Today we are visiting Sontaya, one of Abu Dhabi’s most celebrated Asian restaurants. Sontaya, located at The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, is set amongst a series of floating pavilions that look out onto the pristine Saadiyat beach and the glistening Arabian Gulf.
It is a beautiful clear day when we arrive at Sontaya, the sound of water flowing under the pavilions and the turquoise ocean views set the tone for a relaxing afternoon. During the cooler months the sliding doors are opened to give the illusion that Sontaya is floating on a bed of water, a perfect setting. Not just a daytime venue, at night Sontaya transcends into one of the most serene settings in Abu Dhabi.
We are warmly welcomed to the restaurant by the team, the restaurant is busy with a large table that has come in for a leisurely lunch. We take a seat in one of the cosy booths near the floor to ceiling glass windows.
We begin to browse the menu. Sontaya offers guests a comprehensive and delicious modern Southeast Asian culinary experience, borrowing flavours and inspiration from Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia. The menu highlights the restaurant’s signature dishes and healthy options for those wanting to eat well. Vegetarians will enjoy their own decently sized dedicated menu which serves a range of appetizers, soups and main courses.
For appetizers I decide to order the Satay Tofu and the Pomelo Salad from the vegetarian menu. The Pomelo Salad is tossed in homemade tamarind dressing, crushed peanut and roasted coconut. The Satay Tofu, served as four skewers, allows for the Tofu to be marinated in traditional herbs and spices and grilled to perfection, served with a cucumber salad and a homemade peanut sauce, we finish the entire serving in a matter of moments. My dining companion opts for the Tiger Prawn Chargrilled Satay Skewers, which again are served as four skewers, with light elements of charcoal the rustic aroma fills our senses. All the appetizers are delicious, but the Pomelo Salad is exceptional, the contrast of bitter, zesty and sweet ensures that chef has perfectly balanced the flavours to create a memorable dish.
Our main courses compromises of the Caramelized Chilli and Lemongrass Salmon, glazed fillet salmon with chilli and lemongrass sauce, compressed cucumber, burnt spring onion and bok choy along with the Fried Seabass Fillet with Tamarind Sauce, golden fried sea bass topped with tamarind sauce, pomelo salsa and spicy onion rings. The Caramelized Chilli and Lemongrass Salmon is an impressive dish and one we would highly recommend. The chilli and lemongrass work well to evaluate the Salmon’s natural flavours. The chilli and lemongrass offer a distinctive and palatable flavour whilst the Salmon skin has been removed and fried adding additional texture to the dish. Upon its arrival the Fried Seabass Fillet doesn’t look like much however chef does well to ensure that the fish remains moist and the tamarind sauce is the perfect accompaniment.
For our side dishes we enjoy the Sticky Rice and Broccoli with garlic and oyster sauce. Its refreshing to see the Broccoli isn’t being served with chilli like most restaurants, Sontaya’s version offers a subtler flavour complimenting the mains.
The service throughout our visit is impeccable, in true Asian hospitality the staff are warm and welcoming. Since our last visit the service has improved tremendously and the staff seem more confident in recommending dishes and in their overall interactions with guests.
Using a blend of cooking techniques from across the Southeast Asian regions paired with quality ingredients Sontaya is able to create dishes that boast exciting flavours and dramatic presentation. Each and every dish we tasted was well presented and offered a range of deep and delicious flavours, from salty to sweet and hot to sour, the menu offers something for all palates. If you are a fan of Asian cuisine Sontaya is a must visit.
Satay Tofu, AED 50
Pomelo Salad AED 65
Tiger Prawns, AED 85
Caramelized Chilli and Lemongrass Salmon AED 150
Fried Seabass Fillet with Tamarind Sauce, AED 175
Broccoli AED 35
Sticky Rice, AED 25
Sontaya, Abu Dhabi, +971 2 498 8888