iHopped to Breakfast

Level 1, Near the Waterfront,
Dubai Mall, 
Downtown Dubai, Dubai

12th June, 2015

Where do one-legged people work at?” – Jake to Uncle Charlie Harper

June – the sixth month of the year – is, according to me, the perfect analogy of the proverbial glass: Half Empty, Half Full; Half the year gone, Half the year left. I’m just going to leave this here, and let you decide for yourself what sort of personality you embody.

You must be wondering “Why bring up this random month at the start of a food blog? What’s the relevance?”.

To tell you the truth, there isn’t much relevance, however a month-stamp on the story felt appropriate. My interest in the month of June is purely personal rather than psychological and philosophical. You see, I was born in the month of June, 24 years ago, and as social norms would mandate, it is the month in which I celebrate my birthday. On most birthdays, I find myself back home, in Dubai, dining in one of the city’s innumerable restaurants either with family or friends (or both!). This year proved to be no different. The story I am about to tell you, however, takes place a week before my birthday and was, daresay, more eventful and memorable than my actual birthday.

11th June, 2015 (The previous night) – Some of the best stories begin with a stay-over (or maybe just mine do!). For weeks I had been anticipating the arrival of the day. I had everything planned – what video games we were going to play, what board games we were going to play, how late we were going to stay up, and most importantly, where we were going to have breakfast the next morning (which is the focal point of this story). The day arrived and the plan was set in motion. We arrived at my place at 10 p.m. Everyone at home was asleep by then, so we did our best to tiptoe our way across to my room. Once in, we chose our spots, sat our butts down (well one of us first turned on the Playstation), and began a barrage of video games from FIFA, to Ashes ’09, to WWE. It was well past midnight, when we decided to give our eyes the break it deserved, and our controllers a little “power” nap. With our controllers rested, we turned our attention to the board games, in particular, Pictionary. What followed over the next two hours was pure entertainment – incompetent drawing, even more incompetent guessing, loud howls of laughter that surprisingly did not wake up the others – culminating in strains in our vocal chords and diaphragms. It was only a matter of time till the sun would rise from the east, and we would be on our way for an early breakfast at Apple Inc.’s latest (and patented!) invention – the iHop (or the ‘International House of Pancakes’ for short). Everything was going according to plan. 

12th June 2015 (Wee hours of the morning) – It was around 6 a.m. when we noticed that half the party had already gone to sleep. As the sun rose over the horizon ushering in a new day, our eyelids, ever so slowly, began to droop for a much warranted two hour snooze. Ring! Ring! I looked over, drowsy and droopy-eyed, at my phone. 7 a.m. So much for a two hour snooze. I got out of bed, tried to wake the others (to no avail), and pulled myself to the washroom to get ready. It took me half an hour to get ready. As I stepped out of the shower, I saw that only three of my friends were awake (barely!), while two lay fast asleep on the mattress I had laid out. Despite our best efforts, which even involved throwing stuffed toys at them, it took us nearly an hour for us to wake them up. Talk about heavy sleepers! All ready and raring to go have a hearty breakfast, we left home by 8:30 a.m. – half an hour later than scheduled but better late than never.

I’ve been told that to find an empty table at the iHOP on a Saturday morning would be next to impossible. One look at some of the photos posted by the restaurant’s diners online, and it was not hard to see why. Located on the first floor of one of the largest shopping malls in the UAE, this “American brekky” restaurant provides diners, sitting outside, the absolute gorgeous view of the Dubai Mall Fountains and the ever-rising Burj Khalifa. It was quarter-past nine when we arrived at Dubai Mall. What came next was a surprise to us all (and some of us have lived our entire lives here!). Available parking spots beyond the eye could see. It was a Dubai Summer Miracle! It’s true what they say about choices – the more there are, the harder it is to choose. Like Goldilocks, it took us three tries to get the perfect spot – the first one was too far, the second one was between cars, and the third one was just right!

Did I tell you that someone once told me that it would near impossible to find an empty table at iHOP on a Saturday morning? Well if it was anything remotely close to what I saw, then achieving the impossible is definitely an over-rated ambition. The restaurant, pretty much like the rest of Dubai Mall, was quite empty. We were given the option of sitting out and given the brilliant view that was on offer, it was a tempting one. However, it was June – the start of Dubai Summers – and none of us were particularly eager to eat sweaty pancakes, and so it was an offer we could and did refuse.

 ( From left to right ): Garden Omelette; New York Cheesecake Pancakes; Beef Bacon Temptation Omelette; Swiss Mocha; Chocolate Pancakes; Country Omelette
(From left to right): Garden Omelette; New York Cheesecake Pancakes; Beef Bacon Temptation Omelette; Swiss Mocha; Chocolate Pancakes; Country Omelette

Looking at the breakfast menu, we all agreed that having only pancakes wasn’t going to be enough. Our stomachs might have not yet digested last night’s dinner but we were growing boys and our stomachs were as bottomless as a bottomless pit (sorry, but that was the best I could come up with). And so, we each decided to order one omelette and share two sets of pancakes amongst the six of us. When the waiter arrived at our table, we placed our order – 2 Country Omelettes; 2 Chicken Fajita Omelettes; 1 Beef Bacon Temptation Omelette; and 1 Garden Omelette. We were about to order the pancakes, when the waiter notified us about the side dishes – apparently each omelette comes with its own side of buttermilk pancakes of our choice. Flip! All the menu cards open, as each of us decide which pancake we would like to have. It didn’t take us too long to place our side orders – we all have our preferences – and so to accompany our omelettes we ordered 4 New York Cheesecake Pancakes, 1 Banana Pancake,  and 1 Chocolate Pancake. Now we were in for a real treat!

Remember when I told you that it would be near impossible to find an empty table at iHOP? Come at 9:30 a.m. in the morning and yes, that statement would ring true. No sooner had we placed our order than families gathered inside the restaurant looking for places to eat. The restaurant, the epitome of a pin-drop silence, was now home to shouting nannies, over-excited parents, and the never-ending wails of hungry toddlers and children. It was a wonder we could hear ourselves or talk to each other without having to tear a vocal chord. Being the “House of Pancakes”, it came as a surprise to none of us that it were the pancakes that arrived at first. Looking at the kitchen, the speed with which they were serving pancakes reminded me of the service you would normally see at a Kamat or Saravana Bhavan during peak lunch hour (50 thalis, 50 mini thalis, 15 idli vada, 5 sada dosas in a matter of 10 minutes!).  

We didn’t have to wait too long before our omelettes arrived. Bright gold in colour, filled with juicy bits of turkey ham/bacon/chicken/vegetables, topped with melted cheese and a dollop of sour cream (the proverbial icing on the cake), our omelettes certainly succeeded in emitting a good first impression. Looking at our omelettes, we all had the same thought “This seems quite light! I think I’ll be able to finish these off easily!”. However, it is right what they say about first impressions – you can never judge a book by its cover. The first bite of the omelette, and we knew we were all in for a challenge. The cheese, the egg, the sour cream, the turkey filling – just writing the ingredients has bloated my stomach, so can you imagine what it felt like eating it? No matter, given how hungry we were, coupled by the fact that the strawberry syrup on our pancakes were slowly and gradually melting, we guzzled down our omelettes (in hindsight, not our best decision).

Feeling extremely full and bloated (like a puffer fish), we thought it best to take a small ‘digestion’ break. The break didn’t last too long, though, as most of us were occupied by the constant dripping of strawberry syrup onto our plates. Worried that our pancakes would become too soggy, we dug right in. We took the first bite. One look at my friends’ faces across the table and I knew we all regretted the decision to order our individual pancakes, some more than others. Personally, I don’t know what I expected when I ordered a cheesecake pancake (or rather what I was thinking!), but what I got was fluffy, slightly soggy, extremely sweet, and incredibly heavy stack of pancakes that would make even the stoutest of sugar addicts and advocates rush to a nearby hospital for a blood test.

By the time we were done, semi-digested pancakes and syrups on the verge of rushing up our throats and noses, only half our party had successfully accomplished the challenge of polishing off their plates (I was not one of them, unfortunately). After a heavy dinner (details of which I will discuss later), and an even heavier breakfast, it was to our wonder that we managed to get off our chairs and make it back to our respective homes, eyes open and senses intact. In line with iHOP’s tagline, “We Came Hungry and Left Happy”!

P.S. – With respect to our drinks (a probable point of contention), I felt the “Fresh” orange juice was not fresh enough; the coffee, I was told, was satisfactory (and that’s being kind); and the lemonade and green tea were sufficient but hardly noteworthy.

IHOP Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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