The UAE’s love affair with the sea is an open book.
As strange as it might sound now, it was believed that the entire country was submerged underwater during the Permian-Cretaceous era based on the ancient marine fossils discovered in different archaeological sites.
Evidence later revealed that early settlers would go to the waters to catch fish to supplement limited sources of daily sustenance, and the sea would become even more valuable as pearl hunting and fishing turned into a livelihood during the pre-oil era.
It’s no wonder then that seafood, which is a staple in local diet, never lost its place on the dining table.
Catering to the UAE’s affinity for seafood is Aquarium, the trendy restaurant along the Yas Marina strip. With a design that plays on the idea of a traditional ship – wooden interiors, soft lighting and an aquarium built into the wall housing live fish – we know what we are getting right off the bat.
Our first catch for the night is the Peruvian style ceviche served in a bowl over ice. Without being overly tangy, the taste of the red snapper meat stands out amidst the lemon juice and shallots, while the addition of olive oil gives the soft meat a smooth balance
that doesn’t hinder its natural raw flavour.
The paella is a mouthwatering take on the classic Spanish dish made even more enticing
by the mixed seafood.
An explosion of flavours, the saffron spice perfectly complements the rice’s creamy taste, and it gets better when combined with the pieces of salmon, squid and mussels – delicious. Good for sharing, it doesn’t take long for us to finish the entire thing.
With chopsticks ready, we also order the mixed sushi sharing platter, which is a mammoth assortment of nigiri, sashimi and a variety of rolls.
The team can do more than just seafood though. The New York style cheesecake lives up to its billing – soft and creamy with just the right amountof sweetness.
But the real knockout is the banana fritters, which is made of stuffed sweet banana coated in honey and paired with vanilla ice cream. We take a bite out of the crunchy interior only to be greeted by the soft banana waiting inside.
By wisely blending décor and a clear food concept, Aquarium is no doubt a great catch for those looking for a fresh way to enjoy their seafood.
Location: Yas Marina, Yas Island
We say: Attentive service and a decent seafood selection
Cost: AED 413 for two
Opening times: Sat-Wed noon-1.30am, Thu-Fri noon-2am
Contact: 02 565 0007, facebook.com/aquariumseafood
WORDS Ferdinand Godinez