Citymax, the contemporary budget-friendly chain of hotels, is UAE’s answer to the stereotype that a vacation in this country is as expensive as the glitz and glamour that surrounds it.
For the longest time, we were under the impression that this was all that Citymax was; a hotel stay for the wallet-savvy, and not a destination for those of us who actually live here.
Being avid fans of Chinese and Thai cuisines, we are always on the lookout for new places to dine, and Sizzling Wok came up on our radar. Surprise, surprise, this restaurant has outlets in Citymax Bur Dubai and Citymax Sharjah.
The restaurant is decked up in vibrant reds. Red paper lanterns and lucky charms add cheer to every corner, and combined with the restaurant’s haloed yellow lighting, the ambiance is enticingly Chinese.
Sizzling Wok’s menu offers the usual line-up of Chinese dishes with a few Thai options thrown in.
Our favorite Thai soup, ‘Tom Yum Goong’, was listed under the ‘soup’ section and we had to order this to judge just how well Sizzling Wok fared with their Thai cooking.
Sizzling Wok’s take on Tom Yum Goong did not disappoint. It had the perfect balance of sweet and sour as well as the characteristic herbal goodness of galangal. Each bowl of soup also had generous portions of prawns swimming at the surface.
For starters, we opted for the ‘Drums of Heaven’. Our host advised it might be a tad bit too spicy for my 4 year-old, so we added ‘Golden Fried Prawns’ to the order.
‘Drums of Heaven’ are often listed under ‘appetizers’ on Indo-Chinese menus. These are essentially chicken drums that have been battered in a special spicy coating and deep-fried to a crisp, characteristically reddish-brown color. Sizzling Wok takes this dish a notch higher by presenting it as a sizzler. The appetizer literally sizzles in all its glory onto the table. The drums were decadently spicy, and were soaked in a delicious soy marinade.
The ‘Golden Fried Prawns’ lived up to their name. The coating was a beautiful golden-brown, and the prawn themselves were still juicy and moist. The accompanying sweet chili sauce went wonderfully well with these.
For drinks, hubby had a Virgin Mojito, The combination of fresh lemon with a touch of sparkling soda and a few sprigs of mint is always refreshing. If you prefer the alcoholic version, head to Sizzling Wok’s branch in Bur Dubai (the Dubai branch has an alcohol license).
I had a fresh watermelon juice, and my daughter had the fresh orange juice. Sizzling Wok juices are freshly made; taking a sip, you can tell these are not out of a commercial bottle.
When my daughter insisted on helping herself to my slender slice of watermelon that was balancing on my juice as garnish, the lovely staff came back with a plate of complimentary watermelon slices for her. This won over the youngest member of our family; Sizzling Wok is definitely a family-oriented joint.
Below is Sizzling Wok’s Som Tam salad. It is very different from a traditional Thai Som Tam. The salad does not use raw papaya, and the prawns are fresh and plump. However, of all the dishes we had that night, this was declared our favorite. The juicy-fresh slices of papaya and mango married into a special savory spicy dressing, and ripe baby tomatoes burst with flavor at each bite. The salad had ample pieces of prawns which lent an overall seafood flavoring. Thai with a twist!
When dining at an Indo-Chinese restaurant, it would be criminal not to try their Chili Chicken. Sizzling Wok’s version is packed with flavor. It has the heat of chili without being overly empowering, and the succulent pieces of boneless chicken were marinated in a delicious deep red gravy.
The Chili Chicken went down very well with the Yang Chow Fried Rice, an aromatic fried rice delicately browned with soya sauce and stir-fried with shredded chicken, scallions and beaten egg.
Another Thai dish we ordered was Sizzling Wok’s Thai Chili Garlic Beef. This was yet another sizzling dish that fumed all the way to the table. I don’t recall having sizzlers at a Thai joint; Sizzling Wok has married Chinese technique with Thai flavors here. The beef pieces were crisp and infused with garlic flavoring. It had a hint of chili, but subtle enough to be savored by my 4 year-old. Doesn’t it look delish?
We also had a serving of noodles on our table. We ordered Sizzling Wok’s Chicken Hakka Noodles. The noodles were beautifully stir-fried and went very well with both the Chili Chicken and the Thai Chili Garlic Beef.
By the time all our mains hit the table, we realized we had grossly over-ordered! Be warned, one portion size at Sizzling Wok is enough for two very hungry adults!
With all this over-eating, we decided to share a plate of dessert between the three of us. We went for the Caramelized Banana with Ice-cream.
The dessert consists of a pan-fried banana coated in translucent, brittle caramel. Two scoops of vanilla ice-cream drizzled with a berry sauce are served at the side.
The sweetness and mellow warmth of the banana is a pleasure to eat with a dab of cold, white vanilla ice-cream. I can’t say I had the pleasure of this combination for too long, as the ice-cream was quickly devoured by my little girl. Even on its own, the banana is a delicious change from regular pastry-based desserts and I plan to try making this in my own kitchen (wish me luck!).
Overall, Sizzling Wok offers an array of well-loved Asian favorites and many have been revamped with a signature twist. We were very pleased with the service we received. The staff are courteous and well-versed on the menu options. The portion sizes are generous, and good value for money.
Sizzling Wok has a combo lunch deal which includes dessert for as low as AED 25 per person. Do give this restaurant a try, and visit their website for details.