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Hakkasan

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There are just 12 Hakkasan restaurants around the world so the fact that two are located in the UAE underlines the country’s gastronomic credentials. We like the best here.

Famed for its Michelin-starred Cantonese cuisine, Hakkasan’s pioneering kitchen has helped set new standards for Chinese restaurants. This branch has been open for five years and, though the novelty value of five-star Chinese fare may have faded, the dining experience remains one of the most pleasing in the capital – especially when you focus on the food rather than the fad.

The idea here is to explore the cuisine so, rather than just order a single dish, the waiters encourage diners to sample a selection of small plates and will be happy to offer guidance on complementary combinations. The crispy duck salad and grilled vegetable Shanghai dumpling, for example, are great starting points, while the Jasmine-smoked Wagyu beef ribs go well with the steamed dim sum platter.

Small dishes like these can be followed by a variety of mains, such as the stir-fry lobster in black bean sauce and the wok-fry Wagyu in seafood sauce with a vegetarian dish to balance the flavours – the wild mushroom stir-fry with macademia nut is especially good, or the seasonal Chinese vegetables for a more subtle general flavour.

There are also some great poultry options, including the Sanpei chicken claypot with sweet basil, chilli and spring onion or the simple-but-flavourful roast chicken with sesame chilli sauce. The Pipa duck too is delicious. Order up the mains with a couple of sides, perhaps the edamame egg fried rice or the Hakka hand-pulled noodle with mushroom and chive, then dig in and enjoy the fantastic fusion of flavours that characterise this aromatic cuisine when cooked to the highest international standards.

Three dishes to try:

Charcoal grilled King Prawn
Just the combination of words ought to be enough to have you salivating, but this wok-fried dish is prepared with a black pepper and honey sauce, adding a deep, tacky richness that would have you licking the dish in a less refined setting.

Wok-fried Ostrich
Don’t say you can’t taste new things in Abu Dhabi. Ostrich might not be on everyone’s “must-try” list, but the rich, gamey meat comes in a homemade toban chilli sauce, a hot, thick sauce typical of Szechaun cuisine. A pleasant surprise.

Lemon chicken with kumquat
The humble lemon chicken unfairly gets overlooked in the pantheon of great chicken dishes – perhaps because of stodgy batter or plastic sauces – but this is a light, crispy, tangy delight.

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