Li Jiang - Ritz Carlton, Abu Dhabi
There is a minimalist simplicity that is so welcoming and engaging as you walk into Li Jiang. I have the option of walking through the magnificent wine racks which line the way to the dining area - metal and glass. However, I go left and sit at the bar and feel the simplicity tenfold. Wood dominates, almost unfinished wood in places. The metal motif is evident again. I start the evening with a glass of their house Champagne, Henri Abele, well balanced and crispy. The music, a selection of uptempo beats, immediately makes me feel relaxed and chilled. This is not your typical Asian restaurant.
|Part of a very energetic and warm staff.|
|Open kitchen in view|
|Semi-private dining room|
I start off with a small selection of dim sum. The steamed dumplings are fluffy, and the lobster dumplings in particular are outstanding. I follow this up with an absolute highlight. Pan fried Beef foie gras dumplings is served and the accompanying sauce is so tasty. Dumplings and soy sauce are so predictable, so Chef serves them with lemongrass chili sauce instead. Delicious.
|Beef foie gras dumplings|
|Selection of dim sum|
I have one of the by-the-glass wine options, the Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2013. I have written about this wonderfully easy wine. Highly recommended.
Having felt that the passion fruit notes in the Oyster Bay would not go well with the honeyed black cod, I asked Cindy, the in-house sommelier, to recommend another wine. She poured me a glass of Pinot Grigio Pierpaolo Pecorari 2012.This dry full bodied and lightly fruity wine definitely paired better with the cod.
After I ended my dinner with a tasty ice cream dessert, I had a glass of Cognac and reflected on why I liked my Li Jiang dining experience so much. When a chef is able to evoke memories and tastes from the past, it is a special evening. Unwittingly, that is what Chef Lee succeeded in doing. That is what you call an authentic experience when a Chef takes you back, in my case, to China. I liked that while the restaurant markets itself as South east Asian, it offers so much more than that. It is probably as much Chinese as it is South East Asian. Also, the music made for a super enjoyable evening. Finally, the supremely friendly staff had a great work ethic, but were also eager to engage. The manager herself oozes enthusiasm and has has clearly created a team that really gels. This is evident on so many levels. An all round fantastic restaurant!
Ritz Carlton, Abu Dhabi
+971 2 818 8282
Menu (new menu to be launched in September)
Pictures thanks to Nokia Creative Studio on my Nokia 1520