Kei (Japanese) Restaurant – Review
There are many restaurants in Kuwait that serve Japanese cuisine, but not many (if any) that stick to offering it as authentic as possible. Serving any cuisine on foreign soil poses the challenge of acquiring native ingredients and since 1981 Kei has been living up to that challenge. In all honesty, most restaurants in five star hotels are pretty intimidating because of the price and if it was not for a kind gesture offered by a friend don’t think we would try out this place either…. but are we glad we did !
JW Marriot is known to everyone in Kuwait and on a Friday afternoon, we headed out to this place. Before I forget let me suggest you to go for the valet parking, cause once you dine at the restaurant parking is free. Now that’s out of our way, let me get to the important aspect of this review..the food! Of the experience that we take home, I also have to add on the Japanese hospitality. Its said that while hospitality isn’t unique to any culture, the Japanese have perfected it. The contemporary styled interiors with its elegant ample seating and separate dining areas all ensure a unique comfortable experience. Our hosts maintained a composed dignity and grace throughout the service offering valuable suggestions.
The Chef’s Kei Salad (Kd 3.750) was both a delight to the eyes and taste buds. However, being a fine dine restaurant I was a bit surprised that they use crab sticks. As appetizer we also ordered Yakitori (Kd 3.600) which was tender pieces of chicken grilled on bamboo skewers sweetened with a teriyaki sauce, Wafu Gyoza (Kd 4.250) is a chicken and vegetable dumpling. Crispy on the bottom and steamed juicy on the top, it’s an absolute delight. The Volcano Crispy Prawns (Kd 3.850) were topped with thinly sliced spicy crab sticks and layered on a spicy aoli. Only wish there was more of the spicy sauce. The Lime Mint Drink was spot-on.
Before we delve into our main course, let me be clear that Japanese cuisine is a lot more than just Sushi and the ‘all you can eat’ Sushi buffet that is quite popular. Many people think sushi always refers to raw fish. Not so, “You have a choice,”and Sushi doesn’t have to be raw. Japanese cuisine offer an abundance of gastronomical delights with a boundless variety of regional and seasonal dishes. The beauty is in the detail and few cuisines if any, display something so appealing visually and gastronomically.
We decided to go for the Maki which refers to rolled sushi, which usually consists of cold boiled rice and fish and/or vegetables wrapped in nori (seaweed) and sometimes sweetened. We got the Abdali Maki (Kd 5) which had 6 rolled pieces of shrimp tempura, cucumber, avocado and sweetened with teriyaki sauce. The Twinniez Maki (Kd 5) was also 6 pieces of shrimp tempura, avocado with sesame, tanuki topped with plum sauce.Both these selections were based on suggestions by our server and was good. The Salmon Teppanyaki (Kd 7.500) is basically Salmon prepared on a grilled iron table (teppanyaki) where the chef cooks in front of us. This was served with its assortment of vegetables and sauces. This looked beautiful and the fish itself really was cooked perfectly. The attention to detail, the lightly glistened surface of the fish and balance of flavors where the fish can be tasted and enjoyed made this dish a delight.
For someone like me used to Western, Arabic and Indian desserts, Japanese desserts can be an acquired taste. They are not as sweet, but has its own popular choices. Though they do offer Cakes and Ice cream, we wanted something ‘Japanese’ and went for the Green Tea Ice Cream (Kd 1.500 – single scoop), which is a little bit bitter and less sweet and creamy. The Tempura Ice Cream (Kd 3) and Banana Tempura (Kd 3.200) had generous portions which could easily suffice for two but didn’t really excite any of our taste buds. Realized that we hadn’t really acquired a taste for Japanese desserts. Total bill for two Kd 49. On a side note, we did go over board with the ordering and next time we will probably stick to the set menu or just a bento box. Regardless, do factor your cost at least Kd 15 per head.
Japanese menu offers quite a number of choices that can make your head spin, especially if you are unfamiliar to the cuisine. Also, don’t let the prospect of eating with chopsticks keep you away from Asian restaurants. If you can’t eat with them, don’t sweat it. ‘Don’t be shy about using cutlery’. The appeal of Japanese food is its purity. The freshness – Nothing Greasy, Nothing Unhealthy. It’s an edible piece of art!
Ratings – Ambiance – 9/10, Service – 9/10, Menu – 8/10, Food – 8.5/10, Consistency – 8/10, Value for Money – 8/10
Overall – We are certainly no experts on Japanese cuisine and someone once told me that distinguishing good Japanese food from the popular ‘Sushi buffet’s’ can be tricky. The food is very simple its always visually appealing that difference could be measured in tiny percentage points. Preparation is a job for obsessives and so is eating it. But when the good stuff comes along, you just know it. There are cheaper and noisier places to eat in Kuwait. But right now we have pinned this among our Japanese favorites.
Location – JW Marriot, Kuwait
Phone – +965-22422650
Timings – 12pm – 11pm