The problem with the Kanpai Diva Brunch is the word “brunch”. Well, and the word “diva” that precedes it. This is a classic case of feeling the need to do a brunch for the sake of it. And ditch the ludicrous “diva” concept – it cheapens it, and there isn’t an atmosphere to match the title.
What Kanpai does offer, however, is a nice lounge vibe, with a soundtrack that keeps you energised but doesn’t thud through your body. And the food is decent, make no mistake. It’s not about to upset Zuma or some of the other more celebrated Japanese restaurants in town, but for something to pick at for a few hours, it’s spot on.
There’s a punchy miso soup, soft-in-all-the-right-places spring rolls, substantially-sized and not-too-heavy-on-the-wasabi wasabi prawns, chicken karage and some uniquely designed gyoza with an extended crust.
That’s all followed by sushi maki rolls as good and as quirky as you’ll find anywhere, before rounding everything off with any of four mains – teppan chicken, salmon, beef or tofu.
All that is best enjoyed in the long, dark, almost moody bar, at a combination of low booth-like tables or high stooled spots to perch over the rest of the space. It’s comfortable and intimate, and just right for an early evening social; but "brunch" it most certainly isn’t.
Dhs250 (soft drinks), Dhs349 (house beverages). A la carte. Fri 1pm-4pm. Souk Al Bahar, Downtown Dubai (04 441 9262).
The Bottom Line
Lazily-labelled brunch would do better as a late night deal.