Unexpected Dubai - Shangri-La Hotel breakfast buffet, dinner at Traiteur, camel milk chocolate, Emirates Business Class
In October, I travelled to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates as a guest of Emirates and the Government of Dubai, Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing. This is the final post in my blog series on that trip. See the complete list of Dubai posts.
The rooftop pool attendants at the Shangri-La Hotel Dubai are probably used to shutterbugs taking photos on the sundeck. I was there snapping away on my second-last morning while most of the city was still waking up.
Shangri-La Hotel breakfast buffet
The breakfast buffet at Dunes Cafe was a highlight of my stay at the Shangri-La Hotel Dubai. Don't get me wrong, I love bacon and eggs and a full fry-up (toast, baked beans, tomato, mushrooms, spinach, hash browns) but I am still Chinese-Malaysian at heart and get really excited when I can get rice porridge (congee), curry and noodles for breakfast.
I ordered a cafe au lait on my first morning, sweet, strong and milky. The next day, I was greeted warmly when I arrived: "Good morning, Ms Chew! May I get you a cafe au lait?" The service at the Shangri-La was outstanding. And it wasn't just because we were in a media group - I observed the staff with other guests and was impressed with the way they treated everyone.
I tried fūl medames, also known simply as "fūl", for the first time. It's an Egyptian dish of cooked and mashed fava beans served with olive oil, chopped parsley, onion, garlic, and lemon juice (I plopped a fried dumpling into my bowl too). Tasty.
PS. the breakfast photos are from my entire stay at the Shangri-La i.e. I didn't eat all of this on one day!
After a morning at the shops in Karama, we had the afternoon to ourselves. I decided to flop onto the bed, put the telly on and order room service for lunch - my favourite room service dish, a club sandwich (called "Triple Decker" on the menu, AED70) with fries. To go with the sandwich and fries, tomato sauce, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard and Tabasco sauce.
Halfway through my club sandwich, I rang room service again to order a cafe au lait (AED28), which came with two buttery chocolate cookies.
Just before we went out to dinner that evening, I went back to the rooftop balcony for more photography.
Shangri-La Hotel Dubai
Sheikh Zayed Road, United Arab Emirates
Telephone: (971 4) 343 8888
Room service is available 24 hours
Lobby level, Shangri-La Hotel Dubai
Telephone: (971 4) 405 2703
Buffet breakfast is available 6am to 11am
Dinner at Traiteur, Park Hyatt Dubai
Our last dinner in Dubai was at Traiteur restaurant at the Park Hyatt Dubai. Traiteur describes its cuisine as "bistronomic", a fusion of "classic bistro dishes with gastronomy" to create "casual French fine dining". Can fine dining be casual? Whatever the answer, our dinner was delicious.
To begin our meal, we shared a number of starter dishes. First, the roasted tiger prawns with basil, lemon, piquillo pepper, the large prawns served crisp gem lettuces with via silver service from a shiny copper pan.
We also enjoyed cured Tasmanian salmon with cauliflower mousse and a fresh citrus dressing.
The Traiteur niçoise salad featured seared tuna, olive tapenade, thinly sliced potato crisps and gooey-yolked quail egg.
The marinated multi-coloured heirloom tomatoes were sweet and juicy, served with burrata (a very soft and creamy fresh mozzarella cheese) and crostini.
I managed to take pictures of some of the main course dishes around the table. This was one of the dishes on my short list (I ended up choosing another dish) - butter poached lobster, minestrone vegetables and tarragon. Please excuse the purple highlights (due to restaurant lighting).
The Mulwara beef rossini was served on sauce perigourdine (made with Perigord truffle), topped with a slab of foie gras.
Two of our group shared the grilled seafood platter for two, featuring halibut, swordfish, scallop, mussels and prawn, salad and garlic butter.
I chose the slow cooked halibut with spelt risotto and wild mushrooms. The fish was ever so beautifully delicate, but having now eaten spelt risotto I think I prefer the creamier traditional kind made with arborio rice.
We shared several side dishes, including vegetable melange with herb butter, house-made fries in duck fat (my favourite - not a surprise!), green beans and potatoes dauphinois.
The desserts were beautifully presented. We tasted each one and passed them around.
It was a fabulous meal, more fine dining than casual, I thought - for example, the fries cooked in duck fat were very simple, but elegantly delivered to our plates via silver service. After dinner, a staff member kindly escorted me upstairs so I could check out the bar, a pink glow in the doorway at the stop of the staircase. After all that eating I'd just done, I probably needed to walk up and down stairs repeatedly.
It soon became apparent where the pink glow was coming from. The pinkest bar in town. Or anywhere!
Park Hyatt Dubai
Friday Brunch - 12.30 pm to 4pm
Dinner Sunday to Friday - 7pm to 12midnight
Bar Sunday to Friday - 6pm to 12midnight
The dress code is smart casual.
Telephone:+971 4 317 2222
Emirates business class
Time to head home. Our media group flew from five different home states to Dubai via Economy Class. On our return leg, Emirates upgraded us to Business. This meant that after checking in we could access the Emirates Business Class Lounge. As expected, it was a much larger lounge than the one in Perth International Airport.
Charging stations were interspersed around the lounge, making it very convenient to charge our electronic gadgets. Free wi-fi was available too.
As it was morning, breakfast was being served at the buffet. But if scrambled eggs, sausages, tomatoes and baked beans didn't take your fancy, there were other savoury snacks, fresh fruit, cakes and desserts to choose from. It was pretty good, but nowhere as magnificent as breakfast at the Shangri-La.
After something to eat and drink, I walked around the airport shops for a while, buying gifts for my family. I got brass boxes for the kids to keep knick-knacks in, soft toy camels and for the rest of the family, Al Nassma camel milk chocolate.
Everyone has been asking me: what does camel milk chocolate taste like?
It tastes like... chocolate!
I tried the "whole milk" variety and thought it was a nice bar of chocolate, with nothing "camel-y" about it. You could eat a piece of this chocolate and if you didn't see the label, never think there was anything unusual about it. The "Arabia" bar is made with a blend of Arabian spices, so would taste more exotic to Westerners, but again, with not a hint of that camel whiff. If you like chocolate, it's worth trying.
My flight was slightly delayed and when we finally boarded, I was ready to eat all over again. I had a bulkhead seat for this flight and had loads of legroom. Probably a waste for short-legged me. The pocket holding the Business Class menu and magazines was so far away I couldn't reach it unless I unfastened my seat-belt.
The seats in Business Class were quite comfortable, but still plane seats - as I've mentioned in previous posts, I find it difficult to get comfortable regardless of whether I'm in Business or Economy. When it came to sleep time, a cabin crew member asked if I'd like a 'mattress' placed on the seat (more like a comforter). There was a privacy screen between my seat and the next one, reading light and touch screen remote for the entertainment system. The privacy screen was quite effective as I really couldn't see the person on the other side unless I peered over or around the screen. But I only had a screen on my left side.
As we settled in, cabin crew came round with glasses of orange juice, apple juice or champagne. Shortly afterwards, another drink and warm roasted salted nuts. We made our lunch and dinner selections from the menu.
The Arabic mezze plate included crisp, sour vegetable pickles, stuffed vine leaves, potato kibbeh, tabbouleh and a generous blob of baba ghanouj. It was served with a salad and a mini bottle of extra virgin olive oil with balsamic vinegar, and pull-apart buns - three buns was way too much bread for me. I knew I'd be too full for the roast pumpkin and carrot soup, so declined a serving.
My lunch main course was prime beef tenderloin with chimichurri sauce, flame roasted red and yellow peppers, roasted fingerling potatoes and buttery green beans. Cabin crew came by with a selection of hot rolls and breads - I chose garlic bread.
Instead of cheesecake for dessert, I chose the cheeseboard, and was delighted with the little wooden board that was placed before me, with five cheeses, seedless grapes, dried apricots and a plate of assorted crackers. A wedge of cheddar, a chunk of smoked cheese, Brie, Camembert and gorgeous stinky blue cheese, all for me. It was a lot of cheese for one person and I wasn't able to finish it all.
To finish lunch, a cup of coffee and Godiva chocolates. Then it was time for more cartoons before I drifted off to sleep.
As a glutton, meals are my favourite time during any flight, especially on long flights. We had the same salad, dressing and bread rolls at dinner time, but a different menu to choose from. For dinner entree I selected the seared tuna loin with asparagus and sweet and sour mango salsa. The tuna was meaty and seasoned well.
For dinner main course, I chose the stir-fried black bean chicken with vegetable fried rice and steamed baby bok choy. The chicken was very saucy and surprisingly succulent and I enjoyed the rice, but I think I was over plane food and ready for a home cooked meal. And I couldn't wait to see Jac, Pixel and Truffle again. I'm never homesick or unhappy when I'm away, but I do miss all my girls.
Emirates First Class and Business Class passengers enjoy complimentary chauffeur-driven airport transfers - so after arriving at Perth International Airport, picking up my luggage and passing through customs, I was met by a very nice driver waiting to take me home in a luxury Volvo car. And then it was back to reality.
This post brings my Dubai series to an end. Thank you so much to Emirates and Tourism Dubai for inviting me to experience Unexpected Dubai.
I had a wonderful time. Our Arabian Adventures drivers, the staff at the Shangri-La Hotel Dubai and the people we met along the way, especially at the markets, were all so friendly. I felt very safe wherever we went. My personal highlights were dinner at Ravi restaurant, lunch at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, and the magical desert safari. Oh, and losing my mobile phone in the middle of nowhere, only to have a kind stranger return it to me in perfect condition weeks later. It's a trip I will remember for a long time, that's for sure. Would I go to Dubai again? Yes, definitely.
I hope you enjoyed the posts about this trip. Did you have a favourite post, story or image?
TFP travelled to Dubai as a guest of Emirates and the Government of Dubai, Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing. All images, words and opinions are my own. This is the final post in my blog series on that trip. See the complete list of Dubai posts.