An unexpected find among myriad new eateries at BoxPark is fun and quirky Chinese restaurant, Kuai. Even more unexpected is the news that the head chef here, Jason Yang, previously worked at two of Time Out Dubai’s Best Chinese restaurants, Hakkasan and Yuan.
The space is by far Kuai’s biggest attraction. It feels raw, eclectic and urban in all the right ways. The walls partly look like grubby washed concrete, plastered with colourful graffiti of Chinese dragons, and partly sandy-coloured exposed brick, tagged like the inside of a train tunnel, painted with a cartoon of a cool-dude panda and the words “no MSG”.
Look up and you’ll see exposed pipes teamed with a nod to traditional Chinese culture in the form of empty birdcages, hanging from the ceiling as lanterns.
Staff are friendly and they offer useful (if not especially impassioned) recommendations when asked.
The menu features heaps of dim sum and a handful of takeaway favourites such as kung po and sweet and sour dishes. It also features a range of novelties such as a Chinese fattoush salad and lobster satay mac ’n’ cheese – served on a toy mousetrap, because, erm, why not?
For the princely sum of Dhs38, you’d be right to expect little lobster in this wacky pasta recipe. But the combination of dairy and peanut works surprisingly well in fact (admittedly in an “I hate myself for liking this”
The crispy aromatic duck is a bit of a let-down. There’s plenty of shredded meat, but it’s all very, very dry, while the hoisin sauce is extremely sweet and the pancakes, although served in a traditional bamboo steamer, have clearly never seen a hint of heat and are still doughy and dusted in flour. Odd.
The dim sum are generally good, but not good enough to be gushing over on Instagram. While the fillings are flavoursome, the skins of both siu mai and the spinach and scallop dumplings are a little too wet and glutinous.
Far more delightful than the food itself are all the twee touches, sure to bring a smile to the face of even the angriest diners. The dynamite shrimp served with a Looney Tunes-style stick of (toy) dynamite, the hoisin sauce for the duck pancakes dispensed from a water pistol, and, of course, that mousetrap mac. Finally, your bill comes inside a chessboard. “Check, mate”… geddit? This is certainly not the best Chinese food in town, but Kuai does offer fun, character and colour in spades.
The bottom line Take the kids and they’ll get a kick out of all the jokes on the menu.
The Bill (for two) 1x chicken and shrimp siu mai Dhs35 1x spinach and scallop dumpling Dhs35 1x vegetable pot stickers Dhs30 1x crispy aromatic duck (quarter) Dhs80 1x wok friend gai Lan Dhs30 1x lobster satay mac 'n' cheese Dhs38 1x dynamite shrimp Dhs38 1x tea Dhs18 1x juice Dhs18 1x large water Dhs24 Total (excluding service) Dhs346