Now, I’ve blogged before about restaurants that are chilled out, relaxing and appropriate for families. Allow me to introduce to you a brunch that is on the other side of the spectrum. TOY brunch at China Grill is kind of a big deal. Currently in Miami and New York, it’s targeted for “adults who want to play.” It is indeed excitement all the way and it creates a phenomenon that I like to coin as “brunch jet lag.” This is because even on a lazy, uneventful Friday afternoon in Dubai, this place has got such an electric, cyber, cosplay-chic buzz, that upon entering it makes you feel that you’ve been transported right into the hottest club in Tokyo and it’s 3am on a Saturday night.
There’s nothing predictable about it. One minute there’s a Parisian mime artist entertaining crowds in the spotlight, the next there’s a mascot Panda busting out his best moves in a dance rendition of “Kung Fu Panda” whilst everyone cheers him on.
Meanwhile, a bionic ballerina flutters around in the background sporting a glow in the dark dress …
I don’t even know WHAT this power ranger like creature is … but it’s freakin’ awesome.
I really liked the fact that the atmosphere was carefree and laissez faire, yet not chavy and overtly outrageous.
Enough about that. Let’s move on to the FOOD which is the real protagonist of this post. The Friday brunch has a multiple of dishes to sample.
The sushi alone had so much variety and it had something for the saints (the fresh, healthy “beauty roll”) and the sinners (crunchy, sweet indulgent dragon rolls). Other notable faves include the king crab, spicy salmon, kinokoro mushroom and spicaaayyy salmon rolls. Personally, I liked the wyagu beef rolls – authentically oriental, with an added beefy, heartyness to them.
Speaking of hearty, the variety of dim sum available was commendable. The vegetable, chicken and beef dumplings were deeply satisfyingly. They were light but not overly stodgy.
These were nice but one dumpling really stood out. My FAVORITE from THESE was the char siu boa dish. Sure, they may SEEM innocent with their soft, fluffy, doughy parcel exterior but once you get to “know” them, you’ll find they’re FILLED with a rich, meaty barbecue sauce inside. Positively scandalous! Consider it the cadbury creme egg of dumplings. Little pillows of yum. Traditionally these are made with pork, but the ones served here are beef (yay!)
I’m a sucker for GOOD duck pancakes. This dish happens to be one of my favorite things to eat! I find that some are crispier whilst others are more meaty. What I loved about the China Grill duck in particular was that it was coated in an ooey gooey, sticky red sauce. See? Look how the red sauce just GLISTENS cheekily on those ducks in the spotlight.
Glorious. Those ducks are so smug. They KNOW they are ALL that …
The only problem I had with these were that I felt like the pancakes made for me were a bit on the skinny side.
Don’t worry! That can be resolved!!! Just ask ‘em to really stuff em for ya!!!! Don’t be shy..you can do it!
After this, we were served a trio dish which included beef kebabs on a stick, soft shell crab tempura and a lamb sandwich. the pulled lamb sandwich was succulent. Intensely flavorful and tender in a warm, soft pita bread. Been thinkin’ about this sammich ever since.
For red meat lovers, TOY serve a very classy, sophisticated mini steak that is cooked rare and drizzled artistically in a dark, sweet, soy based sauce.
For dessert, it was a somewhat of a lucky dip experience. The chef randomly made sweet dishes for the day and served them in a plastic novelty lego brick dish. No one knows what to expect and our dish happened to be fruit which was fab! I loved this idea! Sometimes it’s good to let someone else take the reins and be pleasantly surprised.
After lunch, we went upstairs where the party continued. As I mentioned before, I found it remarkable how it felt like a nightclub in full swing even in the middle of the afternoon!! You really need to come down here and fall down the rabbit hole to experience it – you’ll be soy happy you did. (see what I did there?)
The ambience is surreal, quirky and vibrant. You ain’t in Kansas any more, Dorothy … you’re at China Grill.