey and cream cheese) and a triple-layered pancake stack topped with strawberries, maple syrup, and whipped cream for sweet-toothed gals. So,wake up little Susie! This one’s worth leaving bed for.

SAUCE, Noora Tower, Al Habtoor City, 056 538 8388, @saucedubai


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Sustainable Restaurants in Dubai

7 Eateries Steered by Sustainability in Dubai

Eco-friendly practices, delicious food.

Did you know that today, July 28, marks World Nature Conservation Day? Held annually, this global event stresses the need for preserving a healthy environment and natural resources to maintain a healthy and stable society, especially for the sake of future generations. Incidentally, there are a handful of eateries across Dubai that are playing their part in this collective mission, putting the environment first through their carefully curated menus and a whole host of eco-friendly practices. Here they are at a glance.


Sustainability reigns supreme at DIFC-based BOCA, courtesy of Head Chef Matthijs Stinnissen. Passionate about sourcing local ingredients, this Mediterranean restaurant has hosted several zero-waste dinners and illustrated its commitment to sourcing locally through a guide dedicated to Emirati produce. As a result, you’ll see ingredients such as Emirati honey, local sea bass ceviche, and local beetroot stock make appearances on its seasonal menus.


Using offcuts for the likes of soups, sauces, and syrups, Cassette is dedicated to bringing food wastage down to a minimum. This trendy spot in Al Quoz also uses takeaway containers made of 80% Bagasse, an efficient byproduct of the bioenergy sector. Elsewhere, its cassava-made straws and cups are entirely biodegradable, breaking down into carbon dioxide and water within six months of being discarded. As for its wholesome breakfast dishes and healthy mains? Each is composed using fresh produce from local farms.


Omakase-style restaurant Moonrise was founded by one of Dubai’s youngest and most interesting chefs: Solemann Haddad, a third culture kid passionate about what he calls “Dubai cuisine”. Here, only eight diners are accommodated at a time, and only what will be utilised is purchased. Moonrise is rooted in a minimal-waste policy, resulting in dishes that speak volumes of Haddad’s creativity – wilted shiso leaves are blended into the refreshing welcome beverage, while the ends of sourdough loaf are vacuum-sealed and stored, eventually turned into a homemade miso.

Moonrise by Solemann Haddad


Pairing a relaxed vibe with a sustainable ethos, Lowe is anchored in reducing waste, local sourcing, and giving back to society. It’s no surprise, then, that it’s the first ever winner of the Sustainable Restaurant Award by MENA’s 50 Best Restaurants. Co-founders Jesse Black and Kate Cristou’s eatery initially kickstarted this ethos with Waste Not dinners made entirely of scraps and then adapted the rest of their practices, too (think: avoiding single-use plastic and using leftover peels in recipes for onsite fermentation).

One Life Kitchen

Reusable glass bottles instead of takeaway cups, locally sourced produce instead of high-carbon imports, interiors dominated by recycled timbers and used palettes – it’s all here at this homegrown gem in d3. One Life Kitchen is also big on reducing food waste; the staff plant avocado seeds, burn used coffee grounds to deter flies, and even use the strained water from yoghurt as a protein shake. As for anything that’s left at the end of the day? It’s all distributed to staff around the Dubai Design District neighbourhood.


Boasting three outposts across Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Sanderson’s not only sources from local suppliers where possible but has also curated a menu that’s streamlined to ensure waste reduction while providing taste and nourishment. Diners are offered free house-filtered water, while wastewater is cleaned and reused within the community to water plants. Elsewhere, used oil is recycled, and there are solar panels that feed into the national electricity grid.

Wild & The Moon

Created by a tribe of chefs, nutritionists, and naturopaths who believe that food should be good for you and good for the Planet, Wild & The Moon serves plant-based and hormone-free dishes composed of local, seasonal, ethically sourced and organic produce. It also uses 100% biodegradable packaging, while following a zero-waste policy and recycling as much as possible – the fibre-rich pulps from its juices and nutmylks, for example, are revitalised into nutrient-dense raw crackers.


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Anniversary Celebration places in Dubai

The Best Places to Celebrate Your Anniversary in Dubai

We’ve sifted through the best of the best.

Big relationship milestones like anniversaries are always worth a remarkable celebration. Due to the limitless dining options, planning your special day in Dubai can be a daunting task. To make it easier for you, we’ve gathered our top five dining spots sure to take the romance up a notch (or two). 

Akira Back

Sitting at the heart of Palm Jumeirah, Akira Back redefines Asian-fusion cuisine and takes it to a whole new level. Enjoy a romantic date night with your significant other with the city skyline as your backdrop. Our tip? You’ll never go wrong with the mouthwatering 48 Hour Short Ribs – it’s an Australian Wagyu short rib cooked for 48 hours in a marinade of the Korean traditional dish, Galbi Jjim. 

Akira Back, W Dubai – The Palm West Crescent, Palm Jumeirah, 04 245 5800, reservations via eat2eat

Il Borro Tuscan Bistro

This Italian jewel located within the turtle lagoon in Jumeirah Al Naseem delivers an authentic farm-to-table concept within a refined atmosphere. Il Borro Tuscan Bistro showcases a contemporary twist to Tuscan classics in its year-round and seasonal menus. It also boasts an in-house farm dubbed ‘Orto del Borro’ that supplies organic produce such as extra-virgin olive oil, honey, and a wide selection of garden-fresh vegetables.

Il Borro Tuscan Bistro, 906 Jumeirah St., Umm Suqeim 3, 04 275 2555, [email protected]

sushisamba, anniversary celebration place in Dubai

Source: @sushisamba


If you’re on the lookout for a wide culinary selection for your special day, you’re in luck. SUSHISAMBA is a one-stop destination for delightful Japanese, Brazilian, and Peruvian dishes. Situated at the 51st floor of Palm Tower, this award-winning restaurant provides 360-degree views of the Palm Jumeirah coastline, offering the perfect setting for your romantic day.

SUSHISAMBA, Level 51, The Palm Tower, St. Regis Hotel, Palm Jumeirah, 04 582 1555, [email protected] 


Relish in a delectable menu of Asian flavours at this restaurant located in One&Only Royal Mirage Hotel, which incidentally offers a scenic view of sunset in a sophisticated, coastal setting. Settle in and watch Eauzone transform as dusk sets in, with the romantic hues of the sky serving as the proverbial cherry on top of your memorable day. 

Eauzone, One&Only Royal Mirage, Al Sufouh Road, Jumeirah Road, 04 315 2412, [email protected]

Pai Thai

Spice up your anniversary celebration at this (still) beloved dining spot. Located at Jumeirah Al Qasr, Pai Thai instantly sets a great romantic tone with its mesmerising outdoor setting and tranquil ambiance. Take pleasure in aromatic Thai flavours while you delight in the astounding views alongside your beau. 

Pai Thai, Jumeirah Al Qasr, Madinat Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim 3, 04 432 3232, jumeirah.com


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Haiya Afroze

Meet The Foodie Behind Pass Me The Dim Sum

Haiya Afroze talks all things Ramadan.

If your mindless scrolls on Instagram are accented with enticing flatlays of culinary delicacies, you have one woman to thank: Haiya Afroze. Not only is she the founder of Haiyatea, a tea room and artisanal tea shop, but she’s also the creator of our favourite foodie account, Pass Me The Dim Sum. Haiya’s feed is focused on wholesome, educational recipes as well as offering a glimpse into her always eventful daily life. As a proud and practising Muslim, she talks to us about what Ramadan means to her and how tea fits into the holy month.


Why do Muslims break their fast with dates, and what’s
their importance during Ramadan? 


Dates are easily digested, making them a quick source of energy and nutrients. Eating dates after a long day of fasting can help the body’s blood glucose levels quickly return to normal. Our Prophet (PBUH) used to break his fast with dates, so it’s a tradition followed by all Muslims. Modern science also proves how beneficial they are on an empty stomach. 

Food Blogger Dubai


In what ways can non-Muslims help observe Ramadan
with their Muslim friends?


To be quite honest, Muslims try to retract from worldly activities and do more self-reflection and worship than usual in the month of Ramadan. My personal struggle with my non-Muslim friends is the peer pressure to hang out, go out, socialise – and that’s just not something I enjoy as much in Ramadan. These are golden days, and any worship done is rewarded many folds, so that’s how I want to spend most of my time in Ramadan. I would love if my friends understood that.


What is your go-to dish to cook during Ramadan, and why? 


My husband and I aren’t very traditional and, because we live alone and have no relatives here, we tend to keep our iftars (the meal at dusk to break the fast) quite light and simple. They often just comprise of the regular meals we would’ve had anyway. The one thing that’s different is that we’ll always have dates and Arabic coffee – flavours and scents I now associate with Ramadan – on our table. We’ll also have a fruit salad as it’s perfect after a long day of fasting. We avoid sugary drinks and opt for water, and sometimes we’ll have dahi phulikiyaan, a dish comprising of crispy rehydrated gram flour swirls submerged in whipped yoghurt. So refreshing!


How will you incorporate your love for tea into Ramadan this year?


My love for tea doesn’t stop during Ramadan! What’s amazing to me is that on a normal day, skipping my morning matcha will give me a migraine, but God just makes it easy during a fast. After we have iftar, I’ll fire up the humidifier with a refreshing scent of choice and spend the evenings reading Quran and refilling my pot of tea several times. 


Do you always go traditional for Ramadan or shake it up with other cuisines?


Ramadan really is about revisiting and embracing traditional foods, but as I am not a very traditional person and don’t always relate to the culture I’ve inherited, I always merge traditional with untraditional. For example, I was once commissioned to create an Arab-inspired dish using oats. Saudi oat soup is the most traditional dish that comes to mind when I think of oats, but I couldn’t do that – that’s too easy. So, I made a savoury granola using za’atar, cumin, and pomegranate molasses, serving it alongside Turkish tomato sauce, grilled eggplant, and whipped garlic yoghurt. 


What dessert do you always cook during Ramadan, and why? 


I love basbousah! It’s a semolina cake of sorts, which is drenched in sugar syrup. I bake it with orange juice for some zestiness, and line the pan with tahini for more decadence! 


Can you share your favourite Ramadan recipe with us?


I wanted to incorporate my treasure chest of oats into recipes that are popular this time of year, regardless of whether or not those recipes traditionally call for oats. I grew up in Saudi Arabia, where pull-apart cheesy bread is a common and standard teatime accompaniment all year round, but an especially popular item on the iftar table. Each little pillow of dough is stuffed with a cube of firm white cheese (mozzarella, halloumi, or Kiri) because there is no such thing as ‘too much cheese’ or ‘too many olives’ in the Middle Eastern vocabulary.


What is your most cherished Ramadan memory, and why? 


My most cherished memory, without a doubt, are the iftars I had alone with my late grandmother at her place. She was the ‘hostess with the mostess’ and always expressed her love through food, but during the many Ramadans I spent with her when there were no guests? Those are my favourite memories. She would make two perfectly portioned bowls of fruit salad and a few pakoras for us both – pakoras are gram flour fritters and they’re my ultimate Ramadan weakness, but I avoid making them as they’re deep-fried and I could eat a plateful. We’d then go straight to dinner. Those iftars encompassed the true essence of Ramadan for me: modesty, simplicity, family, love. And no gluttony! 


What’s a dish that you never thought you would try, but love?


Fermented green tea leaf salad. It’s a Burmese snack that’s sweet, savoury, spicy, and oh-so-moreish. 


What tips can you share to help others through the Ramadan season?


When you’re fasting, you want to eat a horse. Don’t do it. Don’t go overboard with iftar preparations – make just as much food as you would for a regular dinner because chances are you’ll want to eat even less than you usually do. When you make too much food, though, you tend to overeat just so you don’t have to deal with leftovers. And obviously, drink lots of water between dusk and dawn. During suhoor (the morning meal before the sun rises), avoid spicy or greasy foods that will make you thirsty and try to have some yoghurt. I always find that yoghurt makes me feel less thirsty throughout the day. 


Are there any other changes that you make in your life during Ramadan?


It’s not advised to change our religious inclinations during Ramadan and return to a lifestyle that is un-Islamic. However, we do try to better ourselves in whatever personal capacity we can and see ourselves lacking in, but with the intention of maintaining those ways – not just for a month.  As Muslims, we are encouraged to give charity throughout the year. In fact, one of the fundamental pillars of Islam dictates that we must donate 2.5% of the savings we have had for over a year to the less fortunate in order to keep income disparity at bay. However, charity peaks during Ramadan because we believe that all good deeds are rewarded many folds during this blessed month. The spirit of generosity during Ramadan is truly palpable in the air.

For more recipes or just plain FOMO as Haiya dines across Dubai, follow her here.


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