A new Asian restaurant recently opened in Dbayeh - Opium.
Opium serves Japanese, Chinese and Thai food. Although the place has a lot of potential to stand out in the market as a unique restaurant, it must focus on one type of cuisine. With a competition so harsh out there, it has to be different, unique, offering new dishes, ingredients that are not found a few blocks down the street. If you look around, especially in Dbayeh, Thai food is not yet a trend per say. Many sushi places like Yabani, Le Yen, Kimono are open in the area, the same goes for Chinese food, with Chopsticks and Jasmine Room among others a few meters away, it will be hard to stand out. But Thai food is still a virgin in the region and I believe in Lebanon as a whole. Opium's Thai is not bad and since the Thai food market is not saturated yet, Opium can be one of the first to venture properly into this sector. I believe it will succeed accordingly. Opium reminds me of PaiThai in Dubai, a nice Thai place with a unique menu.
- Pandan Chicken: Grilled and wrapped in a Pandan leaf could have been less dry but the idea is nice and the dish tasty. - Salt and Pepper Squid: Seasoning is good and the overall preparation is just right. - Pomelo Shrimp Salad: Interesting mixture. - Padthai Noodles: Good to try. - Sishuan Crispy Duck: This dish is not bad but misses some finesse in it's presentation. - Coconut Red Curry Beef: Fairly nice I tried some of their minimal sushi choices. I wasn't impressed at all. Example, the Sushi sandwich has too much rice masking the ingredients' taste. Other pieces are not tasty at all.
Some points to take into consideration:
- Sushi being served on plastic boats! This type of cuisine, considered a high-end meal should be served on wood or stone or anything noble. - The metallic wrapped menu is too heavy and their chopsticks are unpleasant to eat with. - The waiters, not to say kids should be trained better about the restaurant business. Such an expensive set-up and decoration deserve a better service. - Italian music in an Asian restaurant? I didn't understand that. - The interior is nice, badly finished with a set up that should be more organized. Chairs were left like after a football game.
As an overall experience, I would maybe think of coming back to Opium if it focuses on one type of cuisine, and I recommend the Thai dishes be less complicated. Sushi does not suit this restaurant at all.
If things are done like they promisse on their website, the restaurant might be the next best thing... Unfortunately they are a bit far for now.