My favourite lounge in Abu Dhabi was always The Yacht Club at the InterContinental Abu Dhabi, so when I found out they closed it forever, I was crushed! However, with every ending, there is a new beginning and the hotel revealed a bigger and better concept, Cho Gao Marina Walk. UAE residents already know about the Cho Gao at Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi, which after 7 years has become an institution for authentic East Asian cuisine, so it was a bit of a controversy that another Cho Gao would open, only a few minutes away. I had the absolute pleasure of being invited to experience Cho Gao Marina Walk during the first few days of its opening and from the moment you step foot into the restaurant, you feel elegant vibes, sleek and sophisticated design, and all traces of The Yacht Club completely faded.
As part of the Cho Gao brand (developed by Creneau International), classic dark wood decor defines the restaurant, while the Hong Kong style bird cages and lanterns give an authentic Asian “senstation”. Hints of vibrant yellow stand out as accents, giving the ambiance a chic feel. The restaurant features high tables for dining as well as comfortable lounge chairs for those who wish to catch up with friends and enjoy delectable bites and drinks. It also features an impressive open sushi bar, which guests will love as it gives them a direct view on the art of sushi making. I was very impressed by the size of the bar which is located in the centre of the restaurant, hidden among dining tables and shelves of porcelain artifacts, as well as a large terrace overlooking the beautiful marina … this will definitely be a hit venue during the cooler months.
My friend and I started the evening off with cocktails (obviously), and while browsing through the menu, we noticed a section called “Bartender’s Recommendation” so we opted for the Floating Blue Dream. This cocktail made with rum, coconut cream, pineapple and Blue Curacao, automatically made itself on the top of my list of favourite drinks in the city, with just one slurp! The mixologist, Von, was exceptionally passionate with the preparation of the drinks and used quite a few theatrics, such as dry ice, cool personalized stamps and funky glasses to present them… in short, the cocktails are out of this world!
The menu, offers dishes from around Southeast Asia, incorporating eastern herbs and spices which blend very well with the overall flavour. For our starters we enjoyed steamed prawn dim sum, a mixed platter of sushi, wasabi prawns, and avocado, mint and crab Bao tacos. The wasabi prawns were out of this world with hints of sour mango to contrast the crispy flavour. The sushi was very fresh and we gulped them down in a few minutes thanks to their perfect bite sized portions. The Bao tacos definitely have an acquired taste and while I adore the combination of avocado and crab, I do recommend the spicy tuna which would give a slight kick to the flavour.. For the main courses we dove into a vegetable Thai green curry, which was very silky and full of flavour, and prawn Pad Thai – delicious, fulfilling and one of my favourite Asian dishes!
By now I am sure you are wondering how we managed to squeeze dessert in as well after that much food … well, shamelessly! We selected the green tea cheesecake, black rice pudding and rich chocolate cake. Visitors should be prepared when trying out fusion desserts because the taste might not be as you expect, which was the case for the green tea cheesecake and the black rice pudding – however I became obsessed with the rich chocolate cake after a single bite! I very much admire the innovation and creativity which went into the menu engineering and conceptualizing, which makes the dishes not only delicious, but also picture perfect!
Cho Gao Marina Walk definitely will have a strong identity of its own and is exactly what Abu Dhabi has been missing. With its impressive size and elegant atmosphere, exceptional menu and incredibly innovative cocktails – it is just a matter of time until this restaurant becomes the talk of the town!
- Website: www.dining-intercontinental-ad.ae/restaurants/cho-gao
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/ChoGaoICAD
- Opening times: Sun – Tue: 6pm – 1am & Wed – Sat: 4pm – 2am
- Telephone: 800 423 463
- Address: InterContinental Abu Dhabi, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Street
Disclaimer: I was invited to experience Cho Gao Marina Walk. All views are my own and all photographs are © My Pink Diary.