Can this Asian street food spot with a side order of breakdancing stand out in a saturated market?

Southeast Asian street food is having a moment.

Earlier in the year Wise Kwai brought us traditional Thai street treats, swiftly followed by Miss Wàng in Bur Dubai. Then, in August, it was the turn of Mr Miyagi’s in Media One Hotel, which combines tongue-in-cheek décor with colourful Asian bites. So, what could new restaurant Miss Tess – located in Business Bay’s Taj Hotel – do to stand out from an increasingly saturated market?

Well, it’s got the look down. Entering Miss Tess takes you out of Dubai, to a narrow market street somewhere in the depths of Asia. The exposed brick walls are layered with posters, and it’s a warm and inviting space that’s strewn with fairy lights, trinkets and mismatch artwork.

The menu is extensive, so it’s a good idea to start off with the Miss Tess Selection (Dhs78), which comprises everything you’d expect from Asian street food bites; fish cakes, prawn tempura, chicken spring rolls and deep fried tofu served in a wheel designed for two. So far, so standard.

As our next round of dishes arrive, the DJ breaks from her soundtrack when House of Pain’s Jump Around reverberates from the speakers. Out come two waiters, breaking into a cleverly choreographed display of break dancing, complete with head spinning, handstands and dropkicks. They vanish almost as quickly as they appeared, in time for the main course to arrive – a standard pad Thai (Dhs58), which didn’t quite live up to its name on the menu –‘The Best Pad Thai’. It was just a good, solid pad Thai, served by breakdancing samurai warrior.

A much more exciting dish was the spicy seafood pad cha talay (Dhs68) – a balanced mix of stir-fried prawns, scallops, squid and mussels, complimented by ginger and hot basil.

Several more weird and wacky performances interlaced the evening with sword fighters, a Chinese dragon dance, and a very surreal play-fight between video game characters Mario and Luigi.

Final thoughts from our evening at Miss Tess? A little bit insane, but a lot of fun. And while the theatrics could be in danger of eclipsing the menu, Miss Tess manages to serve up both with just enough substance to make us want to return.

Taj Dubai, Business Bay, daily 6pm to late. Tel: (04) 438 3121. Metro: Business Bay.

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