The Yacht Club: not just sushi - Intercontinental Hotel, Abu Dhabi
A strobe light dazzles as I walk in. Like a gushing teenager, I hear myself resort to teenage speak as I say under my breath - this is so cool! Sushi night? I am somewhat dumbfounded because this looks like no ordinary venue for a sushi night. A sunken floor with seating on different levels. I am seated in a booth, affording me a view of the tables below as well as the the buffet area, in the middle of the floor. But don't expect a huge, wasteful buffet. This is what I immediately like about the set up. They seem to have focused on quality here.
The Yacht Club, a restaurant, lounge and a nightclub on certain days, has a great concept. Why can't something like sushi be enjoyed in such an environment? This is about breaking the mold. As for the atmosphere, it is electric. Great music and loud chatter - I cannot believe this is Abu Dhabi. And bear in mind too that the Yacht Club is not some new restaurant - it has been around for a while. I realise immediately this must be its strength. How would I describe the crowd? 20something to 40somethings who are young at heart.
Despite a great range of sushi, I opt for the a la carte menu. The menu consists of Sushi rolls, Hot and Cold tapas and Roba items too. My interest is piqued by the Oyster shooters. I order it and it is served in three shot glasses. I love the presentation. A black sesame cone wrapped in gold paper gives each shooter a playful look; a party-like dish. As the name suggests, I shoot it and there is a mix of flavours, very distinct flavours though. The unmistakeable taste of oyster, lemongrass, ponzu sauce and kaffir ice cream all come together to create something unique. It is a bold and daring idea that works well.
I then have the Spicy tuna tartar. The rice has been slightly torched, giving it that BBQ taste and extra texture. The aroma is intoxicating . I find the level of spiciness perfect. Tempted to have another, I restrain myself though. Delicious.
For my next choice, I look forward to the Wagyu beef rolls. Prepared by Executive sous chef Jae Hak Lee, it lives up to my expectations. Grade 5 wagyu, lightly torched, so that the beef remains tender and full of flavour. The beef is rolled around rice with shrimp tempura, coriander and teriyaki sauce. For me it is a dish of two parts. The shrimp tempura is so crispy, giving the sushi a crunch. Then of course there is the wagyu. A highly recommended sushi roll.
I really would like Sparkling sake. I feel the evening, with the flashing lights, ultra cool vibe makes for a sparkling night. Sadly, it is not available. The only false note for the night. I have instead a glass of their house champagne, NV Louis Roederer Brut.
My last dish, Foie gras tranche, has so much appeal for me. I am curious to see how Chef incorporates foie gras into what is an Asian menu. The foie gras is pan seared and served on miso caramel brioche. Yum.
As I finish up, I choose the manager's recommended dessert. He really builds it up, and when it is served, I can see why. There is a surprise element, so I do not want to spoil it for readers. Just order it. What I can say is green tea macaron, coconut fruit salad, banana tempura and sticky toffee will come together in a very joyful dessert.
I think my first 10 minutes at the Yacht Club really summed up my feeling. I sat at my table looking at the chef, the waiting staff and the guests, full of awe. I thought it a fabulous venue, and this was even before I tried any of the dishes. Now, I was there on a Tuesday night, and the restaurant was probably 80% full. For this market, that is impressive! When I left, I could appreciate why it is so popular- the Yacht Club, where all the elements come together to offer you a unique experience in Abu Dhabi. What is more is that in the cooler months, the terrace opens to give magical views of the marina. That I cannot wait for!