Shangri La Qaryat Al Beri in Abu Dhabi has been making great strides in bringing a host of culinary excitement to foodies in the capital. Following a successful pop-up in April from the team at Ministry Of Crab (currently ranked no 35 on Asia’s 50 best restaurants list), the luxury property on the banks of Khor Al Maqta have brought Chef Thuy Pham from London’s Little Viet Kitchen to Abu Dhabi for a for a three day residency from 26th – 28th September 2019.
Born in a rural village in the south of Vietnam, Chef Thuy moved to the UK at the age of seven and continued to develop her passion for food, running a successful home business and supper club before opening Little Viet Kitchen in Chapel Market, Angel four years ago.
Chef Thuy is recognised for her distinctive approach to Vietnamese cooking inspired by market-fresh produce and a penchant for street food favourites, it’s her authenticity to the cuisine that has seen her rise to the top of London’s food scene, with sold-out seatings in her quaint restaurant space and the release of a cookbook, Chef Thuy is the perfect fit for a pop up at Hoi An, the Shangri La’s Vietnamese restaurant.
Named after a historical trading port on Vietnam’s central coast. Hoi An looks to replicate the cultural impact of this world heritage site inside a dining room that appears somewhat colonial. Ornate carved wooden doors and screens bring a sense of the Far East into the heart of Abu Dhabi, as ceiling fans whir overhead. A colour palette of vibrant yellow offers much appeal (though plays havoc on our food photography), as do the knick-knacks presented on a long wooden mantel, with the ceramic opium pipes making quite the statement.
Having had the pleasure of visiting the actual town of Hoi An, we have fond memories of the popular backpacker haunt. An ancient town characterised by a picturesque covered bridge that leads visitors into a warren of small pedestrianised streets. It’s a popular place for having clothes and shoes tailormade and is perhaps more recognisable for the paper lanterns that adorn the shop fronts and old buildings in the centre of town. These colourful lanterns cover the ceiling of the Abu Dhabi restaurant and help add to the the ambience.
Chef Thuy’s four-course set menu takes us back to our adventures in Vietnam more than a decade ago, where rainy mornings were spent slurping piping hot Pho while the aromatic steam from the dish embraced us with a sense of warmth and security thousands of miles from home. An explosion of flavour and the freshest of ingredients are handled with a deft touch by Chef Thuy and it leaves us wondering why the options for Vietnamese are so lacking in Abu Dhabi.
A passionate and charismatic host. Hearing Chef Thuy talk about her childhood her culinary inspirations and her passion for to bring Vietnamese to the masses is infectious and heartwarming and shows that this chef who began hosting supper clubs for 12 guests in her home has gone on to receive such notoriety in London.
While ceviche and raw fish are not items you would generally associate with Vietnamese cuisine, the sea thinly slices of sea bass fillet, cured with a passion fruit and a tangerine fish sauce provides the perfect mix of sweet and sour without overpowering the delicate fish A duck, watermelon and tamarind salad brings unexpected aromas and vibrancy to the Pho-spiced confit duck adorned with fish sauce salsa.
Textures come into play with the king prawn banh cuon rice rolls which present delicate parcels of thin rice flour, served with prawn cake slices, bouncy egg strings and fresh herbs. The beef pho, however, is the star dish, featuring an 8-hour beef broth prepared from 6 different cuts of beef that is both rich and robust and brimming with an undeniably tender slow-cooked brisket.
Banh Cam Vietnamese Doughnuts round out Chef Thuy’s eclectic menu. Presenting small balls of glutinous rice, generously stuffed with sweet mung bean and served within a light and refreshing coconut cream custard.
This menu is the ideal fit for Hoi An and we still can’t believe that the Shangri La is the only property in town that is currently conducting culinary pop-ups and bringing exciting chefs from overseas. Following Chef Thuy’s three-day residency, the hotel has already announced the arrival of Nicolas Isnard, the chef behind the Michelin star-winning Auberge de la Charme for a residency at French restaurant Bord Eau in October.
Chef Thuy Pham’s exclusive pop-up menu is available at Hoi An in the Shangri La Qaryat Al Beri from 26th – 28th September 2019. Priced at AED 448 (food only) and AED 598 (inclusive of beverages). For reservations please contact 02 509 8555 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Out & About UAE were guests of Shangri La Abu Dhabi and all views are our own.