If you’re following me on Instagram and Snapchat (and you probably are), your ears/eyes must be bleeding from my vacation banter. I just got back from a foodie vacation–or a foodcation (as my lameness insists on calling it)– from Malaysia, and if there’s one conclusion this trip helped me reach, it’s that there is no limit to how much I can lust over and stuff my face with good Asian food. Why Malaysia, you might ask? One very simple reason: it’s SO much easier to find halal versions of the cuisines from all the neighboring countries. It should therefore come as no surprise then, that when I received an invitation to try a theme night at Blue Jade called Streets of Asia, I was already making sand angels.
Streets of Asia takes place every Wednesday night, when Blue Jade is transformed to resemble a hawker center in a Far Eastern country. As soon as I stepped in, I was warmly welcomed and instantly wowed by how amazingly these guys nailed the theme. From wooden crates through bags of ingredients within clear sight all the way till disposable containers in which the food was being poured and the brown sheets on paper on the tables– this was as “street” as a fine dining restaurant could possibly get!
When you’e greeted at the entrance, the pleasant hostess gives you a stack of faux “currency” from all the Far Eastern countries whose cuisines are being served at the Streets of Asia. Each note of “currency” buys you one portion of food from any of the stalls. They keep a tab of how many portions you’ve redeemed, and hand you the bill at the end, at the rate of AED 60 per portion. Steep? Yes -but at the end of the day- this is the Ritz-Carlton, people, it’s not Phuket.
The food was — as is the case with every single restaurant on the face of this planet– hit and miss. There is always something on every menu that is done better at a different place, and Steets of Asia was no exception. For instance, the Chili Chicken Basil here was the best I’ve ever had anywhere, but the red tomato based sauce that came on the dim sum was unpalatably briney.
Here’s what we had:
- Thai Red Curry: it was nice and fragrant but had too much salt when eaten on it’s own, without the rice on the side. I like having red curry like soup, especially when I’m trying to cut back on the carbs, but the excess salt made that difficult.
- Shrimp Paste Satay: These were quite bland, and considering the fact that they were skewered on a lemongrass stalk, I was expecting them to be a lot more fragrant. Mixing lemongrass in the shrimp paste itself would have helped a lot.
- Rice Paper Rolls: these weren’t so bad; nice and refreshing. I loved the presentation.
- Egg noodles: Not bad at all, but needed to be paired with a stir-fry of some sort to really bring out the umami
- Pad Thai: Everything about this Pad Thai was perfect, I just wish it came with an optional side of chili flakes to make it spicier.
- Duck skewers: wrapped in pipper lollot leaf, these were (according to M), to die for. These tasted like proper street food.
- Minced Chicken with Basil: This was the best chili chicken basil I’ve had, anywhere. It was so fragrant, so spicy and had so many complex layers of flavors; really made me fall in love with this dish in a way I never have before.
- Vietnamese Pho: M enjoyed this hearty, beefy broth immensely.
- Bubble tea with grass jelly: It was different from the kind I usually have, with less notes of tea and more of almond syrup, but it was enjoyable nonetheless
- Calico Mango: A truly delicious, extremely refreshing and very memorable drink. This is one not to miss.
- Bali Tea: Oh my God. For the first time ever since I’ve been single-handedly won oer by TWG water fruit tea, I’ve met a contender, and a fierce one at that. The Bali Tea by Dammann Paris has Jasmine, roses, green tea and lychee. I could not stop smelling this tea like a glue-sniffing addict. This was to die for.
An interesting experience overall, and a welcome one for those nursing their post-Far Eastern-vacation-blues.