A Singaporean Foodie Getaway in Oman! + Competition

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Iv always been a fan of Asian food, and living in Australia for a while, got me exposed to Singaporean food a lot! (there is large Singaporean community in my city). When I got invited to taste the food at ‘Asia’ in Shangrila with two acclaimed Singaporean guest chefs on board (Amer Hashim and Andy Ho) , I instantly got excited to relive my Australian memories of having Singaporean Chili Crab.
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After a long day of work I was pretty happy to see prawn crackers! I don’t need to say much about em because well….prawn crackers!

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And no Asian meal should go without a warm yet refreshing cup of Asian tea!
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We started off with a lovely dish, prawn with mango, coriander and chili….the tangyness of this dish mixed with the spices were perfect for me but if you aren’t a big fan of spicy food then make sure you ask them to reduces the spices….make sure you order this though because this is a real treat! (second photo cred: Anna Chesalina)
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Next was a Oxtail soup! its as strange as it sounds and it shows how these chefs aren’t afraid to bring in real authentic things to our tables!
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One thing you CANT miss out on, is the one thing that I was really hoping I would see! the Singaporean crab was just divine! again it was on the spicier side but I love it that way…….and when you do go, don’t bother with a fork and knife! just dive into it because you just wont enjoy crab as much with a fork and knife!

The crab is very well done and I suspect that ill be back there again with my family before the end of the week!
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Also, I couldn’t help but include the only photo of me that I took…with heather’s expression, I had to :p

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One last thing! There is a pretty cool competition that they are running and the prize is a three nights stay in Singapore!! I have been looking for a holiday spot so cross your fingers that my name gets picked! 😛
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And now I feel like some Sem Som!

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Its a good time to be a foodie in Muscat! With all these great restaurants opening up, many cuisines are coming up and some bringing their own new twist to the mix…
Thats exactly what SemSom is to Lebanese food! The new twists on all the traditional foods make this place a must visit at least for its surprising new flavors…let alone the traditional yummies!DSC_0700

So lets start off with the first thing I had from there!
Jullab is a very unique drink, it has a sweet taste of rose but with a hint of date…I know, it sounds strange but this drink is very light and refreshing. Bonus…..you get to have the pistachios, pine nuts and raisins after you finish drinking, they become soft and soak up the flavor of the Jullab! (I must have had 4 of these!!!)

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Next on the menu was the famed Lebanese starters, the hummus trio and baba ghanouj.
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The traditional hummus is very flavorsome…. actually that’s where I heavily evaluate a Lebanese restaurant. If the hummus is dry or tasteless then its a major downer for me…..in this case, the hummus was so amazing I would consider bread and hummus for lunch! it was so smooth and creamy!
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Next up was the green hummus infused with olives…they did say Lebanese with a twist!
You could really feel the flavor of the olives, It does hit you by surprise as you don’t expect that much of a different flavor! aah very yummy!
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Ok seriously……I think everyone just wants to know about the pink hummus, well here you go! This is one thing that I will surely come here for over and over again! its infused with Zaatar (thyme) and sumac (a wonderful spice), and you can really feel the flavor of the zaatar! im a big fan of zaatar so having a creamy hummus with zaatar infused to it is perfect for me…its really making me hungry as i’m typing this 😦
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The baba ghanouj was also another flavor filled dish, but with the two hummus twists, it was the underdog of the starters, especially when you have the pink hummus next to it!
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One thing worth mentioning is the bread and olive oil! the bread comes fresh and HOT….its easy to get carried away and loose track of how much bread you consume as its VERY soft and it keeps coming.
The oil comes from Lebanon and it has a very different flavor from any olive oil I have tasted….make sure you add a drizzle to the hummus! if you want to really taste the flavors just dip some bread into the oil and you will see what I mean by “it tastes very different”….I’ll try convincing the wait staff to let me take some home! 😛
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The salads were up next!
Fatoush is my staple salad for lunch, so having one here with its new flavor was a much needed change! the sauce has a certain after taste that I liked and was not your typical recipe.
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I grew up having tabouleh…..when I was a kid, I use to have it as lunch or dinner, and it remains on the top of my favorite salad list! this was no exception, while i didn’t feel a wow factor, it tasted exactly what you would expect out of a good tabouleh.
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Next was another round of starters! (These Lebanese really know how to eat well!)

Laham Bil Ajeen (meat pastry) was brought to us and the smell was divine! after sniffing for a while we devoured it! my colleague Smitha who writes foodishly in love said “The pastry was soft, the meat succulent and packed with oodles of fresh-burst in your mouth flavours.”…I wouldn’t disagree!!!
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Next up was the Fish Kibbeh, this was my favorite starter!!! the crusting is made from borghul and fish, so you don’t get any of that fishy taste….instead, you are treated with a zesty light flavor and a rich after taste.
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The next platter was a mix of cheese, chicken and Lebanese style sausage all wrapped in a crispy coating!
The whole platter is a burst of flavors but the chicken stood out! big time!!! cheese lovers will love the raw taste of the cheese even though it is melted.
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The Kibbeh was ok….well compared to the rest of the dishes, this wouldn’t be on my top rated list….but as far as kibbeh’s go? this beats many places around!
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My initial response to the next dish was: Nop, noooo, Noop….NOOOOO.
I’m glad I changed my mind because oh boy this was a treat!!!
The chicken liver in pomegranate sauce looked appetizing but i’m not a fan of liver…
The first bite was a nice surprise, I absolutely loved the sauce and everything about this dish! it really shows that even an ingredient you hate can be made very well with the right chef…this opened my eyes to trying even more things that I wouldn’t normally order! By the end, I was just hogging the chicken livers :p
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Finally, the mains! after eating so much we all had to take a break, but then the mixed grill platter came and it was a free for all battle!
This is by far the best grill I have had in Muscat…..the chicken was so soft it could melt in your mouth. The seikh kabab was so full of rich flavors that my tongue was battling to identify them! but the big surprise was the beef cubes…..usually beef cubes are dry and over cooked but this shows you how they should be cooked! 
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After a break and some nice foodie conversations, desserts came!
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First up is the amareddine mehallabieh (apricot). The taste of this dish slowly builds up in your mouth and leaves you with a wonderful after taste! an amazing start but was dwarfed by the next two dishes!
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If you are looking for a traditional Lebanese sweet, then Mafrouket pistachio is the thing for you! Iv had one when I was in Lebanon and these guys brought that same taste!
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Next up was a chocolaty blast of chocolate ice cream osmalieh. The traditional Lebanese ingredients mixed with ice cream, pistachios and cream is the perfect thing for the chocolate lovers.
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My favorite though was the strawberry muhalabiya….the touch of orange blossom makes it so light, and it has a slight rose taste. its very refreshing and it goes so perfectly well with a Turkish coffee…..I see myself having one of these with a Turkish coffee on the balcony around winter here!
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After such a big meal, I wanted to draw up my favorites and put in a list of what I would recommend for a meal…..at this point, I have no idea and I just suggest you pick randomly! everything iv had was superb!
This place has become my favorite Lebanese restaurant, let alone the Lebanese ambiance that comes with it!
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An experience with Alfredo Russo

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Im a foodie…..iv always loved everything to do with food! cooking it, watching people cook or going out for a meal! so when I heard that chef Alfredo Russo is coming to town I jumped up and calculated my salary to book my experience!

A good evening for me is enjoying a nicely cooked meal with good friends and I do love going to the fine dining establishments every once in a while….but fine dining and experiencing meals from a Michelin star rated chef are two different things!  When I wrote the first draft of this blog I thought….nah I cant publish it, I feel like I might have enjoyed this too much! but when I talked to the people who I went with, I heard the same words.

Chef Russo got it down to a science, each bite was a real experience on its own as each flavor mixed….see what I mean when I said that it felt like I was going mad?

We arrived at the Husn hotel at Shangrila…a place I haven’t been to yet and entered Sultana which I will go to again for sure!

overlooking the rest of the resort with a beautiful glass wall and an even nicer balcony….it was the perfect spot for chef Alfredo to show off his magnificent food.

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Lets start with the …well….starters 😛

The veal wrapped tuna was so refreshing and unique in taste….the tuna was so smooth and it mixed perfectly with the sauce and the veal! a very unique blend of flavors which I didn’t think should mix but it was a perfect match! it was matched by the royal service…..all the waiters came at the same time! a whole bunch of them! they all served the dishes like it was orchestrated… but you know….pictures speak louder than words!

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Not knowing what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised! then the next dish came and it was as if Alfredo Russo knew my taste! it was a beautiful polenta, a north Italian dish that is crispy from the outside and soft on the inside, which was laid on a bed of mushrooms and a delicious sauce……i smelled the cheese before the dish arrived!

Cheese, mushrooms, crispy outside and soft inside……how can you go wrong?! well you cant and each plate was polished off as we all got some bread and didn’t waste a bit of the sauce!

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The next dish was the most unique in my opinion…..it was a zucchini lasagna with Parmesan cheese but oh wow how much flavor can be brought out from a zucchini!!! it wasn’t your typical lasagna and the hints of Parmesan cheese just complement everything, that sauce was just the perfect amount to not overpower the other flavors and give enough attention to the cheese and zucchini!

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Has anyone ever asked you: if you had only one dish that you are allowed to eat forever….what would it be?

well my answer came in the next dish; a roasted lamb shoulder with pink peppers and potato cream!

By far the best thing I have ever tasted in my life……the top of the lamb was so crispy and nice but as you dig through it falls apart….it melts in your mouth!

the cream was just the best sauce for the lamb so I was confused….I loved the lamb alone and I loved it with the sauce…I never ended up making my mind!

I have a thing where I look for the best part of a meal (the best mix of pepperoni and sauce on a pizza for example) and leave it for the last bite so I can keep that best bite for last……with this dish I couldn’t….it was all just perfect!!

At this point…..I would realistically pay 100 riyals just to have this dish again…..im not uber rich so ill have to live off instant noodles for the rest of the month but it will be worth it!

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Chef Russo couldn’t have hit the spot more if he had asked me for my favorite tastes before hand….but you know…there was dessert too!! A chocolate millefeuille with mint……now im not a huge fan of chocolate but this was nice, a good blend of chocolate and mint and that bit of ice cream in the middle was just right! chocolate lovers, this will be your heaven!

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The chef came to us at the end of the meal and he got the applause of a performer on stage! I wouldn’t have expected less!!

By far, this was the best dining experience iv had and ill be looking forward of seeing what the shangrila will bring next!

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