Sushi Express Café: Not just another sushi place

There’s a new sushi place in town called the Sushi Express Café. It’s located at Jumeirah Lake Towers (Dubai marina) side. Since we are big fans of sushi and it’s just a couple of walks near our office building me and my colleague Cathy decided to check it out.

Ok let me start out by saying the staff was VERY VERY nice! Especially the manager, they are all very accommodating and friendly. Although when we entered the place we greeted them first but that’s because we’re just too friendly.

They are almost too nice we were being checked on by the staff every few minutes. The best thing is they are all fellow Filipinos. According to the manager, Mr. Romy Banoyo, the place is owned by a Pakistani and Japanese couple. It’s a very unique combo don’t you think? It’s good to think that the place serves authentic sushi because Romy said that everything on the menu is planned and prepared by the Japanese owners. There is a window to the kitchen so you can see the chefs at work, which is very nice, but the best thing is the quality of the food.

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Kebabz and Bunz Branding: My First Take on a Fastfood Branding and Identity

Sometime during the last quarter of 2013, I was referred by a friend to take on a re-branding of an Emirati owned food stall. Their business has been on for 2 years until they have realized that they needed some spice to their marketing so they felt the need to rebrand.

This was their old branding:

I can’t say that it was bad but I can’t say that it’s that good either.

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Arabian Tea House Café: a haven in the midst of a busy city

After visiting the infamous Dubai Museum (read more about it here) and Bastakiya Neighbourhood and you are in the mood to take in some fresh air and at the same time enjoy some tea or coffee then Arabian Tea House Cafe (formerly known as Basta Art cafe) is the place for you.

Away from the hustle and bustle of the modern city, Arabian Tea House Café is a place where serenity and calmness coincide, waiting for a romantic couple, group of friends or a happy family to spend unforgettable moments under the branches of old acacia or narra trees to relish delicious and mouthwatering food.

Located in the heart of Bur Dubai, this place is inside a bastakiya. Bastakiya neighborhood is named after the place where migrants from Iranian region, Bastak, resided. It was preserved, restored and maintained for every tourist, foreigner or otherwise.

I am telling you, the moment you enter this place, it is magical. Once you get in there, it will get into your mind and you’ll not forget it as long as you are alive. I was like, am I really in Dubai? I felt like I’m in a scene from the Secret Garden. The whole place is surrounded by greenery and blossoming pot plants like bougainvilleas. This leafy courtyard café makes you feel you’re a million miles away from the hustle of Bur Dubai. Arabian Tea House serves vast bowls of salad and tasty wraps, accompanied by freshly squeezed juices, a variety of teas and Arabian coffee. Books, craftwork and jewellery are also sold in their little shop.

This place will instantly remind you of the backyard of your house: serene calm and beautiful. The setting is very simple and comfortable under a huge tree with pretty flowers.

 

The stone walls house a cool and tranquil environment out of the sun or you can bask in the sun in the courtyard. Beautiful and rustic feel.

Arabian Tea house cafe delivers both atmosphere and tasty food. I couldn’t ask for more.  They offer 150 different teas. It is served in a pot, which you pour into a pretty little glass to drink the steaming tea.

We asked the staff what’s their best seller and she instantly recommended  1001 Nights Tea from Sri Lanka. I’m not exaggerating but by far, it’s the best tasting tea I’ve ever tasted in my life.

Arabian Tea House Club House (not so bad but not so special as well)

The pastries are heavenly.

The food is served in large portions and is a good value for the money. The only downside is the service is so unfriendly. Probably because they lack staff? There is only one girl attending to all the customers. Anyway, you can just sit back and relax while waiting for the server.

The contemporary bill box

The bill was exceptionally reasonable. For only 55dhs the Afternoon Tea comes with a couple of Pastries.

It isn’t so bad to hang out there at night as well. :)

While the weather in Dubai  is still bearable make sure to drop by to this picturesque cafe! As of writing, this restaurant / cafe is now one of my favourite places to visit here in Dubai. If I will go on a date or something like that I will definitely go here. It’s so relaxing.  :)

Paula Film and Photography Branding

Recently i was commissioned by a photographer here in Dubai  Paula  to do her personal branding which includes her logo, website etc. The client design brief was this:

Come up with a branding that represents her style: fun and quirky yet simple and sincere. She does photoshoots related to fashion and lifestyle, corporate and events, kids and families and life documentaries. She likes to incorporate a camera symbol and she likes pastel colors.

The initial stage of the project was developing the logo. Developing the logo design concept is where creativity comes into play. Based on her design brief, some research, this is where I let my ideas run wild. This is where conceptualization takes place. You also have to consider the target audience by the way. I brainstormed and sketched down my ideas (see first picture, i’m no picasso so don’t judge) and then experimented with them on my computer. Here are my first drafts:

firstdraft

Pastel colors symbolizes sincerity. I believe that specific grouping of colors can make you feel happy which is why I chose peach and teal.  It’s subtle. It’s fun yet very relaxed. Then I chose some playful typefaces combined with a serif to balance it. As requested by the client, there needs to be a camera on the logo but I had to come up with an idea of how to make it cool and hip.

Her initial comment was that she love the color combinations. She loves how the layout of the 3rd logo was done. She likes the snowflakes detail of the 5th logo but she likes the first logo the most because of its simplicity but shes not sure with the camera icon i did. From these comments, she asked me to come up with another design which incorporates all that she wanted on the first drafts. It was quite tough but I enjoy doing these kind of logos so  I didn’t mind at all. Also note that combining typefaces is pretty crucial here. You should put into consideration that no matter what typeface you use, it should always be balanced.

Then put it into illustrator:
PL

Then more comments from Paula, more tweaks until I came up with the final output.

tada

Tadaaaaaaa! :)) Simiplicity is the key! The simpler a logo is, the more memorable and adaptable it is.

We’re still in the process of finalizing the website (I did everything from layout to coding! :) ) but it’s live, you may check it out here.

Dubai Museum: A Step Back in Time

Almost 2 years stay here in Dubai and I can’t believe I’ve only visited the infamous Dubai Museum just a few days ago.

I know Dubai nowadays is all about luxury – gigantic malls, impressive cars and lavish lifestyle. But visiting Dubai Museum I’ve learned that Dubai is way more than the grandeur. Dubai is a place rich in history and culture which is worth raving about.

Located at the Al Fahidi Fort, Dubai Museum is the main museum in Dubai which was built in 1787 and is the oldest existing building in Dubai. Upon entering, you will be welcomed with a sandy courtyard where you will find examples of the various boats used over time (for transport, fishing, pearl-diving and more), numerous cannons as well as a reconstruction of a traditional Areesh house.

Inside Areesh House

From here you can have a glimpse of the interior design taste of the past

Various weapons of the past, traditional musical instruments and other artifacts.

Start of The Gallery

This is the video room, showing a video, updated in 2007 that depicts Dubai from before the discovery of oil in the 1960s to the current day. Below it there is a map that shows the urban scape of the city growing in sync with the timeline of the video. It also includes several dioramas showing life in the Emirate before the advent of oil, in addition to artifacts from recent discoveries as old as 3000 B.C.

Life-size dioramas of the pre-oil era await behind the next door. A dhow unloading at the model creek-side souq. Moving ahead you will see the shops filled with craftsmen, vendors and buyers. A tailor, a carpenter, an iron smith, a textile vendor, the grocer’s, the Quran school and more. Realistic sounds and life-size videos of craftsmen at work give the impression of a bustling souq.

Look at the vintage Tide branding and packaging. I personally prefer this than the detergent’s current branding. :))

What is Middle East without Dates? :))

and of course Camel.

Depictions of desert life. A date farm, a camel, wild animals, and a Bedouin tent filled with jewelry, trinkets and objects from the daily life of Bedouins. The walls tell about their knowledge of the stars and how they used it to guide their activities.

The pictures above  shows the largest diorama which is all about the sea, with a huge scene of the building of a dhow, scenes of marine life detailing local species, in addition to a collection of sea-faring equipment. You will see how dhows are constructed and about the dangers of the pearl-diving industry – some divers could hold their breathe for up to 4 minutes and they risked jelly-fish stings and more in their pursuit of the tiny little white pearls.

The last diorama features an archaeological site in Al Qusais area that goes back to 3000 BC. There are tombs, an excavated skeleton, and an archaeologist. All the way sounds, visual effects and electronic guides accompany the dioramas. Cabinets filled with archaeological finds from Al Qusais site line the walls next to the excavation scene. Then finally the last track leads to a gallery displaying finds from other sites and historical eras, like the Umayyad site at Jumeirah. You will also see pots, pots and pots. Did I say pots? :))

Cute pens!

Then your last stop will be the gift shop from which you can buy several souvenirs.

Visit the Dubai Museum and learn how this city grew into what we see today. While you’re in the area, a visit to the Bastakiya (Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood) and the Arabian Tea House Cafe (read more about it here) is a must! These places are different stories to be told. :)

Entry fee: 3dhs for adults, 1dhs for children under 10;
Timings: Monday to Thursday, Saturday and Sunday 8.30am to 8.30pm, Friday 2.30pm to 8.30pm;
Location: Bur Dubai, 04 353 1862
How to get there:
Take the green line metro and go down at Al Fahidi Metro. It’s walking distance from there. it’s a bit of a walk though. Or from Al fahidi Metro Station, take a cab and ask the driver to drop you off at Dubai Museum. It’s a 10dhs ride.

Disclaimer: some excerpts taken from: http://www.expatwoman.com/dubai/monthly_discover_dubai_Dubai_Top_10_Museums_8471.aspx

Club Epicure Branding

A few months ago, i was tasked to do the branding of a loyalty programme called Club Epicure.  It took me almost 2 months to finish this because of the never ending back and forth between the hotel directors and me. I got yelled at a couple of times but I had fun though and I learned a lot during the process. I learned how to deal with Chinese printing companies. I learned how to do the printing specifications for each artwork properly. I learned how to do the copy writing in Chinese characters haha and I learned how google translate can help you big time for projects like these.

The client wants a very minimalist design. It’s a Chinese brand so it needs to attract mostly people from the Asian region. I’m Asian, so I basically already had an idea of what colors to use.  I chose oriental colors like Red and Blue. I also chose Golden and Silver Pantone to match. The client also wanted to use a a neutral color so I opted for a gradient flesh to brown.

I designed everything from logo down to website. The client loved the website most.

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