Not to be confused with Chopstix in Marco Polo Hotel in Deira, Chopsticks is a Chinese restaurant franchise that originated in Lebanon of all places. Curious to find out what the Lebanese answer to PF Chang’s was like, we nipped out to The Dubai Mall one Thursday lunchtime. Needless to say, I found Chopsticks more or less empty (it’s new and it was lunchtime, after all), so took a table on the outdoor terrace, overlooking Souk Al Bahar and boasting partial views of the Dubai Fountain. Not a bad little spot, I thought, though the midday sun was unrelenting and had rendered the black marble tables too hot to touch. After struggling for a good 10 minutes a small army of waitresses managed to open a large parasol, giving us some respite from the sun’s glare. Their endeavours must have exhausted them since they didn’t re-emerge for another 10 minutes. When they did, it was only to try and sell us some fancy Italian water, which we declined, but were served it regardless. As sweet as the waitresses were, service was rusty to say the least.

Of course, we weren’t here to sample Italian water, rather Lebanese Chinese food. Our starter consisted of shrimp ‘blast’ – battered shrimps lathered in a sweet wasabi mayonnaise. The dish was pretty good, each morsel proved very moreish but didn’t have the ‘blast’ promised on the menu. The shrimp dumplings fared much better – the plump, juicy parcels were given an extra edge by an infusion of coriander. I wolfed these down happily and was beginning to think that the Lebanese answer to PF Chang’s was better than America’s answer to PF Chang’s (ie PF Chang’s). Sadly, however, my optimism was cut short by the arrival of the cashew chicken and the stir-fried beef with broccoli for the main course – two very different dishes, which tasted worryingly similar. The cashew chicken was neither sweet nor sour, instead bland and tasteless, and soon became a tired viscous mess in the heat of the day. Somehow the beef had the same dreary taste that suffocated the cashew chicken – the sauce soon became congealed and the bed of broccoli it was served with was limp and lifeless.

We did our best with what was in front of us and by the time we had finished, our waitress, rather sweetly, had taken to running between our table and the kitchen to speed up proceedings. It was a nice gesture, but too little too late to save our Chopsticks experience. If ever you do find yourself sat in midday heat on the same terrace, stick to the starters.

The bill (for two)

1x Water Dhs22
1x Shrimp dumpling Dhs25
1x Shrimp Blast Dhs35
1x Egg-fried rice Dhs15
1x Stir-fried beef and broccoli Dhs44
1x Chicken cashew Dhs39
Total (excluding service) Dhs180