Kanpai, Downtown Dubai – Food/Restaurant Review

Since I moved to Dubai, I’ve been really busy starting my postgraduate and settling into life. I haven’t done any blog posts since moving here and I know that really needs to change. So I decided to kick things off with a review about a Japanese/Asian Fusion Restaurant and Bar in Downtown Dubai, Kanpai.

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Located in Souk Al Bahar just beside the Burj Khalifa, this gem of an Asian restaurant can be found hiding on the second floor. I say hiding, but in reality as you walk towards it you get greeted by this handsome gentleman along the walls.

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It might seem a little strange to feel slightly intimidated as you enter Kanpai, but with those wonderful Samauri-esque greeting you, you might understand my fear. However in reality my family and I were met but some really warm and friendly front of house staff, who took us to our table, asked how the music was for us and really made us feel special about having booked our table with them.

Interestingly enough, whilst we were there Kanpai was having a photoshoot to help further their brand in Dubai. Even though there was this photoshoot going on in the background with the occasional flash of a flash gun or the fake laughter of models told to: “enjoy themselves,” in the next few pictures I didn’t feel like it hindered our visit at all. Perhaps, occasionally they was a longer wait time then we perhaps would’ve liked, particularly when it came to getting the bill, as there were more people dining then, but honestly I felt they dealt with the situation very professionally.

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We had a wonderful server, whose name I’m sure was Mignonne or something similar but in reality she looked just like my favourite Abbi Sciuto from NCIS. I literally couldn’t handle the similarities, she was gorgeous and was there when a glass needed refilling or to guide us through the menu, namely the cocktail menu helping us chose from the different varieties of alcoholic/non-alcoholic drinks which we could then make alcoholic. I have to say I was totally impressed with her as a waitress, as the restaurant seemed to fill she did seem to be serving everybody and she handled that pressure wonderfully. She looked as if she was enjoying herself, she was friendly, calm and helped sort out any issues we had at any given time alongside everybody else.

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You’ll probably want to hear about the food at some point. But very quickly, the setting.

Honestly I don’t know what everybody’s problem is in Dubai, but for some reason and maybe it’s just me but the last few places I’ve been to the lights have been turned so low they might as well have been off, Nobu I’m literally pointing all fingers at you. Whilst Kanpai was a little dark for my liking actually being able to read the menu without asking for a nightlight, and being able to see the food in from of me as well as the people opposite me was an absolute bonus. The lighting was low enough to set an atmosphere but not low enough to destroy any chance of mood. in the same way the music, which when we entered was pretty loud (probably due to the photoshoot), was turned down to make sure we could all hear any person on our table. Honestly touches like that really make the evening so much more enjoyable. Whilst it was pretty classy inside I loved that I wouldn’t necessarily have felt out of place wearing some smart casual trousers and flat shoes, it just felt like there were no pretensions. For me that is amazing, there is nothing worse then going to an eatery, a club or whatever and feeling like you don’t deserve to be there.

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As for the food, well if telling you we had two lots of starters before our main course doesn’t speak volumes for the quality of the food I don’t know what does. There was plenty to go around, and everything from the Spicy Chilli Edamame Bean to the Vegetable Spring Rolls was a wonderful experience for your tastebuds.

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The chefs and management at Kanpai seriously outdid themselves with their starters, and achieved a succinct and beautiful matching Asian delight. I was impressed with the speed that the starters came out, and there was no problems with us ordering in our very awkward fashion: Starter, Starter, Main without given any time to prepare anything else. Really well done for the starters:

  • Spicy Edamame Beans
  • Crab Cakes
  • Vegetable Spring Rolls
  • Some interesting, not to sure if I liked them/didn’t like them mango and vegetable parcels

Honestly, I can’t qualify if I like the last food item or not, I had one thought: “Not my thing,” and then went back for more because I’m sure it was.

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Main course, for me went a lot like the first course. I ordered:

  • Roast chicken in a spicy cream sauce with mushrooms and baby potatoes

It was delicious. But, and yes really this shouldn’t be a but, BUT: a) I wish the potatoes has been cooked a little longer and b) I felt like I could have had a much bigger portion. But then I’m a pig. Even after two loads of sharing platter starters I wanted more food, which does go to show how well prepared the food was.  We only had a slight problem with one dish, that thankfully wasn’t mine (evil laugh), that was slightly too cold but they rectified the situation immediately, and honestly it’s not even worth complaining about.

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As it was a birthday, they very kindly let me choose a desert for the birthday girl – my beautiful mum, and wrote: “Happy Birthday Veda” (surprisingly her name) on the plate. I chose the desert called Ka, or Fire which was some kind of cheesecake which was set on fire at the table. The photograph I have of it is not wonderful but you get the generally idea. I like they came out with a sparkler as well, and thankfully enough when I asked them not to sing happy birthday because my mum would have sunk under the table stayed true to their word and just brought it all out. Enough for her to be embarrassed, not enough for her to disappear – a good balance I think.

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If you want to book a table at Kanpai – which I strongly suggest visit their website or call them on 04-441-9262. Their opening times are 12pm – 2am.

A fabulous restaurant, with some amazing staff, food and just pure quality entertainment.

Muriel’s Kitchen, Leicester Square

So you want to eat out in Theatreland,London, but you want to avoid the overpriced and stuffy air that can come with some eateries in the West End. Ladies and Gentlemen, look no further then this little gem, which sits perched at the top of Leicester Square, Muriel’s Kitchen.

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This branch, one of three (the others are in SoHo and South Kensington) is perfect, if like me and my aunt you’re looking for a dainty and easy atmosphere, that serves fast but extraordinarily scrummy food. Picture it if you will, having dashed into Foyle’s Bookshop searching for a mosaic-ed map floor which seems to know longer exist since their move, desperately hungry but worried about missing the show they’ve book to see, two women scrambling around to find a restaurant. Well it wasn’t quite like that, but it was sort of close.

Deciding to eat relatively near to The Prince of Wales Theatre, meant walking through Leicester Square. And there on our right-hand side we saw balloons. Yellow balloons, welcoming balloons that called to us, and said: “Don’t worry, we’ll feed you,” and so they did. In we entered, and were greeted by what can only be described as a jumping/dancing waiter called Jack, full of energy and best of all saw we needed comfy seating. Leading us over to a sofa area, and sitting down you actually get the chance to look around, and for some reason, feel at home in the warm aura this restaurant brings.

www.crazyabouthome.com
http://www.crazyabouthome.com

I’m still now, trying to think of something I really can make a bad comment about with Muriel’s and so far I keep coming up blank. The service was incredibly lovely. Jack, the server was funny, polite and took all our orders promptly, and I’d like to point out without a notepad. Memory skills are always a good thing, especially when you remember the orders right. He was engaging, but without that oh-so-typical: “how’s the food,” that for some reason, lots of waiting staff seem to ask right as you put a piece of something in your mouth. The awkward question usually leading to an awkward thumbs up from me.

Plus, there are swinging seats.

www.murielskitchen.co.uk
http://www.murielskitchen.co.uk

Now I’m not all about the furnishings and quality of staff on this blog, I know that I need to get to food. Muriel’s Kitchen has a monthly chancing menu, which for the one on at the moment click here for.

So take a look.

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Pulled Pork Burger £11.95

This was my meal, and just looking at this picture is literally making me dribble. I could get on a train and go back to have this again, and again for possibly the rest of time. It was just scrumptious, the chips were perfectly cooked and came in a little flower pot which tickled me, almost senseless and the pork was, well as BBQ-ed as you’d ever need it. It was sticky goodness, and it came with extra sauce, which is something I always have to ask for, which is a bonus in my eyes. Less talking = more time eating. Although demolishing food has always been pretty easy for me, this meal was definitely filling. I ended up having to leave the buns because there was just so much meat. It was an outstanding burger.

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Chicken Skewers £7.99

Now this was my aunt’s food so I’m not technically sure how good it was, but the plate was clear and we were both pretty silent as we ate. Not silent in a bad way, but more the silence that fills the air when the food is too good and conversation just can’t compete. On a side note, the skewers this chicken came on is massive.

DESSERTS!

IMG_1460 IMG_1462 Yummy in my tummy.   This dessert was , so amazing. I was stuck between this Our Famous Carrot And Walnut Cake, £5.25 and some other dessert which now seems like ancient history in my mind. I’m so grateful that this is what Jack suggested because my goodness, this was a form of heaven. It was moist, it had flavour, the creamy bit on top and in the middle was just magically. And when I couldn’t fulfil my destiny in eating magnificent cake, that was just oh-so-big Jack kindly wrapped it up for me to munch right now. Honestly this cake is just wonderful, and I’m so happy I can still enjoy whilst I’m writing this post.

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Di’s dessert was apparently also pretty fantastic. One moment looking and I saw this interesting looking pot containing Bread And Butter Pudding, £6, with a little side of custard that was surprisingly plenty for the dish, the next it was empty. I think I was lucky I insisted on taking a quick snap before it got gobbled. It did smell absolutely wonderful, mind.

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Everyone meet Jack! Am-dram aficionado, food interpreter, comfort bringer to the sofas, dancer, and Kylie Minogue fan. What more could you want! Oh, there’s me.

When I got home from this amazing dinner, I did a bit of research about Muriel’s Kitchen and it made me like it even more then I already did. When I read the story behind the restaurant I though it would be a really nice add to this blog, as it just so personal.

Muriel’s Kitchen is run by a husband and wife team, called Charlotte and Sam. Charlotte’s grandmother was called Muriel and according to the website: “she was not only a brave and wonderful woman but an absolutely fantastic cook.” ‘Nana Muriel’s’ Kitchen was the: “heart of her home,” and this it seems is what Charlotte wanted to bring to London. And indeed, you do feel at home in Muriel’s. The food is cooked from scratch by chefs everyday and wherever they can, they use local and ethically sourced produce; from veggies to eggs, fish to chicken everything is thought through before it hits out tables.

You can’t ask for anymore. In case you interested check out their lovely website.

Or their Twitter. Facebook. Instagram.