12 Course Hokkaido Kaiseki at Umai, The Oberoi Dubai Hotel

Since my husband is so not adventurous with food, and since my mom is visiting the UAE right now, this dinner was a mother-daughter affair. I must say, she really loved it! We were warmly welcomed by the staff and seated at the teppanyaki table. Although we did witness a few amazing tricks during the course of the dinner, most of our dishes came from inside the kitchen.  

Usually what comes to mind when I think of Japanese food is sushi, so when I headed over to try out the limited time offer Hokkaido menu at Umai, I was expecting mainly sushi dishes. I was wrong! None of the 12 dishes included sushi whatsoever; instead each dish was an artfully crafted and Japanese specialty that was just the right size to keep us satisfied until the following course. All of the ingredients come fresh, straight from the island of Hokkaido everyday. The server explained to us that Hokkaido is known for its milk and rice products, so each of the dishes presented to us at the dinner would include one of those ingredients. By the way, yes you read right– it is 12 courses! It may seem like too much, but Umai devised the menu so that the portions are just perfect enough for you to not get too full until the very end of the meal. 

Here is a list of the items on the menu: 

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I was able to enjoy all of them, but being super pregnant, I of course had to opt out of having the sashimi dish. Ah, the sacrifices of a mother… Nonetheless, the menu was absolutely amazing and I really enjoyed all of the dishes. Among my absolute favorites were the cheese spring roll and cream croquette: 

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The sauce that came with the spring roll was to die for and the filling of the croquette is something I could have eaten again and again! If given the choice to have more, I would have filled myself up on just these! 

The other starter that really stands out in the Hokkaido menu is the deeeeelish sweet corn soup with king crab. This is not your run-of-the-mill sweet corn soup that you can order from your local Chinese take-out restaurant. The quality of this soup is something else! It has the texture of pumpkin soup but the flavors of sweet corn, asparagus, and fresh crab. 

The grilled salmon with salt and kelp is another dish that I must mention here. It was made in a way that is so different from any of the other preparations; the salmon was wrapped in kelp and then cooked in the center of a huge ball of salt. In order to eat the salmon, you must unravel the wrapping of salt and then the kelp. Make sure not to get any of the salt on the salmon itself, otherwise you really will only taste the salt! Definitely something different… 

Now for the mains– we had a beef dish and also a cod dish, but I must say, the cod was my favorite of the two. 

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The dish was such a beautiful display of colors and flavors. The cod was cooked to perfection! Do you see the art on the dish? It’s part of your meal! That’s black squid ink! Mom and I definitely enjoyed this one! 

Dessert came soon after in the form of two courses– one was a beautiful array of fresh fruits and the other was a ball of fried ice cream. What a perfect way to end the meal. Although it was 12 courses, I did not feel that it was too overwhelming at all. That could all account to the fact that I am eating for two, but I really think the portions were well-studied for this menu. 

I suggest all Japanese food lovers get to Umai soon to try out this Hokkaido special menu, as the offer will be gone quite soon!! It is a bit expensive at 390 Dhs per person, but if you are into Japanese food, you will not want to miss out! 

To book, call 04 444 1444. 

Advice for Bridezillas

Every girl goes through that one year when all of her friends are getting engaged and married– this year is definitely the year when all of my friends are getting married! Being preggo already, I’m a bit ahead of the curve, and I just can’t help besides give advice to my two Dubai besties, both of whom are getting married this year.

I think this is the most useful information for any bride: DO NOT WAIT TOO LONG! My wedding planning time was legit only three months, and I am so glad it wasn’t any longer than that. The stress that it takes to plan a wedding should not be stretched out. I can’t even imagine what it’s like to be planning a wedding that’s over a year away. I think that’s what creates bridezillas and drama between families and fiances. Of course it takes time to put together a wedding so I’m not saying that you should start planning details 2 weeks before or something. I think that 6 months is more than enough to get everything done, so if you start planning little details way ahead of time, it won’t do much more than drive you crazy!

By the way, if you are a bride, I hope you took advantage of the Bride Show Dubai a few weeks back! Here are a few snaps I took from there: unnamed (6) unnamed

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It was absolutely epic– the dresses, the prices, the prizes, but most of all– all the info that you can gather about different vendors! It was absolutely a goldmine for my bridezilla friends 🙂

Salon Review: Mani/Pedi at Dashing at Souq at World Trade Centre

I WISH I had dropped by Dashing earlier! I always pass by it wanting to go in, but just never seemed to have the time. I’m so glad that I got to try it out last week because it truly is MY type of salon! Its pretty, pink, elegant and definitely the perfect pamper place for ladies who like to be in an upbeat, hip salon.

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Leave that zen shit at home because this salon is all about good music, gorgeous/funky new trends and girl-time! I went in for a mani/pedi with a special In Love Again treatment for my hands and the Forever Young treatment for my feet.

I was warmly welcomed and asked if I wanted anything to drink– I needed some caffeine in my system and requested coffee. I was brought coffee in this super cute Dashing-branded disposable coffee cup. It was totally Starbucks-status! As I sipped on it and flipped through a magazine, my mani and pedi went underway. The best part of the mani/pedi was the special treatment. Ohhh my god, sooo relaxing! First they used scrubs to exfoliate my skin. Then they wrapped my feet and hands in warm plush cloth, and followed that with an invigorating extended moisturizing massage. It was to dieee for!

The staff, aside from being super sweet, are also very talented. I showed the girl who was doing my manicure a picture of what I wanted and she followed it to the T! This is what it turned out like:

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For my tipsie toes, I got that same Essie blue color. By the way, another thing that I really liked about this salon is that they don’t just stick to one or two brands of nail polish. They carry several different brands and they are all amazing. Also, their colors are gorgeous and this blue is an especially rare Essie color to find elsewhere. Look at just some of their polishes!

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I’d DEFINITELY recommend this salon to others. Although it only has locations in Abu Dhabi at the moment, there is talk of Dubai branches opening up soon. Look out for it glamour girls, there’s about to be a hot new salon in town!

 

Overall Rating: unnamed unnamedunnamedunnamed unnamed (5 out of 5 Sheikha Diamonds)

Price: Manicure- 55 Dhs; Pedicure- 65 Dhs; In Love Again Treatment for Hands- 200 Dhs ; Forever Young Treatment for Feet- 250 Dhs 

If you would like to book a treatment, call 02 491 5222. 

 

Product Review: Max Factor Mini-Haul!

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The Max Factor brand has been around for FOREVER (he even did Lucille Ball’s make up!), and for good reason– their products are exceptional in quality and the prices are also super affordable! Here are a few of their latest products that I got my hands on:

Max Factor Liquid Effect Pencil- 10 Black Fire 

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This little baby is a miracle! Honestly one of the best eyeliners around. It’s great on to use on the outside of your eyes as well as on the inner rim. It goes on smooooth as butter, and surprisingly doesn’t wipe off easily! I’ll definitely be going back for more of this once this has been all used up…

Rating: unnamed unnamedunnamedunnamed unnamed (5 out of 5 Sheikha Diamonds)

 

Max Factor Max Effect Dip-in Eye Shadow 

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To be honest, I’m not much of an eye shadow girl– I can never really get it just right. This little product right here, however, is great for girls who can handle doing their own eye make up well– I think it’s especially good for those who like to sport smokey eyes. The container is also great because is a no-mess, tiny-clubbing-clutch-approved packaging!

Rating: unnamed unnamedunnamed (3 out of 5 Sheikha Diamonds)

 

Max Factor Lash Extension Effect 

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This is a GREAT daytime mascara. The brush is long with thin bristles, so it gives a very natural look. If you want something more dramatic, you can keep layering on top. It does lengthen your lashes beautifully, but it’s not the best if you are also looking for volume. I like to keep this mascara for those minimal makeup/natural-look days.

Rating: unnamed unnamedunnamedunnamed  (4 out of 5 Sheikha Diamonds)

 

Max Factor Lipfinity 

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Oh my god! This lipstick really does last for AGESSS! The first step is the one with the color which goes on liquid and dries to a beautiful (and totally unwipe-able) matte. Then after about 30 seconds, you top it off with the clear balm that comes with it. It seriously could last days if you don’t take any make-up remover to your lips. PERFECT for parties, it’s totally unfaltering!

Rating: unnamed unnamedunnamedunnamed unnamed (5 out of 5 Sheikha Diamonds)

 

Max Factor Color X-pert 

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This is a gorgeous liquid liner that glides on super smoothly. The felt brush allows you to create the perfect cat eyes every time! I got it in a sparkly purple shade and was told several times that it brings out my brown eyes! This one is definitely a keeper!

Rating: unnamed unnamedunnamedunnamed unnamed (5 out of 5 Sheikha Diamonds)

 

Salon Review: Sisters Beauty Lounge at St. Regis Abu Dhabi

Sisters Beauty Lounge has always been one of my favorite salons, and I especially love the one that already exists in Abu Dhabi, so of course when I heard of the new one that just opened up down the street from me, I had to try it out! This new SBL is located in the  brand new, drop dead gorgeous St. Regis Abu Dhabi. Being used to the spaciousness of the Al Bateen villa SBL, this new one initially seemed a bit small, but as I sneak peaked at the other rooms of the salon, I realised just how well-laid out it really is!

I started off with a mani-pedi in the cute nail room:

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SBL mani/pedis are my absolute favorite mani/pedis of all time. The use of moisturized plastic gloves on your hands and feet keeps your skin soft for at least a week! Yes, even your feet stay soft for that long! Since the salon is still quite new, the variety of colors isn’t as great as the other locations just yet, but it’s definitely getting there. I chose a summery blue with a glitter top coat 🙂

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After my mani/pedi, I went over the hair station. This room is just gorgeous! It has a beautiful terrace that overlooks the city.

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A blow dry here can uplift even the drabbiest of moods. My hairdresser was, surprisingly, an incredibly talented MAN! Since I cover my hair, they asked me ahead of time if it would be alright if he was the one doing my hair, and I am pretty sure that I gave the same answer that most women who cover give, “Sure, as long as he’s good!” And he definitely is! I got a milkmaid-style braid with loose big curls on the back. He was not only great at his job, but a fun character to talk to. I barely felt the time pass!

I love the SBL Al Bateen location, but I’m just so glad that there is an SBL that I can literally walk to! The fact that it’s a bit quiet right now also helps with the fact that you can book (or walk-in) at almost anytime that works for you!

Overall Rating: unnamed unnamedunnamedunnamed unnamed (5 out of 5 Sheikha Diamonds)

Price: Manicure – 85 Dhs; Pedicure- 95 Dhs; Blow Dry (long hair)- 195+ Dhs 

If you would like to book a treatment, call 02 621 0044. 

Expo 2020 and Rent

Even though I’ve only lived there for a couple of years, Dubai is more ‘home’ to me than the city I grew up in. I freakin’ love everything about it, but can someone please tell me why as soon as the economy picks up even the tiniest bit, EVERYTHING gets so expensive?! I’m so happy that Dubai won Expo 2020, but prices have just shot up so much since.

We’re trying to get a small apartment in Dubai so I’ve been calling real estate agents and the prices just seemed ridiculous. Abu Dhabi rental prices have always been expensive compared to Dubai, but I was shocked to see that Dubai rental prices are matching and even going beyond Abu Dhabi prices these days. Everyone is saying its because of the Expo, but is this just another over-inflation that is bound to go down in a couple of years?

I met a girl who lived in JLT in 2005, and she said she used to pay 82k for a studio! A STUDIO! Regular price is literally half of that, but now its gone back up to 60k for that specific building that she was living in. How much more do you think it will go up and do you think it will ever reach the same point it was back in 2005-2006? It’s scary!

Salon Review: NStyle Galleria Mall- Blow Dry

The galleria front 

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NStyle has SO many locations, and rightfully so—they are so great at what they do and are very consistent. I tried out one of their newest locations at Galleria Mall in Abu Dhabi. Since the entire mall is pretty new, it was a very quiet salon, much unlike the other branches that I am used to. It was actually nice for a change though. Upon entering, I saw that the hair area was completely closed off from the rest of the salon. It’s a brilliant idea because it’s perfect for women who cover! I was ushered into the hair station, offered a drink and then the girls got to work. My hair was lavishly washed three times and then conditioned. Then it was time for my blow dry. I opted for a simple straight blow dry with a few curls on the bottom. A young girl by the name of _____ worked her magic and within no time, I had beautiful locks! She recommended a few L’Oreal products, but since I had just started a new hair regimen I passed up on them and headed home. The blow dry prices at NStyle are definitely a bit on the higher end, but it’s worth the pampering experience.

By the way, if your guy needs some grooming, there is an Urban Male Lounge right next door to this NStyle location J

Price: Long Hair Blow Dry- AED 150+

To book an appointment, call 04 413 8935.