Of all the years I lived (a tiny bit over a quarter of a century), I enjoyed “Experience” most. In Psychology, this trait, according to the Five Factors Model (OCEAN – Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism), is coined as Openness to Experience. (I noticed that I love including psychological terms in my posts).
The fun part in what I wrote earlier is that it doesn’t apply to food for me. My openness to life experiences gets translated into conservatism.
Today I chose a new restaurant to open in Beirut that is worthy of being called a “Food Experience”.
Until 2 years ago, Chinese food was a big no-no to me. Lucky enough, I tried it and ever since, my taste buds crave it from time to time.
Umai Wok, or let’s just call it “OH MY” Wok is a soul experience for Asian Cuisine lovers (Chinese, Japanese and Thai).
- The Place:
Located in Hamra – Makdessi Street, in the Courtyard or mostly known as Alleyway (For my kind of generation). Perfect place as you can have a quick happy hour after work and then hop on the second floor for a decent Asian meal.
Entering the restaurant, a zen atmosphere welcomes you. Peaceful and serene. The beauty of this place resides in its simplicity and its details. The decor is an altruistic representation of a modern Asian home, literally: An entrance, a living room, a kitchen and a dining room. The table is dressed with black monochromatic place-mats, modern and Asian-like. The menu had the same look and feel as the shop. Coherence at its best.
- The Food:
I tried a Teaser (Chicken Satay) and two Mains (Ponzu Beef Steak and Chicken Cashew Nuts). Japanese Sake was also on the list.
- For Thai: Chicken Satay was my number 1 on the Request’s list and my number last on the rating. This Thai appetizer consisting of chicken chunks marinated with peanuts and satay sauce wasn’t impressive much. Chicken needed more marination and the tasty flavor of peanuts wasn’t just there.
- For Japanese: Ponzu Beef Steak, Char-grilled beef tenderloin with shiitake mashed potatoes on the side. I’m so coming back for this guy. Tender beef, perfectly garnished and exquisitely seasoned. Umai (Oh My) Steak! Not only the Chef’s Choice, yet so far, winning the award of Steak of the Year! (We’re in 14 January – so we’re being fair here).
- For Chinese: Chicken Cashew Nuts is a classic. I tried it as I wanted to benchmark it vis a vis Chinese restaurant in Beirut. Not bad, not bad at all. The waiter promised a succulent taste, and to be frank, he was right. Those little chicken cubes marinated with oyster sauce and cashew nuts were just as good as fancier places in town!
- The service:
Well, that’s another thing that I liked about the experience. To me (and I am sure to many), the customer service is one core factor that determines how enjoyable an experience would be. The more, the better.
That’s what I felt about this place. The waiter was so attentive and made sure that the experience is as authentic as it can be. Absolute Chapeau for the great customer focus we’ve received.
- The Overall Experience:
New idea. New Experience. Worth the try.
This sums it up. Having the option to juggle between different Asian Cuisines, indulging your taste buds with food from this corner of the globe and returning with an enjoyable experience is just beautiful…
From food taste to experience to quality for price, I’d give the place a solid 3.5 and I believe it would be a middle ground for Asian Cuisine Lovers, particularly Chinese (On a scale from Chopsticks to PF Chang’s in Lebanon).