Kanpai, Downtown Dubai – Food/Restaurant Review

Since I moved to Dubai, I’ve been really busy starting my postgraduate and settling into life. I haven’t done any blog posts since moving here and I know that really needs to change. So I decided to kick things off with a review about a Japanese/Asian Fusion Restaurant and Bar in Downtown Dubai, Kanpai.

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Located in Souk Al Bahar just beside the Burj Khalifa, this gem of an Asian restaurant can be found hiding on the second floor. I say hiding, but in reality as you walk towards it you get greeted by this handsome gentleman along the walls.

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It might seem a little strange to feel slightly intimidated as you enter Kanpai, but with those wonderful Samauri-esque greeting you, you might understand my fear. However in reality my family and I were met but some really warm and friendly front of house staff, who took us to our table, asked how the music was for us and really made us feel special about having booked our table with them.

Interestingly enough, whilst we were there Kanpai was having a photoshoot to help further their brand in Dubai. Even though there was this photoshoot going on in the background with the occasional flash of a flash gun or the fake laughter of models told to: “enjoy themselves,” in the next few pictures I didn’t feel like it hindered our visit at all. Perhaps, occasionally they was a longer wait time then we perhaps would’ve liked, particularly when it came to getting the bill, as there were more people dining then, but honestly I felt they dealt with the situation very professionally.

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We had a wonderful server, whose name I’m sure was Mignonne or something similar but in reality she looked just like my favourite Abbi Sciuto from NCIS. I literally couldn’t handle the similarities, she was gorgeous and was there when a glass needed refilling or to guide us through the menu, namely the cocktail menu helping us chose from the different varieties of alcoholic/non-alcoholic drinks which we could then make alcoholic. I have to say I was totally impressed with her as a waitress, as the restaurant seemed to fill she did seem to be serving everybody and she handled that pressure wonderfully. She looked as if she was enjoying herself, she was friendly, calm and helped sort out any issues we had at any given time alongside everybody else.

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You’ll probably want to hear about the food at some point. But very quickly, the setting.

Honestly I don’t know what everybody’s problem is in Dubai, but for some reason and maybe it’s just me but the last few places I’ve been to the lights have been turned so low they might as well have been off, Nobu I’m literally pointing all fingers at you. Whilst Kanpai was a little dark for my liking actually being able to read the menu without asking for a nightlight, and being able to see the food in from of me as well as the people opposite me was an absolute bonus. The lighting was low enough to set an atmosphere but not low enough to destroy any chance of mood. in the same way the music, which when we entered was pretty loud (probably due to the photoshoot), was turned down to make sure we could all hear any person on our table. Honestly touches like that really make the evening so much more enjoyable. Whilst it was pretty classy inside I loved that I wouldn’t necessarily have felt out of place wearing some smart casual trousers and flat shoes, it just felt like there were no pretensions. For me that is amazing, there is nothing worse then going to an eatery, a club or whatever and feeling like you don’t deserve to be there.

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As for the food, well if telling you we had two lots of starters before our main course doesn’t speak volumes for the quality of the food I don’t know what does. There was plenty to go around, and everything from the Spicy Chilli Edamame Bean to the Vegetable Spring Rolls was a wonderful experience for your tastebuds.

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The chefs and management at Kanpai seriously outdid themselves with their starters, and achieved a succinct and beautiful matching Asian delight. I was impressed with the speed that the starters came out, and there was no problems with us ordering in our very awkward fashion: Starter, Starter, Main without given any time to prepare anything else. Really well done for the starters:

  • Spicy Edamame Beans
  • Crab Cakes
  • Vegetable Spring Rolls
  • Some interesting, not to sure if I liked them/didn’t like them mango and vegetable parcels

Honestly, I can’t qualify if I like the last food item or not, I had one thought: “Not my thing,” and then went back for more because I’m sure it was.

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Main course, for me went a lot like the first course. I ordered:

  • Roast chicken in a spicy cream sauce with mushrooms and baby potatoes

It was delicious. But, and yes really this shouldn’t be a but, BUT: a) I wish the potatoes has been cooked a little longer and b) I felt like I could have had a much bigger portion. But then I’m a pig. Even after two loads of sharing platter starters I wanted more food, which does go to show how well prepared the food was.  We only had a slight problem with one dish, that thankfully wasn’t mine (evil laugh), that was slightly too cold but they rectified the situation immediately, and honestly it’s not even worth complaining about.

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As it was a birthday, they very kindly let me choose a desert for the birthday girl – my beautiful mum, and wrote: “Happy Birthday Veda” (surprisingly her name) on the plate. I chose the desert called Ka, or Fire which was some kind of cheesecake which was set on fire at the table. The photograph I have of it is not wonderful but you get the generally idea. I like they came out with a sparkler as well, and thankfully enough when I asked them not to sing happy birthday because my mum would have sunk under the table stayed true to their word and just brought it all out. Enough for her to be embarrassed, not enough for her to disappear – a good balance I think.

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If you want to book a table at Kanpai – which I strongly suggest visit their website or call them on 04-441-9262. Their opening times are 12pm – 2am.

A fabulous restaurant, with some amazing staff, food and just pure quality entertainment.

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Pandora and the girls

It feels like it has been an age since I last posted on here, which in some respects it has. There was nothing important keeping me from blogging more a mind block about blogging. I guess I’ve never been very imaginative. So I thought I would start by semi-bragging about an unbelievable gorgeous 22nd birthday present I got from some of my girl friends.

My birthday was in September but in true best-friends-no-matter-what fashion there has been far too much going on, what with me not being in the same country for any serious amount of time or just plain forgetfulness for them to have handed my lovely present over. So, January is when I got it. And I am in love.

I never expected my friends to get me something so perfect for me. I should have known that they know me far too well.

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And so of course, the joy of opening a Pandora present begins for me. I am an utter Pandora freak. I love all their collections and when I realised that I was opening a little story book-esque Pandora box I was silently freaking out.

Inside, was just as good.

Incased in this very pretty protective box were these little gems.

Made from sterling silver and Lapis Lazulli, which is maybe unsurprisingly the gemstone of September babies like myself, they were just sitting staring at me asking to be worn.

I believe these babies cost £45, although I shouldn’t really of sneaked but hey it was all for the blog.

They come in each birthstone year which as always I will link to each one at the end.

The girls who got me this I have known for almost ten years. They have seen me through some of the toughest times in the world. I sometimes wonder what the heck I would be like today if I didn’t have them weighing in and giving me advice and love on even the smallest and most trivial matter. They, all of them are uniquely brilliant and talented and my life is so much better for knowing them.

I wish that each person could know the happiness that these ladies bring into my life, even just a little bit of it would make anyone’s day better. When you find a friend, even if you don’t realise it or want it they bury their way into your heart and make you a better person.

Back to business though of course, and as promised here are all the linked Pandora earrings by month and birthstone.

January – Garnet

February – Amethyst

March – Aquamarine

April – Rock Crystal

May – Chrysoprase

June – Moonstone

July – Carnelian

August – Peridot

September – Lapis Lazulli

October – Opal

November – Citrine

December – Turquoise

 

The fear of 21.

Tomorrow is my birthday, my 21st birthday and today I just feel so ridiculously restless. I can’t stop moving and fidgeting. I really want to convert the annoyance of restlessness into something that actually matters say…Public Affairs revision but it just won’t manifest itself.

Why am I so worried about turning 21? Seriously it’s just a number.

It’s just such a big number.

http://theandrewmiller.com/thoughts-on-turning-21-from-me-at-age-20/ 

A visit to Nepal…

The only way to truly describe Nepal is to visit it. There aren’t enough words to even express the beauty and complexity that embodied my trip to Nepal, which above all things was far too short. Only three days to fit in as much of Kathmandu as was humanly possible. I wish there had been more hours in the day.

View from the monkey temple

Here’s a few facts about Kathmandu:

– It’s approx. 4361 feet above sea level.

– It has population of roughly 1,225,000.

– Nepal first let “outsiders” in the country in the 1950s.

– Namaste (my favourite word) is how you say hello.

– The momo is practically the greatest food on earth.

When we touched down in Nepal you couldn’t really see anything – it was dark – evening time. You could ‘feel’ it though. The rough streets which left us lurching in our car seats, the smell of fires burning on the roads, hearing dogs barking and seeing the lights. Mainly though you could sense the poverty. A poverty which is pretty much beyond our comprehension. To me their poverty seemed difficult and innate. Innate in the way that it has passed down from generation to generation and that they don’t know any different – so it’s all perfectly normal. The acceptance of their poverty is something we British, could truly understand, after all we’re living in the wonderful age of entitlement (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2052749/Our-Shameless-society-How-welfare-state-created-age-entitlement.html). In fact how the people I saw lived their lives was so ridiculously awe-inspiring it made me feel so incredulous about our society.

The first thing that struck a chord was the children going to school, which they do 6 days a week (our helpful cab driver).

Imagine this, mud everywhere but not just mud, it was like a muddy dust. A thick covering of red brown dust that was filled with particles of rubbish, of smoke, of animals and of trucks.

It’s been said that if you stay in Nepal for a constant 5 weeks you  will get a throat infection because of the quality of the air.

The rainy season had started which washed away any manner of road the taxi driver assured me they had got usually. They Suzuki cars and Tatu trucks managing in some way to move across pure rubble. Now picture the dogs, the chickens (apparently bird flu is on the rise), the monkeys and then the cows. The dear old sacred cows who would be anywhere and everywhere. The middle of the road. The middle of a crowd. Sitting down just living their lives happily. Or in one case shopping for a Tatu.

Off to school.Cow buying a Tatu

Even without the dust and the mud Nepal was beautiful. It was so different from anything I’ve experienced before. The colours, the sounds and the smells. It was incredible. We stayed at the top notch Gorkarna Resort Hotel – there’s a tree in the garden area which Little Buddha (Keanu Reeves film) was filmed. This tree is so huge, it could be out of Avatar or something even more spectacular. My step-dad was convinced it wasn’t THAT big, but I promise it was. I couldn’t fit the whole tree into my camera view finder. So rest assured it was pretty darn big. The Gorkarna Resort is basically a massive golf course and then places to sleep and eat. They do horse riding and trekking and my favourite yoga. I have never experience a yoga lesson before but my mum and I were rolling around giggling as we tried to unsuccessfully move into Downward Dog and other super strange and super painful positions.

We spent the first day rushing around quite a bit. I had the most amazing experience of flying next the Himalayas. I saw Everest. I flew next to Everest. I mean literally next to Everest. Do you want proof?

Yes, I am viewing Everest from the cockpit.
Yes, I am viewing Everest from the cockpit.

Well there is your proof. Mount Everest. A stunning 8, 848 metres above sea level, and I have seen it. I mean seriously I still can’t believe it.

Our trip around the mountains was with a company called Buddha Air which was pretty cute. They even gave us certificates when we completed it.

From there we walked around the incredible Kathmandu Durbar Square, which houses some of the old Nepalese royal palaces. The palace itself was so stunning. It was basically made up of these intricate wooden carvings which represented different Gods and Goddesses as well as beautiful carvings of flowers and patterns. The architecture of the palace and the square around it were breathtaking, it shows the skill of Newar craftsmen over centuries.  Of course over the years there has been decay to the carvings but you can still see them and be amazed.

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We also visited Thamel and the most stunning garden – The Garden of Dreams just a short walk from Thamel. The Garden was so ridiculously fantastic. Just outside there was a busy main road, with hooting and growling of engines but you stepped into the garden and all you could hear were the birds chipping and the water from the fountains in motion. I can’t even describe how strange it was to step into a sort of paradise. There was this lovely cafe up some stairs in the garden where the chef had decided to mix vodka and pasta, which really didn’t sound to good but actually worked pretty well, although I’ll be honest it was a little sickly so I did only have 2 or 3 bites, it was my mums.  Later I stumbled and broke my shoe although I am not saying it had anything to do with it, but I am just putting that out there.

Anyways after a beautiful lunch it was to Thamel to buy some presents which were so cheap it was unreal. I got this beautiful pashmina, in a bluish grey which is so stunning for only £5. Crazy cheap. As well as that I managed to pick up a singing bowl and two Nepalese hats for practically nothing.

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After a wonderful day running around every inch of Kathmandu, we spent a lovely night having the most gorgeous Thai/Indian food I’ve ever had at the hotel. It was truly fantastic, although they weren’t selling chicken which is my favourite because of the bird flu. Thank goodness for prawns. 🙂

Anyways the next day was just as exciting if not more. We started of the day by heading for Swayambhunath better known as the Monkey Temple, which was pretty much as expected filled to the brim with a) people, b) dogs and c) MONKEYS! Now I seriously love monkeys and there were not enough awws and oohhs that escaped from my mouth during those few hours we spent at the temple. The temple itself was so beautiful. You had to walk up quite a few steps to reach the main bit but when you got there it seriously took your breath away. Not only that but the views from the top were incredible. You saw, what felt like the whole of Kathmandu. It was just a sea of all the incredible built houses. Like houses that were tall instead of wide, as if when you needed more room you just build upwards and they seemed to be a bit like Jenga, swaying occasionally with the wind. I bought this candle which you lit and said a prayer from this young girl under an umbrella at the temple. She told me it was only 5 rupee but we gave her 50 rupee and I swear she was going to pass out. It’s crazy though, she was so happy to receive 50 rupee which is about 50p give or take a pence. I lit my candle, and weirdly enough I wished to take a picture of a monkey and sure enough when I looked up this monkey’s butt was staring me in the face. It was pretty magical.

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Swayambhunath

 

Whilst we were there we bought some amazing bits and bobs, although they were mainly Buddhas as presents to take home to people. It was amazing. We couldn’t get enough of it we went back the next day.

Even though we went to some amazing places in Nepal nothing came close to what my mum had organised for me to see while I was out there. I am a bit of a softie, which occasionally is not a good thing but it does, I hope mean I have a nice heart. A few years ago for a drama piece I did with some friends we did a piece about trafficking. Four girls who were trafficked into the terrifying and disgusting world of sex slaves. It was a pretty emotional piece but I never realised the significance that would have on my life until I was given the opportunity to help some people who had been at the wrong end of trafficking.

It was one of the most humbling and awe-inspiring moments of my life. We walked into a centre at come face to face with a whole lots of young adults 16-25 years old wearing sparkly costumes. They were those being helped by this fantastic charity called Circus Kathmandu. These kids had been trafficked as children, whether they were taken or whether they had been disgustingly sold by relatives. These were the people our drama had been about. I’ve lived a pretty sheltered life and I never thought I would meet people who had been through so much in their lives, but these had. They were trafficked into mainly circus and made to perform. They had lived to make money for other people. Something no child should have to do. Meeting them was so amazing. It was truly beautiful, there are obviously no words. No adjectives that even cover it. But it was when they performed that you truly got the gist of how terribly incredible these people were.

They were given a second chance when they were rescued to learn a vocation, and seeing as it was all they every knew they chose circus skills. And let me tell you these people were amazing. They flipped and jumped and performed with such a passion that you couldn’t help but not to smile and laugh and once cry. There was one guy, who performed with a rope. It wasn’t funny, and it wasn’t anything like what you would expect at a circus. No this was different because it was the emotional dance about how he was trafficked and how he was escaped. With each movement the ropes that had been tied round his hands became looser until he wasn’t tied, instead he was free.

The charity tried to come to England at one point to perform at the legendary Glastonbury festival but because of ignorance and a whole lot of arrogance of those in charge of Visa within the British Gov. they were refused entry.  But they will try again. I have to say, I love Britain – it’s my home but I think that was the first time in my life I ever felt ashamed of where I was from. These kids want to better themselves and they have been through so much to be told that they can’t enter Britain because they were the victims of trafficking. Does it make sense to you? Nope me neither. Instead they were refused entry and therefore the dreams they had of performing the skills they had learnt and they had developed was chucked back in their faces. But they haven’t stopped, and I know they won’t. I just hope one day the British Gov. can see how stupid they’ve been.

Circus Kathmandu in Nepal 2013.

 

Anyways thank you for reading if you did, my really really long blog about my very very short stay in the beautiful Kathmandu.

 

So I turn 21…

So I turn 21 in one month and one day, but because my mum lives so far away, she and my stepdad decided to ‘throw’ me a surprise 21st.

It’s all so amazing to me, but we’re headed to Nepal, in about….6 hours. I can’t believe it I’m so excited.

I’ve always loved exploring new places, and learning about new cultures and for the four days that we’re abroad I can do that.

Nepal is supposed to be absolutely beautiful.

However…it’s still all a surprise, I have no idea what we’re doing let alone where we’re staying.

This morning I was woken up by my mum with a beautiful bag of goodies for me. It felt like my actual birthday.

My 21st birthday goodies.
My 21st birthday goodies.

I got the most beautiful presents, a Wizard of Oz trinket box which plays the theme tune Somewhere Over The Rainbow, a pair of beautiful blue with gold rim drop earrings, a Maleficant mug from Sleeping Beauty and the most special to me a ring which has been passed down through my mum’s side of the family.

I’m seriously the luckiest girl alive, and at the moment I feel a million dollars.

I’ll blog with some pictures when I’m back.