February 2019 Update:
Still a great location to spend your evening with friends & drinks in Downtown Dubai. Next time I’m going I’m definitely going to try their vegan Maki Sushi Platter!
Only having one real vegan restaurant in Dubai made me become creative and experimental – I want to dine out and have a great time just like everyone else in this city without having to worry about the ingredients in my meals, having a drink and more often lately without being served in another organic café (not that I don’t like them, but occasionally I prefer something more chic). And that’s the reason why I got even more excited about stumbling upon Kanpai in Souk Al Bahar next to Dubai Mall.
I didn’t have the restaurant on any of my “will visit and check out”-lists and actually we only went because our first choice in Souk Al Bahar (Mango Tree, Thai restaurant) didn’t have a table outside on the balcony available.
We went on a Tuesday night and I was pleasantly surprised about the fact that it was Ladies Night at Kanpai and I got offered three complimentary drinks (there was the choice between five different ones dependent upon which liquor base I’d prefer), which were all really good, but I think my favorite one was the one with whiskey.
Kanpai is a Japanese restaurant / lounge with an authentic decor and ambience (excluding the music, which seemed just a little bit too much pop, but wasn’t disturbing at all). They’ve got a bar and a separated lounge area where smoking is permitted as well.
My favorite part of the night was when I opened the menu and totally unexpected found a lot of dishes with vegan options and other ones labeled with a V for vegan! To start we decided to order the Papaya Salad, Vegan Vietnamese Summer Rolls, Vegan Spring Rolls, and Vegan Tampura. The only vegan options we left out were the Vegan Tom Yum Soup, the Seaweed Salad, the Green Salad and Edamame. The Papaya Salad was good, but nothing special, I don’t think I’d order it again especially since I liked all the other starters much more!
The Vietnamese Summer Rolls were raw, fresh and delicious – the mango and mixed vegetables inside were appetizing with the aromatic soy lime dip. Our other two starters were both deep-fried – and as always – I like anything fried. Both the Vegan Vegetables Rolls as well as the Vegan Tampura were prepared with fresh vegetables and served hot.
Even though we couldn’t quite identify all the vegetables / fruits that were given in the Tampura almost all of them were tasty!
Repeating the same mistake over and over again we had ordered four starters and of course two mains. Followed by the appetizers we were served the Tofu Steak and the Vegan Green Curry, both dishes came with rice on the side. The latter was delicate, but again nothing extraordinary if you compare it to the flavors of the Tofu Steak.
It was crispy outside and soft inside (probably the kind of Tofu I never use when I pretend to be cooking since it’s falling apart within ten seconds if you don’t know what you are doing) and garnished with leek miso sauce, fried lotus root & micro cress and pink pepper corns. What really made the Tofu Steak so flavorsome was the leek miso sauce – and I’m glad to say that probably this was the tastiest Tofu Steak I’ve tried so far! After this amazing experience I didn’t expect much of my question if there were any vegan deserts available – but again, I got pleasantly surprised by our waiter, who offered the lemon and berry sorbet to us, which we obviously couldn’t deny.
Still being flashed by the taste of the Tofu Steak, we tried both sorbets and couldn’t believe how fresh, fruity and perfected they were! While the berry sorbet was super delicious because of its authentic fruity flavors, the lemon sorbet was our favorite one due to its flavors and creamy texture.
All in all we had a great vegan dinner at Kanpai in Souk Al Bahar. The food, drinks and service was great and there wasn’t anything else we could have asked for. Kanpai also serves Sushi (which we didn’t try), offers a Friday Brunch, Happy Hour from 5PM to 7PM (Buy One Get One on the Lounge Menu) and other drink promotions.
Souk al Bahar next to Dubai Mall
Opening hours: 12PM to 2AM
+971 44419262 (they also deliver)