When you think of Chinese American food the words delicious, tasty and saucy definitely come to mind. Yet the trade off is usually an unhealthy meal that will leave you feeling run down for the rest of the day. Fortunately, Kuwait has a new restaurant that will give you your fix of Szechuan deliciousness, without ending your day, Wok Hay.
According to store manager Alok Kumar the name translates to ‘happy dining’, an idea they have fully embraced. Located next to Green Island, the restaurant offers diners a beautiful view of the Arabian Gulf through floor to ceiling windows along two walls. The sunlight bounces off ornate Chinese artwork, filling the space with a fusion of bright reds, and yellows. In the background you get a taste of the growing Korean Pop music all the kids are raving about these days. Certainly a great place for happy dining.
As soon as you sit down you begin your meal with complimentary fresh jasmine tea, and two types of Szechuan cashews, then scroll through their electronic menu as you munch away and work up an appetite. Start by ordering one of their delicious drinks like the Ginger Mojito, Blue Margarita, Sangria or the thick and delicious Strawberry Daiquiri. No matter what you choose at Wok Hay you will be pleased, as none of their meats are frozen in storage. Everything they use is fresh, and it really shows.
We started with the traditional chicken lettuce wraps and some pan seared dumplings. The amazing chicken is cooked to perfection with almonds, water chestnuts, carrots, shiitake mushrooms and scallions. Just put a spoonful in a piece of lettuce, add soy sauce to taste (or without), and be delighted by this refreshing appetizer. For a warmer start go with the dumplings. The ground chicken has crunchy Napa cabbage, chopped scallions and sweet-hot ginger and is tucked by hand and steamed, then pan-seared for ultimate tastiness.
If you are a noodle lover Wok Hay is definitely the place to be. We went for the classics on this course, and we were amazed by the flavors. We stepped a bit from Chinese cuisine to Thai food with the Pad Thai Noodles. The prefect blend of sweet and spicy sauce creates a unique flavor that perfectly accents the typical peanuts, tofu and scrambled eggs with rice noodles. We went back to basics with a dish of Hong Kong Lo Mein. The amazing egg noodles are wok made with carrots, bell peppers, onions, shiitake mushrooms, oyster sauce and cabbage. The fresh ingredients are deliciously toasted with a sweet sauce and egg noodles for a classic dish bursting with flavor.
For the mains Wok Hay has created two sections, the traditional done better and the contemporary, where they create new dishes from all the old flavors you love. We tried the traditional General Tsao’s beef, which is delicious and void of the deep-fried oily taste. The meat is flash fried and wok seared, with garlic and scallions in a Wok Hay special dark sauce chili paste and orange peel to give a perfectly balanced dish. Or try the Spicy Wok Hay with carrots, snow peas, water chestnuts and oyster sauce. Watch out for the red hot shot of flavor. Our traditional favorite was the Open Sesame. Juicy chicken cubes are covered in a delicious sweet soy sauce tossed with sliced red, yellow and green bell peppers and showered with sesame seeds.
The chefs at Wok Hay really show off their culinary talents with the amazing Contemporary Asian menu. First of all, let’s be clear: anything with mangos is bound to be delicious. So when we saw the Bangkok Spicy Beef with Mango, we knew we had to try it. The sliced beef is soaked in their signature dark sauce, sriracha, lime, onions, peppers, garlic and, of course, mango, and served with broccoli. The mix of textures and flavors is a refreshing twist on familiar tastes.
Naturally when you are dining in a place with such a lovely view of the water, your appetite might call for a bit of seafood, and Wok Hay aims to please. Go for something simple like their Lemon Pepper Salmon, a healthy choice of a fillet blanketed with a rich, tangy sauce and served with flash-fried spinach seasoned with kosher sauce and black pepper. Our personal favorite though was definitely the Prawns with Coconut Honey Walnut. The juicy, plump shrimp tossed in a sweet honey sauce with candied walnuts and topped with coconut was a delicious combination of flavors that compliment each other perfectly without being too sweet.
Make sure to leave room for dessert though! At Wok Hay we tried what might possibly be the greatest home made frozen yoghurt. The simple dessert is served in a tall glass, and alone it’s a perfectly refreshing ending to the flavorful meal you just had. Want something more decedent? Try the Banana-Mango Spring Rolls. Think your savory spring roll, but filled with a real bananas and mangos instead and topped with a drizzle of chocolate and caramel sauces. Or go for the Asian Fruit Carving, a fruit salad from the Far East made with fresh mango and pineapples on a bed of vanilla ice cream and topped with crispy bits. For a walk on the wild side try the Pistachio cake, which is reminiscent of a carrot cake, but with a delicious nutty flavor topped with amazing cream cheese frosting.
We left Wok Hay that day feeling full, excited about the new concept and with a big doggie bag. To our surprise, when we reached for the leftover white takeout box the next day, there was none of the oil you normally see with Chinese takeout. We were definitely Happy Diners.