Lucky Panda is a totally unassuming restaurant from the outside. Yet on the inside its actually quite…nice. The food is…very nice. The dim sum is…very, very nice. In fact, after just one meal, this very nice eatery has leapfrogged from zero to one of my favourites in International City. Located in the China Cluster, the interior of Lucky Panda is handsomely appointed in light Scandinavian wood coloured flooring and matching furniture. There’s a giant backlit pictorial depiction of their menu on the wall, just above the opening through which food is passed, and from where your senses are treated to the sights, sounds and smells of an authentic Asian kitchen in full whack.
Dims at this restaurant are outrageously good so, even if you have less or no mains, order extensively. Include the crispy red rice sheet rolls with fresh shrimp – they’re as delicious to eat as they are pretty to look at. Their Xiao Long Bao soup dumplings, conveniently served in little individual aluminium cups (like cupcakes), are among the best in Dubai and easily as good as anything from Din Tai Fung and Zen – they’re certainly the most soup filled and slurpy of the three. The Beijing style pan fried dumplings, which are not dissimilar to Japanese gyoza, are worth ordering too.
If you are there with someone who gets squeamish with the smell of seafood do not order the Sautéed squid, shrimp and fish with Chinese chives as all the main ingredients (except the chives) are dried and quite…um, aromatic. Personally, I loved this dish, but my food buddy hated it. Their pan-fried noodles had a lovely wok-seared taste to them, but their Singapore style fried rice was bland and the disappointment of an otherwise outstanding meal.
But wait, it’s not over, we ended our meal with their amazing Hong Kong style puff bun with butter. This must-try dessert is something my buddy and Asian food guru, Nicky Ramchandani, originally brought me here to have some months ago – it’s fantastic.
If you do not speak Chinese and Mohammed, their Bengali waiter is off duty, you will have to get creative with your communication skills. There’s a sweet girl at the till, by the front door, she speaks some English and has pictures of most of the dishes of their Noodle House-style tick box menu on her phone. She will help. But this is part of the fun of this place. So, if you fancy some really good dim sum and you’re somewhere close to International City, I recommend you take a short detour out to Lucky Panda. You will not be disappointed.
Hey! Now read this –
Xerxes physically dines at, or orders from, each and every venue he reviews. He pays in full for whatever he and his companions eat, drink, take away or occasionally throw at each other. Xerxes accepts no money, gifts, discounts or free meals in return for reviews or favouritism. What you have read was NOT influenced in any way by the venue. Join me on Instagram @ravenousxerxes or email me on email@example.com.