Since 2003, Wok n’ Roll has been creating a unique blend of Chinese and Japanese cultures in culinary form. Originally launched with just one location in Jabriya, they have recently added a new addition in Phase One at The Avenues. “A fusion of two countries’ culinary traditions, talent, and creativity have accomplished the creation of a menu not only delicious and attractive, but unique in many ways.”
The first thing you notice at Wok n Roll is the warmth of the welcome you are greeted with. Then, the allure of natural stone, walls and warm woods create an inviting atmosphere. With a menu comprised of 254 different food items alone, it is easy to get lost in the options. Let’s dive into some of their signature dishes to see what all the fusion fuss is about.
Given their name’s direction that we wok, then roll (the name itself an allusion to the culturally specific cooking devices required to prepare each), we began our journey with that in mind. For a starter we tried the Spicy Pink Shrimp. This is a version of a thinly breaded shrimp and a mayonnaise-based spicy pink sauce, that adds the perfect amount of creaminess and heat. Other strong starters include the Negimayaki, a thinly sliced bbq beef rolled up with spring onions, and the seafood Gyoza, a traditional Japanese dumpling filled with both shrimp and crab.
Their self-described signature dishes include: Creamy Lobster, a grilled lobster with cream sauce; Wanton Prawn, 5 pieces of fried prawns with wanton and a mix of herbs; The Tani-Ma salad, comprised of Shrimp, lettuce, Edamame, avocado and a sweet sauce; and lastly, Kinomi ice cream, which is a scoop of ice cream served with fresh seasonal berries, sauce, and nice if obligatory sprig of mint. For a unique finish to this desert they add crispy shavings of a tasty but unknown origin that provide both for a welcomed texture change and good flavor, and helps it to tie into the themes of sushi, giving many rolls tendency towards shaving-type toppings. These are the dishes they feel best exemplify the fusion spirit they have worked hard to cultivate.
Their best seller here though is said to be the Crab Avocado salad. Which includes cucumber, crab, and avocado, mixed with chili sauce. When asked why, their executive chef indicated he thinks because it most appeals to local taste buds and also finds that perfect balance between light and spicy.
The Sushi offering will do well for a demanding culinary clientele: the prepping part, always done humbly, and as an art, true to the Japanese nature that requires even the littlest things be done with great care and effort, can be comforting to watch. The sashimi and nirgiri sushi offerings both have all the staples you will be looking for including Salmon, Yellowtail and variations on Tuna. One standout mixed plate of sushi though was the Seven Samurai, which are 7 different types of nigiri sushi.
The Temari Sushi plate, which consists of 8 pieces of rounded Nigiri Sushi of Ebi, Salmon, Tuna & Hamachi, is a plate that offers versatility in option. Presented in a rounded ball with the protein resting aloft, though a subtle difference from its cubist and more traditional cousin, it does make for a nice presentation. And with additional flourishes atop beyond the standard ponzu and smelt egg, you are in for a treat.
With the rolls the options are equally varied. This part of the menu also seems to consistently be a place where the sushi chef gets to be more inventive with their menu. With roughly 100 variations on the roll here it may be tough to decide. Suffice it so however, the classics (i.e. Rainbow spicy tuna etc.,) are covered, and there are some others that sound as if they will demand an extra visit: The monster maki, with its unagi tuna, and shrimp mix, or The Crab Style Maki, with crab on the outside as well as in, are two such standouts beckoning our return.
If Sushi is the wise, old-world artisan who has carefully and humbly perfected his craft in quiet, then Teppanyaki is the flashy little brother, flaring and twisting in competition for your stomach’s attention. All the same, the experiences of both are fun and not to be missed. From the flames that shoot up when the oils are liberally poured out, to the gregarious chef prepping before your eyes, this exemplifies the best, if polarizing, nuances of the Japanese dining experience.
Here, the Teppan beef is given three different options: Wagyu, Angus, or even local Kuwaiti beef, each with a different price point to match. In addition to the traditional additional options of chicken or prawns, you can also get salmon, scallop, lobster and white fish as protein options hot off the grill. Plus, you can never really beat fried rice when it is served fresh after being cooked right in front of you.
When asked about his cooking influences, the chef states “my style is based on Chinese fried cooking and Japanese sushi with a Wok n Roll touch” and cites his most important special ingredients as “passion” and “innovation.” This is evidenced by simple classics that get tweaked or prodded 10% off the traditional to form a unique taste all on their own. Should you choose the more traditional take or the nouveau fusion dishes, the experience is worth a visit.
WOK N ROLL is located both in Jabriya, and at Phase 1 of The Avenues. For more information, follow them online @woknrollkw,
www.woknroll.com.kw or reach them by phone at 2259 7046.