Monday, 23 December 2013

Pantry Cafe, Safa Park

Recently I went to the Pantry Cafe near Safa Park, a modern looking urbane space ideal for breakfast/lunch on a weekend afternoon. The location is quite fitting being so close to the beautiful green oasis that is Safa Park in the centre of Dubai.

Outdoor Seating

A distant view of the outdoor seating area
A view of the outside from the inside
We ate a mix of savoury and sweet dishes i.e. a healthy waffle and a hot crepe dish that came in delicious red sauce. I was fairly impressed with the quality and taste. Definitely one to go back to for the food and the ambiance.

Breakfast Goodness

Unique way to serve a crepe - with Red sauce, yum for savoury lovers

Bread/Pastry selection, slurp
The whole area- Al Wasl square is definitely a well kept secret for hangout/meal ideas in Dubai. Will be visiting and sharing my experience from lots of other interesting venues in the vicinity soon :)

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Review: Jones the Grocer

Hello all,

Sorry for no updates in a long time but there have been many changes in my life (for the better) and things have taken time to settle down.

So, a flurry of long due posts should follow this one.
Here, I am talking about Jones the Grocer, a European minimalist eatery technically located on (visible from) Sheikh Zayed Road.

Though it does not have the most exciting array of options for vegetarians, I think it makes for quite an ideal setting to meet with friends for a weekend brunch or just laze around with a newspaper.

The food is a combination of ready-made salads and small plates as well as an ala-carte menu. The drinks and desserts are also quite tasty. The place also has a very interesting “Cheese Room” and a delectable range of cooking materials to recreate the tastes at home.

All in all, a definite recommendation from DD :)
Exterior that seems to blend in

Chic Interiors, Excellent choice of ready meals
More Interiors

More Food

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Review: Pei Wei - Marina walk

I am a big fan of PF Chang's (Dubai Mall and MOE) and seeing the advert of Pei Wei from the same group got me really excited to try it! To add to that I kept coming across jobs at the restaurant on the internet.
I did finally end up going there on a Thursday evening with friends. The first impressions were how empty the place looked for a Thursday evening. They’ve tried to develop a novel concept with menu displayed as digitised hoardings which showed photos of dishes. 

We had a a lady help us to understand how to order using the hoardings. We were made to order and pay at the till first but then served on the table. The concept didn’t work for me especially seeing that they were over staffed and could have easily taken a traditional approach, i.e. waiter takes the order at the table.
The food was good but maybe not good enough to make us go back. We ordered a thai style stir fry and vegetarian noodles. The portions were pretty big and the service was satisfactory.
Good try Pei Wei, but sorry, it just didn’t work for me.

Pei Wei Marina Walk
The digital menus to order from

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Furniture Shopping

I have spent the last one year in Dubai heavily shopping for furniture for our flat. And for everyone who is new to Dubai or re-doing their interiors in Dubai, I have compiled a list of things to bear in mind:

1. Do not bother buying all your furniture at once. We can live without the extra table or chair as you will come to realise.

2. Do start with an air-bed which provides a close substitute to a real bed, is quite reasonable, is readily available (at Carrefour in UAE) and is easy to store and use in the future.

3. Online shopping is highly mis-representative of the real items so I’m sorry but there aren’t short cuts to you getting out and doing this yourself in Dubai.

4. I would highly recommend a few places to start with like Marina Exotic Homes (Umm Suqim Road, Al Qouz), The One (MOE/Outlet Mall), and Al Huzaifa (Karama). IKEA is of course the default value-for-money option. I will keep adding to the list as I continue with the search myself.

5. Shops in the malls like HomeCentre, Crate and Barrel, Q Homes etc. do good deals from time to time especially on home accessories and kitchen items. I was lucky to move in Dec- just in time for the January sales.

6. A few other shops like Pier Imports (Mazaya Centre), Indigo Living, United Furniture (Oasis Center) and West Elm (Dubai Mall) also deserve a good mention.

7. In Dec-Jan most of our friends recommended Pan Emirates (Barsha) as a reasonable option. The first time I went, I was terribly disappointed with the appalling taste, I would definitely not recommend getting any major pieces of furniture from there but maybe consider it for supporting items like puffies/ desk chairs etc.

8. Depending on your priorities and the intended stay in Dubai, you may want to order items and wait for them to be imported (nothing is manufactured in UAE). Our sofas (From Mobilia in Times Square Mall) took about 10 weeks before they got delivered from Malaysia but were totally worth the wait.

9. For the satisfaction of exhausting all options, it would be worth your while visiting the furniture area in Karama and on Sheikh Zayed Road between First Gulf station and Oasis Center. Dragon Mart is also meant to be good for office furniture, curtains, wallpapers and the like- we haven’t liked a lot there but it is worth a visit to know what all is available.

10. I can't stress this enough but try and think of the room as a whole instead of just about the item you are buying now. It may make sense to invest the amount you save on big pieces of furniture on home decor accessories instead like photo frames, decorative pieces, paintings, flower vases, candelabras to really give it your personal touch. God is in the details J

11. Most importantly, enjoy yourself through the process. Its not everyday that you get the chance to do/re-do your interiors.

Happy Shopping :D

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Driving in Dubai

One important part of the process of moving to any new city is to be able to drive in the new place which includes having the necessary permit, getting the car you like, the relevant insurance on it etc etc. A 'short' recap of what I did to get my license:
  • My husband and I were stuck in an odd situation the last few months here since I was on a residential visa but did not have the appropriate license whereas my husband had the license but not the visa. The first few months were luckily very pleasant and we make-did (does that work?) with walking and the metro. 
  • We did rent a car as a temporary measure since March though. For all of you stuck in a similar situation, I highly suggest taking a stroll through Karama and get negotiating with some of the local car dealers. You should be able to hire a Toyota Corolla (2010 model) on a monthly contract for about Dhs 1500-1600. We rented a Mazda 2013 model for for Dhs 1800 and were very happy with the services.
  • Not having a choice about giving the test despite my British licence, I registered with Emirates Driving School at the Internet City branch where the staff helped me a lot. My training was to take place at Al Qouz. I went with EDI purely on the basis of recommendations and online research. All the driving schools offer pretty much the same services. At the top they are owned by the same management (the government of course). EDI differentiates itself on its supposedly high passing rate and the ‘crowd’ it attracts in general. Since I am a UK license holder, I wasn’t required to take any classes but needed to pass the theory and road tests in order to obtain the license.
  • I registered for a manual license since I have only driven manual cars in the past and I am not used to my left leg just sitting idle and observing the rest of my body drive the car. I did register for a few classes to get the hang of the school cars and to ‘prepare for the test’ with special tips and on the exam route etc.
  • My journey with EDI started with two theory lectures and the theory exam was really nothing to worry about especially if you have been driving for some time. Without exaggeration, I was done in 8 mins and passed with 95% score.
  • Next up for me was the practical two hour class. My instructor was Fatiha, an experienced lady originally from Africa. I really enjoyed training with her because apart from her knowing her stuff, she showed confidence in me and gave me honest advice for not needing any more classes and continue with giving the test on a manual car.
  • The test was scheduled for the morning at 8.30 which was convenient as I could continue with my day without any disturbance. The test was taken by a pleasant female examiner.
  • The test barely lasted 3 mins on the practiced route and it was really not difficult to maintain focus for that duration (compared to 40 mins in UK!). The only problem I faced was to give the exam in a car I hadn’t practiced on and so the gears kept getting stuck and the examiner asked me about it too. But in the end she said, “Good driving, Pass”. That’s all I needed to hear J

My major grouse with the whole system is that its a pure money making exercise not leaving any small loophole free in terms of registering, attending, changing their schedule or even collecting pass certificates or licenses. It is extremely frustrating but the sooner you make your peace with it the better.

I had to go collect my licence the next day and now I am a proud owner of three licenses (from India, UK and now UAE) on manual gearbox!

P.S: I have been told the only manual cars I would come across here in Dubai would be sports cars..never say never ;)

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Review: Naked Pizza


If you know me then you probably know that I am very big on the Natural/Organic phenomenon in the food I eat and the products I use.

In that spirit, Naked Pizza was on the top of my list for food joints to try. I happened to try it finally only a couple of days ago and may I say I absolutely loved it! It is not for the thick, greasy and cheesy (read American) pizza lovers. It has all the usual and unusual options for crusts and toppings. Absolutely delicious in my opinion if you are in the mood for healthy junk food ;)

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

The 'Cheap' Side of Dubai

This post would be very applicable to all those who find Dubai an expensive place to enjoy.

I went for a birthday party at Safa Park last weekend, even though I used to work in that area I had never been there before. It is a Dhs 3 ticket to a Green Oasis in the middle of the Concrete desert of Dubai. It was full of activity with families lounging on sheets spread in different corners of the park, some setting up a BBQ, kids playing to their heart’s content- you get the picture.

It is pretty big in area, in that there are 5 gates to enter and if you are joining someone inside, there is a small chance that you won’t find them at all if you don’t know which gate they are close to. In from Gate no. 5, there is also a lovely Library cum cafe called The Archive, a local to the designer types in Dubai, I am told. I had a great time meeting some very interesting people there.

Not far from Safa park is also the Jumeirah Beach Park which is a paid public beach. The entry is Dhs 5 per person. Again you would find a lot of families around hovering over BBQ stations. The further in you go towards the beach the quieter it gets. You can rent beach chairs and umbrellas for a nominal charge of Dhs 5-10 too. There are basic changing and toilet facilities available. I went on a Friday and it was full of people. It is quite nice if you want to have the convenience of washroom facilities nearby when you want to spend the day at the beach.

The only negative to these lovely and (almost) zero cost ways to enjoy is that they are heavily dependent on the weather. I can imagine that not many people including myself would consider the options during the summer months. Still, they are options well worth remembering :D

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Re-cycle your Clothes

A few months ago, I went to the Emirates Towers recently for a lovely event called My Ex Wardrobe at the Ivy.

It is an enterprise started by three friends from the UK. I received the recommendation to go to the event from a friend and I thought why not give it a go. Since I have moved to Dubai, I have been so busy with the chores (and fun) associated with moving that I haven’t really been able to experience Dubai life in this way.

Emirates Towers firstly, is an impressive venue. The inspiring entrepreneurs had hired a function room as part of the Ivy (a British style pub) for the event.

The beauty lies in the concept being so simple yet profitable by the looks of it! The company accepts used clothes from sellers like you and me, it doesn’t pay anything upfront but provides you with a majority percentage of the earnings from any sale of your items. I was impressed and inspired by the power of a simple idea. They made a nice event out of it with free massage and pedicure services.

So all you ladies (and men- equality bleh) struggling to dodge and duck the stacks of clothes tumbling down every time you open your wardrobe, get ready to give some of it up and the best part- also earn out of it!

On the flipside, those looking for bargains on designer-wear which you know you won’t wear more than twice (or once!) in your life, get yourself to the next event!

Win-win :)

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Culture in Dubai

Even though the music/theatre/art scene in Dubai may not be apparently visible, I know from participation in many events that there is more than enough going on to satiate all types and forms of ‘creative hunger’. I will attempt to include a lot more posts of activities that I attend.

This year, like the last year I believe, Emirates NBD has sponsored a series of Indian music concerts at DUCTAC. Shubha Mudgal, L Subramaniyam and Rashid Khan have performed as part of the series and stalwarts like Shiv Kumar Sharma and Pt Jasraj are expected to perform in the next few months.

What is sometimes a lot more heartening than the performances themselves is the deep interest that people breed in their hearts for culture. To see elders and youngsters participate, enjoy and applaud performers in a city often blamed for its non-existant cultural spectrum is truly impressive.

Apart from this series, I have also recently attended the Cirque du Soir and The Illusionists events and have really loved the shows.

So before you join the ‘complainers’ next time, I encourage you to check events at popular websites and give it a go :)

Shubha Mudgal Concert at DUCTAC

Krishna Das

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

And Let Us Begin :D

Welcome, Bienvenue, Ahlan, Sawasdee, Namaste to all of you, A very big welcome to all of you on my journey of making Dubai my home.

Introductions first - I am from Delhi, have lived in UK for a few years and before moving to Dubai now. I work in my dream company and enjoy life on the side.

It has been a year since I am in Dubai now and I am absolutely loving it! I believe it really offers the best of East and West.

The name of the blog Dubai Doodles means to set the tone right - casual and fun. Look forward to sharing my experiences in the city relating to food, culture, events and the mundane with you all.

P.S.: A small but important disclaimer, I write about products/ shops/ restaurants in this blog purely for the joy of making good recommendations and do not receive any freebies/publicity fees to do so.