Category: English

Mediterranean Cuisine at Todd English Olives

William Todd English is an American celebrity chef that best known for his TV cooking show, Food Trip with Todd English, on PBS. Last Thursday I got a chance to review his Todd English’s Olives restaurant in Venetian Village, Ritz Carlton Canal, Abu Dhabi. The restaurant’s name is a tribute to his then-wife, Olivia.

The restaurant’s concept is Mediterranean cuisine with a strong influence from Italian cuisine. A staff named Bojana warmly welcomed us, and we really enjoyed her company. She was knowledgeable about the dishes served to us and passionately explained every details of the menu. From the beginning i knew she loved her job.

Location
Located in the Venetian Village of Ritz Carlton, the restaurant was easily accessible yet offered a nice retreat from the buzzing life of Abu Dhabi. There were valet service also an ample parking spaces available near the venue so we could quickly park our car. Sheik Zayed Mosque was visible from the access road to the Venetian Village, while Qaryat al Beri can be seen from across the strait.

Ambiance
Inside the restaurant, customers sat around several tables and, although we can hear the chitter-chatter, the noise level is low so we could have comfortable conversation. In fact, I suspected that our table was the loudest one that night, thanks to our energetic #babydei. The restaurant had both outside and inside tables and I guess it would be nice to sit outside when the weather permits.

Food and Drink
We had Beef Carpaccio, Sweet Potato Brava’s, Seared Duck Foie Gras Steak and Beetroot Carpaccio as the starters. All were my favorite but the most interesting menu was Beef Carpacio. It had different style from the carpaccio that I usually ate before. It consisted of 3 layers of filling: gorgonzola rosti (potato) cake, mix greens, and beef, and springkled with balsamic dressing. The ingredients perfectly blended and gave a unique mouth watering experience. Sweet potato brava, covered with honey, had a really sweet taste, the jalapeno paste yielded a dash of spiciness while the feta cheese added a savoury flavour. As for their Foie Gras, a popular and well-known delicacy in French Cuisine, I can only say it was outstanding especially because it’s served with blinis. The liver tasted rich, buttery, and delicate. It was more than delicious, and my mouth was watering as I described it here🙊

For the pasta, I chose Baked Ricotta Ravioli, Portobello Pizza, Scallops Vol-Au-Vent and Prime Beef Tenderloin for the entrees. The ravioly was good, while the tasty portobello pizza specially baked from housemade dough was a perfect choice if you were a vegan. The portobello mushroom tasted tender and meaty, I love it. But my favorite entree was the Scallop Vol-Au-Vent, the dish had a number of layers: the scallop, puff pastry cup, cauliflower puree, spinach with lemon butter sauce. Besides its taste, the most important factor to value seafood dishes is their texture, and the scallop was cooked with perfect timing so the texture was chewy but not too cheewy.

After the entree, eventhough my stomach was almost full, i didn’t loose my appetite for dessert. Chef Jaime Mendoza proudly presented his housemade desserts consisted of Red Velvet Cake, Creme Brulee, Tiramisu and Panna Cotta. The tasting platter was too pretty to eat. But I ate it anyway!

This restaurant also served espresso so my husband requested for a double espresso. He said that the coffee was rich and bitter, with a hint of sourness of arabica. As for myself, I chose a glass of the chamomile tea, because I wasn’t really a coffee fan.

3 Tips on Keeping Fit and Beautiful during the Month of Ramadhan

During the month of Ramadhan we need a way to regularized our intake of liquid. This needs become more important as this year Ramadhan comes in the summer, when outside temperature can soar to 50 degrees Celcius. Even more so, we want to look fresh and beautiful when we gather with our friends and family at Eid al Fitr day.

In this article, I want to share some tips to keep us fit and beautiful while still fasting in this holy month.

  1. Drink a lot of water. With enough liquid, our skin will look supple and fresh.
  2. Take more fruits and vegetables. Nutricians and beauticians agree that fruits and vegetables are crucial for the health of our body and skin. The fibre and vitamins of fruits and vegetables can make our skin looks shiny and fresh.
  3. Treat your body from head to toe with hair and skin care products with natural ingredients. For my skin I use Palmer’s Cocoa Butter that I covered in my previous post. I also use Palmer’s Lipbalm to moisten my lips and to protect them from the summer heat. And this summer I also use two additional products:
  • Palmer’s Deep Conditioning Protein Pack, that contains coconut oil, keratin protein for strengthen and repairs hair, silk protein for restores high-glass shine and coconut milk for detangles and combats frizz. This conditioner is easy to use: After shampooing with Palmers coconut oil formula shampoo, distribute through hair, coating strands evenly and focusing on ends. Leave on 10-20 minutes before rinsing. It can be using as an overnight treatment, cover hair with a plastic cap and rinse out in the morning.
  • Palmer’s Foot Magic, that contains pure cocoa butter, enriched with vitamin E and other natural emollients, provides a deep penetrating treatment for the feet. The unique formulation moisturizes, softens and smoothes even the roughest and driest skin. Also the soothing peppermint oil revitalizes sore, tired feet. To use it, simply apply a thin layer of this cream onto rough, dry, calloused feet daily to achieve and maintain soft, supple skin. I suggest you to use it at night before we go to bed, and cover your feet with socks to make it more effective.

That’s some of my tips to combat summer during Ramadhan so we can keep our beauty on Eid al Fitr.

4 things You’ll Encounter in the month of Ramadhan Abroad.

This year’s Ramadhan is the first time I fast in Abu Dhabi, for two years before I was expecting #babydei while last year I breast fed her exclusively. While going through this fasting month, I find 4 things that are different from fasting in my home-country.

First, This year’s Ramadhan falls in the month of June which means it’s summer here. We fast for 14 hours long, 2 hours longer than Surabaya-Indonesia. The difference is not too significant, but combined with 45 degrees Celcius of outside temperature, it’s quite exhausting for me.

Second, if we want our suhoor, takjil, and iftaar in the tradition Indonesian way, we have to prepare for all those dishes all by myself (que dramatic backsound). The tastier we want them, the more effort we have to take, because there is no “Pasar Kaget” here.

What is “Pasar Kaget”?

“Pasar Kaget” is an in situ food bazaar where people sell various kind of meals. From grilled chicked to intestine satay (trust me, it’s heavenly delicious), from chilled coconut water to fruit coktail in grated ice, along with urap-urap, buntil, pentol, jajan pasar, and many other traditional dishes that I can’t easily name, let alone describe, in English, you can find them there. This food bazaars are usually held along the side of roads and so those roads, that are usually quiet, suddenly become crowded with people who sell and buy those food merchandies as they are “ngabuburit”, a term that represents the general activities that people do to kill time as they wait for iftar.

Craving for this bazaar here, you can imagine how I feel when I see my friends and family upload photos about meals in their facebook timeline.

Third, there is a shift in activity hours here. During Ramadhan, many malls open their doors until 3 AM, as many of their foodcourts and restaurants serve both iftaar and suhoor. Accordingly, other shops and departments stores are open until early morning too to catch potential customers. My hubby and I usually go for groceries at 10 PM after Isha and Tarawih.

How about working hours the next day?

During Ramadhan we have less office time! My Hubby who usually works from 06:30 AM to 02:30 PM now has to work only from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM. So, Alhamdulillah, he has more time to help me caring for our baby 😆.

Fourth, towards the end of Ramadhan, people in Indonesia are usually busy with sharing knick knacks snacks of Eid Al-Fitr. Ketupat, opor, sambel goreng kentang-ati, specialty cookies, and clothes are changing hands. For us who faraway from our hometown, things become a bit less and quieter. Our solution for this togetherness is to have halal-bihalal sessions with our compatriots. Last year, for instance, we had it in our friend’s home with potluck system for the dishes, where we tried our best in making those traditional meals and cookies and then brought them to the venue to be shared.

and here is the Indonesian traditional snacks!

All in all, even when we are far from our root society, we can still have the taste of togetherness during Eid Al-Fitr. Last but not least, I wish you all Ramadhan Kareem for this Ramadhan 1438H, may Allah (SWT) accept our good deeds and devotions

Mercadito Night Brunch at Amerigos Mexican Bar and Restaurant in Park Inn by Radisson Blu

I’d say I was lucky to be able to live in UAE, a country where 80% of its population are expatriates from multitude of other countries. This allows me to easily have a taste on many kind of culinary. Cafes with specific dishes of India, Turki, Pakistan, Korea, Polynesia, or any other region can be found just around the corner, and one of them has Mexican flavors!

Last week I got an invitation to taste Mexican foods at Amerigos Mexican Bar and Restaurant in Park Inn by Radisson Blu, a hotel located in Yas Island. To be honest, I didn’t know much about Mexican foods other than taco, quesadilla, and tortilla chips and I knew them only from Mexican telenovelas such as Maria Mercedes, Rosalinda, or Marimar which were popular in Indonesia during the 90s 😂.

The first appetizer served was tortilla chips with salsa and guacamole sauces. The combination of tomato and lime juice in the salsa felt so fresh and rich with spices, while the creamy guacamole was made of avocado, onion, tomato, coriander leaves, and lime juice. The perfect combination of fresh ingredients made both sauces tasted delicious. After the tortilla, came another set of appetizers which were a bowl of Creamy Soup of Corn and Mushroom, Traditional Quesadilla, Chicken Taquitos Dorados, and Shredded Beef Salpicon Tostada. They were scrumptious, crunchy, and tasty, but my favorite was the Chicken Taquitos Dorados, a hot and spicy barbecued chicken meat rolled in tortilla. Very much compatible to Indonesia palate 👍🏻.

We barely scrapped the bottom of the plate when the waiter brought us the salad, one dish that I’ve been waiting for! I noticed that each culture has its own kind of salad. Indonesia, for instance, has Gado-Gado, while Thailand has Papaya Salad, and Vietnam is proud of its Noodle Salad. And who doesn’t know Korean kimchi? That’s why I was intrigued on what kind of salad Mexican had.

Turned out that Mexican Salad had a unique characteristic, a marriage between western salad and a healthy dose of spices. Take Chevice de Atun, for example, a tuna meat cured in lime juice. The meat tasted sweet and sour, with no fishy after taste. They also served us Pineapple and Cucumber Salad with Tajin Chile Powder whose flavor reminded me of Indonesian Rujak Buah: sour, salty, sweet, and hot. So refreshing. I craved for this salad as I wrote this post! 🤤. I think I’m gonna go there again to have another serving of both salads, just to drive the summer away!

The main menu we got was a plate of US flank, Adobo Australian Lamb Chops, and Free-Range Chicken Breast Steaks, grilled with one whole Jalapeno Toreado, and cuts of Corn Cobs. The steak was served with a bowl of Charro Beans, a typical Mexican bean soup. Again, unlike European steaks which usually minimalistically spiced, Mexican steak was rich with spices. According to Chef Jorge Rodrigues –Amerigos’ Chef de Cuisine, a few dozens kind of spices were used to marinate the steak.

The chef also, upon knowing that we were Indonesians, served us a small cup of Habanero Paste. Having used to Indonesian rawit, we initially underestimated this chili paste but at the end we had to admit that rawit was nothing in the face of habanero! Lucky for us that the dessert presented was dulche de leche cream caramel, so we could quickly put the habanero fire down.

All in all, I really enjoyed the Mexican foods because of their bold taste of herbs and spices. The restaurant ambience, situated at the poolside with life musicians performing latin songs, also helped us mexicanized our night away.

Cruising London with Sunborn Yacht

Have you ever been on a cruise before?

My hubby and I both have a dream of being onboard of a cruise. When we just got married, we have booked a Royal Carribbean tour package, but then I was expecting baby Deira so the dream cruise had to be postponed.

Finally on April 2017, we decided to visit London. We were excited about it because this was the first time we would set foot on Queen Elizabeth’s land. As always, I took the charge of finding the hotel and, after cruising the internet and reading countless articles, I found a hotel that reminded us about our dream: TO BE ONBOARD OF A CRUISE.

Sunborn Yacht Hotel was moored on Royal Victoria Dock, which was quite far away from the shopping centre, old town, and Heathrow. It took us £70 to go to the dock from the city center, but who cares. This hotel, which was christened in 2015, had 5 deks and contained 136 rooms. Upon entering the lobby, we were astounded by its classic and luxurious design. Through the hull’s glass wall, we could see the water of Victoria Dock and the houses across the water. According to the staff, the cruise was specifically designed for hotel, so it had no engine.

At 03:00 PM, we entered our room. To maximize the experience, we booked a suite room with river view. When we opened the door, I felt so sentimental. Immediately we went out to the balcony and, Masha Allah, the view was gorgeous. I wished we both lived long enough be on the real cruise.

Just like the lobby, the furniture and interior of the room was designed with classical look. The mini bar was equipped with coffee machine complete with tea set to enjoy coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. So there we were, enjoyed afternoon coffee and the cold England’s breeze at the balcony, looked down to the Dockland. Deira took initiative to lay down on the cozy bed, that was complemented with a soft and warm blanket. The closet shower in the bathroom was another plus point to us, moslem travelers, as for the first 9 days in UK, this was the first time I ever encountered closet shower. I think this hotel was comparable to resort because once we were inside, we lost the willing to go out, even though my hubby whose hobby is photography asked me to stroll around the dock to find photo spots and dinner.

Also in the Royal Victoria Dock, next to this yacht hotel, was ExCeL, Exhibition Center London, which was part of ADNEC (Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Company). A quick investigation later, I found out that the area was one of Abu Dhabi government investment. Several international events were held in this area such as London Boat Show, British International Motor Show, London Marathon, World Travel Market, Defence Security and Equipment International, and G20 London Summit.

Everything is connected
There are no coincidences

At one end of the dock, around 500 meters from the hotel, a cable car installation owned by Doppelmayr, whose construction was sponsored by Emirates, Dubai’s airline, another emirates of UAE. The cable brought us across the river Thames to the Greenwhich Peninsula with 10 minutes journey time. As resident of Abu Dhabi, I admired the visionary thoughts of Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Khalifa. I wished Indonesia could take their as an example.

7 Things to be Prepared When Visiting Warner Bros Studio Tour: The Making of Harry Potter

Who doesn’t know Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived? I read about him on J.K. Rowling’s novels on 2004, on my second year of Junior High School. The novels were quite pricey, so I, as well as some of my colleges, chose to borrow them from my friend and, due to high demand while the supply was really low, it was quite a queue back then. No wonder I was ecstatic when my hubby suggested to include the Warner Bros Studio Tour: The Making of Harry Potter in our UK Itinerary. Little did we know that to enter tour, we need to purchase the ticket early. I guess even today, 13 years later, the queue was still long (-_-). I almost broke down in tears, but luckily we found an empty slot provided by a tour agency.

So, for those Harry’s diehard fans, I wrote this post so you guys will be much more well-prepared in attending this tour.

  1. Ticket. Because there are only limited number of tickets sold (590 tickets per session, and there are only two sessions per day), as soon as your UK visa is approved, please buy the ticket through official website of WB Studio Tours. Alternatively, if you couldn’t get the ticket just like we did, you can buy the package offered several WB-approved tour operators. Their ticket price can be three times higher, but they usually offer a guided tour throughout the studio. In my case, we purchased the packages from City Wonders Tours that cost us USD 367 for two people. That already includes two return train tickets from London Euston to Watford Junction (£46) and shuttle bus between Watford Junction and the studio (£5). I was initially a bit upset by their price, but their guide, Matthew, was very knowledgeable about everything the studio has, and gave us a detailed explanation. So I guess it was worth it after all, because without the guide, we wouldn’t know half as much.
  2. Since WB Studio was huge, morning session is the best time to visit so we have ample time to explore the venue and its exhibits. We come along way from London not just to see fellow visitors, do we?
  1. Don’t forget to ask for Harry Potter passport. The passports were provided by the studio for the children. This passport will be stamped in certain posts within the studio. Although intended for children, you guys adults need not to be ashamed to ask for the passport because it’s a worthy collectible. While we were in the queue, I repeatedly reminded my hubby to ask for one, but alas, we forgot to ask!
  2. After the security checking area, we were guided to enter a theatre room with several rows of seats. My advice: take the front row, for right after the short introductory clip, the screen will roll up and suddenly you will face the gate of Hogward’s Great Hall. This dramatic event succeeded in making me, as well as several others fans, bursted into tears, and I had goosebumps when they opened the gate. By sitting at the front row, you are guaranteed to experience much more dramatic effect.
  3. Don’t forget to bring your own snack! WB Studio has cafetaria which sells sandwich, hotdog, etc, but since I am the kind of people who can’t hold their hunger, I brought some cookies and biscuits to munch while we waited in the queue. Oh and one more thing: the cafetaria sells Butterbeer! You can buy it either in a £7 souvenir mug or in usual £3 plastic glass. Should you choose to buy the souvenir glass, then don’t forget to also prepare a plastic bag so the butterbeer leftover won’t stain your bag.
  1. Take enough rest while you are in the cafetaria, because after it, there are still Diagon Alley and CGI areas that describe in detail about the making of Harry Potter the movie.
  2. Discipline on your budget! This is serious, as the souvenirs in the shop are quite expensive. Hogwarts’ jacket is sold for £80, the mantel is for £60, wands are for £25 each, and one fridge magnets costs you £9. So, keep calm and keep shopping wisely.

That’s a few tips from me. You are more than welcome to add more by leaving your comments below.

Note: The number of tips resembles to the number of horcruxes, but that was purely coincidental.

4 Main Modes of Transportations While in United Kingdom

For eleven days in UK, we spent five days exploring London. England’s transportation system was highly structured. For inter-city travel we can use trains, while within the city there are tube and buses at our disposal. So, unless you want to get lost in London, it’s good to know your route.

1. Tube and Buses

If you plan to use these modes of transportation, you need to buy an Oyster Card. The system works similarly to Dubai’s Nol card, where each passenger needs to have one card, and you check in while entering the tube station and check out upon leaving it. For buses, you only check in when you board the bus, and no check out is necessary. Deposit fee for each new card is £5. Oyster has caping scheme where you only have to pay at maximum £6 in your daily commute after which you can ride for free for the rest of that day. That makes it easier for us to calculate our daily budget for Oyster: simply multiple £6 by the number of days you will be staying in London. I noticed that it took me around £1-2.5 each time I checked-in and check-out of the tube system.

2. Black cabs

I have been warned by my friend who lives in Britain that London taxi is quite expensive, but we couldn’t keep ourselves away from having it a ride, so we hailed a black cab when we moved from Hilton Olympia at the west side of London to Sunborn Yacht Hotel at the east side. The ride took about one hour and cost us £70.

3. Uber Taxi

Before we reached UK, I downloaded Uber application, and we hired one Uber taxi for our ride from Sunborn Yacht Hotel back to Heathrow airport, that took 1.5 hours and cost £152. Experience is a good teacher and she sent us a super terrific bills. For those who are interested on why we stayed at the hotel that is quite far from the city center, please read on this link later.

4. Train.

We chose to use GWR (Great Western Railway) train when we went for a day trip to Bath from London. The return tickets between London and Bath Spa stations are £110 for two person. Besides GWR, there are several other train companies serving various destinations.

In the aftermath, reviewing our itinerary of London(west to east and back to Heathrow at the west side), Bath, and Harry Potter Studio, it actually might be cheaper if we rented a car and drove it ourselves. You can google it yourself if you don’t believe me.

Yet, we chose those public transportation modes because of our limited visiting time. London is one of the busiest city in the world, and we don’t want spending most of our five days sitting on a car in the middle of the traffic. Moreover, we also wanted to feel how the Londoners commute. By riding the public transports, we could have more interaction with the people, and that way we proved that what are widespread in social media are not completely true, to say the least. As far as my experience went, Londoners are not racist and many of them are friendly. Some even took the time and effort in helping us finding the correct tube route.

It’s better to see something once than to hear (or read) it a thousand times.

 

Apply for United Kingdom’s visa from Abu Dhabi

I planned for this holiday since about a year before, and above all things, visa application brought me the most anxiety, since to apply for visa we had to provide issued airline return tickets and confirmed hotel reservations which will be non-refundable if, knock on woods, the visa got rejected by British government. Some travelers hedge against this situation by attaching dummy ticket booking and cancellable hotel reservations. After a short discussion, my husband and I decided to do the things appropriately, because the UK performed random check on some applications and should they found that reservations were dummies, we would be blacklisted.

UK Visa is valid for several countries namely England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. For Abu Dhabi residences who want to have holiday in United Kingdom, we can apply for UK visa online through VFS website. VFS will then send the application to UK immigration services in Phillipine. Required documents might differ slightly from UK Visa application in Indonesia, because of the difference in bilateral agreement between UK and each country.

Some documents that we need to prepare for the applications are:

  • Passport with valid UAE visa, make sure that the UAE visa is still valid for at least 90 days after the planned return date.
  • Emirates ID
  • Booked return tickets and accommodations
  • Proof of accommodations in UAE (Thawteeq or certificate of ownership)
  • Salary slip
  • Reference letter from the employer
  • Current account for the last six months, can be printed from internet banking if we have one.

The steps are as follow:

  1. Open this page, that will bring you to the visa application form that you need to be filled up. The form contains some detailed questions regarding our trip such as itineraries, parent details, travel history, etc.
  2. When we finish with the form, we will be directed to the payment page where we specify the payment details (credit card info, etc) for the cost of USD113 per application.
  3. After finishing the payment, we then choose the appointment date to deliver the required documents and biometrics.
  4. At the chosen appointment date, visit the VFS office (Abu Dhabi branch is in Shining Tower). Here our documents will be verified and our biometrics will be taken. The visa process will take around 20 working days.
  5. Once the process is completed, we will receive confirmation via sms.

Since my place is quite far from the Shining Tower, I decided to hire their courier service, which cost AED25 per application, so our passports were sent directly to our home.

Here’s What You Need To Know About Palmer’s Lip Balm

A few months ago I have covered Palmer’s Fantastic Four Lotion and Palmer’s Skin Therapy Oil. This time, allow me to write about Palmer’s Lip Balm series.

Ingredients

Come in three varieties namely Original, Dark Chocolate & Mint, and Dark Chocolate & Cherry, Palmer’s lip balm contains Cocoa Butter and Vitamin E as active ingredients. These products are formulated specifically to moisturize the lips. Cocoa Butter is believed to help makes the skin supple, while Vitamin E, an effective anti-oxidant, reduces the free radicals. These lip balms are also fortified with SPF 15 to protect the lips from UV rays. Combined, those elements reduce and eliminate cracked lips and make them sparkle.

The natural ingredients of this lip balm also make it safe to use for children from six months old and above. A convenience feature for moms with little children like me.

Packaging

The lip balm has rather unique shaped: oval-tube packaged in a carton whose color matches the variant. Some usual information such as ingredients and expiration date are written on the carton. The petite size make it travel friendly; it can easily accompany you in almost all of your activities.

The twist-to-advance mechanism makes this lip balm easy to apply. Just turn the knob at the bottom of the case to advance the stick, smear it evenly on your lips as needed, and turn it in reverse to retract the stick back into the container. Quick and hygiene, as no finger is needed.

Texture

The lip balm has soft and light texture, not too oily yet gives glossy finish to the lips. Its smooth scent can easily be accepted by most people, especially those who don’t like strong aroma. The moisturizing effect is quite long lasting (around 3-4 hours per application), suitable for people with super dry lips.

Price

The price is affordable, around 18 dhs for original, 20 for Dark Chocolate & Mint, and 25 dhs for Dark Chocolate & Cherry variant.

Pros and Cons

The following are the pros and cons of this lip balm as I found it.

Pros

  • Smooth textur
  • Long lasting moisturizing effect
  • Nice aroma
  • Contains SPF 15 and antioxidant
  • Travel Friendly

Cons

  • Its glossy finish makes it unsuitable for use as matte lipstick base

Conclusion

These lip balms are suitable for those dry lips. You can also wear it before sleep to make your lips supple and bright the following morning.All in all, because of its features (UV protection, antioxidant, and aroma) and its affordable price, this product is really worth trying.

Ah, last but not least, nowadays I know all fashionistas are being crazy about matte lipstick. But, according to my experience, it’s not advisable, due to its glossy finish, to apply this lip balm along with matte lipstick. Tips from me: it will be better if you treat your dry lips with this lip balm first, after it gets smooth and supple, you can freely apply matte lipstick. See the result, all I can say is just PERFECT!

 

Biryani E Khaas: A Biryani Festivity

Last week I was invited to attend bloggers gathering event held by India Palace Restaurant for the launching of four new kind of Biryani. The gathering theme was “Biryani E Khaas, the gala of authentic heritage biryanis”. To be honest, I used to consider biryani as common dish with nothing special. Well, India Palace has proved me wrong for there I ate four of the most delicious biryani I’ve ever eaten! So much so that I decided to write this post to share my experience. After all, this was my first time dinning in in the Indian restaurant.

As the appetizer, India Palace served us two kind of salads. Nawaabi Salad consisted of fresh carrot, cucumber, bell pepper tossed with olive, pine nuts, feta cheese, and a dash of lemon dressing. It tasted delicious and was friendly to my asian-oriented tongue. Combination of feta cheese and lemon gave me a unique sensation. The second salad was Onion Lachcha Salad. It was basically a heap of thin-sliced onion infused with masala, fresh coriander, and lemon juice. I didn’t really like it as I wasn’t used to eating raw onion. Most of my Indian, though, loved it. Looking at this bowl of salad, no wonder I often see them buy bags full of onions, almost as much as the red chili that I buy.

After the appetizer, then came the main course. As the chef and staffs brought the plates, the mouthwatering distinctive aroma suddenly filed the air. I smelled cumin, cinnamon, clove, garam masala, and other spices. The first biryani presented was named Murgh Coorgi Biryani, biryani with generous dose of spices and chicken topping. At first I thought it was beef as it was juicy, until I heard the chef explained the. Menu. I couldn’t find the words to describe the taste, other than amazingly delicious. Plus, it was spicy hot, reminded me of rendang, a well known Indonesian dish.

We barely scrapped the top layer of Murgh Coorgi when Noor Mahal, the second plate of Biryani, landed on our table. This one had topping of meatball called chicken kofta, and was lighter in flavor compared to the previous one, suitable for those who couldn’t stand hot spices. By the way, the kofta struck us with a surprise: melted cheese. Kids will surely love it!

Third menu was Bohri Chaamp. I didn’t know what spices they put into it, but the aroma of this lamb chop biryani was really appetizing. The lamb melted in your mouth and didn’t have any trace of distinctive smell of sheep. My hubby was not lamb lover, and yet he took scoop after scoop of it.

Our stomach felt like almost exploding when Subz Qabuli Pulao, the fourth biryani appeared. This one was specially designed for those vegetarians. With fruits and vegetables as topping, the spices was not too strong although a little bit to the hot side. I was not a vegetarian, but the sweetness of bit mixed with the savory of dal lentil and the unique taste of pistahio made me fell in love with this biryani.

After being spoiled with all those biryanis, waiters brought us a glass of Faluda. Upon reading that cardamon was one of the ingredient, I frowned. I didn’t like cardamon! But since I was feeling a bit adventurous, I decided to give it a tryand I didn’t regret it at all, as this mix of milk, ice crram, chopped nuts, and kewda syrup (flower of pandanus) made me realize that cardamon can be put into drink also, if you knew how to put it.

All in all, it was a lovely evening. The dishes and drinks were very well above average, and the service was superb. Surely I’ll be back to India Palace for their great biryanis and Faluda.