The long-running Thai-inspired FISHMARKET dining restaurant at The InterContinental Abu Dhabi is iconic to all gourmands whom especially have the craving for seafood that is prepared to your desired style of cooking. mylifestylenews writes.
It is in no doubt that when you are hankering for a seafood craving, the first thing that comes into your mind is the variety and what a restaurant can provide. Secondly, it must be fresh as seafood is so tangible that it shall be consumed while it is at its freshest condition to delight your palate.
Nestled on a private beach amidst the marina of the InterContinental Abu Dhabi, the FISHMARKET restaurant brings the concept of the fresh seafood markets of Thailand with its own winning formula to challenge the palates for all seafood gourmands. FISHMARKET is designed and decorated in a South East Asia village hut style with high roof ceiling in a relaxed and casual mood by the beach.
Bamboo sticks are used to wrap around the pillars and add a more rustic feel contrasting the hanging fishnet baskets by creating a dining ambience in a local fishing village. Light and homey rattan chairs aligned orderly with the hue of blue table settings reminiscent of the ocean and a gentle breeze brought in from outside, creating a more cozy and laid back sentiment while dining in.
There is almost no rule here when it comes to order from the menu, and we couldn’t recall one being presented. Probably not! The concept in FISHMARKET is like a free flow manner – do as you please. Upon being seated, the wait staff will then escort you to the long and semi hexagon display table where all the fresh catch of the day is being put on show and arranged orderly in accordance to the type of fish and partly covered with ice to keep them fresh. This is an absolute feast for the eyes and an exciting preview before you even start the meal.
To begin with, a quick browse from the fish market display table is a must as that will let you determine the great variety on offer. Oysters, clams, mussels, scallops, soft shell crabs, local shrimps, tiger prawns, jumbo prawns, long legs crabs, Omani lobsters, salmon, king fish, tuna, red mullet, garoupa, red snapper, Gulf sole, pomfret and many more accompanied by buckets loads of vegetables and greens as well as a corner of salad buffet and wine selection to go with your dishes.
Another attraction is the centrally well constructed open kitchen, wok-fried and steamy smoke diffuses the kitchen and allows you to witness real action through the glass windows.
Once your order is placed, you will then choose the kind of cooking method you wish to enjoy your seafood. From Asian and Thai-inspired to the western and Mediterranean, the kitchen team will prepare your preferred way of cooking to please your appetite.
Since FISHMARKET is more a Thai-inspired restaurant and they have an Indonesian and Malaysian chef to lead the team, we “challenged” them with a combination of various cooking methods and styles for our pick even though we have “pre-warned” ourselves for not having the highest expectation from the team for getting it right exactly as what we would get back home due to many factors like getting the right resources and ingredients from this region as well as adapting the culinary know-how from different countries.
A variety of salad to accompany your meal
A large plate of amuse bouche was served in the blink of the eye. Deliciously Deep-fried Fish Fritters well battered and fried to a light and crisp texture were a surprise start even before any of our orders were served.
We kick started with Tom Yum Goong – the hot and spicy Thai soup with the Jumbo Prawns that we picked. We highlighted to the Chef that we only would prefer to use the giant Jumbo prawn heads to prepare the soup as the head has numerous orangey goo – the hepatopancreas digestive organ that will make the soup sweeter, tastier and even thicker. The presentation was really tempting and you can’t wait to dig in upon being served. Despite the color looks just right and the hepatopancreas from the prawn heads turned pulverulent to the right texture, yet the base is still lacking of the kick of spiciness and the soul of the paste from Tom Yum Goong.
One can’t refuse the temptation when fresh scallops are in season and they were gently seared and drenched with a bed of watery cress and a “béchamel” version of lemon garlic sauce. It wasn’t much on the presentation and yet the taste of the sauce is rather bland instead.
A Mixed Vegetable stir-fry - snow peas with assorted mushrooms and bean sprouts in oyster sauce was served next, followed by Steamed Sea Bass with Garlic, chili and lime juice.
The Sea Bass was “butterflied”, buried with a mountain of lime slices instead of lime juice as a base to give the distinctive flavor. It was also being steamed together with the fish and eventually the extracts from the lime skin peel creates a bitter taste adding to the fish and ruined the palate.
Sambal Calamari Indonesian style was another let down as we expected a little more for this dish in terms of its cooking style and flavours since we left it to the Chef to create something more authentic from her homeland. Sweet chili sauce was used and over-powered the deep-fried texture of the fresh calamari. Lacking that intense sambal flavor in which perhaps none was being used and the sogginess of the calamari was another turn off.
Freshly Steamed Garoupa with ginger and served with lightly pan-heated soy and oil became a bed of chili steamed together with ginger and cilantro. It was totally beyond expectation from what our preferred way. Soy and oil were missing and a supposedly classic Cantonese way of home-style steamed fish and chili should not be used on this dish but turned out to be a-la-chef version of non-staple food.
We moved on to the Char-grilled Tiger Prawns, marinated with garlic, chili and herbs to give a slight additional pungent kick and yet not over-taken the natural flesh flavor from the prawns. The lightly burnt char-grilled aroma on the tiger prawns adds a touch of the local flavor, something safe and spot on at last.
Coming back to the Steamed Egg whites Jumbo Prawns with Gingers where the giant heads were used for Tom Yum Goong and the flesh is now steamed with egg whites. Once again, less is always more especially coming to this dish for its method of cooking. The Jumbo prawns were buried and completely covered by the overcooked egg whites and there was no ginger added but topped with deep fried garlic to its bitterness degrading the Jumbo prawns that were supposed to be the highlight instead.
The “challenge” of the method of cooking to the chef may not be as satisfying as we were expecting but credit still needs to be given to the Chef and her team for their courage despite not understanding much of other culture differences especially in individual country’s of gastronomic and cooking method as well as getting the right ingredients from its limited resources in this region. Service is worth mentioning for their friendliness and they were quite attentive looking after most tables throughout our dining experience.
Tried & Tested:
Design & Decor: 4/5
Food & Beverage: 4/5
Value For Money: 4.5/5
King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud Street,Tel: +971 2 666 6888
PO Box 4171, Abu Dhabi, UAE
PO Box 4171, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Reviews are based on actual day of visit and experience. mylifestylenews reserves the right of final decision in case of any disputes. All images are photographed by mylifestylenews team without any photoshop enhancement and are the property owned by mylifestylenews unless otherwise stated.