This month we explore the very best of Asian cuisine in the capital. From high-end fine dining to mall based restaurants, Abu Dhabi has a plethora of pan-Asian choices to suit everyone’s palate and budget.
Cream of the Crop
Chic hotspot Zuma Abu Dhabi has carved out a niche as the place to see and be seen, it regularly attracts the capital’s fashionable set. Located at the in-vogue Al Maryah Island, Zuma guarantees diners an experience that has been successfully replicated around the globe. The drinks, the food, the service and the overall vibe are all delightful at this trendy Japanese fusion restaurant, it’s cool and relaxed yet elegant and stylish all at the same time. The Japanese inspired mixology is innovative, the food, which is served to share izakaya style, is memorable, the desserts are delicious and the atmosphere is legendary, always worth a visit.
Zuma, Al Maryah Island, 02 401 5900
Located in the resplendent Emirates Palace, Hakkasan is the embodiment of sheer elegance and sophistication with its discreet dining area, trendy bar, stunning outdoor terrace and of course the magnificent modern Cantonese cuisine. This venue has set the benchmark for Asian cuisine and service here in the capital and won an abundance of well-deserved awards. While it may seem pretentious and pricey, it’s not at all pompous, there are many affordable options such as the ‘Taste of Hakkasan’ menu consisting of a choice of starter, soup, main and dessert for only AED 165* and ‘Hakkatini Nights’, an early evening beverage and dim sum option.
Hakkasan, Emirates Palace, 02 690 7999
KOI Restaurant and Lounge
KOI Restaurant’s chic ambiance, enticing variety of contemporary Japanese dishes, exceptional staff and intriguing environment make it the ideal venue for events of all kinds. Signature dishes include miso-bronzed black cod, Chilean sea bass and Kobe style filet mignon, that will satisfy even the most discerning palate. KOI’s popular Friday ‘Brunch Like No Other’ offers guests unlimited dishes without moving from the comfort of their table. The newly introduced Saturday ‘Gochiso’ early evening brunch offers guests another chance to dine in style at the weekend. Supper clubs run on Thursday and Friday evenings showcasing a hand-picked menu presented tapas style.
KOI Restaurant and Lounge, The Collection, 02 678 3334
For a true taste of Japan look no further than Kazu at the Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi. The restaurant’s Teppan chefs have created a menu to give diners an authentic Japanese dining experience. There’s a dedicated sushi and sashimi bar, a tempura station, two Teppan bars and a Robatayaki grill, offering endless choice for diners to sample the very best of Japanese cuisine.
Kazu, Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi, 02 656 0600
Shang Palace is Shangri-La’s worldwide signature restaurant, a global success story that serves authentic five-star Cantonese cuisine. Guests can expect delicious dishes set in a traditionally decorated restaurant. Affluent diners looking for an extensive choice of classic well-cooked Chinese sharing dishes will be delighted with the selection.
Shang Palace, Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri, 02 509 8555
Traditional and modern Vietnamese cuisine is on the menu at Hoi An also located in the Shangri-La Hotel. Diners can experience an authentic Vietnamese-style barbecue at the weekend with meat and seafood grilled to perfection on the outdoor terrace. The regular bill of fare offers plenty of choice with several set menus including one for vegetarians alongside the a la carte offerings. A la carte dishes range from AED 42 to AED 89 making this fine dining establishment very affordable. Like the Shang Palace this restaurant is perfect for any occasion.
Hoi An, Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri, 02 509 8555
An elegant and intimate setting to savour the authentic tastes of Thailand. From the open kitchen, enjoy flavourful curries and spicy salads amid a regal environment evocative of the grace of the eastern Kingdom. Rich gold and purple tones adorn the interior, while lavish curtains and gilded bronze screens provide private family dining spaces with a royal touch. Be sure to try the Gaeng Massaman Lamb,
slow cooked lamb shank in Massaman curry sauce, sweet potato and shallots.
Pachaylen, Anantara Eastern Mangroves, 02 656 1000
Dine with a View
If you are looking for an authentic, contemporary Southeast Asian restaurant Li Jiang may tick all your boxes. The open kitchen gives diners a front row seat to take in the aromas and watch the busy chefs create dim sum, dumplings, traditional spicy rice and noodle dishes and their signature dish, the whole Peking duck. Li Jiang meaning ‘beautiful river’ in Chinese, perfectly depicts the hotel’s location on the Grand Canal, the outdoor terrace offers spectacular views of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Upmarket with stylish décor and well informed staff means high-end prices so ordering well from the large menu is key to getting your money’s worth.
Li Jiang, The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi Grand Canal, 02 818 8282
Barfly by Buddha Bar
Barfly by Buddha Bar is a glamorous two-storey location where Parisian chic meets the Middle East. Featuring a DJ concept that offers a trendy, energetic vibe; a creative menu; and an extensive beverage offering, Barfly, by the creators of Buddha Bar, has an energy that’s all its own. The menu includes flaming sushi platters, tasty dim sum and creative mixology. Appetisers and desserts are served sharing style along with a good selection of al la carte main courses. The large waterside terrace is a picture-perfect place to dine alfresco, share shisha and take in the views across Khor Al Maqta.
Barfly by Buddha Bar, Venetian Village, 02 408 7201
Sho Cho is a trendy Japanese restaurant located at Souk Qaryat Al Beri. Dine on first-rate oriental cuisine with a selection of traditional sushi and sashimi, main courses and sip delicious beverages. The terrace, which is perfect for outdoor dining has stunning views across the water, the marina and the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque beyond. Give this hip dining and late night social venue a visit if you haven’t already, go for a nice fine dining experience and dance into the wee small hours like no-one’s watching!
Sho Cho, Souk Qaryat Al Beri, 02 558 1117
Inakaya serves contemporary Japanese robatayaki cuisine in an upscale setting on the waterfront at the Venetian Village. Robatayaki or ‘fireside-cooking’ is a traditional Japanese barbecue where yakikata’s (grill masters) cook skewers over hot charcoal on an open grill then serve them on paddles, it’s as much a theatrical performance as an unique dining experience. Expect a traditional warm Japanese welcome and lots of interaction between the staff and guests, which culminates in a vocal and enthusiastic clapping ceremony known as sanbon jime to voice their thanks for your visit.
Inakaya, Venetian Village, 02 404 1921
The beautiful Sontaya (meaning sunset in Thai) is the Southeast Asian restaurant located at The St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort. Designed as a series of stunning floating pavilions it offers views out across the beach and the Arabian Gulf, the perfect spot for a romantic dinner. For those who like Thai and Chinese cuisine then Sontaya will cater for all your needs in a traditional setting complimented by authentic Thai artefacts. Stop by the bar for a pre-dinner drink and dine outside on the deck, so you can fully appreciate the restaurant’s ambience and amazing location.
Sontaya, The St Regis Saadiyat Island, 02 498 8888
Azura Panoramic Lounge
Lounging over three unique levels and a spacious 1,600 square metres, the al fresco Azura Panoramic Lounge presents entrancing views of the Abu Dhabi Corniche and the Gulf. The menu features an array of cuisine but be sure to try the bento boxes, you will not be disappointed.
Feast on the glittering lights, soak up the warm sea breeze and breathe in the gentle ambiance of a perfect Arabian evening.
Azura Panoramic Lounge, The St Regis Abu Dhabi, 02 694 4553
It may be located at the five-star Yas Viceroy hotel but Noodle Box is a casual dining restaurant with prices set accordingly. If you are a fan of dim sum it’s definitely worth a visit to this modern Southeast Asian venue. A vast selection of steamed, pan-fried, deep-fried and freshly baked dumplings with meat, seafood and vegetables are all on offer along with the popular wok fried dishes and specialties. Thai curries, Nasi Goreng and a whole roast duck cooked to perfection, ensuring satisfied diners return time and time again.
Noodle Box, Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi, Yas Island, 02 656 0600
Teatro blends the best of East and West by an intriguing menu featuring masterpieces from Thai, Indian, Chinese, Japanese Sushi and Italian cuisines. The contemporary interior features a stylish bar, a chic lounge, and a main dining area filled with deep warm colours, beaded crystal features along with Venetian masks creating a relaxed ambiance in an atmosphere of casual elegance. Guests can watch live cooking at the outlet’s show kitchen or Sushi Bar.
Teatro, Park Rotana, 02 657 3333
This modern, elegant restaurant located at the Hilton Capital Grand specialises in pan-Asian food, offering diners signature dishes from China, Japan, Korea and Thailand. Spicy Tom Yum soup, dim sum, sushi platters, sashimi, pad Thai, Thai curries and even an Asian surf and turf are just some of the many dishes that diners can enjoy. Rouge is hidden away on the edge of the commercial district but don’t let that put you off, the food here is delicious.
Rouge, Hilton Capital Grand Abu Dhabi, 02 617 0000
Jade (formerly the Royal Orchid)
Authentic decor and Chinese food go hand-in-hand at Jade located on the first floor of the Hilton Abu Dhabi. The capital’s oldest hotel has recently benefitted from a makeover which included the renaming of this establishment. Traditional dishes from the Chef’s home town of Nanjing in China are lovingly recreated as part of chef specialties alongside the regular a la carte options. A large selection of various dim sum, soups and seafood dominate the menu, there’s a good choice for vegetarians too.
Jade, Hilton Abu Dhabi, 02 681 1900
Cho Gao is our very own Hong Kong style dim sum joint right in the heart of Abu Dhabi, located at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Hamdan Street. The menu takes diners on a far Eastern culinary journey with a menu filled with a glut of Asian options to tempt your taste buds. Signature and classic dishes such as stir fries, noodles, curries and satay from China, Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines. The recently launched Sushi bar offers diners a ‘Taste of Japan’ that includes a selection of colourful, well presented and authentic sashimi, nigiri, sushi, maki rolls and salads.
Cho Gao, Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi, 02 616 6166
Award winning Benjarong located at Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi offers an authentic Thai experience with not just the food but also the warm hospitality and professional service, the ambiance and its decor. Bringing the traditional tastes and exotic flavours of Thailand to Abu Dhabi, Benjarong’s menu is packed with age old recipes that have been given a modern twist. Dishes made with fresh ingredients from recipes handed down through generations, each one beautifully presented with carved vegetables, rich in colour and bursting with Thai spices.
Benjarong, Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi, 02 698 8888
The Noodle House
A popular casual dining spot, The Noodle House is a homegrown UAE business that also delivers to your doorstep. It has been so successful it’s now ventured outside the Emirates. Bench style seating, authentic regional cuisine and friendly staff are replicated at any venue you visit, a consistency that has earned the concept a loyal following. If you fancy a spring roll, some crispy Szechuan beef, an Indonesian Nasi Goreng or a bowl of Singapore Noodles pop into The Noodle House.
The Noodle House, various locations across Abu Dhabi, www.thenoodlehouse.com
Smoking Doll is the mall based Southeast Asian restaurant that has brought a taste of the Orient to the capital. Serving a menu of traditional Asian fusion cuisine with a focus on Thai food it offers guests a vast (some may say overwhelming) selection with over a hundred dishes to choose from. Appetisers, to sushi, curries, noodles, rice and everything in-between, Smoking Doll and has become famous for its use of intense flavours and striking decor. Taste combinations from sweet, sour, salty to spicy and even smoky are designed to tantalise the taste buds.
Smoking Doll, various locations across Abu Dhabi, www.smokingdoll.com
Desert Lotus Thai Bistro & Sushi
Once you know about Desert Lotus, you know, it’s one of those places that’s popularity has soared by word of mouth. The restaurant serves authentic Thai and Japanese cuisine in a cosy setting at the One to One Hotel in the Al Nahyan camp area. If you are looking for authentic Thai food in Abu Dhabi look no further than this restaurant for taste, presentation and a warm Thai welcome from chef and owner Bua and her team. The pad thai is legendary, the sushi platters fresh and colourful and the prices reasonable.
Desert Lotus, Level 2, cluster 14 at One to One Hotel, The Village, 056 583 5591
Dai Pai Dong
Named after the open-air food stalls in Hong Kong, Dai Pai Dong is a chic restaurant which is part of the Rosewood Hotel. Inspired by its street food name it offers reinvented Cantonese dishes served by traditionally clad waitresses in a dimly lit authentic space. The menu is varied and the food is delicious, especially the dim sum selection, the noodles and the signature roast duck cooked in a traditional clay pot. The All You Can Eat Dim Sum Lunch and the Weekdays Business Lunch are an absolute steal at just AED 75* per person. Finish your experience in the hidden bar, a small mysterious speakeasy style establishment at the back of the venue, keep it to yourself though as it’s a secret ….
Dai Pai Dong, Rosewood Abu Dhabi, 02 813 5550
*Prices subject to 10% service charge, 6% tourism fee & 4% municipality fee
Words by Jo Brett
Jo is a freelance writer and lifestyle blogger. Follow her blog, anexpatabroad.com as she tells the tales of a British expat living in Abu Dhabi!