Food in Dubai or Abu Dhabi is a strange thing. When you go to places like China, Lebanon or Thailand the general rule is you eat the same local cuisine at different price brackets. How often do you go to China for Italian? Well that is sort of the same with Dubai and Abu Dhabi. I want to eat Middle Eastern food till I can’t eat it anymore – but there surprisingly isn’t that much of it unless you look hard. Instead these modern cities are more like London and has become a melting pot of cuisines from all over the world. Dubai and Abu Dhabi essentially cater to the rest of the world and I like it. It’s alot like London – but with more sun, sea and sand.
Staying at Shangri La Hotel Qaryat Al Beri for just one night we really couldn’t decide on where to eat from the multitude of restaurants, but with the promise of outdoor seating and unlimited dim sum it meant for only one option – Shang Palace. A beautiful Chinese restaurant on the ground floor of the hotel with a terrace looking out across the river to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. The restaurant is a brand represented across many of the Shangri-La hotels around the world.
We opted for the yum cha all you can eat dim sum during the evenings, priced at a very competitive 138 AED including free-flowing Chinese tea, that’s about £30. A bargain if you ask me and the selection you can choose from is generous. Our meal started with a rather spicy, but delicious hot & sour seafood soup – offering plump prawns and a rich deep flavour. We also ordered a portion of serving of what turned out to be the best prawn toast I’ve ever encountered and some very crispy deep-fried shrimp wontons.
Everything about the sim sum here is impressive. The textures of the buns and casings are just the right side of sticky, but still firm enough to remain in once piece and the fillings are juicy and generous. Don’t expect to find chopped up pieces of prawn inside your har gow, but instead large plump versions. Fluffy looking white steamed buns were served filled with cumin scented beef and mushrooms. Crystal vegetable dumplings were oh-so sticky and vividly coloured crab meat dumplings were finished with a sprinkling of caviar – for extra indulgence.
Two of my favourite dim sum items from the menu was these glossy looking har gow filled with tiger prawns and siew mai – shrimp and chicken dumplings XO. So much flavour and so much enjoyment. The great thing about an all you can eat dim sum meal is that it means once you’ve found your favourite – you can order more!
There were some rather unusual dishes on the menu too which I simply had to try. Sichuan eggplant with chilli and pepper wasn’t unusual, but very welcomed and very delicious. Crushed cucumber with garlic and sesame oil wasn’t exactly how I imagined and it looked more sliced than crushed, but refreshing none the less. The best was the shredded jellyfish with capsicum and peanuts. Very unusual but also very exciting and interesting. A dish I’d happily eat all over again.
We then of course had to sample a selection from the pan and deep-fried options. Salted spicy calamari was every bit as good as it looked and in fact we’d had the same dish for lunch too. It was great to see that on both occasions consistency and precision of cooking was the same. Nothing was overcooked and the calamari had not an ounce of toughness to it. A martini glass filled with prawns was lovely too, covered in just a very light dusting of flour and pan-fried for added crispness.
With barely any space left for just about anything, we couldn’t visit Shang Palace without sampling what they’re most known for, after their dim sum of course – crispy peeking duck. Not part of the yum cha menu but well worth forking out the extra for it. Half a peking duck carved table-side with the slithers of crispy fat carefully left attached to each slice of meat. For ease, the pancake rolls are constructed for you, leaving the fiddly part out.
Shang Palace was yet another wonderful experience and turned our stay at Shangri-La Qaryat Al Beri into an even more extraordinary one. If you’re looking for dim sum to change your life, incredible peking duck and beautiful service to match then look no further. What’s great is that if Abu Dhabi isn’t within your reach, you can still get the Shang Palace experience closer to home at some of the other Shangri-La properties. This is authentic Chinese cooking, waiting to transport you to China – table-side!