A taste of counterculture at The H Dubai.
If two things are entirely on-trend in Dubai right now, it’s bar-driven concepts and Pan Asian restaurants.
It appears as if Dubai diners simply can’t get enough of sushi, tempura and luscious noodles washed down with thirst-quenching cocktails to take them through to the early hours. Don’t believe us? Then just look at the success of SUSHISAMBA, Salmon Guru, MayaBay and Canary Club.
The ability to balance beguiling mixology with tasty Pan Asian dishes and an uplifting vibe to successfully transition your venue from day to night is no easy feat. Still, the newly opened Electric Pawn Shop does just that (and then some).
Accessed from the outside of The H Dubai, it would be easy to miss the entrance to the newest celebration of Dubai’s counterculture. A door lit in neon green and covered in bold Chinese calligraphy is the only indicator of this new restaurant and late-night drinking den inspired by the Chinatown of 1970s New York.
And what a venue it is! Undeniably causal but imbued with a hip underground edge, the glass windows that line the right side of the venue are the only giveaway that we are at street level and not in an underground club. We immediately feel we have been transported to London’s Hoxton or New York’s Williamsburg neighbourhoods and are genuinely appreciative of a venue that doesn’t feel particularly “Dubai.”
Here, seated at a metal canteen-style table flanked with illuminated Perspex, we’re enveloped by the infectious energy of Electric Pawn Shop. The causal vibe sees a DJ spin funk-laced beats through a custom-built sound system, above which a flashing “no requests” sign hangs ominously.
Settling into our booth, we begin with cocktails. Made at the central bar, which is a hub of activity throughout the evening, we can’t help but admire the playfulness of both the names and the liquid concoctions. The Java Jungle Boogie (AED 74) is a sweet and refreshing combination of clarified cola, pawn shop coconut rum, cucumber and shisho, whilst the Yakuza Jacuzzi (AED 65) combines clarified orange, roasted barley, jasmine, Aperol and tequila into a punchy yet alluring beverage.
While the atmosphere and drinks are sure-fire crowd-pleasers, your food experience will depend purely upon what you order. Electric Pawn Shop’s concise menu features a selection of popular choices, including salads, ceviche and carpaccio, in addition to larger plates. We thoroughly enjoyed the Island Satay Chicken Bomb (AED 64), a gleeful combination of tempura chicken, pawn shop Sriracha aioli, coriander and peanut that was unafraid to play with heat. The resulting dish is a fiery lip-smacking alternative to Dynamite Shrimp and one we would happily order again.
The Sumatra Sticky Short Ribs (AED 186) is a hearty choice for the main course, offering a beautifully tender beef short rib served with a sambal balado jus and butternut puree. However, the Sizzling Muay Ducking Noodle (AED 93), served in a steaming clay pot, certainly looked the part. But we found the glass noodles and duck breast slightly lacking in flavour despite a slathering of Muay Thai sauce.
The arrival of the Paradise Panna Cotta (AED 46) changed our tune. Showcasing a lighter than light dessert combining the tropical flavours of pandan and coconut with a pineapple granita and biscuit sand. A textural marvel, to say the least.
Incidentally, Electric Pawn Shop is the successor to Electric Bing Sutt, created by Lynn Lin in Lebanon and winner of Best Bar in Africa and the Middle East 2019 in The World’s 50 Best Bars. Unfortunately, the bar saw an abrupt demise as the Beirut explosion in 2020 devastated the venue in its entirety. Teaming up with cultural innovator and music professional, Lobito Brigante, Lynn Lin’s new Electric Pawn Shop is a worthy successor that blends counterculture, underground music and contemporary design into an innovative drinking and dining space.
Electric Pawn Shop is a venue that encourages guests to linger long into the night. It’s effortlessly cool while remaining unpretentious and should immediately be added to your list of late-night hangouts. You can thank us later.