LA Dining Hot spots

As always eating my way through places with good food is always a must while on holiday. Thanks to my awesome friends and my better half for all the wonderful dining experiences. Unfortunately,  I couldn't make it to all the places given the limited time in LA but here are the 5 I did try and would recommend the next time you are in LA if you haven't already tried them. 

1 . The Ivy

 Photo credit: The Ivy

Photo credit: The Ivy

This is by far my favorite place! Managed to swing by for a late lunch on the 4 July. Upon arrival I was greeted with a glass of bubbly on the house and given a quaint spot on the inside by the window. The decor was an eclectic mix of things with beautifully colored roses on each table. The outside was just as spectacular with guests patiently waiting 40min+ for a table outside. So if you plan on going and sitting outside, it might be best to book.

By far my favourite dish of the holiday was at The Ivy. Oven roasted lobster stuffed with Alaskan crab. Words cannot even begin to describe this dish. Cooked to perfection... it was a little slice of heaven on a plate. If shellfish ain't your thing, then would highly recommend the grilled swordfish. Incredible flavours... I almost felt like I was back in Italy. 

If you can only go to one restaurant on this list, this would be it. Loved it so much that I went back 3 times in a week. 

For the fellow gluten free peeps, they unfortunately don't have any gluten free bread but they do have plenty of gluten free options!

2. Ivory on Sunset

 Photo credit: Mary Buck

Photo credit: Mary Buck

If you want a champion breakfast and you love lobster, then this is the place! The outside tables have a beautiful view. The lobster scramble is beyond yum! I loved it so much that I went back for this brekkie twice. Plus to add to my joy, they have gluten free bread! And the gluten free bread actually tasted great compared to the usual sad cardboard taste I've sadly become accustomed to.

3. Cecconi's

 Photo credit: Cecconi's

Photo credit: Cecconi's

Yearning for a little piece of London, this place was a must on my to hit list given Cecconi's is one my hot spots in London. The menu however is different and not quite like London to be honest. However the great thing about this Cecconis though is that they had gluten free pasta and I got to indulge in one of my favorite dishes and yes it involves lobster yet again... Spaghetti, maine lobster, chili saffron and basil! Need I say more? 

4. Geoffrey's

 Photo credit: Geoffrey's

Photo credit: Geoffrey's

Located in Malibu, it's a bit of distance to get there in my opinion but definitely worth it. I would highly recommend requesting to sit outdoors as the view is just spectacular. I would go there for the view alone! It's a nice relaxing and romantic place. The food in my opinion did not quite match up to some of the places on this list but was still good. For the gluten intolerant peeps, there are gluten free options but they aren't plentiful and sadly they don't have any gluten free bread. 

5. Chateau Marmont

 Photo credit: Simon Batters

Photo credit: Simon Batters

This place was one place I was super hyped up to see and experience. I could easily see why based on the decor and the ambience. Food was ok but service was probably the worst. Definitely not a luxury 5 star experience in my opinion. That aside the place is beautiful, hence it earns a spot in my LA dining hot spots.  

Which are your LA dining hotspots? Let me know by popping a comment below

Dubai For A Weekend

A 7 to 8 hour flight and a 4 hr time difference for 3 days away. Crazy? Well maybe just a little, but then again it’s always fun being in a different city and emmersed in a different culture.  Plus if you haven’t quite figured it out yet, I am just a little travel addicted.  Ok… ok… maybe a lot travel addicted but hey what could be better than that.

So what is there to do in often referred to sand pit (and a beautiful one at that)? A lot actually but it really does depend on you. Having visited the city about three times prior with my first visit in 1995, I was really keen to re-visit the old parts of Dubai and of course enjoy the finer fun filled luxuries that Dubai has to offer. Here's a look at what I got up to with my other half:

Old Dubai

Of course the first place that we ventured was the souks (traditional markets), where haggling is name of the game. We started at the famous Gold Souk where all that glitters actually is gold! Next, we headed to the Spice Souk which was next filled with an array of exotic aromatic fragrances.

After some time, we found ourselves at the Dubai creek. A casual stroll at night showcased not only the beautiful view of New Dubai in the distance but the opportunity to see the traditional wooden dhow boats with carry cargo to be transported to to Iran, Oman, India and beyond. A startling contrast between old and new.

Along the creek, there are various water taxi (also known as abra) stations allowing one to cross the creek from Diera to Bur Dubai. As can be expected we caught an abra from Sabkha Abra station to the Dubai Old Souk Abra station, where we wandered through the Old Textile Souk.

Exploring Old Dubai is a must if you plan on immersing yourself in the city.

Beach

The beach is always on the list of things to do. Previously we visited the beach at Juemriah beach hotel which is lovely, however this time we went somewhere slightly different albeit walking distance to the previous beach we had visited.

The Cove Beach club was phenomenal! Great food, great view, great music… what more could you possibly ask for?

Dining

Food is always an important part of our travel. Previously we dined at Pier Chic at the Madinat Jumeraih which has not only wonderful seafood but a great view and overall dining experience. As much as we wanted to go back, it was fully booked. So if you do wanna book, don’t try to do so on the day cause you will find yourselve out of luck.

Of course there are many dining options in Dubai with a lot of my London favourites in Dubai. So it was no surprise, that we drawn to Zuma. Once again, they were fully booked too. Needless to say we were bummed, but tried our luck anyway by going in person and managed to get a place at the counter. Score!

The food was incredible as always, but the absolute stand out was the roasted boston lobster in shiso-ponzu butter. Phenomenal doesn’t even begin to describe how amazing it was. Honestly, I would fly back any time just to have that dish again!

Bars

Once again there are so many bars in Dubai. However we only managed to find our way to two.

The first for a relaxed afternoon drink (or tea in my case) at the Bahri Bar at Jumeirah Mina A'Salam with a beautiful view overlooking the Burj Al Arab. Do note though that it does get quite packed on a Friday evening and the once relaxed atmosphere turns loud very fast.

The second for an evening drink at Atmosphere located at the Burj Khalifa (the tallest buidling in the world) on the 122nd floor.  The view is quite something and definitely a must. Just be sure to make a reservation, otherwise you risk not being able to get in which would be a real bummer.

Dubai Fountain

The world’s largest musical fountain set on the Burj Khalifa Lake. To describe this, all I can say is wow. You honestly need to experience it for yourself. One tip though, view it at night.

Shopping

Frequently dubbed a city for shopping, its no surprise shopping made its way onto the list. Not to mention that Dubai houses one of world’s largest shopping centers (Dubai Mall) and also takes the concept of a mall to new heights with an indoor ski center at the Mall of the Emirates.

With regards to the shopping itself, I know my fellow fashionistas are curious to know whether its worth while shopping for designer goods in Dubai. The honest answer from a price perspective is no, however from the range of goods available, a definite yes. For example, if you are miss big foot like myself you will know that getting a size 42 in Loubitouns is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Its beyond impossible! However, the store in Dubai actually stocks a fair number of options in a size 42.

What are your favourite places in Dubai? Let me know by posting a comment below.

Chiang Mai for the Weekend

Almost a 3 hour flight away from Singapore, one may argue that it's a bit too far for a weekend away. That said, it's definitely worth exploring the mountainous north of Thailand. It made a good change from my weekend trips to Bangkok or Hong Kong.

So what exactly is there to do in Chiang Mai? Well quite a bit actually from trekking to elephant training and temple hopping. Unsurpirisngly, I didn't partake in any trekking as it's not really my sort of thing. Who would have guessed? On a serious note, if you are someone that loves trekking, this place is a must.

For all the non-trekkers like myself, here are some things you can get up to while in Chiang Mai:

1. Temple Hopping

The best way to see the various temples is to walk around. However if you want to go to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, it's best to use songthaews (red pick up trucks) or a cab. For those that aren't aware, songthaews are like big tuk tuks. It's is a shared ride with others. It's easy, convenient and only costs 30THB per person compared to the Tuk Tuks that try to charge 150THB upwards for a short trip.

So back to the temples.... I recommend seeing the following: Wat Phra Singh, Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep and Wat Phan Tao. There are of course plenty more temples to explore. 

If you do visit Wat Phran Tao during the day, make sure to go back at night. It's magical!

2. Elephant Training

If you're keen to bond with the elephants, have a full day to spare and feel like getting down and dirty then it's worth considering one of the full day tour options. If that's not your cup of tea, you can visit the Mae Taeng Elephant Park where you can see the elephant show and ride an elephant. I know what you're thinking, why see a show? Well, these elephants are quite incredible. They play soccer, paint and throw darts! It's also great fun, as the elephants really do have a lot of personality and seem to have fun showing off.

3. Tiger Loving

So maybe this is a bit crazy, but it's something I've always wanted to do... pet a tiger. At the Tiger Kingdom, you get to spend some time with a few tigers if you so wish. We stopped here for a quick lunch, which was surprisingly quite good. I recommend the tofu green curry.

4. Saturday Night Market

Like any market in the region, it's an intense place. It's bussling with people, street food and lots of random things. I was quite overwhelmed and completely forget to take any photos. Oops! Anyway, my one great find was virgin coconut oil! It smells heavenly and acts as a great moisturizer for my horribly dry skin.

If you do tend to be agorophobic, this might not be the best place. To say that it is packed with people, is an understatement.

So where is this place? It's in Wua Lai Road.

5. Karen Long Neck Village

Like most people, I was curious to learn more about the culture where women and girls elongate their necks with golden rings. This village however was not a true village, it was a more a market place which costs 500THB per person to enter. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed as I was hoping to see a bit more of the daily life of the Karen tribe. That being said, you do get a chance to meet the Karen woman, see how they hand weave scarves and buy various merchandise.

For those of you contemplating visiting, I highly recommend taking a direct flight from Singapore to Chiang Mai. Doing a stop over in Bangkok makes the journey that much longer and far more tiring. I've definitely learnt my lesson. As for airline carrier, it doesn't make too much difference whether you are flying SilkAir or a low cost airline.

If you've already visited Chiang Mai and have any suggestions on other things to see and do, please pop a comment below as I would love to hear them. Also if you have any questions, let me know... I promise to get back to you as soon as I can.