“Vibrancy and aromas of a bustling Asian market.” Li Jiang
The finest flavours of the East are offered at Li Jiang restaurant at the grandiose Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal. Located on the lower ground floor of this palatial hotel the multi-award winning restaurant is a vibrant place serving high-end cuisine from it’s a theatrical centralised open show kitchen.
Elegant and low-lit the restaurant has an outlandish bright red decor designed to replicate a traditional high-end Asian eatery. Clearly no expense has been spared on the interior, striking glass chandeliers and statement lighting offset the dark wood, your eyes are constantly drawn to the feature wall with piles of red hued fabrics laying on top of one another. Alongside the stunning decor you can’t help but notice the distinctive aromas wafting from the glass kitchen. The sights and sounds of the busy chefs make for great viewing, pots and pans are flying in all directions and flamboyant flaming woks make for quite the show.
Chef de Cuisine at Li Jiang, Chef Tran Thanh Chung and his culinary team have created a Southeast Asian mouthwatering menu that offers diners a modern interpretation of authentic oriental cuisine and regional specialities. We dined on a busy Friday evening and the atmosphere was lively, tables of animated guests providing a background of constant chatter. Our server was very friendly and knowledgeable making many good recommendations for both food and drinks, including a rather tangy lychee martini.
Complimentary rice crackers with dipping sauces were provided while we were given time to peruse the menu. We started with a selection of appetisers, classic vegetable spring rolls with a sweet chilli sauce, bright green jade vegetable dumplings served in an authentic bamboo basket and a seared salmon salad with shiso, seaweed and avocado dressing. Mains of a tangy creamy coconut vegetable green curry was served with Cantonese fried rice and the tender forty-eight hour slow cooked Rendang wagyu short rib of beef literally fell off the bone. Sides of steamed broccoli and steamed vegetables were the perfect accompaniment, both mains were cooked to perfection and equally delicious.
Other notable dishes on the menu include a selection of spicy soups, succulent crispy duck, honey glazed black cod and the steamed chilean sea bass. Dim Sum lovers are spoilt for choice with a whole section of the menu dedicated to the appealing steamed and pan-fried dumplings. Seafood options include the Beijing Style Seafood Dumpling, Prawn Har Gow Bamboo Shoot, Crystal Prawn Dumpling Chinese Chives and fish and meat combinations of steamed Chicken and Prawn Siew Mai Shitake and the crispy fried garlic prawn and chicken Dumpling. Other popular choices are the chicken Siew Mai, Chicken BBQ Roasted Bun and the Duck Gyoza. Vegetarians have lots of menu options too which is always gratifying, all the dishes we sampled were flavoursome and beautifully presented.
For dessert, I ordered the deep fried raspberry ice-cream out of sheer curiosity as I’m not usually a fan of traditional Chinese sweet treats. The ice cream itself was tasty but the outer shell was rather thick and doughy rather than crispy, the fresh strawberries and warm Valthona chocolate sauce were delicious. Fans of traditional mango sticky rice will be pleased by its inclusion on the menu, Li Jiang also has a well stocked cellar and a range of teas. Alongside the plush indoor dining area, Li Jiang, which means ‘beautiful river’ in Chinese, has an outdoor terrace tucked away in the hotel’s olive grove with eye-catching views of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in the distance that ticks the dining with a view box, especially at night. A separate bar set behind a corridor of bottles at the restaurant’s entrance offers Asian inspired mixology and the perfect spot to enjoy a pre and post dinner beverage.
Of course Li Jiang is not the only notable Chinese restaurant in the capital but its central location and innovative menu combined with the theatricals of the show kitchen has secured it a consistent stream of accolades and awards. Judging by the busyness of the restaurant I would say that even though it’s not the most affordable option Li Jiang is definitely doing something right to attract a crowd. Fine-tune your use of chopsticks and treat yourself to a tasty feast while enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of Asian cuisine right here in the capital.
Location: The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal, Khor Al Maqta’a, Abu Dhabi
Telephone: 02 818 8282
I was invited to review Li Jiang for Fact Abu Dhabi. All views are my own based on my experience. Unless otherwise stated all photos © Jo Brett 2017. All rights reserved.
An edited version of this article first appeared in Fact Abu Dhabi – July 2017