UAE

And that’s how we ate in five languages

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“Familiarity does not breed contempt when it comes to flavors.” 

It was that time of the week again – to sleep in a little (applicable to the elite of the alarm evaders or anything closely related to leaving the comfort of a blanket), to not have to scramble to whatever causes us to scramble during the weekdays and more importantly, to figure out what was going to be on the menu for brunch that day. It was one of those days where the sky was clear, the sun was out and the roads were miraculously more accommodating. It would have been foolish to not want to get out of the house that weekend.

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Without a destination in mind, we (my family and I) cruised along Al Safa and chanced upon Pei Wei, a rather chic and buoyant Asian diner, skirted with alfresco style furniture that suggests its a wise choice to enjoy the alluring weather outdoors. There’s so much to explore along Citywalk, Al Safa. Pei Wei does reflect a few traits of its sister restaurant, P. F. Chang’s yet it doesn’t mirror it completely. “Wok do you mean?”, you ask? Allow me to elaborate.

Traditional cookware such as woks, ladles, tempura tongs and bamboo brushes were waiting to put on a great show. It’s a feast for the eyes to watch the conflagrant woks in action, accompanied by towers of steam from the neighbouring bamboo steamers.

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When it comes to food safety, I usually keep an eye out for the way gloves are used in a busy operation (amongst other things) because more often than not, it coats on a layer of false security. Having said that, I was quite pleased to notice the change in gloves between tasks almost as though it was second nature – no prompts, no follow ups. Food safety is definitely a big deal here, thankfully.

The menu was elaborate and very user friendly. I liked the colour indicators and schemes in particular. The staff members were rather friendly and I appreciate how they took the effort to take us through the menu, suggesting alternatives in case we preferred to customize our dish – that’s right, you can customize your dish.

Our culinary tour started off with the Asian chopped chicken salad with a clever helping of chilli oil. The Thai basil, wontons and Napa cabbage complemented the tender pieces of chicken well along with the roasted sesame seeds.

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The signature dish just can’t be ignored at Pei Wei. The blazing shrimp made an amusing entry by nesting itself within the egg noodles cradle and soaking in all the sriracha garlic aioli. Remember, they call it blazing for a reason (spoiler alert: the levels of spice can be moderated on request, depending on your spice tolerance threshold. Mine is pretty basal, but I try.)

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The Kung Pao shrimp and chicken slowly made their way on to our plates as well, and we sure were glad that they did. The Chinese – Thai fusion was quite prominent and there were many flavours to experience at the same time. The nutty flavoured brown rice seemed to go a lot better with this dish than the polished rice.

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In between good food and good company, the manager, Sajeev C. K., came up to us and enquired about the service and the food. Although, it’s not new to see a manager ask these questions, it did move us to watch him in action right from clearance till sometimes even service. No wonder we mistook him for one of the service staff members at first – he could teach us a thing or two about people management. The head chef, Gulfam came to say hello to us as well and he sure is humble for an experienced chef.

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One can go on a culinary tour on a plate by simply dining at Pei Wei, Dubai. The mix of Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and Korean essences makes this establishment stand out. I would definitely recommend this place to friends and family (and your kind self too, dear reader).

The verdict:

Ambiance and decor: Excellent
Service: Excellent
Wait time: Good
Menu presentation and design: Good
Food: Excellent
Value for money: Excellent
Overall dining experience: Excellent

Comestible regards,
Judy Sebastian

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