Tala Soubra isn’t a typical traveler. Instead of just sightseeing, the Dubai-based food blogger immerses herself in discovery and food.
She found these interests combining during a visit to Japan and resulted in a guidebook that has become her trademark.
Soubra was interested in traveling to Tokyo because it felt “slightly more foreign,” especially to the people of the Middle East, compared to visiting a city in Europe.
Soubra, a Lebanese blogger who comes from a finance and banking background, started her own portal and Instagram page where she posts reviews about independent restaurants both in Dubai and all over the world.
She travels frequently and creates city guides in the form of small boxes with cards that offer restaurant recommendations around the area. She said the concept is meant to give travelers a “hassle-free” experience.
“On average vacations are one week long, so I created a guide with 15 recommendations giving users the perfect amount of recommendations to enjoy,” Soubra explained. Each restaurant card includes a photograph and a brief description.
She has published city guides for Tokyo, Dubai, London, and Beirut. For her, Tokyo is a city of craft “seen in the amount of care and detail they put in their food.”
However, the large array of food options in Tokyo did not deter Soubra, her favorite meal being tempura. She visited Mitsuta, a traditional tempura restaurant in Tokyo, where guests are ushered into private rooms that hold around four people.
Each room includes its own tempura station where a chef begins an “Omakase” experience, in which diners let the chef serve a menu based on the catch of the day.
Soubra finds that learning more about the food offerings in any city can give one an idea of how people live in that city. She enjoys discovering where they go for coffee, where they meet their loved ones on weekends, and what they do in their own free time.
The founder of the TalaSoubra website added that she had not expected to “fall so in love with the people. They are passionate about creating and perhaps the friendliest I've ever come across.”
“[Tokyo’s] locals are polite and delicate while the city is known for its screaming neon lights and its culture is woven in every element of the city,” Soubra says in her Tokyo City Guide.
The city guide also includes a fold-out map which pinpoints all the places of interest on one side, and on the other, provides details of hotels, taxis, airports, and translated phrases that can be useful to travelers.