Finding restaurants in Dubai that serve up delicious dishes for the adults but are also kid-friendly for the little ones are hard to find. We often notice that kids menus in restaurants contain unhealthy options that are never representative of the cuisine that can be ordered from the regular menu.
I’ll never forget the day Lou Lou asked me why her and Jaf were always given kids menus at restaurants;
It’s the same boring food we eat in America and you guys get to eat all the good stuff!
Since then, we’ve let our kids order from a regular menu, and have started to seek out restaurants that offer kid-friendly portion sizes of their regular menu offerings. Our latest trip to Dubai was to seek out such restaurants and our first visit was to Wagamama, a popular asian-inspired restaurant franchise, originating from London’s Bloomsbury district in 1992. With several locations throughout the UAE, we decided to check out its newest location on Palm Jumeriah.
Located in the Golden Mile Galleria on the Palm, this location is perfect for the family. There’s a large park right outside, with a play area so you can relax on the patio. We started our food journey with a Positive juice – made from pineapple, lime, spinach, cucumber and apple, it was refreshing on a warm Dubai afternoon.
The main menu is vast, and broken down into seven sections: sides (or appetizers), ramen, curry, donburi, salads, omakase (not yet offered at every location), and teppanyaki. There’s also a section for their fresh juices, delicious desserts, and of course a separate kids menu.
Each section describes the dishes offered, how to customize it yourself, and what sides or desserts are best suited with your order.
Our meal started off with three of their most popular sides, and they did not disappoint. The mushroom onigiri is made from balls of sticky rice with mushroom, deep-fried in panko breadcrumbs and served with a spicy chilli and garlic sauce. It’s a lovely play on the traditional rice balls that samurai warriors used to carry with them into battle as a quick snack. Do ask for a regular dipping sauce instead of what’s offered- the one they serve is a little too spicy, and definitely off-limits for the kids.
The stuffed tempura mushrooms are shiitake mushrooms with prawn and garlic battered in a light tempura. They were so meaty, you forget that you’re not eating actual meat!
Our favorite of the three was the chilli squid. Made from fried squid dusted with shichimi, it’s served with a chilli coriander dipping sauce that’s so refreshing and fragrant, the aroma hits you as soon as it leaves the kitchen. Though the name implies a spicy appetizer, it was anything but, with the squid fried to perfection, perfect for our seafood loving kid-foodies.
The chicken katsu curry is the number one seller at all Wagamama locations around the world, not just Dubai. Once you’ve tasted it, it’s not hard to see why – the chicken is coated in crispy panko breadcrumbs, and covered in a rich, aromatic curry sauce served with sticky rice, and a side salad. We love that the kids menu has this option to grill the chicken instead of having it deep-fried in panko, which is how it’s traditionally served. When restaurants focus on healthy-eating for kids, it leaves a lasting impression on us. After all, we just want to ensure that our kids are eating right, and enjoying the foods they consume.
The highlight of our dining experience was of course, the omakase section. A new addition to the Wagamama menu (it’s not yet available at all Wagamama locations yet, so call to confirm), the omakase consists of chef’s special dishes that are served up fresh from the kitchen. We tried the coconut seafood broth, which for seafood lover’s like us, was heaven in a bowl. If you love Thai flavors then you’re really going to appreciate this dish. Prawns, salmon, squid, scallops and mussels are all poached in a coconut and vegetable noodle soup with tender stem broccoli and rice noodles, garnished with chillis (which are omitted if serving to kids), spring onions and coriander cress. The portion was large, and perfect to share with the entire family.
The yakitori duck is a lovely option to serve the kids as well, because they get to play with their food as the plate is served deconstructed. Cooking the duck leg in a temperature controlled oven results in meat that melts as soon as it touches your tongue. It’s served with a shredded cucumber, mint, coriander, and radish salad on a bed of white rice with asian pancakes and a tangy, citrus yakitori sauce – you have yourself a winning combination of ingredients.
If you have room for dessert (we unfortunately didn’t), the mochi balls come highly recommended and are a creative twist on how we normally eat them in Hawaii. Here little balls of ice cream are wrapped in mochi, and served with a sauce, resulting in an interesting warm-cold experience on your palate.
Dining at Wagamama is a family-friendly experience, especially at their Palm Jumeirah location. When we were dining, we saw a couple tables of families sitting outside, with the kids enjoying the green space. The staff are extremely attentive, and knowledgable – if you mention any food allergies or dislikes, they make suggestions and are very accommodating. There are plenty of choices on the menu, to keep all types of appetites happy.
Expect a hearty meal for four to cost around $108 which is extremely reasonable for a family dining out.
Kudos to restaurants such as Wagamama who have great kids menus that reflect their style of food or cuisine – it’s what we need more of. We know where we’ll be headed to eat when we’re back in Dubai!
Multiple locations throughout Dubai
Disclaimer: Thanks to Wagamama Dubai for inviting us to taste their new omakase menu offerings. However, as always, all opinions expressed on the blog are our own.