Foodies throughout the UAE rejoiced this past weekend as Taste Of Abu Dhabi returned to the capital for the second time – promising to be bigger and better than before.
Taste is a worldwide brand, with food festivals held in a number of cities throughout the world. The concept is very simple, to give customers the chance to sample dishes from some of the best restaurants in the city that they live.
This weekends event was held at the Du Arena on Yas Island which is a lovely outdoor space just perfect for an event like this. Disappointed that we were unable to attend on the opening night to see the Wailers perform, we headed out to Yas Island on Friday afternoon to see what the festival was all about and to sample some of the tasty treats on offer.
The venue was sign-posted as soon as we arrived on Yas and thankfully car parking was not a nightmare (as is usually the case at any big event). A shuttle bus was offered to transport customers from the car parking area to the festival, but this was not really required, as you could just as easily walk the distance in about five minutes.
Arriving at the ticket gates we were given passes and the choice of an optional wristband which would need to be worn if you wanted to purchase alcohol. We were then inside the festival grounds which involved a main stage for musical performances, encompassed by a ring of twenty-five of Abu Dhabi’s best restaurants. Within the interior section was a large number of stalls and brands promoting their products and giving out free samples. Dotted around the arena were lounges, bars, cookery tents, a market and an area for live demonstrations. We arrived at about 1:30pm and the place was already buzzing with people all out to enjoy the sunshine and experience everything that Taste Of Abu Dhabi had to offer.
Wandering around we perused the many stalls and were delighted to see that Molten ME were being represented, this is a company that we had seen on Instagram but were yet to actually try. Molten ME makes signature fondants that are served in small jam jars and after sampling the white chocolate and the pistachio flavours, we were addicted! This is the beauty of a festival like Taste, as you have the ability to sample various products for free, and then if you like them you have the opportunity to purchase.
Our other great find was the customized sweets made by Candy ME who again let us sample their boiled sweets. These candies can be fully customized with a name or an image, and we will certainly be purchasing for friends birthdays and special events in the future.
After an hour or so we had collected lots of free samples, indulged in a number of beverages and even procured ourselves some restaurant discount vouchers. We enjoyed popping in to see our friends at Zomato who had a fun stall and were giving away lots of free goodies to promote their foodie app (if you don’t have it, download it NOW).
Now the real reason we came to the Taste festival was to sample the dishes, so this was next on our agenda – and boy were we not disappointed. Each of the twenty-five restaurants available had three or four menu items for purchase, to give you an idea of what the restaurant is all about and hopefully encourage you to dine there in the future. Due to the number of restaurants exhibiting we never had to queue too long for any of the food, and got to try some great dishes from establishments that we may not otherwise have known about. The dishes available were not the cheapest, and averaged about thirty dirhams per item. Some people we encountered seemed disappointed by the portion sizes, but it must be noted that these are just samples to give you a taster, and not a full blown meal (hence the name taste).
The sights and smells were what encouraged us to select the dishes that we did and for us the standout items were the creamy tempura prawns from Koi, the New York strip steak from BOA Steakhouse, the sliders from Cafe D’Alsace & the wasabi prawns and dim sum from Royal Orchid. There were obviously a lot of dishes that we unfortunately did not get to sample and it should be noted that a vast number of cuisines were represented so as to cater to all tastes. Our only real disappointment was the fact that there were very few desserts on offer for those with a sweet tooth, which is something that we hope will be rectified for next years event.
We spent much longer at Taste than we envisioned purely because there was so much to see and do, including a large play area for children with inflatable slides. face painting and gingerbread house building. For the adults there was the option to join the live cookery demonstrations and cook along with celebrity chefs. Nicest of all was the opportunity to just sit in the sunshine and relax whilst soaking up the great atmosphere – this could be done from the shisha bar, the Jack Daniels Tavern (our favourite), or on one of the many picnic benches scattered throughout the arena.
Taste Of Abu Dhabi should be commended for putting on such an excellent event that was suitable for the entire family, but we do have a few handy tips for anyone visiting.
- If you have young children do try to ensure that you visit in the late afternoon/early evening. Despite the temperatures dropping at the moment, it was still ridiculously hot during the afternoon and despite lots of shade being provided – it was in no way cool.
- It is definitely worth purchasing a family lounge or VIP pass. As these tickets include private seating areas which come with free beverages and snacks. Not only that, but you get a number of free food and drinks vouchers. To be honest the general entry ticket is a bit of a waste as you are then paying upwards of thirty dirhams per food item, when you could have gotten them for free having bought a slightly more expensive lounge pass at the outset.
We are already excited about next years festival and hope that it will continue to grow in size and scope, encouraging more vendors and foodies throughout the Emirates to experience Taste.
All views within this blog are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE, unless otherwise stated.