Everything is Bigger in Dubai, UAE

13:24 Melissa G 0 Comments

An impromptu trip to Dubai is always a good idea, 

Well maybe not our brightest idea to do it in June when it's over 30 degrees (but feels like 40). However we did have a splendid time.

My best friend Leon and I decided to go on a short last minute trip to Dubai, after running around to get a visa and quickly booking everything we were off.
Well technically I was invited, there was not much decision making, if you're ever asked to come along for an adventure you say 'Yes!" and worry about the details later.

We arrived in the evening and were quickly whisked away to do the most touristy activity imaginable: see the dancing fountains and the Burj Khalifa illuminated in all of its glory. 

The tower sparkles and twinkles graciously and is then followed by colourful light displays. 

Its definitely worth seeing. 

Hungry, we met up with our hosts; Stephanie (who runs a nutrition blog) and Elias for dinner at the Bombay Brasserie. We settled in for warm and spicy Indian flavours. Each dish was well cooked, giving a beautiful texture to the lamb, prawns and even scallops (which I highly recommend). 

Do order grandma's curry, it was a favourite especially as it was mild on the spice level but flavourful.

After a good night's sleep we were ready to get lost in the world's largest mall: the Dubai Mall. Unlike most people we weren't interested in the stores and boutiques, we were in it for the aquarium.

You enter through a long tube where you are completely surrounded by stingrays, sharks and colourful fish.

We probably spent half an hour, if not more, comparing fish to people we know.

The aquarium also hosts other marine creatures, giant crabs, penguins, crocodiles, and little otters that were quickly swimming around and playing on a slide.

We booked a behind the scenes tour where you get to explore the lab and see how the animals are fed and taken care of. The tour included a boat ride where the bottom lets you see through to the tank, I think that was my favourite part.

We then visited one of my absolute favourite animals; jellyfish.

Famished, we made our way to Five Guys which, I believe, has the best fast food burger in the world. Served in a paper bag with french fries fried in peanut oil, it's everything but glamorous. 

That won't stop me from eating one even in an oscar worthy gown.

After feeling quite happy and satisfied from our burgers we headed on to appreciate all the glitzy modern buildings downtown Dubai has to offer. 

It is estimated that Downtown Dubai's development cost around 20 billion dollars, after all this area used to be just sand some years ago.

We hid in the shade for a while since it was extremely hot and the sun was shining hard.

Here you can see the Burj Khalifa, the word's tallest man made structure, reaching 828m. It took 6 years to be built and cost around 1.5 billion dollars. It is incredibly striking, and even more difficult to photograph it in its full size.

We took the elevator as high as allowed, to the SKY observation deck at 555m, or the 148th floor. The view was incredible.

We were actually higher up than the clouds!

Dubai is built in the desert, and you could see that much development is still in the works to cover up the rest of the sand with giant skyscrapers.

A visit to the very top is a must. Plus you'll have great selfies.

After a long day walking around the centre of Dubai we went back to our hotel to shower and get pretty for Sonamu, a minimalistic yet authentic Korean restaurant.

What makes this place exceptional is the fact that you can sit on the ground, your table has its very own BBQ where you can order all types of meat and vegetables to grill to your liking. 

Order the kimchi fried rice and thank me later, I'm still dreaming about it.

If you've never had Korean food before and are a fan of other east asian foods and enjoy spicy flavours do give it a go, I doubt you'll be disappointed.

On our third day in Dubai we were determined to find the "authentic" Dubai, basically what this city was before the oil and money started pouring. Therefore we headed to the Bastakiya area, home of the gold and spice souks.

Back in the 1800s Dubai was a small fishing village with around 800 members of the same tribe, as the 20th century progressed it grew into becoming an important trading port due to its famous pearling exports and its proximity to Iran.

Today its still a trading area, but has become much more touristic; selling souvenirs and other kick-knacks. You'll find yourself in small alleyways with crowds of salesmen and traders attracting potential buyers.

Don't forget to haggle and negotiate until you get the price you want, otherwise just walk away, you'll end up finding almost the same thing but for cheaper at the next stall.

The gold souk is quite a sight, being surrounded by so many shiny objects made me feel like a magpie.

You'll find anything from simple golden pieces to traditional wedding accessories.

Our pro negotiator, Stephanie, in action in the following picture, she managed to get from 1100 to 350 AED in a matter of minutes on that ring. So don't forget to haggle!

After lunch at Intersect, where the food was a major miss but the interior architecture was gorgeous we made our way to Kite Beach to enjoy the sunset and rest our feet in the sand.

As the sun went down the temperature was finally perfect for walking freely without breaking a sweat. The sound of the waves crashing into the pier serenaded us into a complete state of relaxation, until the call to prayer from the minarets emerged and woke us back up.

A long and tiring day over, we got ready for dinner at Coya, this year's winner of the best restaurant in Dubai, a title it definitely deserves.

For those that aren't familiar with Coya it is an incredible and buzzing Peruvian restaurant. Peru was invaded by Japan, therefore many elements of Japanese cuisine are present but have been fused with latin american spices and techniques, the best example is ceviche.

I highly recommend giving Coya a try, the highlights of the evening were definitely the sea bass ceviche and the beef tataki which was exceptional. All the spicy and sour flavours resonate with the freshness of the produce used, you will get a full umami experience. Peruvian cuisine is definitely worth trying out. 

Our last day in Dubai was spent getting lost in Dragon Market, a massive mall with tiny boutiques selling clothes, homeware or whatever you are looking for, all imported from China. If you're looking for knock-offs that's the place to go to. Keep in mind there are no set prices, again you have to haggle your way through. I didn't manage to get any pictures as I was too distracted by all the hilarious counterfeit goods (Prada somehow ended up being Punada), you'll even find copies of famous food brands. Like I said anything you may imagine you'll find at the Dragon Market. 

We then went to the dolphinarium for an incredibly 90s inspired show, music and light show included. 

Finally we ended our Dubai adventure at Catch. Now this restaurant is one of those places that truly left its mark on my palette. 

They describe themselves as a sea food restaurant with an asian influence, as broad as that sounds it is absolutely fantastic. 
They have two executive chefs, one in charge of the sushi and the other of everything else, as someone that refuses to even consider making sushi because I respect the art and years of training that go into it, you can definitely taste and see the difference. 

While still browsing the menu we were served spicy edamame which set the tone for the rest of the evening, its at that moment I knew that presentation here was key. 

Every single dish we ordered had been given extreme care for its presentation, as they were served we were often left amazed and didn't want to eat them as it would destroy them, good thing we did though as they were all delicious. 

Get the tartar trio, not only is this dish gorgeous and delicious but it is twice as big as the portion given in New York. It's served with guacamole, wasabi cream, caviar and chives. It was a throwback to Zuma but somehow even better.

Not many dishes leave me speechless, after a single bite of the short rib I had to take a minute break to think about what I just tasted. The meat was so tender it almost melted on my tongue, the seasoning was perfect. I almost cried, I'm not even exaggerating I had tears in my eyes.

The desert course arrived and the chef, having heard from the waiter I was a blogger, payed us a little visit, he explained the inspirations behind every single dish and made sure we were satisfied.

We ordered the "Hit Me" chocolate cake, where the waiter had to actually hit the top of it to reveal a secret layer of creamy goodness.

Since we didn't initially order the desert the chef thought was the best he swiftly went back to the kitchens to bring it to us himself, a toffee cake with a syringe sticking out of it which he used to cover the cake in a sticky and sweet caramel sauce. I have to give it to him, this desert was the best, always trust the chef, they know what's good. 

I don't very often say that "the food was beautiful", since that means presentation, flavour, texture, temperature were all perfect, but with Catch I can safely say it. It is pricey but for a special occasion, like closing a fantastic trip to Dubai, it's worth it. 

As the title of this entry says it, everything IS bigger in Dubai, from the world's tallest skyscraper to the biggest aquarium tank, even our waiter at Catch said portions were almost double the size of those in New York. Everything there is bigger, and so are the great times to be had there.