Dinner at Zengo, Le Royal Meridien Hotel, Dubai

Our trip to Dubai was filled with some of the most incredible food I’ve tasted. The quality was exceptionally high at every spot we tried. I’ve heard a lot about how great the service in Dubai but the flavours… Oh the flavours! We had so many new favourite dishes. From the very best crème brûlée at La Petite Maison to hot fluffy pitta bread to swirl in bowls of incredible garlicky, zingy hummus beiruti, we truly feasted.

 

I’ve found myself using the words “favourite” and “best” way too much since I came back from Dubai. I genuinely can’t stop. We ate SO many beautiful things and I just can’t stop telling people about the food. We treated ourselves to some of the best restaurants and the food was just consistently incredibly high quality and packed with flavour! Our Dubai trip was predominantly about relaxation and eating and, for that, I have no regrets!

A foodie highlight of our trip was our meal at Zengo, one of the Pan Asian restaurants at Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort. It’s a hotel that the Doc has stayed in many times and so he was keen to take me there on our first trip to Dubai together. On this occasion, we didn’t stay there but we had an epic dinner that I just have to share with you! SPOILER ALERT: You may get hungry, sorry!

Here’s what we ate:

Citrus fruits, togarashi, pickled onions dill oil, lemon gel

Too often when something is listed as “spicy” on a menu, in fine dining restaurants, I find that spices are used VERY cautiously. Chefs, I get that you don’t want to overpower flavours but spices (and not just chilli) can be a burst of flavour and warmth that bring a dish to life – if the menu says spicy we know it’ll be spicy (or at least we hope so when we order it!). When our first dish at Zengo was brought to the table, I wanted to get up, run into the kitchen and give the chef a HUGE hug! WHAT A REVELATION! A chef who isn’t afraid to pack food with flavour and a generous amount of chilli.

I love fresh tuna and this seared tuna was just utter perfection with its spicy crust and tangy freshness. Dotted between the tuna were delicate slices of fresh sweet pineapple and zesty lemon, which married perfectly with the tuna. This is about as good as any starter gets – fresh, zingy, spiced with togarashi (a Japanese spice chilli blend) so well balanced! I honestly think I could have had plate after plate of this and left Dubai as a very happy, very full lady. Delicious!

Next up, we had the Angry Zengo Maki Rolls – Tuna, avocado, cucumber, sriracha sauce

More tuna, yes, but so different from the last dish! This was another sublime take on something that can often be quite simple. These maki rolls were incredibly fresh and full of flavour from the kick of sriracha. They had been garnished with a crispy topping of tempura crumb, which added some crunch and texture. An absolute triumph and up there with some of the tastiest maki rolls I’ve ever eaten! My lunchtime Itsu sushi order, al-desko, will never be the same!

Our final raw starter was the salmon sashimi which had the perfect amount of fattiness but next to the other starters, it couldn’t compete. By no means was it bad, it was definitely very good quality, it just paled in excitement next to the other dishes! I loved how beautifully it was presented, on ice with edible flowers and hot wasabi.

Moving onto hot starters, Chicken karaageChicken thigh with Korean chili sauce and sesame seed

Succulent chicken coated by a light, crispy batter came with a tangy, spicy dipping sauce. Whilst I presume this dish was probably fried, I liked that it wasn’t at all greasy and actually pretty light despite the very generous sized portion!

I washed this down with a fruity Cherry Blossom mocktail of hibiscus, cherry and lemonade to rehydrate. But of what we had to drink, the Doc definitely ordered best. He’s a huge fan of Negronis and it’s almost always his drink of choice for a pre-dinner drink. Zengo’s Mango Negroni didn’t disappoint – the mango juice was actually frozen into a large ice cube, so it melted slowly, releasing bursts of mango with each sip.

After our starters we were in for a bit of a laugh – our waiter came over and asked: “How was your meal? Can I bring you the dessert menu?” Awkward much?! Either we had eaten more than is socially acceptable for most people for starters, or he was utterly confused. We laughed, told him we were keen to try the mains and deliberated over what to order. Zengo has an extensive menu from curries, to wok-fried dishes, hot dishes cooked on the Robata and grilled items so there was a lot to choose from!

After much umm’ing and aah’ing and a few peeks over at the dishes on nearby tables, we went for the BBQ lamb ribs, the Chicken coconut and the US prime tenderloin.

The BBQ lamb ribs were flavoured and cooked very well, however, whilst the portion was very generous and I liked the slight sweetness of the curry-infused sauce, the ribs were a bit too fatty for my liking.

The Chicken coconut, on the other hand, was divine. Marinated charred chicken bathed in a fragrant coconut sauce with a velvety, almost luxurious feel. I loved the slight smokiness paired with the freshness of the fresh mint and coriander salad which it was served with.

Surprisingly, one of the side dishes was up there as one of the best dishes for me. Now hear me out. The main ingredient was tofu. No this isn’t bland, tasteless, sponge-like or boring at all! It was comparable to some of the best pan asian dishes I’ve tried and I defy anyone who says they don’t like tofu once they’ve tried this dish at Zengo! It annoys me when some restaurants treat tofu too simply (I.e. just fried and seasoned) because frankly it is boring. Tofu isn’t full of flavour on its own; it really needs flavour and a bit of attention. Zengo’s tofu is DELICIOUS! Tofu came in a glorious five spice batter. It was peppery, with a soft tender centre yet audibly crispy on the outside. Whether or not you’re vegetarian – oh god you NEED this. This is technically a side dish but I think it would make a great starter. It’s the most flavour packed tofu I’ve ever had!

Our final main was the US Prime Tenderloin, cooked medium rare and serve on a Fois gras sauce and parsnip puree. It was cooked to perfection!

We were pretty full but our waiter advised us that we couldn’t leave without pudding!

We had no idea what to expect when ordering the Pralus Bio Equateur – I still don’t actually know what it means but what arrives was a theatrical show on dry ice of dark chocolate pudding, sweet honeycomb cake, peanut plantain and beautiful honey ice cream. I actually really loved the plantain and icecream most and would have been happy to have had just that. The portion was enormous so I’d recommend sharing puddings rather than individuals.

Our final course, and possibly my favourite of all was the white chocolate semi freddo.

Zengo had this perfected. It was light and refreshing with lime brioche, spicy peanut brittle and a mini mountain of sweet green apple salad – perfect after such a heavy meal! I can’t recommend it enough!

I was so pleasantly surprised by Zengo at Le Royal Meridien hotel – innovative dishes, romantic atmosphere, generous portions and beautiful settings that make it a contender for best Pan Asian restaurant in Dubai! The service was good but not quite as slick as some of the other Dubai restaurants we tried, but the food and atmosphere more than made up for that!

Dare I say it? Well, I probably shouldn’t say so but I like it even more than Nobu (and it’s less expensive!) If you’re in Dubai or planning a trip, book in and let me know what you think! (And don’t leave without trying that seared tuna, ok?!)

What are your favourite spots for Pan Asian food? Leave a comment below or contact me via Instagram. More info needed? Check out the website here.

Our meal at Zengo was complimentary, but as always, my views are 100% my own!

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La Petite Maison Dubai – an incredible lunch

La Petite Maison is somewhere I’ve wanted to try for many years. Seven years to be specific!

When I was at university, each summer I got a temp job to pay for my summer trips. One year, I got a temporary job as a secretary for a wealth management firm in London. I walked past La Petite Maison London on Brook’s Mews, every single day that summer. I heard voices in French and English, witnessed business meetings and saw friendly reunions over impeccable food and wine. It looked beautiful and glamorous – I was nineteen and it looked dreamy. Dining al fresco with food that looked Masterchef-worthy… well, it was pretty as a picture and I wanted in! But I was a student and frankly, I didn’t have a full Celine purse to match the bill! I peeked in a few times and began my restaurant list. I looked away most days but all these years later I hadn’t forgotten it! A couple of times I’d been booked in but plans had been rearranged so, even after I started full-time work, I never made it to La Petite Maison.

La Petite Maison - glass window - best restaurant for lunch in Dubai on the Lifestyle Enthusiast blog

So, when we booked a trip to Dubai, La Petite Maison was at the top of my list of places to eat and the first restaurant I booked. It’s a risky strategy though, going somewhere you’ve put on a pedestal for SEVEN years! I had heard good things but didn’t know if it was worth the hype.

The day finally arrived, we got a taxi to DIFC Dubai and we were finally there to meet my #foodiegoals from 2010!

The room is bright white and airy, with French art everywhere. The white interior has splashes of colour from vibrant Mediterranean vegetables piled high around the open kitchen. There are antique style Taittinger champagne boxes and elaborate salt and pepper mills! It’s the epitome of #interiorgoals on Instagram! The bar is clad with rose gold and copper accents and despite the rise in popularity of bare tables in London, here, the white tablecloth is back, unapologetic and back in action, broken up with simple burst of bright veg and pepper mills!

La Petite Maison - Chef's bar vegetables - best restaurant for lunch in Dubai on the Lifestyle Enthusiast blog

La Petite Maison - salt and pepper mills - best restaurant for lunch in Dubai on the Lifestyle Enthusiast blog

La Petite Maison champagne boxes - best restaurant for lunch in Dubai on the Lifestyle Enthusiast blog

We had been advised upon booking that, given that it was Ramadan, there would be no alcohol served. Whilst we perused the menu we went for a glass of Limonade Noire instead – a thirst-quenching refreshing mocktail of rosemary-infused honey, lemon, activated charcoal and soda water.

Limonade Noire at La Petite Maison, the best restaurant for lunch in Dubai on the Lifestyle Enthusiast blog

Menu at La Petite Maison, the best restaurant for lunch in Dubai on the Lifestyle Enthusiast blogFor starters, we opted for a full-flavoured black olive tapenade which was served with perfect crispbreads. The irony-rich flavour of the olives made a strong match for the bread but they paired like they were made for each other!

Olive tapenade with crisp bread at La Petite Maison, the best restaurant for lunch in Dubai on the Lifestyle Enthusiast blog

We decided to share the whole sea bream in Papillote for our main. It was described as fish en papillote with olive oil, lemon and herbs. It was presented, whole before being filleted and served with a fresh shaved fennel and chive crunchy salad. This was some of the tastiest fish I’ve ever had, with bold but not overpowering flavours of confit lemon skin and herbs aux Provence. A side of Dauphinoise potatoes completed it! A glass of white wine would be so good with it but the Limonade Noire was a surprisingly good match!

Of course, the fish was perfectly cooked and a triumph of a dish. There were lots of “mmms”, “aaah my god” and “this is so delicious!”. Our plates were spotless at the end – despite the large portion we polished it off!

Fish, herbs and olive oil in papillotte at La Petite Maison, the best restaurant for lunch in Dubai on the Lifestyle Enthusiast blog

The potatoes were oozy, rich and creamy and worked surprisingly well!

Potato Dauphinoise at La Petite Maison, the best restaurant for lunch in Dubai on the Lifestyle Enthusiast blog

Potato Dauphinoise at La Petite Maison, the best restaurant for lunch in Dubai on the Lifestyle Enthusiast blog

Potato Dauphinoise at La Petite Maison, the best restaurant for lunch in Dubai on the Lifestyle Enthusiast blog

We were offered the dessert menu, and I thought back to all that time ago, where I had walked past the London restaurant and peered in at the desserts. They were so pretty and had wowed me. I couldn’t come all this way and not eat pudding. We were full but we had to! I can always find space for dessert, can’t you?

We had a slight mix up and ended up swapping a cheesecake but ended up with the best Creme Brûlée and apple tart EVER! I never go for creme brûlée as it’s not that exciting – I find it pretty much the same wherever I have it and find it can be lacking in flavour… but the Doc loves it and I’m now sooooo happy he suggested it! Honestly, it was the most creamy, soft, almost custardy perfection with a thin crisp sugar audibly crackly topping. The apple tart was up there too, finely sliced sharp apple delicately topping very crispy, sweet puff pastry. La Petite Maison definitely know good pud!

Tarte Tatin at La Petite Maison, the best restaurant for lunch in Dubai on the Lifestyle Enthusiast blog

Creme Brulee at La Petite Maison, the best restaurant for lunch in Dubai on the Lifestyle Enthusiast blog

Creme Brulee at La Petite Maison, the best restaurant for lunch in Dubai on the Lifestyle Enthusiast blogWe loved our meal so much, with faultless food, generous portions for a fine dining spot and impressive service, I have no doubt we will be going again one day when we are next in Dubai.

Art deco bar Creme Brulee at La Petite Maison, the best restaurant for lunch in Dubai on the Lifestyle Enthusiast blog

Flowers Creme Brulee at La Petite Maison, the best restaurant for lunch in Dubai on the Lifestyle Enthusiast blog

So yes. It’s been seven years since I got my first glimpse of La Petite Maison in London and whilst it’s been many years and I’ve had many many many meals since, I still haven’t made it to that Brooks Mew’s London branch of this restaurant. That’s got to change ASAP as if it’s anything like it’s sister restaurant in Dubai, well, then we may have just found my new favourite French spot for us, outside of France!

Open kitchen Creme Brulee at La Petite Maison, the best restaurant for lunch in Dubai on the Lifestyle Enthusiast blog

I couldn’t recommend it more if you love French food and are visiting Dubai! It was, to me, like Aubaine but with miles better service and food!

What’s your favourite French restaurant? Where should I try next?

La Petite Maison Dubai is located in the DIFC area of Dubai. More details can be found on the website here.

 

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My Travel Menu: 3 places I’ve been lucky to visit


Lifestyle Enthusiast Travel Blog - Canaima Venezuela
I turned 26 last week, whilst I was in Edinburgh, and amidst the celebrations and travel, I took some time out to think. To think about what I loved over the last 26 years and what I’d like to do differently this year.

This got me thinking. I’m a girl who is fully consumed by wanderlust. I’m asked all the time about where I’m going next and yes my list is endless. I’d love to travel the whole world – and that’s no small ambition. This year, I’m going to consciously remember how lucky I am for having been to some of the most wonderful places in the world. I want to take more time out to appreciate the trips I have made, as well as make new discoveries.

Recently, I’ve been joining the monthly Travel Link up, where a group of us travel bloggers write on one topic for one post each month. Last month, I co-hosted the Travel Link up and wrote all about the incredibly inspiring Mexico City. This month’s Travel Link up theme was a bit more abstract! I was asked, “If travel was a menu, what would be your starter (short haul), main (long haul) and/or dessert (a place with a lasting impression)?”

I thought hard and toyed with the paradox of choice. So many options! I’ve been to so many incredible places – where do I start? I decided to go with a few of the places I’ve been daydreaming a lot about recently! So, based on the trips I’ve made, here are three that would make up my “travel menu”.

Hint: There’s a “course” choice in here that you may not have expected from me. Read to the end!

Starter – Short Haul

Copenhagen in Denmark is to me, the perfect weekend break from the UK for any foodie. With flights taking less than two hours, and often costing very little (we once flew for £20 from London Ryanair!) Copenhagen is a perfect spot to soak in some culture, fall in love with the art of Danish hygge (think warming candles, fluffy cushions, minimalist interiors, hot mulled wine over winter and other cosy little pleasures).

Travel Link Up May 2017 - Copenhagen Interior - Lifestyle Enthusiast

I’ve visited twice and even now I’d return happily in an instant. It’s been named the happiest city in the world and I can see why. Not only is it achingly cool but it is laid back, pretty and the people are seriously welcoming.

The fashion scene is, to me, some of the best. I struggle to find pieces I like but both times in Copenhagen I’ve come back with suitcases filled to the brim. You just can’t beat the shopping!

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I love picking which boat I’d have, amongst sherbet coloured Nyhavn, where the canals are. I love walking hand-in-hand with my other half around the maze of cobbled streets. I love catching some sun in the lush, green parks. But most of all, I love the food in Copenhagen!


Travel Link Up May 2017 - Copenhagen Nasturtium - Lifestyle Enthusiast

The capital of Denmark is truly going through a foodies revolution. Scandi-style influences everything from top-notch street foods at Torvehallane Market, kooky little coffee shops to high-end fine-dining iconic restaurants like Noma.  Nordic cuisine to me has the best bread in the world (the sourdough bread from Mirabelle Bakery has a firm spot on my wish list for my last ever meal on earth!).

Travel Link Up May 2017 - Copenhagen - Sourdough Bread - Lifestyle Enthusiast

It’s a small enough place that you could see it in a weekend from the UK, but it’s so charming that you won’t be able to resist going back time after time!

Main course – Long Haul

A truly alternative long haul that I loved was visiting Canaima, in South-Eastern Venezuela, along the border between Guyana and Brazil. We were off to see the highest uninterrupted waterfall in the world, Salto Ángel, more often known as ‘the Angel falls’. These falls are named after Jimmy Angel, an American who was searching for gold and diamonds in 1935, and instead happened upon these falls.

Lifestyle Enthusiast Travel Blog - Canaima Venezuela 1

There is no road access to Salto Ángel, instead masses of lush wilderness which truly adds to the magic. Honestly, the views on the hike through Canaima National Park are just as breath-taking as Salto Ángel itself, through beautiful smaller waterfalls, with exotic wildlife and incredible colours.

Lifestyle Enthusiast Travel Blog - Canaima Venezuela Sitting by FallsThis was one of the places where truly the journey is equal to the final destination, in terms of beauty, and even though flip flops are officially the worst choice of hiking footwear, I loved this hike so much!

Lifestyle Enthusiast Travel Blog - Canaima Venezuela Hike

It’s a place unlike any other. Canaima is a wildlife-rich destination that didn’t fail to surprise and impress me. I visited with my best friend, without very much research but with a strong bout of wanderlust and a desire to explore. It’s a spectacular national park and one I have incredibly fond memories of!

Sadly, for most, Venezuela is no longer on the tourist to-do list. Whilst it was once a very rich, powerful country, it’s now deemed unstable and relatively unsafe. It’s a real shame as for me, it’s one of the most interesting and beautiful places I’ve visited.

Despite this, it’s a long-haul destination I won’t ever forget and deserves to be recognised for a place of unrivalled scenery.

Dessert – the spot with a lasting impression

I don’t think I’ll ever forget visiting South America for the first time. I was nineteen years old and went to Argentina and Brazil for 6 weeks on the first independent trip I’d ever made. From this trip, one place stands out to me more than any other, and it is where I escape to in my daydreams on any bad day.

Paraty in Brazil is an easy place to get stuck into and an even easier one in which to linger, amongst the pristine soft flour-like sandy beaches where you can spot turtles and catch a Brazilian tan. Its cobblestoned streets are closed to most cars so pollution is low and there is an easy going vibe. It’s the place I felt safest in all of Brazil, so much so that the hotel owners told us it was fine to hitch hike up the main roads, and we even caught a lift with a man transporting bananas (but that’s a tale for another day!)

Lifestyle Enthusiast Travel Blog - Paraty Brasil - Beach

With dozens of picture-perfect, secluded beaches, rum distilleries and a backdrop of the vivid green jungle, it is my paradise and a place which left an impression like no other. One of my happiest travel memories was diving into the turquoise waters with the sound of samba music on the boat.

Lifestyle Enthusiast Travel Blog - Paraty Brasil - Boat Jump

It’s hard not to fall for Paraty as the people are kind, the beaches are some of the best in the world and the tropical fruit just can’t be beaten! I’ve vowed to go back one day, and if you get the chance you should too!

Lifestyle Enthusiast Travel Blog - Paraty Brasil - Boat

Lifestyle Enthusiast Travel Blog - Paraty Brasil - Beach at Dusk

I’ve been lucky to visit these beautiful places. On the next drizzly grey day in London, well, you know where my mind will be!

Which places have you loved? Have you visited Denmark, Venezuela or Brazil? Have you got any of these on your list? Leave me a comment below, I love to hear from you! xx

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At the beginning of each month, I like to take part in the monthly travel link up hosted on the incredible blogs by AngieEmma, Polly and this month’s special co-host, Binny’s Kitchen and Travel Diaries. You can join in too by leaving a comment below, checking out other posts on the link up, or adding your own post to the widget now until May 7th.

48 Hours in KL – A weekend guide to Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur is a brilliant city – a cosmopolitan blend of Malay, Chinese and Indian influence, it blends traditions and culture alongside cutting edge technology. It has vivid banyan trees, iconic minarets, and giant-sized skyscrapers, as well as the traffic to rival many big cities. KL (as it’s fondly called by all locals) is a city of contrasts is busy but so charming, and within just 48 hours you can get a great insight into this friendly but frenetic place.

48 Hours in Kuala Lumpur (KL)_ Views_Lifestyle Enthusiast

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that one of the key reasons I wanted to visit KL was for the food. KL boasts some of the best food in the world, influenced by a melting pot of cultures. With every type of restaurant from street hawker markets to high-end restaurants, KL really is a great spot for foodies. Before I went, naively, all I was excited to eat was Penang Curry. I left with a serious new love for Malaysian food and I’m so keen to go back as soon as possible!

So, you’ve got 48 hours in KL. What should you do? What should you eat? Here’s what I’d suggest.

Day 1 

If you’ve taken the same British Airways flight as we did, then you’re probably getting into KL in the early evening. Once you’ve arrived at your accommodation, shower and freshen up, make sure you’ve got some cash (the currency is Malaysian Ringgit) and head out – it’s time to get some food.

48 Hours in Kuala Lumpur (KL)_ Satay Jalan Alor_ Lifestyle Enthusiast

Jalan Alor at night

Jalan Alor is an entire street dedicated to food – it’s a great way to taste local food in a safe environment. This Hawker market truly comes alive in the evening. I can be excited for weeks after going to a great restaurant, and I’m really loving working through the list of the 50 World’s Best restaurants. However, I’m most excited when surrounded by great food, regardless of surroundings, and food markets abroad are especially exciting to me! With aromatic fragrances, colourful fruits and vegetables, sizzling street food and a buzzing vibe, Jalan Alor has the best of real fast, lipsmackingly-good food. There are no chain restaurants in sight, instead, there are truly local foods cooked quickly in front of your eyes. I absolutely loved it!

48 Hours in Kuala Lumpur (KL)_ Walking through Jalan Alor Foodie Street _ Lifestyle Enthusiast

48 Hours in Kuala Lumpur (KL)_ Stingray Jalan Alor_ Lifestyle Enthusiast

This is the first place I’ve tried grilled chilli stingray and sour plum juice and some of the best satay chicken with peanut sauce!

Enjoy the atmosphere, grab a plastic table and enjoy a very cheap, cheerful, and relaxed dinner. For dessert, you just MUST try the fresh coconut ice cream. There are a couple of stalls which serve ice cream, but look for the one that looks like this:

48 Hours in Kuala Lumpur (KL)_ Coconut Mango Ice Cream Jalan Alor_ Lifestyle Enthusiast

I tried a few different stalls and this was my favourite in KL! I defy you to tell me something which is more satisfying to eat than this intoxicatingly-good coconut ice cream, covered in the freshest sweet, ripe, mango and crushed hazelnuts, it was so perfect for a hot evening in KL!

Get a foot massage

They’re cheap and effective. Don’t go expecting a proper spa experience or anything fancy (for that you need to go here) but for around £10 you can get a really good no-frills one-hour-long foot massage. Do let the masseuse know what pressure you like and ideally take headphones so you can put in the music of your choice as you relax.

Try to shed the jet lag

There are so many good bars in KL that you could definitely go to one, and I’m sure you’d love it. That said, we found ourselves so tired and jet lagged and desperate to sleep at a normal time. The foot massage may have contributed to that! I recommend a good hot shower and a night’s sleep at a great hotel or an Airbnb before you kick off Day 2!

Day 2

If you’re anything like me, your jet-lag has meant you didn’t sleep so great. You may be groggy but you may as well wake up and get moving. You’re about to have a great day!

Batu Caves

The Batu caves are a set of giant, limestone caves just North of KL. These iconic caves are popular with lots of tourists and Hindu pilgrims, as well as many monkeys who will be sure to entertain you with their endeavours to steal food!

48 Hours in Kuala Lumpur (KL)_ Batu Caves_ Lifestyle Enthusiast

The easiest and quickest way to the Batu Caves it to take the train from ‘KL Sentral’ station directly to the Batu Caves. (Top tip: Go early and take very little with you.) There are lots of monkeys who would just love to take your food and drink! Other than a bottle of water and some cash there’s very little you will need here.

48 Hours in Kuala Lumpur (KL)_ Batu Caves Monkey_ Lifestyle Enthusiast

You can easily spend an hour or two here, be sure to see the main cave and also the Ramayana cave which has murals of the story of the Ramayan. The Ramayan is an ancient epic which tells the tale of Prince Rama rescuing his wife Sita from the demon king Ravan. I didn’t know the cave even existing before visiting, it’s truly beautiful and well worth a visit.

Top tip: For KL, wear comfortable shoes and light clothes that do well in the heat, as you’ll be walking up a lot of steps!

48 Hours in Kuala Lumpur (KL)_ Batu Caves Steps_ Lifestyle Enthusiast

48 Hours in Kuala Lumpur (KL)_ Batu Caves Monkey on gate_ Lifestyle Enthusiast

Eat dosa and roti canai

A large population of those in KL are of South Indian descent, as such, the Indian food we tried out there was really good. Right by the Batu Caves is a very simple spot called “Dhivya’s Cafe”. Here, you can try a Masala Dosa, a crispy pancake made of lentils, with a spicy potato filling and served with red tomato sambal, coriander and coconut chutneys. A good dosa should be really crispy and very thin, we found the one here to be both of those, and incredibly cheap too! It’s typically eaten for breakfast or lunch, so if you do the Batu Caves first thing in the morning, this could be a perfect spicy brunch!

Alternatively, you could venture back into KL centre and try delicious Roti Canai, my favourite Malaysian dish, which is just as fun to watch being made as it is to eat. Buttery, flaky and soft – it just melts in your mouth. Despite the fact that this is said to be an Indian-influenced dish, I’ve never tried it in India and it’s said to be easier to find in Malaysia than anywhere else! Without a doubt, in one weekend in KL you have no choice but to try both of the above dishes!

48 Hours in Kuala Lumpur (KL)_ Roti Canai being made_ Lifestyle Enthusiast

Visit the malls

It’s widely known that KL is a shopaholic’s dream – from high-end malls like Suria KLCC and Pavilion Kuala Lumpur to KL’s China Town Petaling Street Market, there’s plenty to buy if you wish to. Rather than blow all my ringgits in one go, I window shopped! We couldn’t resist trying some of the dishes from the mall too!

Walk through the KLCC park

A real surprise for me in KL was this gorgeous park. KLCC park is a 50-acre oasis in between all of the skyscrapers. You’ll see runners shoot by, romance blooming with couples strolling hand-in-hand and families together at the public children’s swimming pool. The highlight of this park is Lake Symphony, with its beautiful fountains and plenty of beautiful shrubs and flowers blooming all around it. Ideally, you could time your trip to see this to coincide with the fountain show, which happens a few times each day with music.

Have cocktails with a view

Through KLCC park you can find the entrance to Trader’s Hotel Kuala Lumpur, where Sky Bar is. Head up to sip some cocktails, high in the sky, around a swimming pool; it’s both bizarre and a fun concept! I found it just a little bit seedy (especially the Ladies Night adverts!) but the views totally make it worthwhile, with vivid pink sunsets and a beautiful dark blanket backdrop once the sun is down, it’s truly one of the best spots for watching the sun go down.

48 Hours in Kuala Lumpur (KL)_ Sunset from Sky Bar_ Lifestyle Enthusiast

48 Hours in Kuala Lumpur (KL)_ Night view from Sky Bar_ Lifestyle Enthusiast

Day 3

LaZat Malaysia Nyonya Cooking Class

This hands-on cooking class is absolutely brilliant and is a must-do for any foodie in KL. Starting with a market trip, as part of a small group you’ll get a really good insight into Malay and Chinese culture, cooking, and customs. You’ll learn to cook incredible dishes like Roti Jala (a thin pancake style roti which looks like lace), the most flavour-packed delicious chicken curry and beautiful pandan and coconut Onde-Onde (little squidgy desserts!) Nyonya cuisine comes from the descendants of early Chinese migrants who settled in Malaysia and married with local Malays – it’s spicy and warming and packed with flavour! The chefs at LaZat are kind and best of all this takes places in the most beautiful lush, green surroundings, just outside of KL. You’re certain to leave with a smile on your face!

48 Hours in Kuala Lumpur (KL)_ Lazat Cooking Class Jala Roti _ Lifestyle Enthusiast

Aperitif

Toast to your great trip at Marini’s @ 57 Bar, a rooftop bar on the 57th floor of the Petronas towers. It’s Malaysia’s highest rooftop bar and boasts great music and even better views. It’s the perfect spot to soak in the views of KL, one last time, before you vow to come back another time and head onwards to your next destination!

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Five things you can’t miss when staying at Hotel Mousai

You may have seen in my previous post why I had fallen for the room at the Hotel Mousai – who wouldn’t?! But the room isn’t the only thing I loved there. There are just so many things to do at Hotel Mousai, should you want to!

We had six incredible nights at the Hotel Mousai and whilst it’s hard to pick – here are my top must-do things for those staying at this beautiful resort.

1. Devour the breakfast

Breakfast at Hotel Mousai is honestly up there with the best hotel breakfasts’ I’ve ever had. It was definitely a close contender for my favourite hotel breakfast, high up on the list like that which we loved in Lombok. It’s a totally relaxed affair, served from 7 am to midday. There’s both a buffet and an a la carte menu and you are free to eat from either of these or both! There are a number of spaces for where you can eat too, all of which serve the classics, continental breakfasts, viennoiserie, Croque Madame’s and of course some delicious Mexican breakfast options. We both loved the Mexican chilaquiles (which we had first tried in Mexico City), consisting of fresh crispy tortillas, topped with salsas, soured cream and mole (a traditional full flavoured Mexican sauce, for which many families have their own secret recipe!)

I did, however, fall in love with amaranth granola in Mexico and it was a winner for me here at Hotel Mousai, available each day as part of the buffet. Amaranth is a bit like a grain, couscous sized, and is gluten-free. It makes a lovely crispy breakfast cereal and I really loved starting my day with it, deliciously coated in a little honey, with yoghurt, nuts and fresh fruits. My favourite item though, without any doubt, was the beautiful bircher muesli (also frequently known as overnight oats). Now I’ve had a lot of bircher muesli before, and I often make it at home, but truly I am yet to taste one as delicious as the one at Hotel Mousai. Alongside oats, soy milk and yoghurt, it had freshly grated coconut, cinnamon and pecan nuts in it. Eating that, with views of the sea, is a memory which for me, even now a year on, is still up there with some of my happiest! The hospitality of the kitchen team was unrivalled – they even wrote down the recipe for me when I told them I loved it!

Hotel Mousai breakfast buffet - Lifestyle Enthusiast

There are a few places within the resort where you can have your breakfast. If you can leave your room then I’d highly recommend going to the Terrace, with unbeatable lush green views; it’s the perfect spot to start your day with great coffee, tea, or a mimosa. There’s also the option to take your breakfast at the Blanca Blue restaurant, which is also great but shared with Garza Blanca so more suitable for families (Hotel Mousai is adults-only), but my firm favourite was the Hotel Mousai terrace. If you can’t bear the thought of leaving your hotel room, well I wouldn’t blame you, you could always order room service from your iPad and eat it whilst out on your balcony!

2. Get your spa on!

Hotel Mousai’s spa, ‘Spa Imagine’, is seriously a sight for sore eyes. It’s as luxurious as can be! I enjoyed a great massage but actually, what you mustn’t miss out on is Spa Imagine’s Hydrotherapy Circuit – it’s brilliant! It sits on the fifteenth floor with 360-degree views. Between the steam room, sauna, pressure massage rain shower, vitality pool, whirlpool and cold plunge pool – you’re left relieved of all tension. You’re assigned a spa butler upon arrival (yes really!), who advises on the best order for you and provides you with towels and chlorophyll water for rehydration. It’s truly something special and I wish I had spent more time there!

Hotel Mousai Spa - Lifestyle Enthusiast

Source: Tafer Resorts

Hotel Mousai Spa - Lifestyle Enthusiast

Source: Tafer Resorts

 

3. Work out

I should start by letting you know that I don’t usually go to the gym on holiday, but after a week of heavy meals and margaritas I was keen to get some exercise in. Well, that and the fact that my jet lag would lead to me waking up each morning by 6 am! I made myself a little routine and didn’t try to resist the jet lag. Instead, I’d quietly sneak out to the gym, via the breakfast terrace where the lovely guys would be setting up. They would let me grab a tiny chia pudding and some berries to get me started as pre-gym fuel. I’d then listen to music and watch the sunrise from the gym, as it has exceptional views of the pacific ocean. After a workout, I’d stretch in the extra exercise room and then head back to my suite, shower up, and dress for a proper breakfast with my other half. Serious bliss and it allows you more space for tortillas and ice cream by the pool!

The complimentary yoga offered by the hotel is Kundalini style, rather than the Vinyasa flow that I’m used to, so I was a little sceptical at first. That said, it was a great way to start a morning and I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather practice yoga than by the river with the sunshine lightly warming my shoulders!

4. Unplug

Annoyingly for a 5* hotel, the wifi is not included in the price. At first, I was a little frustrated by this, having to let go of my Instagram and Twitter addictions, but quickly I realised how unnecessary it was. There’s no need for the Internet when there’s a view this good, there’s yoga by the river, paddleboarding, hikes in the surrounding mountains and trips to see waterfalls, all complimentary for guests at the Mousai. Oh, and of course there are views that just cannot be beaten! We chose to just unplug from the internet and rest up, for the most part.

 

5. Visit Hiroshi

We stayed at Hotel Mousai on a bed and breakfast basis as we like the variety of being able to go out and try other restaurants, but given how beautiful the hotel was we did find ourselves not wanting to leave! One evening we tried Hiroshi, Hotel Mousai’s Japanese restaurant. It serves contemporary Asian inspired food with plenty of fresh sushi and sashimi. The food wasn’t quite as punchy as I liked (I’ve been spoiled by the delicious food at Kurobuta and Sticks and Sushi here in London), but it was really beautifully presented and I just loved listening to the sound of the waves softly lapping the ocean whilst we dined in Hiroshi. The cocktails were really great and they’re difficult to resist!

For more information, head to the Hotel Mousai website.

What do you love to do on holiday? Where have you loved staying most? Any must-try experiences at those hotels? I love to read about them so please do share these with me in the comments below, or via Instagram or Twitter!