Abu Dhabi's best restaurants

Time Out unveils the winners of the 2010 Abu Dhabi Restaurant Awards 10 Comments

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Themed Awards

Best Bar Food
Y-Bar, Yas Rotana
Highly Commended
Captain’s Arms, Le Méridien

Judging a bar on its food may seem like anathema to many, but a decent spot of pub grub means more than simply lining your stomach. In judging this category, we were looking for food that obviously meant as much to the bar as the beverages did, as well as a setting that you’d find hard to stay away from. At Y-Bar, we found both. With seating orientated around plasma screens, as well as chairs arranged for dining, rows of chrome bar stools and an outdoor area, Y-Bar has its bases very much covered. Your lasting memory ought to be the food, of course, and Y-Bar doesn’t disappoint. There are just two pages to the menu, with a mere seven select options offered on each, but the quality is as exceptional as the presentation is pristine.

Similarly, we have real affection for The Captain’s Arms, which may be as old as the hills but holds on to the throng by dint of a picturesque garden and what we think might be the best plate of fish’n’chips in the capital. Long live the captain!

Best Brunch
Sofra Bld, Shangri-La Qaryat Al Beri
Highly Commended
Al Fanar, Le Royal Méridien

The Shangri La’s expansive buffet exudes style while managing to evoke a kind of Arabian market atmosphere. Essentially, this is a hotel buffet, but it succeeds where others fail purely in the quality of food on offer. You never get the sense that the dishes have been sitting out for hours, and the way the curries are spiced, for example, you get the impression that mass trough feeding is the last thing on anybody’s mind. A buffet with á la carte abilities. Other hotels ought to take note.

Being one of only two revolving restaurants in the city, runner-up Al Fanar was always going to attract attention, but the Friday brunch is really where it cemented its reputation. While the selection of cold dishes constitutes a seafood lover’s dream, the hot food is well worth throwing your ‘just one plateful’ rule out the window for. An Abu Dhabi institution for good reason.

Best Budget
Zyara, Al Markaziyah
Highly Commended
Hanoi, Khalifa Street

With its cosy, maroon interior and plethora of homely cushions, you’ll also find a very warm welcome, an excellent cappuccino and some of the best freshly baked cakes in the city at this cosy Corniche home from home. The menu is predominantly Lebanese, and, while there are big meals on offer, their speciality is in the smaller dishes. Try the foul medames, for example – a garlicky, creamy mulch of beans and flatbread that makes for a perfect light lunch, best washed down with one of the lemonade and mint concoctions. Few do it so well and at such a reasonable price.

Alternatively, Hanoi might not be the smartest restaurant in town, but, as budget eateries go, it’s a peach. Great food, easy location, friendly prices, and anyone with kids can delight in the second-floor playroom. No wonder it’s usually buzzing.

Best Business Lunch
Ushna, Souk Qaryat Al Beri
Highly Commended
Shang Palace, Shangri-La Qaryat Al Beri

A business lunch could be judged on how difficult it is to return to the office, in which case Ushna could be guilty of delaying many an afternoon’s work. Perfectly positioned on the edge of the Maqtaa Creek, with light streaming in through the window and a suitably modern yet subtle design, there are few that beat this youthful Indian restaurant for style and class. It’s also ideally located for business commuters coming from the main island, Dubai or the airport, and the waiting staff will see you seated, fed and out again with notable speed and discretion. All of that and we’ve barely mentioned the food, which – it goes without saying – is excellent, and very reasonably priced indeed.

A close second is last year’s winner, Shang Palace, which – aside from being a tad dark, even during lunch hour – is well known for its dim sum talents; an ideal lunch for those who want to keep it light.

By Time Out Abu Dhabi Staff
Time Out Abu Dhabi,

User reviews:

Posted by: shivani rai on 19 Feb ' 11 at 08:10

Ushna - needs to add some Vegg dishes to its menu. Good food, but the chef needs to visit some Indian restaurants as the menu is quite out dated.
We prefer Moti Mahal, better menu, better taste, value for money. Ushna is ok for an occasion, not so much for food.

Frankies - what a disaster. Not even close to Pregos! We have gone back to Pregos for the best Italian food after going through almost all of them in town...Pregos rocks!

Posted by: Cat on 17 Jan ' 11 at 12:35

I totally agree with you on both points Jane. The brunch at the Fairmont is amazing, haven't eaten such good food at any buffet ever. Couldn't fault a single thing there.
And yes, far too many Yas Island hotels.

Posted by: Jane on 16 Jan ' 11 at 07:07

Sorry but have to disagree with a lot of these! Where on earth is The Fairmont? Elements at the Fairmont is by far the best brunch in Abu Dhabi. And I don't understand how there are so many Yas restaurants on the list. The place and restaurants are deserted!!

Posted by: brian on 06 Jan ' 11 at 12:31

I'm not one to normally follow these guides but I thought the review of Hoi An was promising so we decided to give it a try. We eat out regularly but this was our first and very last time at Hoi An. I'll keep this simple, do not expect good service or adult sized portions and certainly do not expect the food to reflect anything like the desciption. And also note that if you sit outside you have to endure a combination of Pearls and Caviar music mixed with some kind of oriental piped music from the restaurant, have one or the other but not both. The timeout staff member who wrote the review needs to get out more.

Posted by: Neill on 31 Dec ' 10 at 10:49

We went to kazu the other day, we were truly shocked by the poor standard of service. The hostess was far too busy looking important to realise our meal had been finished for 30mins!!

Overall the food we tried wasn't amazing and I would have to say the toki at the Hilton is different gravy compared to kazu!!!

If you want authentic Japanese then toki is the place to go!

We did eat at another restaurant at the yaz hotel and found the service 2nd to none hence why we went back to try the Japanese!!!!

I can't tell you how disappointed we were with the service, it wouldn't have been out of place in a fast foot restaurant

Posted by: Aida Mansour on 13 Dec ' 10 at 19:15

Have you been to the new landmark in abu dhabi?Cafe Arabia, is not just a cafe, it's a whole new concept in hospitality... The last review I've read this evening was by one guest, calling cafe Arabia " A Giant Leap for abu dhabi ...... Must see to believe.... Outstanding food ,healthy,beautifully presented, and a unique atmosphere in a villa ! Feels like home away from home, community and friends cafe!
On 15 th street north, opposite al mushref gardens,and choueifat school!

Posted by: Bob on 06 Dec ' 10 at 11:34

I agree with Mushy... Kazu is really overpriced, the service is not comparable to other japenese such as Toki or even to the 5 stars standing that YAS hotel is claiming to be.

And for the Brunch... what does Al Fanar has to offer beside a view? The selection of the food is poor, I was invited there 3 times.. and each time someone was sick afte reating their oyster and mussels.. Fish is smelly and their salads are tasteless.

With all your respect to the people that rate for the timeout.. Have you checked beach Rotana or Fairmont? There are no comparaison!

Posted by: Mushy on 23 Nov ' 10 at 07:45

I am extremely sorry TIMEOUT, I was nodding through out the whole article except when I reached the Best Japanese Cuisine - Kazu! Seriously, its not a shame to pull the sushi apart because the sushi literally fell apart, how does that classify as the best Japanese cuisine. I have had world class Japanese cuisine and with all due respect to the chef who may or may have not prepared the dish at the time I visited but Kazu does not qualify as one of the best let alone the best. Its overly priced, uncomfortably decorated and the seats are cool to look at but extremely unconventional and inconvenient to sit on. For quality and standards please try to compare Kazu with Okku. Kazu doesnt stand a chance at all.

Posted by: Brian Pearson-Fry on 18 Nov ' 10 at 09:47

How come so many Yas restaurants are winning awards? The only times I have been to the hotels there all of the restaurants have been close to empty!

Posted by: sassy on 15 Nov ' 10 at 12:21

"that please the hungry rather than the pretentious." nice

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