Tag Archives: Burj Al Arab

Asian Tea at the Burj al Arab – a review

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What a meal.  I know, they call it a tea… but lemme tell you – it’s a MEAL.  Remember, my friend Koral and I’d gone to the Burj Al Arab for the afternoon tea at the Junsui restaurant.  I’d described our entering and looking around the resort earlier here  and I promised that I’d get to the tea later…..well, it’s later!

When we approached the elevators, they were just spectacular.  Really.  I mean, I’m not one to take photos of elevator doors (well, OK, from time to time maybe) but these were unusual.

Gorgeous elevator doors.  Really!

Gorgeous elevator doors. Really!

Then, when we stepped inside, they were just as lovely inside as they were from the outside!  Dunno how they’re kept so “un-fingerprinty”.

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They quietly swooshed us right down to the mezzanine level and the doors opened into the lobby of the Junsui restaurant.

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Walking through the entry was almost EXACTLY like the Tower of Terror experience juuuuust before all the glass breaks…. See the tiny little starlights??

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And of course I had to pose in front of them.

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Through the starlights, we approached the podium and the most lovely hostess received us, welcoming us warmly, and asking if we’d like to look around a bit before we were seated….. I think it was the cameras dangling from our wrists that tipped her off!  <smile>  We looked at the lounge area,

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then in the bar area….

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Then, I visited the ladies room and whoa lawsa mercy, was it amazing!  Most ladies’ rooms in Dubai come with their own person, and this one was no different.  When she skedaddled for just a second, and I was the only one in there, I snapped a few photos – I was gonna hang on to them for my “toilets of the middle east” post, but these are some awesome photos.

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OK, so freshened up, washed, dried, lotioned and sanitized, we went out to be seated by our hostess who wore the most lovely costume and posed for us

Our lovely hostess, isn't her costume beautiful?

Our lovely hostess, isn’t her costume beautiful?

– and we were shown to a window table!  I was thrilled, and since we had made our reservations on the spur of the moment, we weren’t expecting to be able to sit at a window table, they’re very limited in number and highly-coveted.  I was truly shocked.  But then again, I *am* the luckiest person I know!  But, now, this isn’t just a window seat, it’s a window-wall seat!  See how nice my friend Koral looks sitting in front of it?  She was kind to let me face it and gawk at the view.

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As you can see, we weren’t up too high, just high enough that we could still see the grounds, the sunbathing area, the windsurfers….. and the beach.  Just lovely!!

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And the tablescapes were beautiful….. very soothing and un-fussy.  Functional but elegantly done.

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Oh, even the floor was interesting….see how the mosaics shimmer like a dragonfly’s wing??

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One of my most memorable tiny moments from this experience was the presentation of the warm, damp jasmine-scented hand cloths to freshen up with prior to our meal beginning…. A comfortable, relaxing way to begin our tea experience.

So, we ordered our first drinks, and sampled them – simply delicious!  Teas and fresh fruit juices – just right on a warm spring afternoon.

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Now, we awaited the first of our SEVEN (yes 7!) courses……. Which arrived promptly.  We asked our server to please explain what each item was as it was presented, and what was in it.  He graciously did so, silly us thought we’d remember all of them!  So, I’ve copied their menu here, and will try to match them up with my photos and memory.

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See these chips and the four dips?  They’re dusted in crack cocaine, I swear.  They were crispy, fresh, and such an awesome palate-cleanser between courses that we *may* have overindulged.  Just a bit.  Is requesting THREE refills after we ate the initial bowl excessive???

Looking at the menu to keep track of them…..

Korean Bulgogi

Korean Bulgogi

Sesame Tofu with Asian Vegetable Salad 

Soft Bean Curd, Sesame Paste, Bean Sprout, Spring Onion, Carrot, Spinach, Soya Sauce

Nope – what we were served was a fairly traditional Korean Bulgogi dish…. Attractively served on a lovely plate.  The plate you see above?  That was for one person…. we each got our own!  Tasty, and we knew we were in for an international mixture of flavors.

Salmon Sushi with Roe

Salmon Sushi with Roe

Salmon Sushi with Roe

Salmon Sushi with Roe

Salmon Sushi with Roe

Salmon Sushi with Roe

Crispy Tempura Roll

Prawn, Sushi Rice, Seaweed, Wasabi, Mayonnaise, Tobiko

Odd – I’m guessing that their menu is “subject to change” because we were served some truly awesome Salmon sushi, topped with big fat sparkly roe – they were so pretty I almost didn’t  want to eat them, but I’d never eaten salmon roe before, so down the hatch they went.  Slightly salty with an odd “pop” to them when you bit them, sort of like a big ole tapioca pearl does?  Yummy.  And the cute little wasabi “leaf” beside them on the plate was just the right condiment.  I’m not a pickled ginger fan, but it was fresh and attractively served alongside.

 

Asian Chicken Bite in Puff Pastry

Asian Chicken Bite in Puff Pastry

 

 Asian Chicken Satay with Pickled Vegetables and Rice Cake

Chicken, Cucumber, Carrot, Shallot, Rice Cake

Nuh uh.  Not at all what we had…. This was an Asian Chicken bite, served in a richly-browned puff pastry, and served on a bit of a banana leaf.  Quite yummy and all that we sent back to the kitchen were crumbs from the pastry.  Really.  (Oh, and see the silverware in the background?  We got a set of it for every single course served.  7 sets of flatware.  Two of us.  14 sets of flatware for one meal…. so happy I wasn’t the dishwasher!)

Dim Sum Collection

Dim Sum Collection

Dim Sum Collection

Dim Sum Collection

Selection of Dim Sum -Har Gao, Siew Mai, Chaw Siew Bun, Vegetable Dumpling

I have never met Dim Sum I didn’t like.  Even the overcooked ones on a Chinese buffet in a strip-mall in the US, you know?  But this stuff was really good…. Well-prepared, attractive, and the flavors of each were wonderfully distinctive.  Steamed to perfection, they each left me wishing there were actually more of them in the little basket.   A treat!

 

Oh look!

Oh look!

There's a guy paddleboarding!

There’s a guy paddleboarding!

(oh, look outside!  There’s a guy paddleboarding…..)

 

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Thai Fish Cake served with Tom Yam Goong

Tom Yum Soup, White Fish, Red Chili, Egg, Sweet Chili Sauce, Peanut Oil, Coriander

 

Now, of all the things we ate there, (and there were a LOT) this was the only one that neither of us truly loved….. something was odd about the dried fish, made both of us cough.  Yes, cough.  And, we noticed others around us doing the same thing!  As I recall, the scrambled egg was on a (McDonald’s hash-brown-shaped) shredded radish patty of some sort – but it didn’t taste of any radish that I’ve ever eaten…..…kind of interesting, but not a favorite.  The dark colored strips are dried fish…. They made us all hack for some strange reason.  *shrug*

 

Fried Green Tea Ice Cream

Fried Green Tea Ice Cream

Ice Kacang with Sesame Ball

 Shaved Ice, Corn, Peanut, Lychee, Assorted Jelly, Grenadine, Sago, Condensed Milk, Sesame

Hmmmm…. Nope,  another swing and a miss.  If I am remembering this correctly, we had a deep fried serving of green tea ice cream….. kind of interesting flavor – when it first hit your tongue, nothing.  Just cold and creamy.  But as it melted, that subtle green tea flavor wandered right in and sat down on your tongue…. Made me happy.  And, anything that you add shaved creamy milk chocolate to is my friend…

So. Pretty much, you can see that what’s on their menu is not what we actually ate, right?  Not that it mattered, because we’d not researched the menu before we got there, had no clue what to expect.  Plus, there was very little that we didn’t really enjoy food-wise.  We just knew that we were going for a 7-course Asian Tea, and it sounded cool as hell.  And it was.

Chocolates

Chocolates

Asian Flavor Petit Four

We actually got an assortment of chocolates, instead – they were on the prettiest serving stand, though – I was sooo full, I couldn’t even eat a chocolate!

Listen, I was thinking after initially seeing these tiny little portions, we were gonna have to stop somewhere on the way home and grab a shawarma so we weren’t starving… but holy cow, we were literally stuffed by the time we left there.  I think that a bit of it had to do with those amazing rice cracker things that were dusted with that addictive crack-like substance….they were *amazing*.  Fresh, crisp, and so very tasty with a bit of the sauces on them – now that we’re no longer there, I can tell you with a slight bit of embarrassment that we ate FOUR BOWLS of them!  Can you imagine the guys in the kitchen??  “Man, crazy American women with all this high-class food and they’re pigging out on RICE CRACKERS?  Crazy”.  Yeah, you know they said it.

The cost for all this deliciousness, and awesome atmospher?  AED 275 per person

So – just shy of $75 bucks each.  Yeah, it was a tad bit steep, but a LOT less than the high tea there, and we had such a good time, wandered around the lobby of the hotel and enjoyed such excellent service, it was truly fun.  Not stuffy at all, just a fun experience with a good friend in a nice place.  What more can you ask for?? Put it on your list of “must dos” in Dubai.

The Burj Al Arab (Tower of Arabs) – Video inside

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My friend Koral and I decided we wanted to go to the Burj Al Arab for High Tea.  You know, that big sail-shaped incredible looking building sitting on its very own *island* off the coast of Dubai?  The only 7-star resort in the WORLD??

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Yup, that’s the one.  Now, being a 7-star resort and all, they are not gonna let any ole riff-raff in off the street.  No siree bob.  Shoot, this is a resort that has a fleet of TEN white Rolls Royce Phantoms as their airport transfer cars!  As you approach the causeway to gain access to the resort, you have to have a reservation of some kind, and have your name on the “list” at the guard gate.  Otherwise, you’ll be directed to complete the “drive of shame” – turning around and leaving…… in the direction that’s NOT towards the Burj Al Arab. L  But us?  We had reservations, and our name was on the list, so we were waved on.  Here’s what it looked like as we approached…. And yes, I wish I’d taken our reservation paper off the dash, too, it would have made for *much* nicer photos…..

*sigh*.... isn't it just beautiful??

*sigh*…. isn’t it just beautiful??

This is the short causeway across the water to the island that the Burj Al Arab is situated.  There's also a walkway to the right.

This is the short causeway across the water to the island that the Burj Al Arab is situated. There’s also a walkway to the right.

Looks like Koral was zooming along, doesn't it?

Looks like Koral was zooming along, doesn’t it?

You can see the sides of the man-made island here.

You can see the sides of the man-made island here.

Are ya getting an idea of exactly how BIG this thing is??

Are ya getting an idea of exactly how BIG this thing is??

This is the view from *almost* underneath this structure.

This is the view from *almost* underneath this structure.

Before I forget, the website of the architectural firm and designer (Tom Wills-Wright of WS Atkins)that designed this building has some awesome information on it – take a peek if you’re just geeky enough to be curious about whether it’s built on sand or bedrock, and why it was designed to look like a sail, and why it was placed on an island, instead of built on the beach…..and exactly what that “sail” is constructed from and how it stays so clean.    Now the designer also has a personal site which has got some crazy-cool stuff on it as well… don’t miss it!

Oh, and lookie here…. You know TBG is a helicopter pilot right?  GUESS WHAT was on the helipad running as we drove up?  YUP!  A helicopter!  You can *just* see the tip of one of the rotor blades on the helipad hanging off the side of the structure.  We were convinced it would take off as we approached and since Koral’s hubby is a pilot too, we’d have the MOST meaningful photos ever.  So we sorta hung back and drove slowly, and waited and waited….. and it shut down.  *sigh*  Oh well,  we heard it as it ended up taking off while we were inside the hotel lobby.  Made me smile.

See the edge of the helicopter's rotor blade??

See the edge of the helicopter’s rotor blade??

When we drove up, the number of extraordinarily exotic autos was pretty surprising, you’d expect them to all be parked as soon as they arrive – the entrance area is actually quite small for the Burj Al Arab.  You drive up, the valets open your doors, you get out and they drive off.  There are staff members to direct you to wherever you need to go, and will answer any questions you may have.  It’s quite busy, but didn’t seem frantic.  Oh, and there’s a colorful camel just to the side of the entrance which made me smile.  The walls are of glass, and the outdoor columns are pretty cool looking.

Now, something tells me that these are "fire" columns.

Now, something tells me that these are “fire” columns.

The nation's rulers

The nation’s rulers

these portraits flanked the entrance

these portraits flanked the entrance

Ya think it's just coincidence that this hotel looks like a big ole wave?

Ya think it’s just coincidence that this hotel looks like a big ole wave?

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All shiny steel and glass outside.

All shiny steel and glass outside.

cars waiting for their drivers

cars waiting for their drivers

Much closer view of the cute camel tucked back off to the side of the resort.

Much closer view of the cute camel tucked back off to the side of the resort.

This walkway also hosts golf carts.

This walkway also hosts golf carts.

Lovely fountain in the center of the round-a-bout

Lovely fountain in the center of the round-a-bout

looking back towards the beach from the resort

looking back towards the beach from the resort

a much better photo of the sides and edges of this island.

a much better photo of the sides and edges of this island.

As we entered the lobby through a revolving door, we were greeted by staff members in the most lovely uniforms I’ve ever seen.  Jewel-toned and opulent looking – the costumes truly matched their environment.  They were both warm and welcoming to us, and encouraged us to enjoy their lobby and public areas.  Understand, there truly is VERY LITTLE “public area” in the Burj Al Arab –  the lobby is quite sizeable, and there are beautiful water features with “water snakes” very much like Disney has at Epcot – and there are matching aquariums on either side of the water feature and escalators.  But it’s not huge by any means.  Restaurant entrances are to the left and right, and we were directed to the escalators, across the upper level, and to the elevators for a ride down to the Ground Mezzanine level.   OK….. here are some photos…..

all shiny and bright....

all shiny and bright….

see that red leather sofa?  Wait till you see a bigger photo of the curve it has....

see that red leather sofa? Wait till you see a bigger photo of the curve it has….

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this is the ceiling over the main area of the lobby.  Just stunning.

this is the ceiling over the main area of the lobby. Just stunning.

Rooms start just above the mezzanine level... there's a coffee shop/cafe there.

Rooms start just above the mezzanine level… there’s a coffee shop/cafe there.

OK, so we’re still looking around, and starting to look up…. holy cow!

looking up through the atrium

looking up through the atrium

aren't the colors divine?

aren’t the colors divine?

a little closer

a little closer

wow - that's the very top!

wow – that’s the very top!

 

Now, our reservation was for the Asian Afternoon Tea, AED285 per person.  It is served in the Junsui Asian Restaurant,  one of the 9 restaurants in this resort.  It was actually so very cool that I’m gonna write about it separately.  Also, there’s a ton of food porn photos that will go along with it.  <smile>

We took the escalators up to the next floor, past the aquariums on either side, and looking down on the lobby area, it’s pretty interesting looking seeing the carpet and big curvy sofa from this angle….. oh, and here’s what some of the gorgeous insets on the floor down there looked like…..

Some close-up detail of the flooring just inside the doors.... of *course* it's gold, silly!

Some close-up detail of the flooring just inside the doors…. of *course* it’s gold, silly!

As we stepped off the elevator, the “public areas” were clearly indicated by “no photography” signs towards the open café looking over the lobby from the mezzanine level.  That’s cool – but it was a beautiful looking little café, and I’d like to return to try it.

one of the restaurants

one of the restaurants

Tons more photos of the mezzanine level…..

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The lights at the base of these massive support columns change color!

The lights at the base of these massive support columns change color!

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After the escalator ride, there is a quirky little water feature in the center of the walkway, filled with various pieces of glass that looks like sea-glass. But look at what you’re walking on to get there!  Awesome tile work.

Simply stunning tilework here, isn't it?

Simply stunning tilework here, isn’t it?

my favorite water feature - on the mezzanine level.  It reminds me of the "water snakes" I see in EPCOT at Walt Disney World.

my favorite water feature – on the mezzanine level. It reminds me of the “water snakes” I see in EPCOT at Walt Disney World.

My favorite water feature there.... did you go to the designer's website and read about it?

My favorite water feature there…. did you go to the designer’s website and read about it?

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The colors are exactly like the ones in the atrium!

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and look! There’s the water tubes!

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Between the lights and the water, I was mesmerized

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Just too pretty to stop taking photos, right??

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Tiny little loose pieces of glass

 

The colors and placement exactly mimic the coloring of the atrium area when you look upwards…. Now this thing was designed to shoot water up 50 meters!  I read about it on the designer’s website.  Really cool and entertaining….I think I have a video of it!

Now, if I remember correctly, I saw a TV special about the design and building of this tallest hotel in the world – the atrium inside – the room walls, not the sail part – was originally white, stark white.  And when HH visited, he asked for more color.  Or I could be making that part up, but it seems like I remember it…….

We crossed past the water feature, and passed by some very luxurious-looking shops to where the bank of elevators is located.  All mirrored and shiny, this was beautiful.

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Transition area from the mezzanine to the elevators and shopping.

Transition area from the mezzanine to the elevators and shopping.

Well *certainly* there's a Rodeo Drive here.... sheesh!

Well *certainly* there’s a Rodeo Drive here…. sheesh!

 

At the far end, there was a woman behind a desk in a cordoned-off area.  I asked her what that area was, and she said “private elevators”.

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Snuck a peek out of the window in the "private elevator" area.

Snuck a peek out of the window in the “private elevator” area.

Lovely glass sculpture/laser rendition of the hotel was enclosed in glass….. I tried to capture it in photos, but it was tough.  Pretty interesting looking though.

Side view of the crystal replica

Side view of the crystal replica

Swavroski crystal Burj al Arab.  Mercy!

Swarovski crystal Burj al Arab. Mercy!

Donated by Mr. Swarvoski.  Frankly, I didn't actually KNOW there was a Mr. Swavroski.

Donated by Mr. Swarovski. Frankly, I didn’t actually KNOW there was a Mr. Swarovski.

OK, our elevator’s here, and Koral and I are headed to the Junsui restaurant for our Asian tea!

Just so you know, a one night advance booking for a one-bedroom suite here (least expensive room) will set you back a cool $1951 USD  non-refundable and payable in full at the time of booking.  But included in that price is the following

“• Personalized butler service. • Sumptuous breakfast buffet for two in the privacy of your suite, Junsui or Bab Al Yam Restaurants. • Full range of Hermes luxury amenities for her and him. • One complimentary bottle of red wine or Bateel juice on arrival. • Complimentary in-suite tea and coffee facilities. • Fresh fruits, Arabic desserts and dates. • Complimentary internet access (Wi-Fi). • Unlimited access to Wild Wadi Water Park”

For me?  Not likely that I’ll ever spend a night here, but my experience there was certainly fun, entertaining, and a once-in-a-lifetime event.  Hope you have enjoyed seeing it as I did!

2013 Taste of Dubai Festival

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Held downtown in media city, just behind the CNN building, Taste of Dubai was held in the same location as the Dubai Christmas Festival had been.  We went on Friday, the second day, and arrived about an hour after it opened.  There was the oddest fog that was rolling in and out, I took some photos of it as we drove in.  Frankly, I didn’t know *what* it was –  clouds, fog, smoke, sandstorm, or what.  Crazy looking to watch the Burj Al Arab simply disappear!  But as we got closer to the coast, we realized it was fog rolling in.  Pretty amazing looking.

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Now, before the event, parking information wasn’t listed on their website, and I’d heard it was a big challenge.  I think had we waited much later to arrive, it would have been a big problem, but we found a spot in the lot at the end of the festival area, opposite the single entrance.  Which meant we had to walk all the way around the event to get inside.  The good news is that parking’s free on Friday!

As a huge fan of Disney’s Food and Wine Festival, I was quite eager to attend this event.  TBG got us tickets online at a discount, and bought us the VIP ticket package.  Now, what the VIP ticket package got us extra was 4x drinks and 3x signature dishes from our choice of chefs.  Oh, and entry into the British Airways VIP lounge area.  That last turned out to be the truly valuable aspect of this package, because seating was hard to come by!  Especially shaded seating.

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There were tons and tons and tons of food and drink samples.  I ate things that I wasn’t quite certain what they were, even after I’d asked!  One thing that was truly tasty was the fried prawns with sweet chili sauce from Royal Orchid restaurant.  And an incredibly wonderful staff was manning their booth – one of the women there noticed that my hands were quite full, and she actually placed it on my plate and then proceeded to add the sweet chili sauce too!  Such a level of service rarely exists here – I was grateful.  And, it was some killer stuff, too!

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DJs were playing music in some areas, some places had drummers, some had live music, there was quite a variety of things to listen to – and, save for the big stage, none of it was annoyingly loud.  Sadly, the VIP seating area was RIGHT NEXT to the big stage.  And it was loud.  Word to the wise, don’t sit too close if you’re looking for any conversation.

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There were fun things, a couple of folks in the Maggi booth were cooking up a storm, and one of the local radio stations was there doing a live remote with them.  It had drawn quite a crowd, as the pair were playing well off one another, and the crowd was enjoying their energy immensely.

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Shortly, along came one of the TOD celebrity chefs,  Gary Rhodes from the Grosvenor House’s Rhodes Mezzanine restaurant.  He brought some beverages for the Maggi booth folks, and things really started rocking from there – it was a good time.

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The individual restaurant booths were arranged in a semi-circle, all in the same area.  Consequently, the people traffic in that area was thick, and lots of people spilling food and drinks because they had to step up onto a platform to get into the booth, then step back down into the moving sea of people after negotiating all the other people trying to order, pay for, or see the tiny menus.  Word to the organizers, make the menus visible from the walkways, and put them all in the same general area, so folks know where to look.  And make clearly-marked queues!

But the food?  Oh my goodness…. It was exquisite…..  The Noodle House’s signature dish of chicken and prawns was pretty good, too spicy for my tender palate, but TBG enjoyed it.  Fogo Vivo’s Churrasco Selection of a beef cube, filet mignon wrapped In bacon, and a chicken drumstick left us both hungry – left most of it on the plate as well, I suppose we’re not fans of the particular spices used.  ThipTara’s Thai Ped Nam Ma Kam (BBQ Duck breast in tamarind sauce on top with crispy fried onion) got mixed reviews from us… we both loved the flavor of the duck, but the texture left us reminiscent of overcooked calamari.  We’re not fans of the layer of fat left on the duck, apparently.  But that onion ring?  It was one of the VERYVERYVERY best we’ve ever eaten.

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The Dynamite Shrimp at PF Chang’s was exactly what we wanted – perfect.

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We were both looking forward to Gaucho’s  Churrasco de Chorizo, spiral cut sirloin – we’re both fans of red meat.  Sadly, it was far too tough to cut with the plastic utensils given but the flavor was good.  My favorite?  No. 5 Lounge and Bar’s Mini Waygu burgers.  Oh my.  Perfectly done, perfect condiments, perfect flavor, easy to eat, yummy all the way around!  Lots of cold beverages served with a smile, great music, and grateful for the shady spots that the VIP Lounge provided!  As well as the cold beverages available….

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Lovely location, and a wonderful day!

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And there were goodies there, too…. see what I ended up bringing home?

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