Of all the years I lived (a tiny bit over a quarter of a century), I enjoyed “Experience” most. In Psychology, this trait, according to the Five Factors Model (OCEAN – Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism), is coined as Openness to Experience. (I noticed that I love including psychological terms in my posts).
The fun part in what I wrote earlier is that it doesn’t apply to food for me. My openness to life experiences gets translated into conservatism.
Today I chose a new restaurant to open in Beirut that is worthy of being called a “Food Experience”.
Until 2 years ago, Chinese food was a big no-no to me. Lucky enough, I tried it and ever since, my taste buds crave it from time to time.
Umai Wok, or let’s just call it “OH MY” Wok is a soul experience for Asian Cuisine lovers (Chinese, Japanese and Thai).
- The Place:
Located in Hamra – Makdessi Street, in the Courtyard or mostly known as Alleyway (For my kind of generation). Perfect place as you can have a quick happy hour after work and then hop on the second floor for a decent Asian meal.
Entering the restaurant, a zen atmosphere welcomes you. Peaceful and serene. The beauty of this place resides in its simplicity and its details. The decor is an altruistic representation of a modern Asian home, literally: An entrance, a living room, a kitchen and a dining room. The table is dressed with black monochromatic place-mats, modern and Asian-like. The menu had the same look and feel as the shop. Coherence at its best.
- The Food:
I tried a Teaser (Chicken Satay) and two Mains (Ponzu Beef Steak and Chicken Cashew Nuts). Japanese Sake was also on the list.
- For Thai: Chicken Satay was my number 1 on the Request’s list and my number last on the rating. This Thai appetizer consisting of chicken chunks marinated with peanuts and satay sauce wasn’t impressive much. Chicken needed more marination and the tasty flavor of peanuts wasn’t just there.
- For Japanese: Ponzu Beef Steak, Char-grilled beef tenderloin with shiitake mashed potatoes on the side. I’m so coming back for this guy. Tender beef, perfectly garnished and exquisitely seasoned. Umai (Oh My) Steak! Not only the Chef’s Choice, yet so far, winning the award of Steak of the Year! (We’re in 14 January – so we’re being fair here).
- For Chinese: Chicken Cashew Nuts is a classic. I tried it as I wanted to benchmark it vis a vis Chinese restaurant in Beirut. Not bad, not bad at all. The waiter promised a succulent taste, and to be frank, he was right. Those little chicken cubes marinated with oyster sauce and cashew nuts were just as good as fancier places in town!
- The service:
Well, that’s another thing that I liked about the experience. To me (and I am sure to many), the customer service is one core factor that determines how enjoyable an experience would be. The more, the better.
That’s what I felt about this place. The waiter was so attentive and made sure that the experience is as authentic as it can be. Absolute Chapeau for the great customer focus we’ve received.
- The Overall Experience:
New idea. New Experience. Worth the try.
This sums it up. Having the option to juggle between different Asian Cuisines, indulging your taste buds with food from this corner of the globe and returning with an enjoyable experience is just beautiful…
From food taste to experience to quality for price, I’d give the place a solid 3.5 and I believe it would be a middle ground for Asian Cuisine Lovers, particularly Chinese (On a scale from Chopsticks to PF Chang’s in Lebanon).
To those of you who don’t know, I spent 25 years of my life with Aviophobia – Fear of Flying.
I used to see family members and friends discussing trips and travel experiences throughout my life and not even feel concerned…. Until the day had come, where all the factors were in favor and I stepped a foot in Switzerland (Kind of cool for a somewhat first time traveler!). Ever since, things became pretty much dramatic, and my Aviophobic self became so addicted, managing to visit 7 countries in less than a year!
Cutting the story short, let me share with you some of the great moments of my journey in the Land of Cheese, Chocolate and Alps.
I have visited 4 main regions in total: Bern, Zurich, Lucern and Bernina Alps.
- Bern: Needless to say that each city had its own charm, yet the impact that the medieval city of Bern (the capital) left in my heart is just magical. Remember the old stories of Beauty and the Beast? Yep. Exactly like that! Perhaps it’s because I’ve never seen a medieval city before, yet the houses, the roads, the town-hall, the big clock at the entrance of the old town, even the water pumps… just Magical! Old Town of Bern – View from Up Entrance of the Old Town of Bern – Zytglogge
- Zurich: Not only a beautiful city, but also the food there is so good, you just can’t get enough of! I made sure to eat Cheese and Beef fondue daily there (and Oh God! I still crave this cuisine from time to time!).
My advice for you is to try Le Dezaley Restaurant (Niederdorf, close to the GrossMünster) for fondue. Once there you’ll understand what I mean… The house in which the restaurant is located exists ever since the 13th century, and the medieval ambiance is felt inside. Try all the sauces they offer, allow your taste buds to enjoy new flavors.
- Lucern: Now that’s a bridge worth taking photos of! (Considering that this bridge – Kapelbrüke – is of the most photographed bridges in the world). Named after St. Peter’s Church (Thus the Kapel = Chapel Bridge), it is also the oldest wooden bridge that you can witness in Europe.
What I also found interesting in Lucern is Saturday’s market. People from all around the city gathered on the sides of the lake and sold literally everything (from veggies, food to flowers, flea and crafts). The beauty of this market is that it is so diverse, you can meet people from all over the world just by visiting their stands (From France, Germany all the way to Peru and Brazil, I was impressed!)
Another place worth seeing in Lucern is the Lion Monument: A huge carved dying lion in a rock is placed in the middle of a small garden.
- Bernina Alps: One cannot visit Switzerland without passing by the Alps, and I did. Took the bernina express panoramic train and visited all the mountain range from eastern Switzerland to northern Italy – Literally! (The train’s last stop was in Torino – Italy). The alps are simply majestic. Covered in a beautiful white veil, the mountains were fully decorated.
Few tips to Consider if visiting Switzerland:
- Eat Chocolate from day one. I didn’t and I regret it. Laderach is the chocolate brand I loved most. Try all the variety that your eyes can fall for (Strawberry, Chilli lime, Cornflakes, Glacier, Florentine and many more).
- Metro use is beyond amazing. The swiss are truly of the most organized, punctual and clean community I’ve ever met. Metro works by the second – literally.
- If visiting several cities within the country, use the “Swiss Pass” instead of buying several tickets. It’s valid for X full days (you decide the bundle you want) and covers any kind of transportation.
- Switzerland, though in Europe doesn’t use the euro currency. The country has the Swiss franc (CH).
- 1CH = 1 USD approximately.
- The country has high cost of living index (Highest in the world), thus the high quality of life (And trust me, it’s amazing…)
- The citizens in Zurich and Lucern are by far of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Super helpful and courteous!
That’s how I got my Passport stamped last year! Highly advising everyone to visit this breathtakingly beautiful country…
Happy Traveling Everyone! 🙂