“The Holy Month of Ramadan is a time when the otherwise busy pace of the city takes a slow, deep breath during the day.” Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi
Ramadan 2018 is upon us and while the Holy Month is about reflection and peacefulness it’s also about family and friends enjoying time together dining at Iftar and Suhour. Ramadan dining options will be available across the capital in a variety of locations, most menus will be offering traditional fare while others will present a more modern menu.
While the city will be quieter in daylight hours it will come alive once the sun sets with hotels, restaurants and cafes offering special Iftar menus where both muslims and non-muslims are welcomed to dine from specially prepared menus. Iftar, when people gather together to break their fast at sunset is traditionally started with the eating of dates as the Prophet Muhammad broke his fast with three dates, followed by an Iftar buffet or dinner, most establishments across the capital are offering their own variation of this meal.
Mosques will also be busy every evening as muslims gather for the night prayers, Taraweeh, some venues will also be offering the pre-dawn meal of Suhoor which is usually served in traditional tents. All over the city Ramadan decorations line the streets and bridges, lighting up at night to celebrate the Holy Month. Here’s my top five dining picks (in no particular order) to enjoy over the next month – most start from the 15th May onwards but check with the venue directly or visit their website for confirmation.
Asia de Cuba – Hands down my favourite menu of those I’ve tried this year is the ‘After Dark’ menu at the chic Asia de Cuba located beachside opposite Nation Towers. The restaurant has a new Head Chef and the ‘After Dark’ four-course set menu is an excellent way to sample the new take on the original Chino-Latino concept. But it’s not just the food that’s a talking point, the attention to detail with the staging of the theme and the presentation of the dishes are both excellent.
This certainly isn’t your typical Iftar menu and because it’s available after sunset it’s accompanied by their normal bar service. Each of the four courses has a vegetarian option and additional sides can be added for minimal extra cost – try the double cooked chips because they are great but be warned very moorish. Choose between vegetable gazpacho or citrus cured salmon to start followed by wagyu spring rolls, chicken chicharrones, tuna pica or beet pica tartare for the second course. Mains of confit duck, grilled salmon or braised short rib were quickly devoured at the preview while we veggies enjoyed a spicy thai coconut curry served with gai choy.
As always save room for desserts because the dark chocolate mousse with banana and peanut crumbles is absolutely divine. Other options include mascarpone parfait, carrot cake and sorbet or ice-cream of the day.
Thirty nights of non-stop after dark brunching daily from sunset until late
Cost: AED 230* for soft drinks, AED 330* including house beverages and AED 630* with champagne – if you have The Entertainer you can enjoy 2-for-1 on the soft drinks package from 16th May 2018 for 30 days (3 vouchers available in the monthly offers).
Asia de Cuba, Nation Riviera Beach Club, St. Regis Hotel, Corniche Road. Abu Dhabi. Telephone: 02 699 3333 www.asiadecuba.com/abu_dhabi
Four Seasons Abu Dhabi – The elegant hotel located on Al Maryah Island is offering daily Iftar and Suhoor dining packages at the Al Maryah Ballroom which has been transformed into a traditional Ramadan tent for the occasion. Al Meylas lobby lounge will also be offering two-course Iftar and a la carte Suhour menus. Try the lentil or Emirate chicken soup, indulge in the Mezzeh that includes Emirati shrimp majboos or regional Moroccan chicken tagine and finish with either homemade katayef or date cake.
Elsewhere in the hotel there’s also a non-traditional option available; Chicago steakhouse Butcher & Still is serving a menu designed to get your tastebuds flowing. Starters of garden greens, truffle poutine or caesar salad will be followed by Kansas city strip steak cooked to order, grilled prawns or mushroom wellington. It will be a tough decision as to which dessert to choose with key lime pie, New York cheesecake and chocolate cake all vying for your attention.
Al Maryah Ballroom: Iftar 7pm – 9pm – AED 200* per person, Suhour 10pm – 2am AED 175* (shisha available in Suhoor area). Al Meylas: Iftar set menu 7pm – 9pm – AED 185*, a la carte Suhoor available from 10pm to 2am (shisha available on request) – Both complimentary for children under 3, Children 3 to 12 dine at half price.
Butcher & Still: Three-course set menu for a set price of AED 250* from sunset onwards.
Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi, P.O. Box 107032, Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi Telephone: 02 333 2444 www.fourseasons.com/abudhabi/
Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi – The Yas Viceroy will be hosting both Iftar and Suhour options during Ramadan. A daily Iftar buffet will be served in all-day dining restaurant Origins with hot and cold mezze favourites such as hummus, tabbouleh, kibbeh, seafood, grills and international favourites too. A wide choice of desserts will include kunafa, a delicious baklava ice-cream and platters of fresh fruit. Signature Suhoor dishes will be served in the Atayeb Terrace Tent from 10pm (Atayeb will also host private iftar’s on request).
Time: Iftar at Origins from sunset to 10:00pm – AED 220* per person including Ramadan juices (AED 110* per child aged 5 to 12 years old and free for children aged 4 and under with a paying adult). Suhour is available daily in the Atayeb Terrace Tent from 10pm to 2am – AED 150* per person
Yas Viceroy hotel, Yas island Abu Dhabi UAE. Telephone: 02 656 0600 www.viceroyhotelsandresorts.com/en/abudhabi
Emirates Palace – Enjoy a night of traditional Arabian hospitality and a resplendent buffet complete with live cooking stations at the custom built air-conditioned Emirates Palace Ramadan tent by the sea. Located on the hotel’s private beach expect to be wowed by the array of beautifully presented food with traditional mezze dishes, a wide choice of breads, salads, grills, juices and many delicious desserts. Separate lounge areas and private majlis’ are available for more intimate private dining. This exquisite location makes for a sophisticated Iftar and Suhour experiences as you would expect from a hotel of this calibre.
Time: Iftar from sunset to 9:30pm. Suhour from 10pm to 2am
Cost: AED 320* per person for the Iftar buffet, AED 180* for Suhour
Emirates Palace, West Corniche Road, Abu Dhabi. Telephone 02 690 7999 www.kempinski.com/en/abudhabi/emirates-palace
Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi – Experience a taste of Arabian culture and cuisine with the Iftar and Suhour menus available in the hotel’s large air conditioned Layali El Hilmiya Ramadan tent set around the pool. Iftar in the tent ((available until 8:30pm) will include traditional cuisine along with international dishes, fresh juices, teas and live cooking stations, families are welcome and children can choose from a separate buffet. Arabian music will keep everyone entertained, there’s daily prize draws and a variety of flavoured shisha on offer.
Try something a little different with Market Kitchen’s classic dishes getting a special Holy Month regional twist, the restaurant located in the lobby will be serving it’s Iftar menu from sunset onwards.
Layali El Hilmiya Ramadan tent: Iftar will be served from sunset until 8:30pm at a cost of AED 170*. Suhoor A La Carte and set menus will be available from AED 70* upwards from 9pm until late. Market Kitchen: Available daily from sunset till 11pm for AED 225*
Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa Street, Abu Dhabi. Telephone: 02 674 2020 www.leroyalmeridienabudhabi.com
There will be many other sumptuous Iftar buffets being served in the majority of hotels across the Emirate this Ramadan, most cafes and restaurants are also serving special Iftar menus for all tastes and budgets. Most malls will also be holding Holy Month celebrations and special events. Non-fasting friends may be invited to join those observing the holy month at their homes to enjoy a traditional home cooked Iftar or Suhoor meal, a fantastic opportunity to enjoy the true meaning of Ramadan with a Muslim family.
Ramadan is a time of reflection and everyone, regardless of their religious beliefs, can play their part. Give any unwanted clothes to charity, make a charitable donation or help with one of the many of the projects that are taking place to help those less fortunate. Take extra care on the roads especially just before Iftar time and be mindful to be culturally respectful. For any non-fasters looking for daytime dining click HERE for Foodiva’s annual guide to Abu Dhabi restaurants open in daylight hours during Ramadan 2018. All that’s left to say is Ramadan Kareem from anexpatabroad.
*All prices are per person and inclusive of 10% service charge, 6% tourism fee, 4% municipality fee and 5% VAT.
All the views are all my own. Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2018. All rights reserved. Additional photos used courtesy of the respective venues. Featured image used with courtesy of Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi.