Total Salads’ verdict: Balance Cafe is a good restaurant for anyone looking to eat a healthy meal at a reasonable price. They offer many popular international dishes cooked in a contemporary healthy way. The unique thing about Balance Cafe is that it follows Ayurvedic dietary principles. According to Ayurveda, there are six tastes which must be present in a dish for it to be considered well-balanced: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent. It is believed that if a person eats a dish with all six tastes, then they are less likely to find themselves snacking or craving more food because all of their taste-buds have been satisfied. Balance Cafe’s commitment to promoting healthier eating goes beyond their restaurant – they also offer cooking classes (daytime and evening) and a door-to-door meal plan food delivery service.
Restaurant: Balance Cafe
Location: 3rd floor, Oasis Centre Mall, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, UAE
Price range: Balance Cafe offers reasonably priced healthy food. Drinks (AED10-20); Soups and Starters (AED10-25); Main Courses (AED27-48); Desserts (AED16-AED22).
Balance Cafe, located in Dubai’s Oasis Centre Mall, follows the ancient Indian principle of Ayurveda which emphasises a balanced diet. According to Ayurveda, balance isn’t only about eating the right quantities of proteins, carbohydrates and fats, but also about eating the right combination of tastes. Ayurveda recognises six tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent). The idea is that if a person eats a dish with all six tastes, they are less likely to find themselves snacking or craving more food because all of their taste-buds have been satisfied.
Although Balance Cafe follows the Indian Ayurvedic philosophy, they do not only serve Indian food. They believe that most cuisines can be prepared according to Ayurvedic principles, and therefore serve popular dishes from different regions (India, the Middle East, Europe and Japan) on their menu cooked in a healthy way. Every item on their menu includes information on calorie count, protein (grams) and fibre (grams). They take pride in what’s NOT in their food: artificial flavors, artificial colors, artificial preservatives, artificial sweeteners, trans fats, and bleached flour.
I was invited along with two guests to try Balance Cafe’s menu and see for myself what their food is all about. We arrived on a weekday afternoon and I was pleased to see that it is a popular lunch spot, which indicates that people are actively choosing to eat healthier.
There are several healthy drinks to choose from including Freshly Squeezed Juices (AED20), Sweet or Masala Lassi (AED15), and Mocktails (AED10-AED20).
We chose a few healthy Mocktails to start with:
– Detox (AED18) – green apple, orange, carrot and ginger
– Mango Booster (AED20) – mango, orange, pineapple, pomegranate, lemon juice, ginger and mint
– Signature Citrus (AED20) – lemon sorbet, orange juice, vanilla yogurt and honey
All the Mocktails were made with fresh fruits and vegetables. The Signature Citrus was a fun drink and the lemon sorbet and vanilla yogurt worked well together. The Detox and Mango Booster were delicious but the ginger was not very strong in our drinks so if you are a big fan of freshly squeezed ginger you could try asking the chef to add a bit more to your Mocktail.
For hot drinks, there is a good variety of coffees and teas (AED7-AED14). My favorite tea is Balance Cafe’s Ginger Lemon Honey Tea (AED14) which is very strong (plenty of ginger here) and awakens all the senses.
The soups on the menu looked like a nourishing way to start our lunch, but in keeping with the title of my blog (Total Salads) we decided to skip the soups and try a few salads instead.
– Asian Style Chicken and Prawn Skewers (AED35) – Asian marinated chicken and prawn skewers, peanut coconut dip and Thai fruit salad
– Balance Caesar Salad (AED29) – Mixed salad, parmesan dressing, wheat croutons and French capers
– Organic Quinoa and Chickpea Salad (AED30) – steamed quinoa, chickpeas, crispy lettuce, cherry tomatoes and honey-mustard dressing
Our favorite salad out of the three was the Asian Style Chicken and Prawn Skewers which came with a really delicious peanut coconut dip and sweet-spicy chopped fruit salad. The dip and fruit salad were really nicely balanced and in true Ayurvedic style seemed to hit all 6 tastes. I could have happily grazed on the dip and fruit alone, they were that delicious.
The Balance Caesar Salad was pretty much what you would expect when ordering a Caesar Salad, except that it did not have very much anchovy flavor. However, the incorporation of capers was a nice way to bring saltiness to the salad in place of the anchovies.
The Organic Quinoa and Chickpea Salad was fine but could have been more interesting. There are more creative ways to make quinoa than simply steaming it in water, and it would have been nice if the quinoa had been toasted or steamed in a broth.
There are a variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian Main Course dishes from several regions including India, Europe, the Middle East and Japan. Most of them are traditional favorites cooked in a healthy way.
– Lamb Biryani (AED43) – Saffron and Cardammom scented long grain basmati rice served with low fat Burani raita
– Lemon Coriander Chicken Curry (AED41) – Home style chicken curry, garlic tossed spinach and tandoori roti
– Tandoori Broccoli and Tofu Tikka Platter (AED36) – served with yellow lentil stew and whole wheat roti
The Lamb Biryani was our favorite Main Course. I had read other reviews where people had mentioned the Biryani as being delicious, and I am going to echo that sentiment. It was perfectly spiced, fragrant and without the oiliness which can often accompany restaurant-made Biryani. The Biryanis are listed right at the end of the menu, so make sure you look out for them.
The other Main Course dishes were not as good as the Biryani, which really stole the show. The Lemon Coriander Chicken Curry was a little flat in its flavor and The Tandoori Broccoli and Tofu Tikka Platter (which I was informed was a best-seller) had a little too much bitterness for my taste, although I liked the lentils which accompanied the Tikka Platter. Both the dishes were served with delicious freshly made wholewheat rotis.
By dessert we were getting full so we only tried two:
– Fruit Platter (AED16)
– Home Baked Mint and Chocolate Cake with Walnuts (AED22)
I was really expecting the Fruit Platter to be something special because the chef had done such a great job with the sweet-spicy chopped fruit salad which had accompanied our Asian Style Starter. However, the Fruit Platter was unexciting. I always feel that if you are going to serve just plain fruit on a plate, the fruit has to be perfectly ripe and in season. I was hoping to see some citrus fruits since we are in citrus season right now, but they didn’t make an appearance on the plate. Balance Cafe could easily make their Fruit Platter more appealing by borrowing flavors from one of the many cuisines which it cooks to offer a healthy dip with their fruit salad or even a scoop of homemade sorbet or frozen yogurt. A scattering of pomegranate seeds could also be a nice touch.
I was also excited to order the Home Baked Mint and Chocolate Cake with Walnuts because I love the combination of chocolate and mint. I was expecting an intensely flavoured dessert, but unfortunately it was neither chocolatey nor minty enough for me.
There were other desserts on the menu which we did not try, so it is possible that there might have been another dessert that I would have preferred. I think the desserts which we tried have the scope to be improved by the chefs at Balance Cafe while still keeping them healthy, and I would love to see that happen.
Total Salads’ Final Verdict
Balance Cafe is a good restaurant for anyone looking to eat a healthy meal at a reasonable price. They offer many popular international dishes cooked in a contemporary healthy way. The unique thing about Balance Cafe is that it follows Ayurvedic dietary principles. According to Ayurveda, there are six tastes which must be present in a dish for it to be considered well-balanced: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent. It is believed that if a person eats a dish with all six tastes, then they are less likely to find themselves snacking or craving more food because all of their taste-buds have been satisfied. Balance Cafe’s commitment to promoting healthier eating goes beyond their restaurant – they also offer cooking classes (daytime and evening) and a door-to-door meal plan food delivery service.
Full disclosure: I was invited to eat at Balance Cafe with 2 guests. All content reflects my honest opinion.Follow Me: