Unexpectedly good Asian-themed bar food at Adnec Discuss this article

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In this city, trendy venues usually go hand in hand with loud, obnoxious music. Not so at Relax @ 12. This rooftop bar plays cool albums at a volume loud enough for atmosphere and low enough that you don’t have to yell to make yourself heard – on our visit, an obscure folk-meets-jazz band wafted through the speakers. Huge individual chairs with voluptuous cushions surround the tables and well-placed neon lights give the bar a funky vibe. And what food is better suited to a chic, understated bar than sushi?

Drinks arrived quickly while we perused the menu of Asian delicacies, including a decent selection of sushi rolls, sashimi and platters. We greedily chose the mammoth fresh flavours platter, which was supposed to serve three, although we were confident two hungry people could make light work of it, with side orders of calamari and Chinese duck wraps.

Two giant platefuls arrived surprisingly fast and we tucked in with relish, even though it turned out that dining at Relax is a little awkward – the tables are uncomfortably low and the lamps dim. Unable to see what we were eating, we ended up fishing at random from the platter and holding our haul against the table light with our chopsticks. And it was a good catch. Pieces of unagi nigiri, salmon sashimi, and three types of maki rolls, one topped with tempura and the others coated in fish roe. It was all skilfully prepared enough to stand up next to some of the capital’s dedicated Japanese restaurants. The huge heap of calamari, deep fried with little crispy bits of ginger and served with a tangy tamarind sauce, had a real wow-factor. As for the duck wraps – eight of these parcels stuffed with crispy moist meat and dipped in thick hoisin sauce left us very happy customers.

No doubt Relax does a superb line in bar food, and it’s refreshing to be served something healthy with your drinks for a change. You’ll pay for the privilege, though; it might be delicious but it doesn’t come cheap.

The bill (for two)
Fresh flavours platter
Chinese duck wraps Dhs48
Calamari Dhs50
Total (excluding service) Dhs240

By Time Out Abu Dhabi staff
Time Out Abu Dhabi,

Time Out reviews restaurants anonymously and pays for meals. Of course, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or independence of user reviews.


  • Location: Aloft Abu Dhabi, Al Safraat, Abu Dhabi
  • Tel: 02 654 5138
  • Travel: Al Karamah Street
  • Website | Send mail

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