Jul 21, 2012

Hakkasan Iftar menu, worth every Dirham

Hakkasan has just launched there Ramadan menu for summer 2012.  At AED 188 for 3 courses of these special Cantonese delicacies, you really can't go wrong.  The first course consists of a choice of four different tasty bites pictured below.

The Chilean Seabass Shumai with a black bean sauce was delicate and savory.  Encased in rice paper and complimented by glass noodles, these morsels were easy to enjoy and a light and healthy way to break your fast.
Now these Wagyu Beef and Mushroom Wraps were the perfect little parcels with punchy asian flavors. The tender  pieces of beef cooked with the hearty mushrooms produced a well rounded flavor for a satisfying Iftari.
The vibrant colors of this chicken and lotus root dumpling really got my appetite going.  The texture of the outer dumpling shell was chewy and warm with a crunchy lotus root and tender chicken filling inside, I couldn't help, but to go back for seconds.
 These Crispy Taro Rice Rolls seasoned with Chinese five spice were my absolute favorite! The texture of the puffed crispy rice paired with the soft taro root was enough to send my taste buds into a frenzy.  Not the healthiest choice, but worth every bite.
Onto the mains, we begin with my favorite, the Charcoal Grilled Black Cod with Chinese Chives.  The delicate fish paired with a sweet sauce and crispy mushroom is making my mouth water as I'm typing.  It's one of those items that you will think about and crave, and will go back for.....
 Stir-Fry Kung Pao Corn-Fed Chicken with cashew nuts and cloud ear, the ever so popular Chinese chicken dish, done Hakkasan style was nothing short of elegant.  The added cloud ears offered a little more soft texture to the nutty crunch of this dish.  Not my particular favorite, but nicely executed.
One thing I've noticed from my my past visits to this swanky establishment is that they do beef very well.  My all time favorite dish on the regular Hakkasan menu are the Tea Smoked Wagyu short ribs.  This Braised Wagyu Beef with Szechuan pepper and a sesame peanut sauce was a close second.  Sesame in any cuisine is usually a huge incentive for me to order, but the pairing with beef and peanut sauce, takes it one step further to a full on flavor explosion!
 Even in the dessert department Hakkasan brought out the big guns.  We began with a Warm Apple Tart with Green Apple Sorbet then onto a Hakkamisu with Coffee Ice Cream. All I have to say is Hakkamisu some MORE PLEASE!!!!  The playful plating and creative interpretation of Hakkasan's Tiramisu was heavenly.  It had the right proportions of coffee, cream, and crunch!  The Warm Apple Tart on the other hand was sub par, but the Green Apple Sorbet really brought it all together.  It would be great as a palette cleanser, and should be served in between the mains and dessert course.  
My overall experience at Hakkasan this time around was as good as my first.  With two locations in the UAE, you have an option to dine at the Emirates Palace  in Abu Dhabi, or at Emirates Towers in Dubai, where I enjoyed this lovely feast.  The cuisine, decor, and ambiance all make the environment a great evening out.  A meal at Hakkasan doesn't need to be reserved for a special occasion, with a menu as good as this, put this destination on regular rotation for your next iftar indulgence this Ramadan!   

Jul 20, 2012

A Pakistani Food Tour

Pearl Continental in Bhurban hosted a BBQ night, the chicken reshmi kebabs were on the list of my favorite grilled items. A delicious mince of chicken seasoned with fenugreek leaves, chillies, garam masala, ginger, garlic, and coriander leaves cooked on an open flame of char-coal, it's an irresistible treat.
 Chef Qamar showing off his skills with the liver delicacy referred to as "Taka Tak",  which describes the sound made by the chef while frying up these organs and hitting the pan with two sharp slicers in a captivating rhythm.
 Freshly made Jalebee, funnel cakes deep fried to perfection then soaked in a sugary syrup.
Paya, a hearty soup like breakfast food made with lamb feet usually eaten in the winter months with naan. The soup base is created by sauteed onions, tomatoes, and garlic to which a number of curry-based spices are added. The cooked dish is served with a garnish of fresh diced ginger and fresh cilantro leaves along with fresh sliced lemon.
 A Crab Feast at an underground Chinese restaurant in Islamabad  DELICIOUS

 Til Mil Jhinga, Pakistani Dosa and Seafood Grill at Dum Pukht the signature Mughlai restaurant at the Marriot in Islamabad.
 Chilman Biryani, a traditional and flavorful rice dish topped with a pastry shell
Murg Shalimar a beautiful blend of cashews and herbs in a flavorful sauce and Daal Makhni a rich lentil stew cooked with assorted spices and finihsed with a touch of cream.

Chocolate Chilli Mango Treats at the Islamabad Marriot and a delicious Fresh Mango Treat at Pearl Continental Rawal Pindi
Delicious home cooked Pakistani meal of fried okra and Bhangan ka Buhrtha at Sam and Adil's house in Islamabad
 A chocolate chess board welcomed me at Pearl Continental Lahore
 Kheer in a traditional Terra Cotta bowl and enjoying Gulab Jammun at Cooco's Den in Lahore
Carpaccio made with locally sourced beef at Okra restaurant in Karachi.  Okra has raised the bar on dining out in Pakistan. It's a quaint, simple yet stylish setting, an intimate space, with sublime food.  This combination gives diners a unique experience in the city.
 Figs with Goats Cheese and Peppered Honey
Saffron Cream Mussels
Locally sourced Beef a Fillet with Mango Salsa and burger with Foie Gras
Tart and Tangy Sorbet  made out of Falsa fruit which is a species of Grewia native to Pakistan.  It is extensively cultivated for its sweet and sour acidic taste, which are sold in the market during summer months