It’s taken a while, but I’ve come to learn the difference between real Chinese food and Indian Chinese food, and boy, is there a world of difference!
A real Chinese food joint opened up in JLT just over two months back, and I found myself there one afternoon, wondering what my tastebuds would find there.
As we walked into the restaurant overlooking one of the many man-made lakes in the area, we noticed two things: one, we were (at that point), the only non-Chinese diners there, which is always a good thing; and, two, the interiors.
Woody, earthy tones surround us amidst splashes of vivid red, with straight-backed comfortable chairs alongside tables that have an interesting table-top design staring at you. What looks like wicker entwined with bamboo fibres merge together in hypnotic concentric circles, encircling the massive Chinese symbol for the restaurant, 家, which means “family” or “home” in Mandarin.
There is a shimmering wall-curtain on the far side of the restaurant – whether it was meant to shimmer or a lucky accident because of the air-conditioning directly hitting it, I don’t know, but I kept looking at it.
We were given some green tea in ceramic mugs, while we pored over the menu. And then we began ordering…
I’ve been trying to learn a bit of Mandarin, and could recognise some of the symbols on the menu (most of the words I’ve been learning have something to do with food!), and I knew right then I had to order the item that started with this: 红 … It means “red” and as many might know, that is my favourite colour. But the decision was absolutely, irrevocably the right one. The red rice cheong fun are little rice floor dough rolls, stuffed with shrimp and something I could not define.
But oh wow, how absolutely crunchy it was. The coralesque casing helps the dish become that much more chewy with the insides adding a delectable crunchiness to it. I think I could have eaten that all day long.
What else? My companion is a duck fiend, and ordered the roast duck as a starter. I liked this – the meat was tender and juicy, with the roasted skin just the right amount of crispy. It comes with a very complementary dip.
I’ve also decided that my favourite dim sum is siao mai, so that’s what we ordered from the dim sum category. I was surprised to find it was softer and more tender than any other restaurant I’ve eaten at, and I can’t decide if I like that better or not. Oh well, that just means more food trials!
Sichuan beef… we decided to order that to cater to my need for spice. I liked the beef, mixed with peppers, but… I would have liked it more spicy! What can I say, some like it hot, and I’m one of them.
My companion wanted crispy fish. So crispy fish was ordered. I didn’t particularly like this one as much as he did – it smelled fishy plus has fine, tiny bones in it and I really wasn’t enjoying that extra chewing effort. I also don’t think I’ve ever chewed so much in my life as I did with that one bite of fish, strewn with tiny bones. I crunched away hoping to make all the bones disintegrate before swallowing.
Shrimp spring rolls – I’m not sure if I was impressed by this one. Shrimp was fine, rolls were fine… but compared to the other dishes we’d had, this one wasn’t as flavourful.
Singapore noodles was something else that we ordered, and I did like it! Thin, stir-fried vermicelli noodles arrived piping hot, and was bursting with flavour. Nice one.
And no we’re not done – duck soup was also to be found at our table that afternoon. I didn’t have much of it, but my companion said he liked it because it was gooey and the duck was prepared well.
Wait…one more! They asked us if we’d like complimentary pudding, and we said yes :) Here it was!
And with a round of jasmine tea, we finally stopped ordering food.
Yes, it was just two of us. Yes, we finished it all. *insert maniacal laughter here*
Would I go back to Homey?
Yes. The staff (who speak Mandarin btw – John asked them when the restaurant opened in that language, which I think pleasantly surprised them) are friendly and extremely helpful. I believe it’s a family-run operation, though I did not ask. The food is prepared well, and the menu is quite varied, so it offers something for everyone I believe. The prices are slightly on the higher side (for example, compared to places in old Dubai), but the food is worth it. In addition, if you don’t go on an ordering spree like we did and don’t have endless pits instead of stomachs like we do, your bill will be less than ours!
And when we exited, I was left wondering when I’d be able to return for some of the 红 rolls I loved so much.
Roast duck – AED 58
Red rice cheong fun – AED 28
Shao Mai – AED 26
Sichuan Beef – AED 48
Crispy Fish – AED 38
Shrimp Spring Rolls – AED 18
Singapore Noodles – AED 28
Duck Soup – AED 24
TOTAL – AED 268
Practical tips: Located on the lake level of Cluster V, Goldcrest Views 1 (not to be confused with Goldcrest Views 2 in Cluster J, which is far, far, away). Closest metro station is Dubai Marina. Read my fellow food blogger’s post about it on Scribblelicious.