Riches to Rixos

Last weekend, I whisked myself away to one of the Rixos’s property with a couple of wonderful friends; this one is an all-inclusive resort along the pristine shoreline of Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island. Not only does this resort offer fabulous rooms and villas, it offers day passes. As much as I would have loved an overnight stay, this time we were there to enjoy the pool and food. 

We arrived early in the morning. Walking into the opulent lobby, I was mesmerized by the gaudy clear and blue crystal chandelier perched above the fountain. It was FABULOUS! I wish I could have that baby installed in my apartment; it would go perfectly with The Danish (my velvet couch). Walking down a marble staircase, we checked in at the Turquoise Restaurant, a buffet style restaurant offering indoor and outdoor seating. Since it was about 9am and still slightly chilly outside, we opted to dine upon some breakfast fare before making our way to the pool. The buffet offered the usual foods found in the morning: bread, pancakes, waffles, sausages (chicken, veal), hashbrowns. Though the food wasn’t necessarily impressive, the fresh squeezed orange juice definitely stole the show! After multiple glasses, my friends and I strolled along the back lawn towards my favorite part of the day: the pool area. 

We grabbed a couple of loungers and spread our towels. A waiter on rollerblades came straight away to us to take beverage orders and to leave an ice bucket full of water bottles. The pool beverage menu was pretty extensive, offering wine, beer, hard liquor, cocktails and mocktails, juices, sodas, and lemonades. A wonderful way to quench your thirst while lounging poolside. 

Throughout the day, we were checked on several times by the rollerblader and waitstaff. The music was loud enough to prevent other guests from eavesdropping on our conversations while soft enough to still allow us to talk to each other. The pool offered plenty of space for us to swim and cool off. The water’s temperature was nearly perfect: not freezing and not warm. Submerging myself into the water, I felt like Goldilocks when she found her “Just Right” porridge, bed, and man (oh wait, she never found a man, did she?). 

For lunch, we did return to Turquoise since it was the only restaurant available for the all-inclusive deal for day goers. Again, the food was average, but did offer one stand-out star…it was a delectable marshmallow cake. The chocolate mouse cake had a creamy marshmallow layer on top that just made the whole thing…sinfully delicious. Had I eaten that first, I would have skipped all the food and focused on a plate full of the “marshmallow cake”. 

Feeling gluttonous, we returned to our loungers and basked away in the warm desert sun until evening. Though the food didn’t leave a lasting impression (except for that one cake), the Rixos offered a chance for us to enjoy time in the sun and away from our computer screens.  

One final note about the Rixos, I enjoyed the pool and speedy beverage service. The customer service was outstanding! But the Rixos claims to be a 5 star resort, and I’m not sure I can agree with that rating. Based on the food and the options it was offering, it is more like 3.5 or 4 stars (on a good day). I was lucky and was able to experience it for the Privilee price of 298AED (daypasses can range from 350AED to 500AED). Though the app says there are a few places to grab food, one of the places was closed which left us with Turquoise as being our only option. It isn’t a bad place to stay and hang out for the day, but needs to amp that food up if it wants to be a legit 5 star resort.

Mexican Food in Hong Kong

A few years ago, The Final Table aired on Netflix. It was a cooking competition with chefs from around the world, vying for the spot to cook for the judges at the final table. As I was watching the series, I was delighted that three chefs had restaurants based in Hong Kong since I lived just over the border and was planning a girls’ weekend for a last hurrah before two of us moved to another country.

It was a difficult decision to make, but we finally went with the Mexican option, 11 Westside, owned by Chef Esdras Ochoa. And I’m so glad we went with that choice. 

11 Westside is located in Kennedy Town on Hong Kong Island, just around the corner from the metro. Walking into the space, I was taken aback by the unique chandeliers; they dimly glittered above to offer a soft glow on the dining area–the perfect ambience for an evening of fun and camaraderie with fabulous ladies. 

The food menu offered numerous Mexican delights, including a variety of tacos, quesadillas, steak dishes. I am a sucker for fresh guacamole, so we ordered it, which was later prepared table side; this meant we could tailor it to how we liked it , which meant spicy for me. For my main course I ordered the Steak Sonora: prime skirt steak served with brussel sprouts caramelized in a balsamic vinegar reduction. The steak was pure perfection–juicy and tender. 

One unique thing about 11 Westside is the bar, full of drinks created by the beverage director, Daniel Eun, a leader in the world of craft cocktails. The drink menu is definitely one of a kind. It takes after an old-school hip hop CD front cover insert. The influence of Dr. Dre is all over the menu, with drinks named California Love, Nothing but a “G” Thang, and Forget About Dre. 

Eating at 11 Westside is a treat, especially with the right company. Next time you are in Hong Kong, put this place on your list of places to check out!