Review: The new dim sum lunch menu at Shang Palace, Abu Dhabi
Join us on our dumpling adventures in the Palace of Shang…
If you’re the type that appreciates good Asian food, there’s a strong chance you’ll be well acquainted with the concept of dim sum.
Chomp-sized pockets of pastry, stuffed with intense aromatic flavour combinations, that when pinched between a pair of chopsticks and dipped into some neighbouring soy, light-up a truly unique constellation of palate points.
The memory of these taste experiences then becomes fuel for desperate, spontaneous road-trip types of craving. Which is why we’ve just parked up outside, Shangri-La Hotel Abu Dhabi — they’ve recently launched a new all-you-can-eat lunchtime daily dim sum deal. And with the fact that it’s just Dhs138, it has real game-changing potential.
We’re taking our lunch alfresco, on a corner table of the courtyard terrace. It’s a romantic setting, shaded by neat palm trees, just up the beachy banks of the resident khor’s waterway.
Our waitress arrives to take our order for round one, and with it being an all-you-can eat affair over a leisurely three-hour stretch, it’s more about pace than race. We select shrimp and chicken siew mai, some crispy beef wonton and wild mushroom dumplings.
The dainty collection arrives bearing the hallmarks of highly skilled dumpling chefs. Each perfectly symmetrical piece is recreated with laser precision, and the first bites confirm authenticity of flavour. Higher forms of Cantonese yum cha, are as much about ritual and aesthetics, as they are flavour. And it’s all here.
Firm, juicy, joy-sparking nuggets piqued by exotic spices of the Orient.
Our next dim sum serving (walnut puff stuffed with roasted duck meat, lotus and black bean sauce; cheng feng waffle scallop and shrimp roll; and large seafood ‘soup buns’) is supplemented with wok-fried noodles and charcoal-grilled lamb.
The steamed buns gush with ginger-infused soup when pressed by a knife, like the Guangzhou equivalent of poached yolk piercing. The puffs are elegant, artful little morsels and the cheng feng roll, radiating with umami, is an unassuming contender for star dish.
More courses follow. Crispy teriyaki river shrimp; steamed wild mushroom buns with chicken and oyster sauce — that look like actual mushrooms; seafood puffs that look like enchanted gobstoppers; and egg fried rice that looks like, well, egg fried rice but is delicious despite a lack of parody.
We’d like to be able to tell you, that we ate responsibly, stopped when we felt full, and had plenty of space for dessert. But that would be a lie. We over-indulged, and we regret nothing.
Verdict: At Dhs138 this genuinely could be one of the best value meals in the capital. It’s an authentic, artistic, flavour-packed treat that satisfies pretty much all of the senses. Rating: A
Shang Palace, Shangri La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri, midday to 3pm, food only Dhs138, soft package Dhs168. Tel: (02) 509 8555, @Shangrilaabudhabi