Classy South-East Asian joint at the Crowne Plaza... 13 Reviews
Brunch featuring Asian delights and iced tea for Dhs137, or with unlimited house beverages for Dhs240 Timings: Noon-4pm (Friday)
Express lunch for Dhs50 Timings: Noon-4pm (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday)
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The opening of Cho Gao was quite a momentous occasion for the Crowne Plaza. One of the original expat haunts, the hotel was long known for good times (Level Lounge) and heady nights (Heroes), but offered very little to the city’s burgeoning legion of foodies. All that changed in early February, when this classy South-East Asian joint opened its doors and the good people of Al Markaziyah flocked in. In fact, it’s the good people that catch your attention first. Abu Dhabi has recently become home to a large number of new, quality restaurants, many of them unfortunately so far from the action that they’re lucky to get a handful of customers on a weekday night. On the doorstep of its parent hotel, central to Hamdan Street, Cho Gao is perfectly located to benefit from regulars and passersby alike. And it shows. Time Out visited on an unusually cold midweek night and found the place bubbling with warmth and bonhomie. With prices never higher than reasonable, it felt like a place for everyone, and everyone seemed to be there.
Better still, the food was almost flawless. Taking a seat in the rustic but elegant corner, gongs hanging around our ears and spice bags strewn across the corner, we started with a selection of dim sum and spring rolls. Nothing exceptional here, but nothing to turn your nose up at either. In fact, as the meal rolled out, it became apparent that the chef had a steady foot on the crescendo peddle.
The mains were wonderful – the Peking duck particularly recomm- endable. Served with raw vegetable sticks, a couple of sauces and a steamed pan of flatbreads, we were encouraged to roll the tender meat into a mini creation of our own. The crisp, fatty skin stood out among the myriad flavours, kickstarting an insatiability that only ended once the plate was swabbed dry. Elsewhere lurked a nasi goreng topped with chicken satay, and a wholesome plate of pad Thai, both of which would have made a thoroughly satisfying meal on their own.
Going on a friendly tip from a knowledgeable colleague, we pushed the boat out and ordered two desserts, both of which managed to put the icing on the cake (without involving icing or cake). The caramelised banana and sesame seeds linger still, while the chocolate samosas had our partner silenced and tearful – but it’s easy to get emotional in the presence of unexpected beauty.
The bill (for two)
Dim sum seafood Dhs24
Vietnamese rice rolls Dhs25
Pad Thai Dhs44
Nasi goreng Dhs52
Peking duck Dhs65
Caramelised banana Dhs20
Chocolate samosas Dhs20
Total (excl. service) Dhs250
Time Out Abu Dhabi,
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