What can we say about BU that hasn’t already been said? This new Latin inspired bar and restaurant, located in The Hub at Abu Dhabi’s World Trade Centre Mall, is turning heads all over town.
There is a definite buzz about Abu Dhabi’s first Pan-Latin influenced eatery. A restaurant that takes inspiration from the sandy beaches of Mexico, through to the rolling grasslands of Argentina and the mountainous slopes of Peru. BU is an all-encompassing environment that proudly touts a distinctive Latin flair, unlike anything the capital has experienced before.
No other word can describe the venue, other than stunning. Resembling a trendy New York loft, with industrial concrete floors and a mixture of bar style seating and intimate dining areas. All housed within a space that is undoubtably huge. Walls are emblazoned with slogans such as ‘Flesh’ cast in neon red hues, there are art works constructed from pipes, a free-standing glass wine cellar and even a cigar humidor. The dining area itself resembles a bee hive, with honey coloured mosaic tiles and hexagonal light fixtures, that all help to convey the visual imagery of honey comb. While an interactive open kitchen and sweeping bar area aadd to the venue’s wondrous charm.
There is a sophistication ingrained into the very soul of BU. Part lounge, part nightclub and with a background ambiance of Latin beats, it’s all about good times and a focus on fun. Even the name ‘BU’ derives from the Spanish term “buenisimo” which roughly translates as “very good.”
BU is most definitely a refreshing change to the dining landscape of the capital. With authentic South American food, Latin rhythms, a huge industrial style bar and a beautiful roof terrace – you could easily be mistaken for thinking that you’re in Manhattan or London as opposed to downtown Abu Dhabi.
We were invited to attend the launch party and were absolutely astounded by every detail of the BU experience. With over 600 guests in attendance, the service was faultless, attentive without being overpowering and a fine showcase of South American hospitality, from a team assembled from all over the region.
The evening began with a reception featuring the finest Devaux Champagne. A precursor for the quality of the evening that was about to unfold. Champagne flowed freely as guests hastily arrived, intrigued to see what all the fuss was about. After some time, we were seated and greeted by our Peruvian host and the fiesta of a Latin inspired feast, began to unfold at the table.
Being Abu Dhabi’s first all out Pan-Latin restaurant, BU most definitely fills a niche in the dining landscape. Dishes were presented to us sharing style and were selected from the vast array of choices created by Mexian head chef, Humberto Canales.
The meal began with ‘botanas’ or light snacks. First up were the Platano, thin slices of green banana served with onion, tomato and lime. The plantain is one of our favourite staples of Caribbean cooking, but something you rarely come across here in the Middle East, so we were very excited by this addition to the menu, which most certainly did not disappoint.
The ‘botanas’ selection also contained the BU take on nachos, featuring corn tortillas and guacamole (hands down the best smashed avocado we have ever tasted, most likely due to it’s infusion with serrano chilli). The papa, a roast potato blended with traditional spices and chimichurri, was an addictive little snack that rounded out this vegetarian section with great gusto.
Next up came items from the ‘De La Barra’ course, known to us English speaking folk as the raw bar. Featuring two types of delightfully cubed ceviche (tuna, soy, citrus and seabass with sweet potato), a salmon mixed with sakura and ‘Pulpo Tiradito’ – a paprika and octopus dish. Though octopus is an acquired taste, the tendril served here at BU was so tender and succulent, that anyone with reservations about this type of seafood should certainly not worry, as it is as beautiful to eat, as it is artfully presented on the plate.
The concept of the raw bar is an interesting one and something that we wouldn’t necessarily associate with Latin cuisine. Yet these dishes exemplify the innovation of BU and clarify the concept of a traditional South American dishes – fusion this is not! The course was accompanied by a delightful 2014 Albarino white wine, served in a bowl rather than a glass – a first for us!
‘Antojos’ was the cravings course, featuring a selection of sumptuous dishes inspired by street food. With hongas (mushrooms with garlic), a seafood empanada (a meaty mix of shrimp, scallop and squid), lobster peccadillo’s and a wagyu beef tataki (wrapped around rocket leaves, ginger and cotija cheese). All items were undeniably moorish, though the most popular choice on our table was the Res Anticuchos (black angus beef skewers).
Next came the ‘Ollas’ course, translates from Spanish as pots. These dishes were heartier than what had come before and provided an insight into the more traditional offerings on the BU menu. All the items served during this course were entirely new to us, and thus took us on a culinary exploration of Latin American cuisine
Hondas Quinotto is a mushroom style risotto using quinoa, truffle oil and cotija cheese. There was a mixed seafood chowder originating from Peru and Lomo Saltado (another Peruvian favourite) that combines beef, rice, onion, potato and tomatoes into a hearty homestyle offering.
The ‘Parrilla’ or grill course is the one for all the carnivores out there. The rack of lamb was simply divine and just fell off the bone, while the large plump tiger prawns were beautifully flavoured with lime and tumaca (tomato) bread.
Though the food highlight of the entire evening had to be the 21 day, dry aged beef strip loin. A dish that was gloriously pink and had a melt-in-the-mouth texture.
It wasn’t all meat though, as these dishes were accompanied by a creamy polenta and fresh green asparagus spears.
The dessert course is something special, so we will not spoil it for you with all the details (or could it be that we had consumed too much wine at this point to remember?). Either way, the desserts are light and intricately constructed, featuring lashings of chocolate, gold leaf and even some candy floss. Best of all was the accompanying sweet dessert wine, an NV Perle De Muscat.
With the drinks flowing and the music pumping (the DJ was joined by a live violinist), BU transitioned from fine dining restaurant to a nightclub with ease. Sat beside a wall of booming speakers, we ventured out into the night sky and onto the fantastic wraparound terrace.
Like the interiors, the terrace at BU is impeccably designed, with the main features comprising grass walls, illuminated wishing wells and an open air structure made to resemble a greenhouse. All of this is strung with pretty garden lights against the architectural facade of the Burj Mohammed Bin Rashid building (the tallest tower in Abu Dhabi).
With summer fast approaching, we are unsure of how much usage this terrace is going to get before the temperatures become unbearable. Though it must be noted that this is one of the finest outdoor spaces in Abu Dhabi and one that has been carefully designed to evoke a relaxed lounge environment.
Finishing the night on the roof terrace we couldn’t help but pine slightly for out home in London. As BU does a remarkable job of encapsulating the cosmopolitan bar scene of some of the worlds largest cities and reinterpreting them for the Abu Dhabi market.
“BU! represents a stylish and striking addition to Abu Dhabi’s dining and social scene. From the food and drinks, to the world-class entertainment and elegant urban interiors, everything at BU! emanates distinctive Latin American sensuality and style. BU! is in a class all of its own…it is a legend in the making.” – Mahesh Kalwani, founder
We couldn’t agree more! There is definitely a buzz about BU and we strongly suggest that you go check it out for the ultimate fiesta.
Everything about BU exudes a classiness rarely seen in Abu Dhabi. This is a contemporary space that does not feel at all pretentious and will certainly become a firm fixture on the Abu Dhabi nightlife scene in the next few weeks (though BU does have stiff competition from the recently opened Tamba, located just two levels above).
Location: The Hub, Level 4, World Trade Center Mall, Al Markaziya, Abu Dhabi
Hours: 12pm – 2am
Phone: 02 304 8179
We were invited to this event but all views are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE, unless otherwise stated. Interior and exterior photographs provided by Bu Trinity, people photographs provided by UAE Nightlife.