With dishes prepared with seasonal ingredients following traditional recipes and modified cooking methods to suit the local’s taste, the Shang Palace in Shangri-La Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi strives to bring its authenticity to the Gulf Region. mylifestylenews writes.
No stay at any Shangri-La is replete without a visit to their signature Chinese restaurant, Shang Palace. Being one of the hallmarks for the hotel’s Food & Beverage worldwide wherever the brand has a footprint, exploring the Shang Palace in Shangri-La Qaryat Al Beri Abu Dhabi is with no exception. Situated at the lower lobby and adjacent to the hotel’s all day dining restaurant Sofra Bld overlooking the hotel’s beach and pool area with lush garden, the curved wooden sliding doors welcome you from the main entrance adorned with two giant red lanterns symbolizing the warm welcome gesture of any Chinese’s housing or restaurant entrance design.
The setting has to be classic Chinese yet with a touch of sophistication. The solid grey stone block pillars makes way for the suspended lanterns with red and yellow shades to shine that set the scene, adding coziness to the entire ambience; along with Chinese opera face masks as decoration behind the main service counter that give an extra hue to the restaurant décor.
Across the main dining hall that was half separated by the Sofra Bld restaurant hang some Chinese porcelain paintings, which also add that exotic and colorful touch. What we liked were the large open screen windows with a low threshold to see into the other dining areas, creating a larger sense of space. Ironically to that convenience, you do notice that guests will walk through this opening with a large foot step to enter or leave the Shang Palace restaurant. Not quite a pleasant sight for privacy.
However, the dining tables are well spread out to create private spaces for conversations to be had, with very comfortable dining chairs. A big round table can easily sit 12 people at the end of the corner decorated with an opened giant yellow golden fan painted with cranes and pine trees that signifies longevity and health. It is ideal for a small group with more intimate conversation and privacy away from the main dining hall.
As for the menu, Shang Palace is known mostly for its Cantonese cuisine with a few other classic signature dishes from other China’s regions in their menu. As we all know, authentic Cantonese and seasonal favorites are served in a setting that evokes the grandeur of the Chinese heritage and Dim Sum dishes shall never be missed. But do hold your horse a little and lower your expectation by judging the Cantonese food being served in this region. Ingredients availability and the Chef’s know-how play an essential part for making it work. Our opinion is: if you can get a taste by 60 percent of the dishes being served here that is close to what home has to offer, you are considered lucky to have a place to satisfy your home-sick palate. Food for thought, Chinese culinary flair is so diversified even for their own nation to understand completely, not to say it is being served worldwide to the unknown or non Chinese audiences that are trying to guess what they are eating or they think what they know better. We welcome the challenge!
We love Cantonese cuisine with a passion and having enjoyed meals at different Shang Palaces in Shangri-La hotels in our past visit among other authentic Cantonese restaurants in Asia. To find out what Shang Palace in Shangri-La Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi has to offer, we began our dining sojourn with:
<Steamed River Shrimp Dumplings with Asparagus>
Dim Sum selection is limited on the dinner menu which somehow is a blessing as Dim Sum is usually not to be enjoyed for dinner but breakfast, brunch or afternoon over tea as snacks or in between meals. The Steam River Shrimp Dumpling with Asparagus was pleasant in taste, although a little bit dry and the paste was not as thin and delicate as expected. The asparagus was not overly steamed yet still crunchy and a nice touch for garnish.
<Steamed Seafood Dumpling with Baby Spinach>
This is as good as you can get by far while a Har Gau (a classic Shrimp Dumpling) is being served in this region. And again, the paste was not as soft and delicate for what it should be that can possible ruin the first palate in the mouth before you have even started chewing. The art of Chinese Dim Sum needs to have the precise technique and know-how in order to make this work. A good culinary chef may not be a good Dim Sum Chef and vice-versa for a pastry Chef to the Chef de Cuisine.
<Yellow Chicken Thigh with sweet basil, ginger & soya sauce>
A classic and well-known Taiwanese dish to be precise. The highlight of this dish which is to be served with a combination of three different rice wines or yellow wines (usually home-made) that gives a gist of its distinctive flavor and a perfect palate stir to enjoy. Its sizzling effect from the clay-pot while the lid is being lifted when brought to the table, followed by the aroma of the evaporation from the alcohol as well as the fragrant taste on the palate are the main criteria for this salivating dish. Unfortunately, none of this was being delivered despite the tenderness of the chicken, perhaps it was due to the alcohol constraint in this region or difficulty in getting the right ingredients as well as the know-how from the kitchen to excel in this traditional dish to be served.
<Half Cantonese Roasted “Pipa” Duck>
The deboned meat (traditionally it is served with bone on for its extra taste while chewing the duck from the marinade) had quite crispy skin from the air-dried process, with good flavor and texture. The dipping sauce was not overly salted and quite enjoyable.
<Stir-Fried Tiger Prawns with Green Asparagus, Lily Bulbs in XO sauce>
The portion was generous, with four huge tiger prawns that were cooked to perfection. Fresh in taste and with the right firm bite and perfectly stir-fried with XO sauce, lily bulbs, asparagus and tiny mushroom stems.
<Steamed Cod Fish Fillet with broccoli & Superior Soy Sauce>
The defrosted steamed cod fish was very flat in taste and gives a broken texture on the palate which is the failure. The superior soy sauce also overpowered the fish and it was a total let down as steamed fish dishes served in a Chinese restaurant are usually the highlight especially it is done in Cantonese style of cooking.
<Vegetable Fried Rice with Cashew Nuts>
The presentation may be in a fast food version but the fried rice was quite tasty with a soft fluffy moist texture and the rice grain separates from each other instead of the stickiness from its moisture and not being fried well in the wok.
<Stir-Fried Australian Beef Rib-Eye Strip with Sichuan dry chili & oyster sauce>
Saving the best for last! In this case, it was perfectly turned out. A great dish with a balance in all ingredients and flavor! The premium tender rib-eye strip was cooked to perfection. A must order!
The friendly and knowledgeable service staff made our night flow beautifully. It is hard to find authentic Chinese dishes in many supposed Chinese restaurants in this region, if you are willing to lower your expectation to crave for your desired “home-sick” meals and pick the right order which the chef do best, the Shang Palace in Shangri-La Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi is one of the best substitutes in this region.
Tried & Tested:
Design & Decor: 4/5
Food & Beverage: 3.5/5
Value For Money: 4/5
Stir-Fried Australian Beef Rib-Eye Strip with
Sichuan dry chili & oyster sauce
Khor Al Maqta,
Qaryat Al Beri
Abu Dhabi, UAE
Tel: +971 2 509 8888
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.