Zomato‘s first Iftar Foodie Meetup was held at Eatopia in the Gate Mall. When I first experienced Eatopia, I was a bit taken back, confused by the concept and didn’t think I’d come back. Than I was invited to my first Zomato Meetup back in April where everything was explained to me by the friendly staff and management. We had such a blast, I’ve been coming back every since!
However, this was my first time experiencing Eatopia during Ramadan. I must say, it was one of my best experiences yet at Eatopia! Here’s why.
THE ORIGINAL CONCEPT
First off, you need to understand the original concept. As you step in on the 2nd floor of the Gate Mall, there is a vast entrance with the left leading you to the restaurant and the right leading you to the oh so sweet shop/deli. As you walk into the restaurant, you’ll see multiple stations, starting with the dessert section on the right, salad and sushi to the center, than coming around to the left to find the Arabic, Italian and Western sections.
After you select your seat and order your drinks, you then take your order card that’s assigned to you and make your way to your section of choice. Whatever you order is than scanned onto the card and you can take a seat while it’s made than delivered right to your table. For example, get your salad, scan, walk to the Italian, order your fresh made pasta, scan, order a shawarma because you can, scan, have a seat and everything comes to your table.
Once done, you take your card to the cashier, make your payment and walk off your food coma.
During Ramadan, Eatopia basically has the best of both worlds, a buffet of all it’s goodness set out with the cooking stations still going strong. How sweet is that idea? So I was given a quick tour of what to expect by the lovely manager, Ms Marifel, showing me the addition of a juice bar, where we can get our popular Ramadan drinks like lemon mint and cold karkadeh (hibiscus iced tea to the rest of you) along side all their popular stations, most with ready made food laid out plus your option to get a made to order dish.
As the Foodies gathered round, I gave them a quick explaination and as soon as it was time to break fast, we were off. Eatopia had generously laid out water and dates for us at the table so we can traditionally break our fasts. I started with the salad section where I made my selection and a helpful staff added in the dressing of my choosing.
Afterwards, I was anxious to get my hands on a Penne Eatopia, my favorite dish at Eatopia, period! Because it was buffet style, they made the next closet thing to their menu item which was penne pasta with mushroom and “pink sauce”, a lighter version of the typical tomato marinara sauce. It was still so good and the portion was just right, you could go for seconds on your choosing. However, I ended up trying their pizza for the first time and I almost went back for seconds! Cheesiest, thinnest pizza I’ve had in a long time! That was pizza my friends, right there! Bruchetta came in three forms. Your original, your duck breast and your two in one. I tried the original and the duck breast which was highly recommended by Ms. Marifel and it was sublime. So good, I went looking for her to thank her for her recommendation!
Of course, must end such a heavy weighted iftar with dessert. I hadn’t tried most of their desserts as I’m usually always too full but yesterday, I was ready and determined! Everything offered looked so good. I had a few pastries, a small helping of Umm Ali and two scoops of ice cream, one chocolate (of course!), one raspberry.
Umm Ali was simply divine, and I mean someone actually did it right for a change. It’s such a popular dessert for Ramadan yet it’s either too dry or too much coconut, yuck! This was balanced and literally perfect, I could’ve licked my bowl clean. Then I went for the ice cream and it was seriously one of the best I’ve ever had. I need to go back and find out where they got it from or if they make it themselves because it was seriously that good. I mean, G.O.O.D.!
If you like fresh and variety, you’ll LOVE Eatopia for iftar this Ramadan. Seriously, (and I don’t care if it sounds cheesy) I believe the reason the food is so good is because it’s made with love. Not a single staff is without a smile, anxious to give you the best experience possible.
For just 135QR per person, you get an iftar of great food, accessible parking and 5 stars service! Suhour is also served starting at 9pm which includes a live band. I recommend calling for reservations in advance, especially on weekends. Don’t for get to check out the shop and get your receipt for discounted parking.
As a fan of baking, especially when it comes to chocolate, I’m always craving a new kind of recipe. This time it was brownies! I did a bit of research here and there before coming across this interesting recipe from Cacao Web. The link shows both a recipe for Scandinavian brownies with frosting. I decided to opt out of the frosting so I can make and test the recipe out. Of course as I always do, I made my adjustments to the recipe and decided to make not one but TWO separate batches.
The recipe calls for 1 1/3 cup flour, 1 1/2 cup sugar, 4 tablespoons of cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 3 eggs, 3/4 cup of butter, 3 oz of hot water and 4 oz of chopped walnuts.
For the cocoa powder, I used the unsweetened kind that I get from Trader Joe’s. I find it to be much better for baking. For the butter, I gasped at what the recipe asked for. It’s almost two sticks of butter!! Just way too much for me! Instead, I used less then half a cup of my mom’s Egyptian style butter known as “semna”. For those who don’t know, this is like pure butter with no sodium. To make it, my mom gets unsalted butter and melts it down over low heat. This process separates all the gunk from the good butter rising to the top. She then jars it up after it cools at room temperature. It really makes all the difference in the world!
For the water, the recipe asks for a little under half a cup. However, I used a bit less then that so that I can add a dash of my favorite fresh brewed coffee. Coffee really brings out the chocolate flavor just as salt brings out the sweet flavor in most dessert recipes. I didn’t use any salt here and the recipe doesn’t call for it either.
With my adjusted recipe, I made the first batch into brownie cupcakes with chopped and whole chocolate chips to top it off. I did not use any walnuts per the recipe in this batch but the result was YUMMY!! It’s not too sweet and I promise you it’s not bland either. You can taste the chocolate and the texture is not dense, it’s very light. I do think that the next time I make a cupcake batch, I’ll add the chocolate chips into the batter as well as on top to make it more gooey.
The second batch was your typical one layer brownie with chopped nuts and topped off with powdered sugar. Instead of just the walnuts per the recipe, I used a small handful of walnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts and almonds. I gave them a rough chop and folded them into my batter. Again, not too sweet but just right, especially the flavors of the nut variety. I didn’t want to frost them because the brownie are nice and soft. Instead, I let it cool, cut it up and sprinkled powdered sugar on top.
Feel free to try it out and let me know what you think! Happy Friday!