What’s On road tests the new food hall at Yas mall…

Food halls probably aren’t the first destinations that come to mind when you’re in the mood for a plateful of fancy food, but the brand new Huna at Yas Mall is all about dismantling those prejudices, with a Gourmet-Unit of casual-to-fine dining fire now serving in the capital.

There’s only one way to deliver a verdict on the consolidated virtue of this ensemble eatery — we need to try as many of the dishes as possible. A whistle-stop tour of the kitchen finery. Finally a challenge worthy of our years of training — bingeing at buffet brunches.

You’ll find Huna on the ground floor of the mall, towards the main entrance, opposite Hamley’s. Visually, it cuts a sharp design split from the mall — with softer lighting and a hawker-style community of restaurant fronts, a distinct ‘Asian Kitchen’ section and an Art Deco terrace dominated by an alfresco Habib Beirut counter.

We’ve set up mission HQ at the far end of the hall, and are huddled in a strategy meeting. Protocols drawn up, we’ve decided to assemble a selection of starters and mains from as many of the restaurants we can make room for, creating a mukbang-worthy, multi-restaurant mezze spread.

The first stop of the tour takes us to BB Social Dining’s Greek project, Philotimos. We collect melitzanosalata (Dhs33), lamb souvlaki (Dhs85) and a chicken gyros (Dhs52). Don’t tell the British museum, but it feels like we’ve unearthed authentic Greecian treasure here. The vegan-friendly melitzanosalata, a smokey melange of aubergine, chili, red pepper and roasted walnuts, is particularly Odessy-worthy.

The tastebud tour bus pushes on to Lebanon, docking in Habib Beirut, who we’d dare say put down one of the best-mixed grills (Dhs75) you’ll find in any UAE mall. We also try their signature hummus trio (traditional, beetroot and pesto, Dhs45); and fattoush salad (Dhs29). The menu is absolutely massive, particularly the mezze options which make smart mall-trip sharing-meal choices.

Next on the itinerary, we’re at the (curiously internal European fusion) Belgian-Italian destination (but trust us it works) of Ti Amo. We’re served a deeply creamy mushroom pasta, glowing with autumnal comfort flavours — fluted-penne carbs, fondant cheese, and earthy herbs and fungi.

We also love the double cheese sliders (Dhs45) from Maxzi — mini smashed Wagyu patties in potato buns representing some of the strongest mouthfuls of burger found in the whole of Yas Mall. Our Mexican trip via Taco Ville, landed us a wildly flavourful pair of taco duos — calafia shrimp (Dhs59), with roasted coconut, tamarind sauce, coleslaw and chipotle-mayo; and norteno (Dhs52) — asada-style ribeye with house sauce, cheese lime and avo. The shrimp tacos figure highly on our Huna dish leaderboard.

Our last savoury dish is from Vietnamese diner, Saigon. Their crispy lobster wanton (Dhs29) is a shameless peacock of a dish, dainty fried shellfish ravioli lifted by punchy bursts of mango and coconut. Our dessert, in truth all that we can manage — but in no way a silver medal, is a box of Royce’s coffee chocolate on the car ride home. Nothing but confectionary gold.

Verdict: In the same way that the dining portfolio at The Galleria Al Maryah Island did before it, Huna is one of those rare examples of a culinary reason to visit the mall rather than just a convenient stop within it. Exceptional in quality and diversity, a smorgasbord safari that despite making it just halfway around the restaurant list, we still managed to hit each continent of the gastronomic atlas.  

Ground floor, Yas Mall, Sun to Thu 10am to 10pm, Fri to Sat 10am to midnight. @hunayas

Images: Provided