With its second location having recently opened in Arabella, Pei Wei is slowly but surely becoming a culinary focal point in Kuwait. The ‘faster-food’ cousin of the immensely popular P.F. Chang’s offers fresh, beautifully presented, bold tastes with a customizable twist.
Upon arriving at the Pei Wei located in Arabella, the choice of location is the first thing to stand out. Tucked away from the main road and close to the seaside, patrons can appreciate a break from the hustle and bustle of Kuwait life and the busier areas of Arabella. Furthermore, with a sea walk opening in the near future, a stunning view of the ocean will soon be available to people opting to dine in the outside seating area.
The outside and inside seating options make Pei Wei a restaurant that can be visited whatever the weather. A theme of comfort, warmth, openness and rustic charm is sustained throughout the restaurant. From comfortable outside seating and top-notch outdoor heaters to an open kitchen display and a secluded ‘couples area’, Pei Wei exudes a welcoming ambiance that caters to large family gatherings as well as quieter dining experiences.
The interior design incorporates a cozy, low-lit atmosphere with an open-plan dining area, which provides diners with a clear view of the kitchen. This reinforces the restaurant’s claim to fresh cooking techniques as well as allowing the patrons to eat in a calm, laid-back manner and experience Asian flavors in a comfortable setting.
However, what is most delightful about a visit to Pei Wei is the quality of the food, attention to detail and swift service. Initially, the menu seems somewhat short but as soon as you discover the various customization options and delicious alternatives, the choice becomes impossible! Handy ‘vegetarian’ and ‘spicy’ icons help diners to choose their own perfect meal, whilst also providing vegetarian substitutions for every dish, allowing people to try every option available no matter their nutritional requirements. This customization also stretches as far as providing an option of either white, brown, mixed or egg fried rice with meal choices. Honoring the family-friendly outlook of the restaurant, the menu features a ‘Kid’s Wei’ section which permits younger restaurant-goers an opportunity to taste the fusion flavors in manageable portions and without as much spice. In addition, Pei Wei offers a value-for-money option when it comes to fusion dining and experiencing new tastes with its affordable deals for larger parties of up to 10 people.
First up we tried the Blazing Shrimp starter, clearly a favorite amongst restaurant-goers with seven or eight emerging form the kitchen during the length of our meal. The tempura-battered shrimp were tossed in a light, spicy Sriracha-garlic aioli and topped with red bell pepper, scallions and garlic flakes, producing a simple, yet delectable, starter with a slight hint of nouveau cuisine. The light sauce transformed what could have been a filling starter into a delightful, crunchy dish that pre-empted the mains to come and certainly packed a spicy punch. Served on a bed of crispy egg noodles, the shrimp were carefully arranged to produce an aesthetically pleasing and delicious starter option, clarifying its popularity among returning Pei Wei diners.
A specialty feature on the menu – and on banners and boards around the restaurant – was the enticing ‘Blazing Roll.’ This sushi dish incorporated the ‘Blazing Shrimp’ starter regular patrons had become so fond of, with the high-quality sushi served at Pei Wei. With the same spicy bite, crisp batter and creamy sauce, the shrimp provided a sharp contrast to the raw, crunchy freshness of the crab and cucumber sushi. It produced a light and tantalizing sushi option for those who want to experience the best of both worlds – the Pei Wei way, of course.
The fresh and innovative streak cultivated at Pei Wei was also a theme through our main meals. The ‘Honey Seared Shrimp’ and ‘Mandarin Kung Pao Shrimp’ were meticulously arranged and seemed to represent a landscape of food with a mountain of rice, hills of shrimp and rivers of sauce and toppings. The prominent appearance of the food created the illusion of an haute cuisine environment and we almost forgot that the restaurant was founded on the basis of takeaway/deliveries alternative to P.F Chang’s.
The taste of the food was even more striking. Although the ‘Honey Seared Shrimp’ was the sweeter of the two dishes, its honey garlic sauce was nowhere near overwhelming and it was a lively, satisfying meal that highlighted the exceptional high-temperature searing techniques the restaurant is known for. The ‘Mandarin Kung Pao Shrimp’, on the other hand, was a more savory choice and was a delight to look at as well as taste. The array of fresh flavors displayed on the plate were evidently cleverly thought out and constructed. From chili seared soy sauce to peanuts, the dish was clearly formed to charm the tastebuds.
The Pei Wei experience was a thoroughly enjoyable one with limitless options and considerate waiters and waitresses. Gorgeous seating areas were matched with an honest, fresh approach to fusion food, creating a comfortable place to dive into inventive new tastes.