Modern meets mythical in a luxe setting as Dai Pai Dong serves up classic Cantonese dishes with a contemporary twist.
Words by Tamara Clarke
Nestled between Rosewood Abu Dhabi and The Galleria, Dai Pai Dong extends the luxury of its neighbouring establishments yet still provides a casual, fun dining experience.
Its striking décor is hard to miss as I approach the restaurant, which is flanked by a series of hanging Chinese scrolls and a life-size metal dragon.
The interior space is embellished with dragon and phoenix statues – a mascot of sorts – teapots and other artefacts echoing Chinese culture. Alfresco dining overlooking the promenade is available but given the season, that’s for less humid months.
The main dining area is dimly lit with an ambient orange glow creating a cosy atmosphere and I jump right into ordering starters using the dim sum menu and miniature pencil next to my place setting.
I opt for the steamed shrimp har gow and deep, fried crispy mango shrimp rolls, which combine shrimp, chunks of mango and kernels of sweet corn in a crunchy shell.
Next, I tuck into the lettuce wraps, which are served in two parts; cool, crisp wefts of iceberg lettuce and a medley of tender beef diced with mushroom and mixed nuts coated in a mildly sticky sauce which makes assembling the wraps easy.
Spices are modestly employed to avoid overwhelming the natural flavours of the primary ingredients, making this a fresh, simple way to kick off the meal.
Kung pao chicken is served as the main with a side of Dai Pai Dong fried rice. While this house favourite is meant to complement the entrée, this medley of fried rice, shredded duck, chilli and egg stands on its own.
The restaurant has an adjacent, well-appointed bar aptly named Dragon’s Tooth with mocktails that also do not disappoint.
I sip a refreshing mixture of lemon leaves, lime and pineapple – a perfect combination of zesty and sweet flavour to complement the meal.
After two generously-sized courses, I struggle to finish the delightful oolong tea crème brulee for dessert.
The menu showcases modern interpretations of classic Chinese dishes and celebrates honest Cantonese cuisine.
Recipes are well balanced, not oily and spiced to the individual palette. Dai Pai Dong bills itself as a relaxing place to share authentic Chinese food and based on the abundance of every dish served, next time I’m bringing a friend.