Kawloon

Tucked in Al Zahiyah, behind Emson supermarket, you'll find Kawloon. If you're looking for it, you can't miss it — because it's decked in Chinese kitsch. Inside, the decor follows suit. The furniture, tablecloths, walls and screens that divide the tables all conform to a primarily red and gold colour scheme with fountains, lanterns and dragons galore. Though it may sound over the top, it works, and being there, we can't imagine it being decorated any differently. We're greeted immediately by a waitress wearing, of course, a bright green kimono. She happily invites us to try a table upstairs, where we have our pick. The place isn't packed by any means, but a few seemingly happy customers sit enjoying meals — a good sign. We find a table and begin to peruse the very extensive menu. Almost immediately, it becomes apparent that if you're not craving a specific dish, it's best to ask for some guidance. With more than 200 items on the menu, it could take days to narrow down our selections. Luckily, our waitress is familiar not only with the entire menu, but also with the most popular dishes and her personal recommendations. We hand her the reigns and she suggests the crispy beef and Kawloon special roll for appetisers, the sizzling Kawloon hot pan lobster for our main and some mixed soft noodles to fill out the meal. We enjoy our drinks and shortly, the starters arrive. Don't be scared of the crispy beef. A plate piled with tiny brown fried bites, it's certainly not a dish you see every day. But it turns out to be rather tasty. Similar to fried clam strips, but with beef instead, they're bite-size and fried in a flavourful batter and too easy to inhale. But we resist, knowing there's more to come. The Kawloon special roll looks like a plate of large spring rolls. They're a bit on the greasy side, but that's to be expected. What makes the rolls special, we're assuming, is that they're filled with chicken — making them the heartier and more filling cousin of your typical spring roll. It's a bit odd but it works, though again, we pace ourselves, finishing just one. Soon the main arrives. Audible from across the room, the plate is certainly sizzling. We wait for the dish to calm down before we dig in. It's quite a sight. A full lobster shell sliced lengthwise and filled with chunks of lobster meat in a deep red sauce. After it's cooled, we spoon some on to our plate and dig in. The pieces of lobster are generously sized, perfectly cooked and flavourful in their own right, though the slightly spicy sauce makes them even more so. Paired with the noodles and after the appetisers, the meal is more than enough. Nevertheless, we finish all of the lobster, which was clearly the highlight. When we're full and finished, our waitress, who has been kind, attentive and helpful throughout our visit, quickly brings the bill. And again we're pleasantly surprised. The prices are very reasonable. So we leave with full wallets and even fuller stomachs. The bill (for two) Kawloon special roll Dhs12 Crispy beef Dhs12 Kawloon hot pan lobster Dhs95 Mixed soft noodles Dhs20 Total (excluding service) Dhs139