Dining out: Vapiano @ Dubai Mall

Behind that hideous facade of fire engine red chairs resembling the uncomfortable snug fit of a baseball glove round a ball in the front of the shop, lies an oasis of soothing tones and gentle textures. Upon being led thru to the back of the restaurant, I was amused and slightly pleased at the gradual transformation. The words 'cheesy' giving way to 'sophistication'

And if I must say, the bar stools were incredibly comfortable. Providing just about the right leverage over the beautifully swirled wood grained countertops.


The concept of ordering on the card was soon explained to us by a rather reluctant looking waitress who vanished swiftly soon after. With a bit of a struggle, I reduced my choices down to the chicken alfredo since it had the likes of sauteed mushrooms complete with a creamy sauce. Although seated at the corner revealed a marathon of freshly made pizzas running through the oven at top speed during the lunch hour that surely tantilized my taste buds. Next time perhaps...


more photos of the interior of Vapiano.

I profess my love for the odd center pieces on the tables.


I also loved the pasta at Vapiano. The springy linguine proving to be perfect nesting ground for the well seasoned cream sauce and the grilled chicken imparting a subtle charred flavor that made you wish there was more.

Shopping in Dubai Mall and looking for a casual dining space with affordable Italian food, head down to Vapiano today!


Dubai Mall LG,
Shop number 92

burn baby burn


This is me playing around with my new ramekins. Purchased from where else but Daiso! (yes, they have made a name for themselves here in Dubai as well).

After all the reckless acts of arson, I just realise that the whole deal could have been sweetened with a touch of brown sugar instead of the regular caster sugar I had used. Silly me. But all's well that ends well, beautiful cups of vanilla Crème Brûlée for the 3 of us. It's a shame we didn't have any fresh vanilla beans at hand either.


The ramekins chilling in their ice baths awaiting the arrival of the torch.


Torched and Scorched. Lovely...

Crème Brûlée
recipe by Donna Hay

200ml milk
250ml heavy cream
half of a vanilla bean
4 egg yolks
50g sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 160 degree celsius.

2. Cook cream, milk and vanilla bean (shell scraped out together with seeds) in a small pot and bring to boil. Remove from fire, cover and leave to infuse for 20mins.

3. Combine egg yolks and sugar and blend well using a whisk until the mix becomes pale and thick.

4. Warm up the cream/milk mixture till warm(not hot) and slowly add it to the egg mixure. Blend well. Return the mix to the pot and stir over low heat for 5-10 minutes, until custard coats the back of your wooden spoon, then remove from heat.

5. Pour in prepared ramekin dishes aligned in a deep baking dish. Add enough hot water to cover half the sides of the ramekins and bake at 160 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

6. When it has done baking, remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature before chilling it in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.

7. Just before serving, add a thin layer of white or brown (offers a more caramelised taste) sugar and caramelise it with your blow torch.

on a seperate note, I'm coming back soon for a short trip! Anyone wanna meet up

i have nothing to say

Have you ever put together a collage of photos all ready for some sort of radical review when suddenly you are stumped by vague and somewhat blurry recollections of the food itself.

Let's do the extraordinary. Throw out the final verdict before the review...

My final verdict for this dinner would have to be that the food was mediocre and clearly laden with msg; trust me, I was stranded with a twitching eyelid for the rest of the night. But before I jump the ship, lets go through a clear narration of its offerings for the night.


Dumpling Queen, situated among the slew of un-appetising residential buldings in the China cluster within International City, didn't leave quite a good first impression with its sprawling surroundings exuding dodgey vibes, dust cyclones occasionally spinning and the smell of aged trash floating thru the air. Prejudices aside, I can't forsee anyone contented to live within such compounds, no offence to those who have already settled in.

So we are greeted by an amiable looking chinese hostess at the door, however, with a slight tilt of your head, you catch a glimpse of the chinese chefs (supposedly theirs) with cigarettes between their fingers, living it up in a cloud of smoke on the side alley. You make a silent prayer for clean fingers. You're unimpressed.


With the shrill voices of taiwan show hostesses ringing in your ears from the television overhead, you peruse the menu with dexterity, fingers leaping off the folded pages. After placing your order, you glance quickly through the oiled up window panes at the chefs cooking up a storm, flames ablazed, and sweat dripping down their brows as they toil.

The dishes arrive...


braised peanuts


Seafood dumpling


Stir fried Kang-Kong


Yang Chong Fried Rice (2 thumbs up!)

in the end, my verdict still stays the same. Question:Why do I feel extra thirsty?

Dumpling Queen Chinese Restaurant
Location: International City, China Cluster C15, Shop #11, Dubai
Phone: +971 4 367 4558
Fax: +971 4 367 4557

i was supposed to...

write a review for Dumpling Queen.

but i stumbled upon a bunch of old photos and decided that maybe I could share some of the nostalgic memories that invaded my mind whilst browsing through the collection.

Have you ever recieved a kiss that sent happy vibes like a fistful of loose tissue papers set loose in the sudden gust of wind. It feels like this...


and I miss it.

Have you ever had the urge to kiss someone? You close your eyes, hold your breathe and lean forward, with trepidation and anticipation, whispering a silent prayer in your heart that perhaps the other would love you back the same way. It feels like this...


and I miss it.

Have you attended your own birthday party only to find out that you weren't the life of the party but it was okay anyway since it was the only excuse for you to enjoy the company of those dearest to you? It feels like this...


and needless to say,

I miss it too.

she told me that she wants to be a raindrop


Rewind a few days back. I woke up to a scene of perfect serenity, something I would perhaps have take forgranted should I be living in the tropics of Singapore. What greeted my eyes was a patchwork of damp darkened areas spotting the otherwise depressing grey tarred roads, a mystifying weight hanging in the airs surrounding. A quick sniff, rain, yes. I drew in a deep breath, a reflection baring an uncanny smile looks back.

There's just something about the smell of rain that puts this inexplicable swell of joy in my heart. I guess this could be best explained by the thousands of memories evoked with this familiar smile. Should it have been linked to dread or even overwhelming peace at that point of time, it all boiled down to one thing, memories. The thing that drives me.

One quick drawl of the humid air and my mind drifted; the strenuous circuit trainings around macritchie reservoir; doing the Indian dribble during hockey practise whilst the sprinklers cast a spray of odd smelling water in the wake of its rainbow path; my walk with God in the rain; feeling all fidgety and restless in the afternoons as the humidity evolves into a suppressive blanket that proceeds to suffocate its victims; navigating the streets of Ho Chi Minh, soaked to the bone from the torrential rains; playing make-believe heroes and villains while endearing thru a 3hr trek to a obscure waterfall in Tasmania. I closed my eyes, and allow the kaleidoscope of memories to envelop me in its blissful resonance.

My dear readers, what are your memories of the rain?


And if there's anything more perfect in accompaniment to the memory frolicking time, it would have to be a slice of fig cake and a cup of hot milk tea. Join me would you?

Fig cake for a rainy day
adapted from Jill O'Conner's 'Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey'

makes a 8 inch cake

For the dried fig jam:
5 ounces dried figs
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups water

For the Cake:
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup boiling water
3/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Make the Jam:
Coarsely chop the figs and combine with the sugar and water in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to achieve a gentle simmer and cook the figs, covered until tender, about 1 hr. Let cool slightly, then puree the mixture in a food processor until smooth.

Position the rack in the middle and preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Lightly grease an 8 inch baking tin, line the pan.

Make the cake:
Sift the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt into a small bowl. Set aside. In a large bowl, using a electric mixer set at medium speed beat together the oil, butter and sugar until creamy and combined. Beat in the egg. Beat in the vanilla. Using a spatula, fold in the flour mixture just until combined. Stir in the boiling water, 1 cup of fig jam and walnuts. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan and bake until wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, around 30-35 mins.

Transfer to a wire rack and let cool. Sprinkle with confectioners sugar. Cut into slices and enjoy it whilst watching the raindrops.


TWD: Quick classic Berry tartlets


To say that these tartlets where 'quick' is an understatement. These were practically speeding little demons. Disappearing behind lusty lips as quickly as they took to put together.

Thank you Christine of Cooking with Christine for picking this weeks' recipe!


and since I totally love this rendition of Dorie's pastry cream, I'm going to share the recipe with you guys and hopefully, you'll make a second batch to fill up these lonely tart shells of mine!

Pastry Cream
adapted from Dorie Greenspan's 'Baking, from my home to yours.

makes about 2 cups.

Storing: The pastry cream can be kept tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

2 cups whole milk
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 TBSP unsalted butter, cut into bits at room temperature

Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan.

Meanwhile, in a medium heavy bottomed saucepan, whisk the yolks together with the sugar and cornstarch until thick and well blended. Still whisking, drizzle in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk- this will temper, or warm, the yolks so they won't curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remainder of the milk. Put the pan over medium heat and, whisking vigorously, constantly and thoroughly (making sure to get into the edges of the pot), bring the mixture to a boil. Keep at a boil, still whisking, for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat.

Whisk in the vanilla extract. Let sit for 5 minutes, then whisk in the bits of butter, stirring until they are fully incorporated and the pastry cream is smooth and silky. Scrape the cream into a bowl. You can press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the cream to create an airtight seal and refrigerate the pastry cream until cold, or, if you want to cool it quickly - as I always do- put the bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water, and stir the pastry cream occasionally until it is thoroughly chilled, about 20 minutes.


for the lingering souls

A lil' post for the lingering souls out there all over the world, who are missing out on the Singapore food action.

No words... just food.







Chicken soup rice for the soul. A little bit of reminiscing.


The maplejacks (from Ireland) in action. Pretty awesome stuff.


P.S. The Tiger Chilli Crab Festival was organised and held at Souk Madinat Jumeirah.

P.P.S The dim sum was pretty bad. In all honesty...

so simple


a production coming from one of favourite youtube artiste. love it.

sitting by the ocean just before the dusk.
Sippin' on a juice box with sand between our toes.

TWD: Burnt Sugar Ice Cream


Chewy and yet slightly crisp around the edges, I would expect these to be perfect hiking/picnic/stroll in the park/ television snacking/dessert/ eat in your sleep kind of cookie. And yes... they were.

Called ANZAC biscuits for reasons reinforced with historical roots, (which actually stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps); these oatmeal cookies were claimed to be sent by wives to soldiers abroad during WWI to relieve the boredom of their battle rations. Since the ingredients do not spoil easily, these biscuits kept amazingly well during naval transportation. A gift of love from endearing wives to their husbands.

Well, I decided to raise the bar with this one and look what I got! Ice cream sandwiches!!! ANZAC biscuits paired with the loveliest most divine (I kid you not.) burnt sugar ice cream. Almost like caramel ice cream with a bit more spunk. Now, if only I could find a way to send this to my soldier boy...


Thank you Becky of Project Domestication for choosing this recipe.

Burnt Sugar Ice Cream
adapted from Dorie Greenspan

1/2 cup (100g) sugar
2 tablespoon water
2 cups(500ml) whole milk
1 cup (125ml) heavy cream
5 egg yolks
pinch of salt

Stir the sugar and water in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and cook until it becomes a caramel of deep amber color. Lower the heat and add the milk. It will bubble like mad but continue stirring until the mixture is smooth, remove from the heat. Add the cream and stir until combined.

In a large bowl, whip the egg yolks and salt until pale and thick. Slowly pour the hot milk mixture over it and whisk to temper the yolks. Put the mixture back into the saucepan and cook until it coats the back of a spoon.

Let cool completely and refrigerate until very cold (preferably overnight. Process the ice according your ice cream maker manufacturer's instructions. Freeze for 2 hours or more or until firm to scoop.

Anzac Cookies
adapted from Donna Hay's 'Modern Classics Book 2"

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup plain (all purpose) flour
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup dessicated coconut (i omitted this)
2 Tbs. golden syrup (i replaced this with corn syrup)
125g butter
1/2 tsp. bicarb soda
1 Tbs. hot water

1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius and line two baking trays with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl place the oats, flour, sugar and coconut and mix with a wooden spoon to combine the ingredients.

3. Place the butter and golden syrup together in a saucepan over low heat, and let them melt together.

4. In a small bowl stir the hot water and bicarbonate soda together.

5. Pour the water and bicarb soda mixture into the butter mixture.

6. Pour the butter mixture over the dry ingredients.

7. Mix well using a wooden spoon.

8. Using a tablespoon to measure out the amount place 1 Tbs of the mixture in your palms and then roll together into a ball. Place on the baking trays with enough room for expansion (these do flatten out quite a lot).

9. Bake for between 10 minutes until they are golden brown.

10. Allow to cool for 5 min and then remove the biscuits and place on a wire rack to cool down completely.

You're not alone


Life can show no mercy
It can tear your soul apart
It can make you feel like you've gone crazy but you're not
Things have seemed to change
There's one thing that's still the same
In my heart you have remained
And we can fly fly fly away

'Cause you are not alone
And I am there with you
And we'll get lost together
Until the light comes pouring through
It's when you feel like you're done
And the darkness has won
Babe, you're not lost
And the world's crashing down
And you can not bear the cross

I said, baby, you're not lost

you question my intentions

Now who can deny a spread of food in the colors of a rainbow? Sure caught your attention didn't I?


my intentions? Purely to make you (and you)salivate. No questions ask. It's revenge time for the many occasions I was caught staring at the screen of beckoning cuisines whilst chomping down on a humble (but nonetheless yummy) bowl of left-over fried rice and preserved olive vegetables on the side.


If you're still wondering the whereabouts of this yummy spread, let me enlighten you. It's the Saffron buffet at the Atlantis, Palm Jumeirah. An obvious crowd pleaser, the premises were packed to the brim on a Thursday night, bustling with conversations bouncing off the tables, the conservative whispers of large groups building to a crescendo of sing-along when the birthday boy gets picked out by the service staff.


As much as I feel buffets are over-rated, blaming it on my poor digestive organisation tactics; the buffet at Saffron really wasn't half as bad as I assumed it to be. Looking the part of a buffet lovers dream, the counter tops were spotless, overhead lights highlighting only the essence of the food showcased in its radius of illumination.

To start off, why not scuttle off the fresh seafood counter for fresh lobsters, prawns and mussels?

Stay away from the grilled fishes though. Reeked of a musky fishy taste in my opinion.


Another word of caution/good news to you bread fanatics out there. The bread counter looks spectacular and taste that way too. A visit to this booth can prove fatal if you don't pull the reigns of self-control tighter.

The cold starter station is another delight, with fresh combinations of produce plated up in the most artful way. Tickling the visionary sensors, most of the dishes served there actually taste good despite the rather random pairings. Try the chef's special (featured below) and the Thai mango salad.



Perhaps the more satisfying of cuisines available is the Chinese counter. The dim sum proving to be better than certain independent establishments. Take a stab at the tempura counter as well, I adore the wasabi mayonnaise sauce. *Beams*


If you must have your prata, ask for fresh ones. Extra crispy? With an egg enveloped? You could probably get anything you want if you dare ask.


Then let's take a detour to the cheese counter. My breath turned to a series of shallow gasps when I shifted my glance to the golden spread. Brie and the smelliest blue cheese, I had my fill accompanied with a myriad of nuts, pistachios and walnuts along with a handful of savoury crackers. Now, I had just died and gone to heaven with this one.



Finally, as the highlight of a buffet often is for me, I controlled my silly urge to start and finish with desserts; not wanting to look like a glutton. Pacing myself "slowly", to allow my contented dinner partners to reach a stage of fulfilment paving the way towards a sweet ending; so that a trip back from the dessert counter to the communal table wouldn't look like an act of a blanket wetter.

So pardon me as I proceed with my bombardment of dessert photos.

After all, if their looks sell, we'll be more forgiving of the less than satisfying quality yes?


Tiramisu. devoid of spirits.(literally)



The others were just unbearably sweet. The best bet would be sticking to the ice creams, especially the lemon sorbet and vanilla ice cream combined with a fresh crepe filled with chocolate. *tingling spine*



Another winner, the chocolate mousse, as unassuming as it was, the dessert all dressed up in a martini glass had a velvety texture with a beautiful symphony of bittersweet chocolate after taste. The best of the lot.


And which buffet is complete without a chocolate fountain? Spewing off warm, alluring and deviliciously seductive, take your pick from the speared condiments and go ahead, stick it in there and indulge yourselves. You only live once.


Atlantis, Palm Jumeirah. Dubai
tel: 04 426 2626

Seafood night: DHS 195 per person
6.30pm - 11pm