FooDiva walks in on ‘Wok In – Chow Down’
Dubai; FooDiva loves the sound of a quirky restaurant name, especially when it’s new on the scene, as is Wok In – Chow Down, the new Pan-Asian eaterie at Mövenpick Hotel Deira. So with chef friend (the Brit one) in tow, we decided to wok in on its power lunch deal.
Interior is red, red, red, well after all the Chinese consider it lucky. With so much light pouring in, we settled for a banquette table by the window (also helps with the photo snapping). The circular seating around the central cooking station will I expect attract lots of solo diners.
The ‘oh my this is a huge menu’ describes itself as Pan-Asian, so it’s not just your standard Chinese fare. Soups…dim sum…curries…stir fries…rice and noodle dishes…hailing from China (both traditional Cantonese and spicy Szechuan), Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia – the latter is the chef’s home country, and what FooDiva would describe as the culinary capital of the Far East.
Thanks to a long trip around China last year, I developed an affinity for dim sum and steamed buns in particular, so I settled for the Char Siew Pao starter; now these bundles of goodness never look that appealing, but biting into that mushy ‘white bloomer bread’ dough as you hit the diced chicken smothered in a smokey barbeque sauce was simply put, seventh heaven.
Chef ordered barbequed spare ribs; braised beef marinated in honey and served with plenty of pak choy. From presentation to taste he was ecstatic; I savoured a slither and it slipped off the bone – FooDiva loves a good honey marinade.
Choosing a main course was soooo easy for moi; as soon as I spotted the traditional Indonesian dish of Nasi Goreng (translates to fried rice and is usually topped with fried egg), there’s no way anyone could sway my decision. Reason being, since Ginseng (cute cocktail bar with amazing food) closed down at Wafi a few years ago, I have yet to discover a nasi goreng to match that mouth-watering experience, holiday in Bali included. My friend Mrs E if you’re reading you can relate, n’est-ce pas? Fried egg sits upon like-minded fried rice, with chicken satay skewers, along with sambal spice and prawn crackers on the side. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the presentation. I nearly dived into the egg yolk, forgetting to snap away first. But when I did, I polished it off in no time – hardly letting Chef in to try. The egg was so ridiculously runny as it should be, I just had to keep on going, whilst breaking for the odd chicken skewer drenched in crunchy satay with the peanuts crackling away. Now am glad this establishment can adjust its chilli content to suit FooDiva’s mild, non spicy palate. Wok In – Chow Down, I have finally replaced my dream nasi goreng, shukran – FooDiva will travel from the other side of town just to eat you.
Chef opted for a laksa soup, but whilst he wasn’t complaining (and believe me he can), it lacked ‘a little balance, a squeeze of lime thrown in would help’ he said. Despite bursting at the seams – thank goodness for good tailoring (and not helped by the gourmet Indian feast of the night before), Chef ordered a dessert to share. Now I would have too, but I searched for banana fritters to no avail, or even a green tea ice-cream, especially as it’s Mövenpick , famed in La Suisse for their ice-cream (note; other flavours are available).
So the signature dessert of poached pear with coconut and ginger crème caramel arrived. Chef immediately spotted the uneven peeling of the pear. A quick taste resulted in an overpowering mix of ginger and wait for it, aniseed – why combine the two? Not my cup of tea, or the Chef’s. Talking of which, my jasmine tea arrived in beautiful red china tea cups, but pretty please, can you serve traditional mini Chinese cups next time?
So what’s the deal? Choose any three courses from the menu, including soft drinks and tea or coffee for AED 79 per person, between 12noon and 3pm, until the end of May. With a fortune cookie thrown in. Incredibly good value, non?
Having attended the media launch dinner a couple of weeks ago (click here for my foodie companion’s review), I wasn’t quite sure what to expect for lunch. Service was attentive without overpowering, and the team knew the menu inside out; quite refreshing for this town if you’ve read some of my recent reviews. That’s a sign of good people management, something I’ve noticed Mövenpick excels at – and with an Irish gent of a GM at the helm, what do you expect? Admittedly with only a handful of punters, they were hardly rushed off their feet. The quality of the ingredients and cooking is second-to-none (I tell you it’s the Malaysian chef) – so perhaps just expand your dessert menu slightly to cater for FooDiva’s and this town’s so diverse tastes. Deira residents, businesses and corporates, I am so jealous. You’re so close to FooDiva’s ultimate five knife rating. For now it’s four, but if I had butter knives or kids chopsticks, you’d have 4 ½. FooDiva will most certainly wok in again.
P.S – please bear with me as I test a new photography style.