6 Must-Try Dessert Treats at The Dubai Mall – KeepDining.com

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A paradise for shopaholics and foodies, The Dubai Mall is a place where one can spend hours, days and even weeks shopping, eating or just strolling about. With innumerable options to pick from, there’s something for everyone here.

During my recent trip to Dubai, I spent an entire week at the mall shopping and trying out different cuisines at some of its renowned cafes and eateries. While I do share a special fondness for food, I also truly love desserts and all things sweet – be it a chocolate, tart, pie, cheesecake or cookie – guilty as charged, I love it all. Since this place has so much to offer, I had to take regular pit stops to satisfy my sweet cravings. So here’s my list of six drool-worthy sweet treats that were oh-so-satisfying:

Carrot Cupcake at Magnolia Bakery

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The Bloomingdale’s store is home to an elegantly decorated counter of mouthwatering cupcakes and cakes from New York’s famed Magnolia Bakery. Each one looks so pretty that its hard to pick just one. However, after spending almost ten minutes admiring each one, I decided to try the carrot cupcake. One bite into it and I was floored. Moist cake packed with flavors of freshly grated carrots, coconut, pineapple, raisins and walnuts, melted in the mouth while the cream cheese icing left a tingling after-taste. Though their red velvet with cream cheese is a bestseller, I recommend giving this one a try. It’s worth the risk…and the calories!
Location: Inside Bloomingdale’s store, lower ground level

Macarons at Ladurée

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World-famous, luxury French bakery and sweets maker, Ladurée gives you a feel of Paris as you walk into the store. With plush café style seating and cutesy interiors, one can pick from a variety of desserts and colourful macarons. I tried various flavors of these smooth delicate shells, but the salted caramel and black truffle ones, were par excellence. Crispy and crunchy on the outside, they were tucked with flavorful filling on the inside. Since they are priced on the higher side, you might consider compromising on those shopping bags over another piece.
Location: P5, level 1

Red Velvet Frozen Custard at Shake Shack

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The combination of red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting and ice cream sounds like heaven in a cup, doesn’t it? So when I found out that Shake Shack, the famous American fast food chain known for its burgers and hot dogs serves this lip-smacking trio, I knew I had found my calling. The divine fusion of red velvet cake chunks and cream cheese served as frozen custard was so pleasing that I just couldn’t stop myself even after a few bites. Next on my list is their Shack Attack.
Location: Level 1, near waterfront

Hot Bun with Chocolate Sauce at Pappa Roti

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Pappa Roti, famous for their hot buns and cold shakes is a must-visit. Each bun is freshly baked from the oven and served hot. With a crispy layer on top, one can feel the crunch with every bite. I highly recommend their hot bun with honey and caramel. The crunchy layer of the bun along with these flavorsome toppings surely makes for a beautiful combination. All you need is a delectable cuppa chocolate milkshake on the side and you’re good to go.
Location: Level 2, near the waterfall

Tiramisu at Eataly

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Eataly, known for its Italian food and fresh ingredients, warmly welcomes guests with a luscious dessert spread located right at the entrance. It’s hard to walk past the store, as the aromas of fresh ingredients and chocolate are enough to make you stop by. After several minutes of strolling around the store, I finally called for their Tiramisu. All ingredients of this rich, fluffy, coffee flavored cheesecake are specially imported all the way from Italy and packed with generous amounts of liqeur, espresso, chocolate and mascarpone, thus making it a must-try dessert on their menu. Incase that’s not enough, you can devour some crepe con Nutella from the store’s exquisite Nutella bar. After all, nothing makes shopping more enjoyable than a piping hot crepe oozing with oodles of creamy hazelnut-chocolate filling. I say its worth the chocolate rush!
Location: Lower ground level, near marina exotic home interiors

Oreo Dream Extreme Cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory

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Known for its ginormous portions of food, The Cheesecake Factory is a great place to enjoy some lip-smacking American fare. No matter what you eat; make sure to leave some room for dessert, as they have a variety of drool-worthy cheesecakes that cannot be missed. If you’re a fan of cheesecake, cookie and chocolate, the Oreo Dream Extreme is what you’re looking for. Imagine relishing layers of delectable fudge cake, rich cookie mousse, decadent cheesecake and Oreo crumbs – all in a bite. Drooling already? I don’t blame you.
Location: Ground level, near aquarium

Also on – http://keepdining.com/6-must-try-dessert-treats-dubai-mall/

A Royal Indian Experience at JW Marriott Pune’s Shakahari

If you follow me on Instagram, you already know that I love to travel…even if it means going to Lonavla for a nice Sunday brunch and back. So when I received an invite from JW Marriott Pune for lunch on Saturday, I instantly said yes! Because for me, an ideal weekend is one where I can getaway from the chaos of the city. Since I knew I had something fun to do over the weekend, I couldn’t wait for the week to quickly pass by. Luckily it did. Before I knew it, it was D-day.

I woke up at 8am as our scheduled time of departure from Mumbai was 9am. Since my pick-up point was Worli, I quickly got ready and left. Nikhil, our kind and polite driver had reached Worli Seaface in his white Innova way before time and was patiently waiting for us to come. We (that includes three of us), started for Pune at about 9.15am and were all set to see what the rest of the day had in store for us. Our car had been stocked with cold bottles of aam panna, lassi and several juices for the journey. Thankfully, due to a slight drizzle in the city, it wasn’t very hot or sunny and as we got onto the expressway, it began to rain and started getting a wee bit breezy. Needless to say, our comfortable drive became even more enjoyable.

We reached Pune at about 12pm and were at the property 40 minutes later (thanks to Pune traffic). As we entered, we were warmly greeted by General Manager Vineet Mishra and his kind and loving team. There was something about the place – it felt like home in an instant. I guess that’s why its so popular and buzzing at all times. We looked around for a while and visited its various outlets, starting with the ones on ground level – Pune Baking Co. (the renowned bakery and patisserie), Lobby lounge (which had a special wine promotion for the weekend), Spice Kitchen (their all-day multi cuisine restaurant that was prepping for the on-going Goan festival) and the JW Marriott Food Truck (which unfortunately wasn’t operational that day). Soon after, we proceeded to the next level to see Alto Vino (the Italian restaurant, serving lip-smacking wood-fired pizzas among other things and a variety of wines), Bar 101 (the elite whiskey and cigar bar that houses over 100 different types of whiskey) and Shakahari (their vegetarian restaurant serving authentic Indian specials). Next, we proceeded to Mi-a-mi (the hotel’s rocking night club that was getting ready for Bollywood night) and Paasha (their fine-dining restaurant and bar with an indoor and al-fresco section from where you can enjoy panoramic views of the city). After the property tour, we headed to Shakahari as we had been invited to sample its lip-smacking menu based on authentic Indian cuisines inspired by some of India’s royal, princely states.

A warm welcome with flowers and rose water, an extravagant table set-up and a tikka clad Maharaj Jai Kishen greeted each one of us with his pleasing smile and folded hands. Looking at the hospitality, we knew we were in for a grand feast. The menu, featuring a variety of traditional Rajasthani and North Indian preparations, had been crafted to provide a #RoyalIndianExperience to each one of us.

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‘We want to revive the culture of food in its most authentic Indian form. That is the philosophy at Shakahari – a royal dining experience. Keeping this focus, Maharaj Jai Kishen seamlessly blends tradition and flavor for each dish that is specially curated by him,’ said Mr. Vineet Mishra, the friendly and ever-smiling general manager of the hotel.

Bright and shiny silver Thalis with napkins perfectly folded and knotted gave us a true royal feel. As we took our seats, a server came to each one for a handwash. (In India, a traditional Thali is best enjoyed when eaten with the hands, without any cutlery).

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We were all set for our grand feast which began with some Fratelli wine, a variety of starters served with a bowl full of papad, various chutneys and pickles like plum, peanut, mint and mango as accompaniments. The starters consisted of:

– Dahi Wada
– Palak Patta Chaat
– Rajma Lasooni Salad
– Palak Chawli Tikki
– Beetroot Tikki
– Amritsari Paneer
– Besan Chilla

Out of all the above, the rajma lasooni salad with fragments of burnt garlic and beetroot tikki were my most favorite.

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After a break of about 15 minutes, we were then served our Rajasthani mains. I’m sure you already know that a traditional meal in Rajasthan is incomplete without its speciality dishes like

– Dal Batti Churma: lentil preparation made with wheat flour dough, served with dal, grounded flour dessert and dollops of ghee
– Ker Sanger ke Kofte: ker, bamnera bean dumping cooked in fresh tomato gravy
– Jodhpuri Gatta Curry: steamed gram flour dumpling, cooked in spicy, tangy, hung curd gravy
– Gatta ka Pulao: spiced gram flour dumpling, dum cooked with basmati rice
– Subz Panchmel: a melange of five vegetables, tossed in dry spices and flavored with asafoetida
– Phulka, Palak Poori & Ajwaini Poori

To be honest, I find Rajasthani food too heavy so I avoid eating too much. But here, it was served with so much love that I just couldn’t say no. I thoroughly enjoyed most of it, especially the gatta curry and ker sanger koftas but I wanted to leave space for the rest.

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Right after the Rajasthani meal, we were served some speciality North Indian preparations like

– Dum Paneer Kasoori: homemade cottage cheese, simmered in rich tomato gravy, flavored with fenugreek seeds
– Subz Makhmali Kofta: vegetable koftas filled with dried plums and almonds, simmered in a cardamom cashew gravy
– Pindi Choley: chickpeas, slow cooked and flavored with whole Indian spices, tempered with dried pomegranate seeds and smoked with desi ghee
– Dal Shakahari: black lentils, soaked overnight and rajma, tempered with cumin, fresh garlic and white butter
– Gucchi Pulao: long grain rice flavored with whole spices
– Stuffed kulcha, Roti, Naan, Laccha Paratha

The dum paneer kasoori and dal shakahari were amazing. So flavorful and delicious. The pindi choley reminded me of my recent trip to Amritsar. I wanted to go for a second helping but I had to leave some room for dessert. Considering the lavish variety our meal had to offer, I was eagerly waiting to see what the desserts would have in store.

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Once everyone was done with their meal, the friendly and hospitable staff of Shakahari, escorted us to the ‘Mishtan Bhandar’ – a room filled with sweet treats. Yes, you read that right. A ROOM full of sweet treats! Everything was so tempting that for a minute I almost forgot I had to take pictures and started helping myself. We could choose from a selection of freshly cut fruits like guava, apple, pineapple, dragon fruit among others or desserts like

– Mango Rabadi
– Malai Kulfi
– Vanilla Ice Cream
– Kesar Pista Kulfi
– Moong Dal Halwa
– Gulab Jamun
– Lychee Gulla
– Kaju Pista Roll
– Moti Chor Ladoos
– Kadambari
– Badambhog
– Ghewar

I literally wanted to try everything but unfortunately was already pretty full. So I tried a small piece of the ghewar and some mango rabadi – both, absolutely awesome. And finally finished off with some paan.

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While chatting with Mr. Mishra, I was intrigued to know how long it took to formulate such a royal meal. ‘About 4 months and 60 tastings later we finalized on the menu,’ he said. Unlike most Thali places where you’re served in a rush, the meal at Shakahari is timed (approximately 60 minutes per sitting) so every guest can absorb the food and enjoy every bit of the experience. The menu keeps changing every now and then so there’s always something new to look forward to.

An hour-long chatting session and a few cups of green tea later, it was time to bid adieu. So we thanked the wonderful team for their impeccable service and hospitality and proceeded towards the car, which once again had been stacked with still, sparkling water and other beverages. Our drive back was just as enjoyable as before as we didn’t get any traffic and were home in less than 3 hours.

All-in-all, it was truly a fun getaway from the city – even though it was just for a few hours. Will most certainly be going back soon again…this time for more than just a meal!

Shakahari - JW Marriott Pune Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cheese Workshop organized by the European Union & CNIEL

The best cheese in the world comes from Europe where artisans and big producers use their ancestral know-how to produce a wide variety of fine cheese. From French Camembert to Italian Burrata, the range of cheese is very diverse.

Today, the dairy industry in the European Union is the most productive and the most successful in the world. Its strict regulations by the European Union and the CNIEL (National Interprofessional Center of the Dairy Economy, France), a privately run organization whose main objective is to promote dairy products and to facilitate relationships between dairy producers and processors, makes cheese from Europe, the best and safest product for the consumer.

In order to promote French cheese, the European Union and CNIEL organized a cheese tasting workshop, this afternoon, with French Chef François Robin at Artisan, Sofitel Mumbai BKC. Awarded the Best Cheese Monger of France, Chef Robin demonstrated exclusive recipes based on the available vegetarian cheese (without any animal rennet) and added a unique Indian touch to create fusion food, using cheese as the main ingredient. ‘Make cheese, not war. Atleast that’s what we do in France,’ he jokingly said. For those of you who don’t know, France has over 2000 different types of cheese – so there’s something for everyone.

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Our workshop started with a tasting of four different types of cheese – Camembert, Chevre, Comté & Roquefort. Blindfolded with our nose blocked, the entire experience depended solely on our taste buds. We could touch and taste but could not see or smell – which makes a world of a difference when it comes to cheese. Camembert with its bloomy rind was my absolute favorite…especially when it was baked and runny. While Chevre was creamy, flavorful and a tad bit salty, Roquefort was intense and had probably been aged for several months. ‘In France, cheese is considered to be a meal for everyone – rich or poor, as it is more affordable than milk,’ said Chef Robin.

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Soon after our tasting, he demonstrated a few quick recipes that were delicious beyond words and super easy to make.

Goat’s cheese or Chevre:
Mix together with chopped coriander in a bowl and sprinkle with roasted sesame seeds.

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Comté:
Remove the rind. Cut into small pieces. Dip in balsamic vinegar reduction and coat with roasted sesame seeds.

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Camembert:
Bake until the cheese is soft and runny on the inside. Top with toasted nuts OR Mix together finely chopped apricots, pistachios and mascarpone cheese with a little bit of gin. Slice the wheel into two and pipe the mixture in between.

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Spain – A Country To Savour

There’s something for everyone in Spain – a country that is more diverse than you can imagine. Food and wine are two things every Spaniard is passionate about. From delicious seafood, tortilla, tapas and paella to delectable sangria, cava and world famous Spanish wines – the food alone is worth the trip to this country.

Spanish cuisine enthralls you with its colors, textures, fragrances and burst of flavors. Each region has its own speciality and taste. Whether you dine at a local earthy bar or a Michelin starred restaurant, you’re in for a gastronomic treat. While discovering its gorgeous towns, sophisticated cities, calm countryside and postcard beaches, don’t forget to explore the culture that is hidden in their kitchens. Spanish cooking is fairly simple that involves the use of minimum spices and condiments so as to bring out natural flavors. Most people follow traditional recipes that have been handed down through generations.

Ma Purificación Hernández Gajate, Chancellor – Consulate of Spain in Mumbai says, “Good food is a way of life in Spain. We prepare special foods for every occasion – be it a birthday, anniversary, festival or any kind of celebration. Here, food brings people closer. Even though the country is small, the diversity of food is very big.”

So no matter how many museums you’ve set foot in or how many markets you’ve visited, you don’t really know Spain until you’ve got a taste of its local food. Here’s a list you cannot miss:

Paella:
Considered to be the national dish of Spain, Paella is a rice preparation, available all over the country that can be enjoyed either as a starter or as a main dish. Traditionally, it is served in a large shallow pan with rice, chicken, saffron, seafood, olive oil and beans. However, if you want to try an authentic, flavorful and aromatic version, there is no better place than Valencia! Valencians regard this dish as an identifying symbol as it originated there. Though there are many variations available all over, the original one is called paella Valenciana.

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Spanish Paella – PC: http://www.noshin.it

Tapas:
You can’t leave Spain without trying its world famous Spanish tapa! It’s like visiting London and not seeing the Big Ben or visiting Dubai and missing out on the Burj Khalifa. You just cannot! Tapas are little meals/appetizers that can be enjoyed anywhere at any time. Though small in size, they are packed with flavors. Be it sweet, spicy, tangy or savory – there’s a myriad variety to choose from. Patatas bravas, chopitos, croquetas are some of the most famous Spanish tapas.

Bocadillo con Tortilla:
In Spain, you are sure to find various forms of tortilla – some with a thick texture while some others that are thinner. However, the traditional Spanish tortilla is made with potatoes, onions, eggs, olive oil, salt and pepper. It is an easy to prepare dish that can either be enjoyed as a Spanish omlette – tortilla de patatas or tucked into two slices of bread and served warm and crusty as a Spanish omlette sandwich – bocadillo con tortilla. It is easily available in almost every bar and is extremely popular all over the country. Madrid, however, is known for its bocadillo’s – most famous ones being the squid bocadillo and the ham and cheese one.

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Bocadillo con Tortilla – PC: http://www.elmonstruodelasgalletas.com

Gambas al Ajillo:
Perhaps the most common tapa in Spain, gambas al ajillo or garlic shrimp is mainly admired in the south and centre of the country as it is cheap, easy-to-make and delicious. Fresh prawns doused in garlic, olive oil and chilli peppers make this dish a luscious and satisfying one, best enjoyed with a chilled glass of vino. Garlic and chilli pepper infused olive oil when coated on the shrimp bring out all the natural flavors that make it absolutely irresistible. Buen provecho!

Gambas al ajillo - Bon Appetit Magazine

Gambas al Ajillo – PC: Bon Appetit Magazine

Gazpacho:
A world famous cold soup, originally from the southern region of Andalusia in Spain, Gazpacho is ideally served in summer months because it is nutritious and refreshing. Blended with tomatoes, cucumber, onion, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper and served with croutons and ice cubes, it is perfect for a hot sunny day.

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Gazpacho – PC: http://www.vinesmag.com

Chorizo:
A smoked pork sausage seasoned with chilli and paprika, Spanish chorizo is easily available fresh, dried or in a semi-dried form. It’s the Pimentón – smoked Spanish paprika that lends its distinctive red color and smoky flavor. Available at most supermarkets or delis in two variations – spicy (picante) and sweet (dulce), chorizos are undeniably mouthwatering and can be enjoyed in any savory dish, slow-cooked stew, pasta or on a baguette with cheese – recipes are limitless.

Chorizo - Vikalinka

Chorizo – PC: Vikalinka

Basque Cuisine:
Spain’s Basque Country has become a destination for epicureans. The region boasts of almost 40 Michelin starred restaurants that serve Basque cuisine that is considerably unique and different from traditional Spanish cuisine. What makes it stand out is the use of seasonal top quality produce and fresh ingredients sourced from the Cantabrian Sea (fish & seafood), local farms and gardens. A quintessential Basque dish includes Salt Cod in various forms and peppers to be enjoyed with a Sidra (cider) or Txakoli (white wine). Pintxos are another distinguishing feature of Basque cuisine popular at all their restaurants and bars. They are small plates of skewered foods, served with various toppings (combinations are endless) – bite-sized, quick, and easy to prepare even at home. Marmitako, a Basque fish stew prepared with freshly caught tuna, potatoes, tomatoes, spices and peppers is also a must-try.

Horchata de Chufa:
Made from tigernuts (chufas), water and sugar, horchata is Spain’s most loved beverage. It is super healthy (minus the sugar) and energizing so even if you’re vegan or lactose-intolerant, you can surely try this! Tigernuts or chufas are grown in the fields of Alboraya, a small village near Valencia, well known for its top-quality horchata. It is usually served ice-cold with fartons – an elongated, spongy sweet pastry, glazed with sugar, best enjoyed when dipped in a horchata.

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Horchata de chufa – PC: http://www.spanish-food.org

Churros:
If you’re looking for a sweet treat, these long, fried, sugary-sprinkled dough sticks are ubiquitous with Spain. Dunk them in a cup of creamy hot Spanish chocolate and you’re in for an indulgent treat. History has it that they were invented by Spanish shepherds since the fried dough was easy to make in the mountains. It is a typical Spanish breakfast delicacy that usually comes in two types – a thinner and knotted variety popular in cities like Madrid and Barcelona and a thicker type famous in Andalusia (also known as Porras).

Churros - Kathi Deliciously Yum

Churros – PC: Kathi, Deliciously Yum

Spanish Sidra:
Sidra or cider flows like a river in Spain. Drop in to any sidrerias and you’ll see Spaniards filling glass after glass. Made from wild apples, Cider is a living drink, fermented with wild yeast. It keeps developing as it is not pasteurized, filtered or undergoing any other process. Every sip that you have from a fresh barrel will taste different each time you have it. There’s a particular way of serving this drink, which is best experienced at restaurants in Asturia where locals drink more than 14 gallons of cider. Your hands are meant to be as far apart from each other as possible while pouring it from the bottle to the glass. Servers are certified to do this without spilling even a drop on the ground. If you’re in Spain, this should surely be on your priority list.

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Asturian Sidra – PC: MissAdventuress.com

For more details on Spain, log onto http://www.spain.info/

Foodie Adventures in Tokyo

Tokyo, the capital city of Japan is known for its lip-smacking Japanese cuisine. From fine-dining restaurants to cafes, from sushi parlors to ramen stalls, this place is sure to provide you with a one-of-a-kind gastronomic experience. Walk around and you’ll see diners slurping freshly made noodles, chefs rolling sushis, sweets displayed at store windows and tourists wondering what to eat. If you need to know where to begin, read on and find out more.

1) Sushi –
Sushi is a Japanese food consisting of cooked rice combined with other ingredients, seafood and vegetables. It is a Japanese speciality and is available at every restaurant that serves Japanese cuisine all over the world. In Tokyo, relish delicious sushi for breakfast at a shop just outside Tsukiji market, the world’s biggest wholesale fish and seafood market

Sushi

2) Ramen –
Also known as Chinese noodle soup, this delicacy is surely worth a try and is best served at century old shops around Tokyo. Some of these ancient shops are so popular that you are sure to wait in a line for as long as an hour

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3) Taiyaki –
Taiyaki is a sweet pastry filled with sweet red bean or sweet potato, in the shape of a fish. It may sometimes also consist of custard, chocolate or cheese and is sure to leave you craving for more

Taiyaki

4) Negitoro Don –
This Japanese speciality is a combination of raw tuna and green onions over rice that is enjoyed best when served warm

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5) Okonomiyaki/Monchayaki –
Okonomiyaki are Japanese Style ‘pancakes’ that can be made with any number of ingredients (cabbage, thin slices of pork belly, octopus, shrimp, cheese etc.) This popular dish originated in the Kansai Area but has been served in some areas like Asakusa for a very long time, making it a perfect dish to enjoy in Tokyo as well as Kansai.

Okonomiyaki

Unlike Okonomiyaki, Monchayaki is a 100% Tokyo-style dish. It is Okonomiyaki’s gloopy, soupy cousin, made with a flour-based batter topped with shredded cabbage and other ingredients and cooked on a griddle. Best enjoyed in one of the small restaurants located at Tsukishima Monja Streets

6) Tamagoyaki –
This Japanese fried omelette is yummiest at the various specialized shops just outside Tsukiji market

Tamgoyaki

7) Chanko Nabe –
A hot pot designed to ‘fatten up’ sumo wrestlers with a variety of ingredients like meat, cabbage and seasonal vegetables. Originally only served in sumo stables, the tasty hot pot nowadays is also very popular with the general public. The best places to enjoy this dish can be found in Ryogoku where most sumo stables are located

Chanko Nabe

8) Sweet crepe –
Filled with ice cream, fruits and whipped cream, the gigantic sweet wraps have not much in common anymore with the original from France, but are definitely worth a try. The most famous shops are on trendy Takeshita street in Harajuku

Sweet Crepes

9) Takoyaki –
Also known as fried octopus, they are small ball-shaped snacks with octopus inside. Originating in Osaka, you can find some great street food stalls selling takoyaki in Tokyo too

Takoyaki

To book a trip to Tokyo, contact Debbie Duncan-Studart, General Manager, Abercrombie & Kent
Debbie Duncan-Studart,
Abercrombie & Kent
Ground Floor, Tower 4, Etihad Towers,
Abu Dhabi, UAE
www.abercrombiekent.ae
Telephone  +9712 245 8100

*All images have been sourced from Google & Pinterest