Here’s the second installment of our trip, enjoy… =)
We woke up quite late on our third day, hopped on a train and headed towards Deira.
First stop, Ashwaq Cafeteria for lunch. We visited this little place on our last trip too, and it was just as delicious this time around!
We both ordered a chicken shawarma: a pitta pocket filled with smokey, spit fire cooked chicken, a touch of freshness with the addition of lettuce, cool garlic sauce, and a little carb on carb action with some fries up in there. Perfection.
I may or may not have ordered a second one… Cos uh, I skipped breakfast and all. Mr Man, on the other hand, decided to switch it up a tad and ordered a toasted chicken and tomato sandwich. It was pretty disappointing to be honest… Not too much to report back apart from a surprise few chunks of meat hiding in there.
For drinks, we scoured the extensive smoothie menus and in the end settled upon the same drinks we chose on our last visit.
We are, if nothing else, creatures of habit.
Guava for me, mild but exotic. And Mr Man had his favourite, three tier smoothie – creamy avocado, sweet mango and slightly tangy strawberries… We settled the bill and headed on to the shops. First, the gold souk, countless shops selling extravagant, delicate jewellery.
These will definitely lead to a neck ache / hunch back…
You know, in case you ever need a gold bikini… Beside it is the largest ring (Guinness world record.)
If you’re planning to buy something, be sure to check the rate of gold per gram which can be found, on notice boards:
You can expect to pay per gram plus an added premium for the labour /design cost, the latter of which is haggle-able. They won’t typically break it down for you into the two elements so I recommend asking to borrow a calculator and working it out yourself. Also, just be nice. You’ll be surprised how far your Ps and Qs will get you. I bought a pair of earrings for my mum and brought down the labour cost down significantly. I kinda figured I’d got myself a good deal when the customer service assistant was really reluctant and had to ask for permission from two senior members of staff before agreeing to my offer.
And, if you’re not happy with the price, walk, there are plenty of other options.
When you walk through Deira it’s near impossible not to be approached by random guys offering you “fake watches” and “copy bags.” *puts on Indian accent* “Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton…”As we continued walking, Mr Man was offered clothes by one such man who began chirpsing him, telling him he had a “nice body” and good posture. Mr Man is clearly a sucker for a compliment because we ended up following him to his shop and purchasing a dress and some perfume for his mum.
We headed further in and made our way to the spice souk and hit up the shop that we visited last time, Ghuloom Hussain Ali Trading.
The salesman remembered us (we clearly made a lasting impression) and welcomed us in. He cocked his head to the side and disappointingly questioned, “still no children…?!”
We looked over to each other and burst out laughing, “no, no kids yet.”
It was nice not to have to haggle for spices. He gave us reasonable prices without having to negotiate. I didn’t take individual pics of everything we bought but – more fresh vanilla, a bit of saffron, oregano, whole dried chilli, smoked lemon powder and Iranian honey for Mr Man’s mum.
Love the colours, smells and sight of the piles and piles of herbs and spices.
It excites infinitely to discover new spices and flavours, to just be able to explore the various shops, picking things up, sniffing and tasting but unfortunately, we were running low on time. We headed back to base to drop off our rather heavy bags before our friend picked us up.
As we drove down Jumeirah beach road, I asked where he was planning on taking us for dinner. I could not have been more happy with his reply, Slider Station! I had actually planned to check it out the following day with Mr Man, but as far as I was concerned, the sooner the better! We parked up at the Galleria Mall and headed in.
The first thing I noticed was that it was full of locals, there weren’t any tourists to be seen! Forget Dubai Mall, this was clearly the place to be. We made a beeline towards the restaurant and were informed that there were no tables available. Our friend asked if we could sit at the bar, which turns out was the preferable seating area so that we could experience the conveyor whizzing around with our burgers. The downside being that we were sitting almost in a row, so a three way convo was a little tricky!
The place had a really cool vibe, staff were very friendly and efficient. Really fun concept, place your order, get assigned a number, and wait for your mini burgers to come hurtling towards you on the conveyor belt, identifiable by the pyramid number proceeding them…
A few moments of torture as other people’s burgers came first…
But before long, ours were delivered.
Truffle shoestring fries. The best. Cooked perfectly, loads of garlic and hint of truffle. Please can some one take me back? I need more of these in my life.
This plate was a little too large for the conveyor belt and was brought over by our waiter – twice fried Korean chicken. Thinly sliced, crispy bread crumbed chicken. Soaked in a hot gochujang and sweet honey sauce. Yum. Although, ever so slightly oily. Countered by the greenery on top.
Between us, we ordered 6 sliders…
- Dangerous (x3) – perfectly succulent, buttermilk soaked, crisp fried chicken, mild Monterey jack cheese, curly lettuce and a delicious herby tangy chimichurri mayo. Oh, and jalapenos, but me being me, I pulled these out.
- Wagyu cheese steak (x2) – delicious wagyu ribeye beef ripped in mini pockets of fat, ensuring perfectly tender, juicy meat, packed with peppery Monterey jack cheese, grilled mushrooms and grilled onions. Definitely the favourite of the bunch.
- Midnight (x1) – simple but delicious. Cheddar, shredded lettuce, pickles, mustard onions and finally and something they refer to as west coast sauce.
Despite the different bread rolls, they all worked really well. Soft, fluffy and a good bed for all the ingredients. None of them fell apart…
For dessert, we passed up the various alluring desserts on display and let our chum order…
A few minutes later these showed up. I mean you can just tell they’re going to be perfectly fluffy, moist chocolatey pancakes… And the addition of vanilla icecream. Match made in heaven.
Oh, and did I mention there’s Oreos hiding inside…?
But obviously they don’t do things by halves around here. The waiter proceeded to pour delectable, rich, chocolatey sauce all over them…
Come to mama…
Clearly one can never have enough chocolate…
After the delicious dinner, we had to unfortunately part ways, but where we lost one friend, we met another for a catch up over a round of shisha and drinks at Shooters Cafe.
I was in a bit of a food coma so I pretty much forgot to take pics here but it was a nice chilled atmosphere. TVs were plugged into Xboxes, pool tables galore etc. Neither of which are my kinda thing but the boys played a couple of rounds of FIFA before we called it a night.
The next day, again, we woke up pretty late, but decided to go ahead with our plans anyway, and headed towards Ibn Battuta bus station, where we hopped on a coach to Abu Dhabi.
The coaches run quite frequently, costing 25 dirhams on the NOL cards. It’s roughly an hour and a half away, depending on traffic.
We arrived a little after midday, and our friend was waiting to pick us up. First stop, the mall right by the station, Al Wahda Mall, for a spot of lunch.
We headed towards the food court where Mr Man trotted off, in search for yet another burger. I’m telling you, he can not get enough. I hit up an Italian place called Il Forno and placed an order for some cheesy arancini and a cajun chicken pasta.
Not sure which was more disappointing to be honest. The arancini was huge which automatically led to alarm bells ringing in my mind. Rice was like a basmati, the grains were way too long, it was over cooked, lacked flavour, and came with a sorry excuse of a marinara sauce, presented in an excessively large bowl…
The pasta, on the menu, was described as: “fettucini pasta with cajun marinated strips of chicken, sundried tomatoes, green onion and green pepper, cooked in a fresh, creamy sauce with parmesan cheese…”
What actually arrived was overcooked, slightly soggy pasta, in a decent, albeit, lacklustre creamy sauce, with a few chunks of hidden processed chicken, not many vegetables to be found, served up with a bit of chewy (not crispy) “garlic” (plain) bread.
You’d think with the sheer amount of staff in the place, they’d be able to make a decent pasta between them. But then again, too many chefs spoil the broth and all too…
Mr Man, on the other hand, went to Max Burgers and opted for a mushroom swiss burger. Never fond of chips, he opted for cheesy jalapeno cheesy bites to accompany his sandwich. He described it as nothing special but was pretty pleased with those gooey, spicy nuggets that came alongside…
Overall, a bit of a disappointing lunch.
After paying Starbucks a little visit we headed back onto the tourist trail, with our chum kindly chauffeuring us to the Emirates Palace Hotel.
We headed inside for a little wonder, see how the other half live and all…
At this point, my camera decided to call it a day, (my fault for neglecting to charge it), so I had to revert back to my iPhone…
He managed to arrange for a little tour for us. Did you know the top floor is off limits, reserved especially for GCC members, who go for years without popping by…?
And into a suite…
So spacious, you could literally cartwheel across the room!
Our chum, speaking to the tour guide, explained he didn’t like the suite set up, I quote: “the room is too big, when you wake up in the middle of the night and need to go to the bathroom, it’s so far, and you don’t feel like getting up.”
Me and Mr Man exchanged identical looks, *telepathically expressing the question,* “IS THIS REAL LIFE?”
To add to the hilarity of the situation, she nodded in agreement with him.
I was basically doubled over laughing, wow. (In fact, I’m still laughing as I write this.) I think this is only something true Arab nationals can relate to.
Once we were done, we sat in the lobby, waiting for the valet to bring the car, because obv, one can’t be out for a couple of mins, waiting in the heat, that wouldn’t be proper.
Next stop, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. It opened in ’07 and is made from white marble and it’s absolutely breathtaking. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves…
Also, just an FYI, it’s recommended to wear modest clothing and to be respectful. They do search bags before you enter and will provide you with an abaya (long cloak) and headscarf.
We arrived just as the sun was setting… In time to hear the adhan for maghrib (call to prayer for the fourth prayer of the day). Magical.
Reminds me of something out of Aladin / the Taj Mahal which I’ve visited as a teenager (however this is far newer and better maintained.)
This is the main hall, with the 99 names of Allah (God) displayed in Arabic…
Really wish my real camera hadn’t died because my iPhone really doesn’t do justice to the intricate patterns and decor.
Even the doors have a touch of that white marble.
Pretty stain glass windows:
And in all it’s glory in the darkness.
We headed back to Dubai and popped back to the flat for a pit stop, to freshen up and charge my camera!
As always, great ambience, although, I apologise in advance. The lighting was so dim and yellow, I couldn’t really take any decent pics even with my camera all juiced up.
We were quickly seated in a comfy circular booth and our waiter was friendly, upbeat and really seemed to know the individual items on the menu quite extensively. It can be rare to find that, so it was refreshing to be able to quiz him and get honest opinions.
We were given complimentary bread which is always a nice touch but quite a challenging for me not to fill up on delicious fresh bread and butter. The white was crusty and still warm, the brown rye bread was slightly sweet though balanced out well with the salted butter.
For drinks, I opted for a passion fruit mojito, which was a lot sweeter than I anticipated but still quite enjoyable. The passion fruit notes were subdued which was a little disappointing.
Mr Man’s pina colada was perfection. I was a little jealous of his drink and may or may not have helped myself to multiple cheeky sips. Personally, I prefer them with a subtle hint of pineapple with the coconut flavour dominating and it was just that, and extra creamy.
First up, a starter of fried mac and cheese balls. Slightly al dente pasta, smothered in a gooey, smooth, rich cheese sauce, packaged up in a little ball and covered in breadcrumbs before being deep fried and served over a creamy marinara sauce with a sprinkling of parmesan, so dreamy.
Just look how that sauce slowly oozes out. OMG, salivating.
Mr Man, ever the fan of meat between two pieces of bread, went for a Cuban sandwich. A combination of low and slow roasted, tender, fall apart beef, meaty turkey ham, creamy swiss cheese, tangy gherkins and a kiss of mustard to bring the whole thing together. It also came with a round of fries, which he promptly informed me that he would not be eating.
Knowing that I would eat too much bread, I chose the chicken lettuce wrap tacos, which were very flavoursome but also pretty messy. I loved the combination of flavours and seasonings – the corn salsa, the creamy avocado, all of it – MINUS the coriander which I forgot to ask them to skimp on. Gave the whole thing a soap like taste which isn’t what you’re looking for in dinner…
Our mains left us feeling very full, but one simply can not come to the cheesecake factory, and not order cheesecake so we obligingly placed an order for the 30th anniversary chocolate cake cheesecake and this masterpiece made its way to our table…
However, it isn’t everything I’d hoped and dreamed for. The slightly tangy, creamy cheesecake just didn’t compliment the rich chocolatey cake. I mean each element was nice individually, just didn’t work together. It’s such a shame, because I so desperately wanted to love it!
And with that we rolled out (not being street – rather because we were feeling fat) headed back to the marina…