Tag Archives: Casual

Sapori di Bice

Sapori di Bice
One of the trickiest things a high-end restaurant can do is successfully open a casual dining spin off. Why? Two reasons really… Positioning the casual restaurant in a way that wouldn’t cannibalize the high-end restaurant’s business, i.e. offering a more casual experience at a more casual price tag. And second, the price tag can’t be too casual or else people will start to question the sensibility of margins at the high-end restaurant. It’s a fine balance that I believe Sapori di Bice has hit. Sapori di Bice, as the name indicates, is a casual restaurant from the Bice restaurant group. Bice, once a staple in the fine dining restaurant scene in Dubai, saw an unfortunately decline from the expatriation of heavy weight talent from them to Roberto’s. Bice seems to have faded away like red lipstick after a bowl of spaghetti Bolognese. A remanence is there, a pink shade if you will, but nothing compared to the bold red in it’s heyday. Its Friday afternoon and a friend and I are walking around City Walk on Wasel Road, investigating the mushrooming of newly opened shops and restaurants. Shisha, pass, more shisha for heavens sakes, pass, desserts, pass, soul-less, pass, pass and pass. And then a flutter of Italian being spoken around the corner, I pear my head over and the white space draws me in. After working up an appetite and spending a healthy amount on a new skirt in Sauce in the Hood, comfort food is in order. Beef Carpaccio, spaghetti bolognaise and a café gelato for dessert please. My surprisingly cute Italian waiter (attention, cute waiter in Dubai translates into an oxymoron) responds with, “Right away Miss, the spaghetti Bolognese is not on the menu but I will ask the chef to prepare something special for you.” Could it be, I ordered something off the menu and wasn’t greeted with a deer caught in the headlights expression from my waiter? The result, a smile and a thank you. My beef Carpaccio arrives with a drizzle of truffle oil and slices of mushroom, both of which I feel there is no need for. My specially prepared spaghetti arrives, I push away the Carpaccio to make room. Swirling my fork in the pasta, I create the perfect tightly wrapped bite sprinkle some Parmesan and take it all in. El dente, well seasoned and comfortable, everything a bolognaise should be. Extra sprinkles please I say… A café gelato, maybe one of the best flavors created by man. Velvet-ty and lovely and with each spoonful my troubles and spending woes wash away. A casual Italian that is not in a mall or in a Hotel, how lovely… Would I make a trip to City Walk for a meal at Sapori Di Bice? I’m not sure, but if I’m shopping or walking around that area, that’s the only place I’d sit down for a bite. The next dish to try, freshly roasted chicken. But if we’re speaking take away, I did make my way over to Sapori Di Bice just to pick up a couple of scoops of café gelato for a dinner date. How sweet it is.
THE DETAILS
LOCATION City Walk Wasel Road OPENING HRS. 8am - 11 pm  CUISINE Italian PRICE PER COUPLE AED 250 TELEPHONE # 04 344 2550  WEBSITE Sapori
THE FORK-O-METER
A Casual Hit the Spot Place

Chez Sushi

Chez Sushi
A couple of weeks ago I heard Chez Sushi, a casual sushi spot, opened in the new Wasel Square development across from Safa Park. As their tag name stipulates, by Sho Cho, Chez Sushi is brought to you by the same owners as Sho Cho, an institution in Dubai that offers mid to high end Japanese. Brought to you by Sho Cho is a powerful tagline that propels Chez Sushi to the front lines of its category, even though it’s a new restaurant. But alas, with all good things comes a catch, I expect a lot from Chez Sushi. After crisscrossing Wasel Square several times and after refusing to park in the empty sand lot, I luckily spot a leaving dinner guest walking towards his car.  In true stalker form, I deviously lurk behind him and pounce on his parking spot. Thanks to Dubai Mall Friday evening practice sessions, I have perfected my parking-stalker move. Walking towards Chez Sushi, I see its quirky orange and green neon signs that welcome me into the restaurant. With 11 FIODTuesdays dinner guests arriving and no reservation taken, (tables are on a first come first serve basis) I inform the waiter of my dilemma.  He quickly responds by telling me not to worry, two tables are about to finish along the back and we would be able to join three together once they’re free. Perfect timing. After assembling our table and my guests arriving, menus are handed out. Chez Sushi has a variety of offerings with classics such as salad, tempura, bento sets, sushi and teriyakis. The distinctive item on the menu is the DIY sushi, a 4-step process where customers can create their own sushi. You start with selecting your rice, brown or white, then main ingredients such as salmon or rock shrimp, veggies and finally dressing. The ordering process begins at the far left of the table, not my side, and slowly works its way towards the middle. Per the level of my huger, my focus is split between the conversation I’m having and the progress of the waitress. Half way through ordering, our waitress absconds our table. Ten minutes elapse and she returns to take the remaining orders as the first part of the table receives their starters. To appease my jealousy, I stroll over to the lucky side of the table, snap some photos and hustle some taster bites. As they finish off their starters ours finally arrive. My miso soup is earthy, salty and worth AED 15. I pluck one of my vegetable tempuras and enjoy its crunchy texture but long for more seasoning in the batter. The rock shrimp dish is a classic both in Chez Sushi and Sho Cho. My table polishes off a plate in an instant and orders a second. The shrimp nuggets are served with a drizzled of sauce over them but personally, I prefer my shrimp to stay crispy with the sauce served on the side. Our self-constructed sushi arrive and tasting what we have created is the high light of the night. As a die heart fan of white rice, I skeptically put the brown rice sushi in my mouth. What follows is the surprising I-didn’t-think-this-was-going-to-taste-good-but-it-does-taste-good Mmmm. Some of our self made sushi’s are a hit and others a miss. The experience makes me realize that the construction of a delicious maki roll is an art form that takes time to perfect. I would request that the dressings of spicy mayo and wasabi mayo have more kick to them. When I order wasabi anything I want to feel its power! The bento boxes arrive and prove to be the most economical of options, a work lunch maybe. Sampling bites of each bento box and each compartment of the bento boxes, I wouldn’t recommend the chicken but rather the beef or salmon. We finish our meals with quirky wasabi and green tea Kit-Kats. There is no doubt that Chez Sushi is a very intelligent concept. It hits the homegrown, casual sushi, dine in and take out notes that are all a recipe for a successful restaurant. I understand that they may have been overwhelmed with 11 dinner guests at one table, but with the operational experience and know how of a powerhouse like Sho Cho, I would expect better service. If the tag line by Sho Cho is there, I am going to hold it accountable. I guess it proves to be a blessing and a curse. Will I be back? If I’m in the area and in the mood to be creative, meaning build my own sushi. Constructing a signature Fork It Over Dubai maki roll is my ultimate goal.
THE DETAILS
LOCATION Wasel Square OPENING HRS. 12 to 11:30 pm CUISINE Japanese PRICE PER COUPLE AED 225 TELEPHONE # 800 78744 WEBSITE ChezSushi
THE FORK-O-METER
Bring Out ur Inner Sushi Chef
     

PF Chang

PF
When I hear PF Chang opened in Dubai I think to myself hmm… Chine restaurant that’s a big red X, large chain that’s another big red X. Having just watched America’s Got Talent I reflect and conclude ok that’s two big red Xs and not 3 which means – let’s get this review on the Fork-O-Meter. We enter PF Chang, which is in the new extension of Mall of the Emirates, and the first thing I notice is the amount of people dining in the restaurant that instantly gave off a lively vibe which I value. The design of PF Chang can be characterized as warm; with dark wood, low lighting and earth toned colored art. Opening the menu my eyes quickly catch onto Chinese staples that everyone loves and my ordering beings: vegetable spring rolls, lettuce wrap, sweet and sour chicken, steamed white rice and vanilla ice cream. The spring rolls arrive and are scrumptious. They are exceptionally crispy, stuffed to the brim with the correct spring vegetables and accompanied by a sweet and sour sauce that finishes in an instant. I have a total of 4 rolls all to myself! Next are my chicken lettuce wraps. Having been bombarded by comments from a colleague that the warps are nothing short of ideal my anticipation is sky high. I roll up my wrap take a bit and wait. 1 Mississippi 2 Mississippi 3 Mississippi ok… am I missing something? I take another bite and all I get is chicken with crispy lettuce – nothing to write home about. My sweet and sour chicken was made entirely with chicken breast something I always look for. The large chunky pieces of chicken are immersed in thick, gooey sweet and sour sauce, the sauce is so rich that even a block of cement would taste good in it. Accompanying my main is steamed fluffy white rice. I end with a scoop of classic Baskin Robbinsy/ Haagen-Dazsy vanilla ice cream. On my way out I spot a piece of dessert cake waiting to be served that literally stops me in my tracks. With no exaggeration the slice could have easily been one kilo in weight; so just a warning if you do plan on ordering a cake be ready to share or loosen your belt. I can’t say that I have any major complaints about PF Chang but at the same time I can’t say that it made me throw my hands up in that and say lord I just don’t care I want PF Chang every day! If I am in the mood for well priced Chinese, which would be once a year, actually let’s make that every other year, I would be sliding back into one of their booths. Although if asked will be successful in Dubai I would say yes.
THE DETAILS
LOCATION: MOE and DXB Mall OPENING HRS: Mall Timings CUISINE: Chinese PRICE PER COUPLE: AED 150    
THE FORK-O-METER
A Since we are in the Mall Restaurant