20 best dishes in Abu Dhabi

The 20 best dishes we’ve eaten in Abu Dhabi this year Discuss this article

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Seafood

Asia de Cuba’s Tuna and foie gras ceviche

The Chino-Latino restaurant impresses with its simple yet bold flavours. Its food is fresh, tasty and memorable. The team here focuses on the ingredients and that philosophy is evident with its tuna and foie gras ceviche. French-sourced foie gras is lightly seared to ensure all the goodness stays in. Cubes of fresh tuna are dressed in a slightly sweet orange vinaigrette, which provides a vibrant addition to the dish. The plate is then garnished with crunchy malanga root crisps and citrus segments.
Dhs95. Nation Riviera Beach Club, Corniche Road (02 699 3333).

Barfly by Buddha Bar’s lobster bisque

A simple bowl that delivers a knockout punch. A medley of onion, carrot and celery is added to fish stock – the base of this and many other sumptuous bisques. The velvety bowl is accented with dollops of a creamy foam that boosts the flavour and look. The bisque is served with lobster claws, edible flowers, truffle and caviar. Yes please.
Dhs105. Venetian Village, The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal, Al Maqta (02 404 1951).

BOA Steakhouse’s chilled seafood platter

Even if you’re not the world’s biggest seafood fan, this fruits de mers extravaganza won’t fail to amaze. The succulent lobster is the main attraction on this tasty tower and is spread across the top level. The snow crab claws its way on as well, and is just as tantalising and meaty. Elsewhere, there are plenty of oysters, mussels, jumbo prawns and clams, all of which are wonderfully fresh, while a tasty tuna tartare sits on the top. And we defy you not to love cracking open a bottle of the cute, miniature bottles of tabasco.
Dhs550. Eastern Mangroves Promenade (02 641 1500).

Bocca’s trancio di tonno

The grilled tuna steak with braised fennel and blood orange sauce is a dish inspired by Sicily, an island well-known for its contributions to the culinary world. The lightly-grilled piece of tuna is complemented by a reduced, herb-infused blood orange sauce, which the fennel, the third star of the dish, is given a light toss in before being added to the plate. Some deep-fried slices of purple potato add more colour (and some crunch) to a simple dish that stands out thanks to the quality of the three main ingredients: the fresh fish, the fragrant fennel and the zesty blood orange. This trio combine perfectly to leave you promising yourself to come back for more.
Dhs130. Hilton Abu Dhabi, Corniche Road West (02 681 1900).

Finz’s deep-fried sea bream

The Beach Rotana’s gorgeous seaside setting is the perfect backdrop to enjoy a meal at its seafood restaurant, Finz. This attractive dish is served from its catch of the day menu, with the sea bream the only option big enough to be served deep fried whole. But this isn’t the type of battered beast you’d find in your local chippy. To prepare the bream, the chef rubs it with a special mix of spices, flour and baking soda and then fries it. Although we could happily devour the entire dish, those with a less hearty appetite might find it ideal for
sharing. The fish comes with a choice of chips or Tunisian couscous and charcoal grilled vegetables. Yum.
Dhs160. Beach Rotana, Tourist Club Area (02 697 9000).

Hakkasan’s wok-fried lobster with black truffles

The up-scale Cantonese restaurant delivers a sophisticated yet vibrant environment with unmatched, authentic food. Its wok-fried Canadian lobster with black truffles is a stellar example. Part of the restaurant’s premium dining package, the dish took executive chef Lee Kok Hua countless hours of practice to perfect and its execution is faultless. The star ingredient is a 600g meaty Canadian lobster that is cooked perfectly, highlighting its sweet, tender meat. Shavings of black truffles are scattered around the lobster, while a rich pumpkin stock is poured around it. A final flurry of deep-fried enoki mushrooms adds extra texture.
Dhs280. Emirate Palace, West Corniche (02 690 7999).

KOI Restaurant and Lounge’s salmon carpaccio

This dish is inspired by a traditional gravlax, a Nordic staple that features thinly sliced, cured salmon. In his upgraded version, KOI’s head chef Pushpender Yadav uses a ponzu sauce to cut through the oiliness of the salmon. The sauce – a combination of salty, sweet and sour – gives what is otherwise a classic dish its Japanese identity. Once the thin slices of fish are placed in a circle, Yadav drizzles the plate with the potent ponzu sauce. He follows that up with a sprinkling of finely-chopped truffle, chives and micro greens. A final few drops of truffle oil and it is ready.
Dhs94. The Collection within The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort (02 678 3334).

Market Kitchen’s tuna tartare

The light, refreshing dish is a great way to start any meal at this modern American eatery. Finely-diced, sashimi-grade Sri Lankan tuna sits on top of a thick disc of mashed avocado. And a zesty dressing, made with lemons that have soaked in brine for 30 days before being puréed, pools around the mini tower. The dressing complements the plate perfectly, cutting through the richness of the fish. Adding a little crunch to the vibrant dish are fried, puffed grains of red quinoa.
Dhs45. Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa Street (800 101 101).

Roberto’s octopus with cheese, pepper and artichokes

The fine-dining restaurant has already made an impression on Abu Dhabi diners since its recent arrival on the scene and this superb offering is a favourite among the dishes created exclusively for the capital. It is a modern representation of Italian cuisine that is abundant with traditional flavours. The octopus is crispy on the outside and tender on the inside and the sweetness from the artichoke blends harmoniously with the spicy kick from the cheese and pepper sauce. For a little colour to top it off, dots of red vinegar reduction and a powder made from octopus tentacle are added.
Dhs105. The Galleria, Al Maryah Island (02 627 9009).

Zuma’s tuna tataki

It’s only right that our Restaurant of the Year features on this list. The tuna tataki is a marvel. Slices of Japanese prime tuna that have been seasoned and seared are hand-rolled onto the dish. These are topped with thin slices of spring onion and shaved garlic chips, while a soy sauce dressing with a hint of citrus flavour accompanies it. The delicately sliced tuna is then flavoured with chilli daikon and ponzu sauce. Finally, the seared tuna is placed on a bed of chilli and soy braised red onions. A touch of freshly grated daikon completes the creation. As we said, this offering is a marvel.
Dhs135. Sowwah Square, Al Maryah Island (02 401 5900).

Meat

55&5th, The Grill’s Spanish young lamb

The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort’s signature restaurant is a picture of grace and refinement, with food presented with a distinct amount of flair. Chef de cuisine Manuel Olveira took over the reins earlier this year and hopes to continue the venue’s legacy while infusing it with a little twist of his own. The Spanish young lamb, a high point on Olveira’s menu, is a prime example. An even square of lamb shoulder, the headliner of the dish, is braised for 12 hours. Then, a group of vegetables are stood upright over a slice of sundried tomato polenta that does an ace job of absorbing any escaping juices that run wild on the plate. The dish is then finished off with a seedless cherry sauce that delivers a vibrant burst of flavour and ties the dish together.
Dhs150. The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Saadiyat Island (02 498 8888).

Brasserie Angélique’s carré d’agneau aux fines herbes

If your French is a little rusty, allow us to translate that for you. It’s a herb-crusted rack of lamb with stuffed baby vegetables and lamb jus. Chef Niels Van Oers took inspiration from a classic French dish before creating his own interpretation of it. The lamb is rolled in an olive tapenade and covered in chopped herbs, while a variety of stuffed baby vegetables give it a light Mediterranean touch. The fragrant lamb jus echoes the bold flavours of the meat.
Dhs165. Jumeriah at Etihad Towers, Al Khubeirah (02 811 5666).

Kazu’s wagyu beef tataki

Japanese is one of the prettiest looking cuisines – delicate, dainty and colourful. Kazu’s wagyu beef tataki ticks all of those boxes. The top-quality striploin is marinated, lightly seared in a pan and thinly sliced. The meat is topped off with a truffle soy sauce that is a delightful combination of olive oil, truffle oil, vinegar, sugar and garlic. It’s simply perfect.
Dhs75. Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi, Yas Island (02 656 0600).

Jazz@PizzaExpress’ bresaola, burrata and fig salad

The family-friendly restaurant is known for its delicious pizza, but there is a lot more to it than that. This vibrant salad features thin shavings of bresaola – a classic, cured and dried beef that is typical to Italy – fresh fig wedges and a wobbly mound of creamy burrata. Broken pieces of walnut, leaves of peppery wild rocket and baby spinach help bring the three key ingredients together. A drizzling of a balsamic reduction and extra virgin olive oil are added to the salad before it is served to the expectant guests. Fresh, flavour-packed and fibre-rich, the combinations of this salad will delight and tantalise in equal measure.
Dhs84. The Hub, The Mall at World Trade Center Abu Dhabi (02 444 7752).

Vegetarian

Dai Pai Dong’s braised eggplant
The aubergine in this dish is beautifully cooked and topped with a medley of ginger, garlic and preserved chilli sauce that’s absolutely packed with flavour and has quite a kick. Read more about our experience of the business lunch at this smart Chinese restaurant on page 41.
Dhs40. Rosewood Abu Dhabi, Al Maryah Island (02 813 5550).

Punjab Grill’s watermelon slider

The fine-dining Indian restaurant’s cooling yet punchy starter draws on a combination of varied textures and flavours that tickle the taste buds. A block of seedless watermelon is brushed with a sweet chilli glaze and covered with a tangy, tamarind-laced beansprout and crispy-fried vermicelli mixture. An airy watermelon foam provides a final flourish to the dish, while some crunchy baby spinach fritters and a sliver of passionfruit jelly are welcome additions on the side.
Dhs45. Venetian Village, The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal Al Maqta (02 449 9839).

Tamba’s paratha with pumpkin

When you think of the Indian staple of parathas it’s easy to think of thick, stuffed rounds of fried dough that are heavy and greasy. Tamba’s modern interpretation is at the other end of the spectrum. A mini paratha fortified with the goodness of spinach forms the base. It is topped with a spiced butternut squash mixture and a dollop of tomato chutney that’s got lingering flavours of mustard and sesame. Roasted pumpkin seeds supply the crunch while carefully selected micro-herbs lend the discs a genteel finishing touch. It’s refined Indian-inspired food at its best and would convert even the most hardened meat eater.
Dhs48. The Hub at The Mall at World Trade Center Abu Dhabi (02 672 8888).

Dessert

BU!’s piñata

Helping us relive a little childhood nostalgia is BU!’s mega dessert. A chocolate globe hangs over a custom-made board and is filled with pieces of fresh coconut, fluffy marshmallows, gooey peanut butter brownies, crunchy meringue pieces, fresh berries, tropical fruit and melt-in-the-mouth churros. The saccharine feast comes with a variety of dipping sauces and ice creams. What more do you need?
Dhs250. The Hub at The Mall at World Trade Center Abu Dhabi (02 666 8066).

Central Grounds’ freakshakes

These glasses are filled to the brim with indulgent treats that bring comfort and joy. The citrus option is a refreshing mug of lime-flavoured ice cream, spoons of lemon curd and lemon meringue sticks that jut out at the top. If you’re more of a chocolate lover, work your way over to the glass that’s filled with chunks of brownie, sliced almonds and chocolate ice cream. And if that isn’t enough, there are streams of fudge sauce dripping over the top. If you’re looking for something more seasonal then there is the timeless combination of pumpkin and cinnamon that can be enjoyed with vanilla ice cream, a ripple of pumpkin sauce, topped with nutmeg-spiced cream and cinnamon sticks and cookies.
Dhs45 each. Marriott Hotel Downtown, Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Street (02 304 7777).

Sambusek’s Sunset

Desserts are best shared. Okay, maybe not all of them, but this one can, and probably should, be shared by a group. Comprising a selection of delicious Middle Eastern sweet treats, you are bound to find something you love on board. The halawet el jibn, or sweet cheese rolls, are stuffed with luscious, fresh ashta and scented with drops of rosewater. A decadent kanafeh made with Akawi cheese, semolina and pistachio fills a couple of tiers on the stand as do sticky wedges of various types of baklava. It’s dessert indulgence at its finest – you could share, but we won’t tell if you don’t.
Dhs99. Rosewood Abu Dhabi, Al Maryah Island (02 813 5550).

The Foundry’s Raspberry Decadence

A ring of raspberry-flavoured mousse is coated with a gel made from the fruit and provides a perfectly circular frame for the whole dessert. The ring is accented with sweet favourites at regular intervals. A berry-flavoured cheesecake is sprayed with a white chocolate and raspberry emulsion to give it an uneven finish. There’s also a quenelle of raspberry sorbet that is fresh and fruity, providing the perfect palate cleanser. Macarons, white chocolate and fresh fruit complete this wonderfully satisfying sweet that lives up to its decadent billing.
Dhs65. Southern Sun Abu Dhabi, Al Mina Street, Tourist Club Area (02 818 4888).

The Yacht Club’s dark and white fondant
 

The multi-layered dessert is an artistic take on a classic French pudding. A warm, rich white chocolate ganache oozes out of the cake and drizzles over a generous scoop of matcha (green tea) ice cream. The chocolate disc covered in caramelised and crushed hazelnuts is a tasty addition to the dessert and is responsible for carrying the fondant cake itself. It’s beautiful and delicious.
Dhs48. InterContinental Abu Dhabi, Al Bateen (02 666 6888).

By Vanessa Fitter
Time Out Abu Dhabi,

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