For anyone that has followed Haiya, AKA Pass Me The Dim Sum you’ll know she has a love of food, that’s clear from her stunning food pics as well as her delicious recipes. However, when you meet her in person you soon learn that her love of food runs far deeper than just this. It’s almost as if her passion is a part of her, deep rooted within her very being and her love of food shines through with every word she says. With tales of life in Dubai, she is a lovely person to chat to.
So, I thought it was only right you all got to have a chat with her too! Without further ado, everyone meet Haiya.
Hi Haiya, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m a home cook and food blogger. I have a bachelor’s degree in finance, an MBA in marketing, but after only a few years into managing multinational FMCG brands, I realised I’m happiest whilst baking and watching the Food Network. So, I quit my job and decided to be happy instead. I’m now in my kitchen by day, eating out by night, and behind my camera the rest of the time.
How long have you lived in Dubai for and what do you love most about living here?
I’ve lived here for about 3 years now and whilst I love EVERYTHING about Dubai, it should come as no surprise that what I love most is the variety of halal food. Dubai is home to so many cultures and nationalities it’s only natural that they would bring their cuisines to the table as well. It’s impossible to even keep up in Dubai. No matter how much I eat out, there are still thousands of restaurants left to try and I absolutely love that!
You must have lots of fond memories over the past 3 years here, what is your favourite memory so far?
I have so many fond memories here in Dubai, but I guess my favourite ones involve my parents and sister visiting. It’s always nice to have them over and I feel like now I have everyone I love within arms’ length.
Are there any hidden gems in Dubai you can share with us?
Taipei Dao. You’ll get the healthiest dim sum here, along with the best Asian patisserie in Dubai. I say healthiest because it’s more than just about using “organic” as a buzzword. The owner, Felice, is serving up food that she would feed her own kids on a daily basis, and that says a lot. You’ll also be able to stock up on gluten-free soy sauce, passion fruit vinegar, and the best matcha muffins Dubai has to offer.
If you had to choose your favourite type of cuisine what would it be and why?
Oh boy. This is an unfair question. It’s like asking someone to pick their favourite child. I love all food. My preferred choices, however, are mostly Pan Asian. Whether it’s a sweet & sour Chinese stir-fry, a heartwarming bowl of Japanese ramen, a spicy plate of crunchy Thai Som Tam, a comforting bowl of Singaporean congee, crunchy Korean bibimbap, crispy fried Vietnamese fish, or a luscious bowl of Malaysian Laksa; Pan Asian food never bores me. If I absolutely had to pick one cuisine out of all these though, it would without a doubt be Thai.
We know you love to cook! What is your favourite recipe?
My current favourite recipe has to be Anthony Bourdain’s Kuching Style Laksa. I’m the biggest Bourdain groupie possible, and I found this recipe in his latest cookbook. My version of the recipe also got featured on Buzzfeed recently, so I’m definitely loving it a lot! You can see it here!
And your favourite ingredient to work with?
Oh, that’s a really hard one. I love experimenting with different Asian ingredients. These days I love marinating proteins in miso, yuzu, and sesame oil. My most favourite and timeless ingredient I guess has to be basil. I love basil for its versatility. I add it to savoury or sweet dishes and can never get enough of it.
You mentioned you love to be behind your camera. Can you tell us some of your food photography tips?
- Natural light is your best friend.
- Never use filters because washed-out food is not attractive neither is radioactive-looking food.
- Practice makes perfect. Make sure to figure your camera out.
Who do you admire on social media?
I’m really fond of Drina Cabral of @eaternalzest. She takes great pictures, but more importantly, she’s always happy to lend supportive tips. Not everyone gives you the time of day like that.
Have you met a chef you really admire? If so who is it and why?
Chef Reif Othman of The Experience by Reif Othman and Play Restaurant. He is an utter genius. Every single morning he comes up with a completely new 8-course menu for his “apartment” themed ultra luxury chef’s table experience that seats only 12 at a time. I’m not easily impressed by molecular gastronomy and avant-garde tricks anymore; the flavours have to wow me. The Experience was truly unforgettable from start to finish. I couldn’t get over how intricately thought-out, and utterly delicious everything was. Quality is not taken lightly at Reif’s place.
If you could have dinner with a celebrity who would it be?
ANTHONY BOURDAIN! No questions asked! I’ve been watching Bourdain since his days on No Reservations, and he is the whole reason I developed a fascination and an eventual obsession with exploring different cuisines. If I could pick JUST one celebrity to dine with ever it would be him.
And lastly, where do you like to use your ENTERTAINER?
My favourite these days is the Seasonal Tastes Brunch at The Westin Al Habtoor City, as well as Giardino. The ENTERTAINER allows me to enjoy really chilled out but very lavish brunches at a total steal. The most regularly used offers are the ones for weeknight pizzas though, and by that, I mean Oregano and Carluccio’s. Let’s not even get started on Careem! Careem vouchers are THE most coveted vouchers this year!
A huge thank you to Haiya for answering our questions. Make sure you check out her amazing blog for everything foodie and much more! I guarantee it will soon become your recipe handbook!