A trio of restaurants hidden in Abu Dhabi

Evergreen Restaurant Abu DhabiLiving in Abu Dhabi we are surrounded by some wonderful off-the-beaten-track restaurants, outside hotels – many of them well-kept secrets that most people don’t know about. So with this post, I am taking you on a culinary journey into the capital’s foodie underbelly with three of my favourite restaurants spanning Indian, Mongolian and Thai.

Evergreen Restaurant

Evergreen, a South Indian vegetarian restaurant in Electra Street, Downtown Abu Dhabi is still one of my favourites for marrying good food with a cultural experience. Now if you are searching for ambience, this is not the place for you. Here you will find a restaurant with just the basics, yet filled with Indian culture and vegetarian food. There are two sections of the restaurant, downstairs which is male only, and upstairs for families. Service is fast, food is cheap yet extremely delicious.

Evergreen Restaurant Abu DhabiEvergreen Restaurant Abu Dhabi - dinner plateWhenever I go to Evergreen, I order the dinner meal – a platter filled with exotic tastes of India. At AED12 one cannot go wrong. Might I add it’s bottomless. The waiter pops round and refills the sections of your plate with vegetarian curries, chapatti and rice – served with laban (yoghurts) and atchars (pickles). This, my foodie friends, is real authentic South Indian food that will leave your taste buds screaming for more until you cannot eat any longer. I do insist that you eat with your hands to create a true connection to this experience. Another wonderful dish at Evergreen is the behl puri at AED5, yes you read correctly, it’s filled with sev (a popular Indian snack of deep fried crunchy noodles made from chickpea paste and flavoured with turmeric and cayenne), chickpeas, potatoes, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, and a spicy tamarind coriander chutney. The masala dosa, an Indian rice and lentil crepe, arrives at almost a metre long, filled with potato goodness which will leave your plate totally empty. The rava dosas are delectably crisp and served with yoghurt and a spicy chutney – well worth a try – as are the very large samosas; one of the best I have tasted in the capital. You will walk out of Evergreen feeling satisfied, content and planning your next trip down Electra Street. Go early it gets busy.

  • Evergreen Restaurant
  • Electra Street, Abu Dhabi
  • +971 2 6767361
  • South Indian
  • No
  • AED15 per person
  • Open daily 7 - 11:30am, 12noon - 3pm, 4:30 - 11pm

XiaoWeiYang Restaurant

XaioWeiYang Abu Dhabi - Spicy PrawnsHave any of you tasted true Mongolian food? Let me introduce you to XiaoWeiYang Restaurant next to the Phoenix hotel on Airport Road. It’s from the same chain as the two Dubai locations. This restaurant yet again is basic, but the food will leave you speechless. Hot pot also known as shabu shabu is yet another cultural food sensation that one has to experience. Service is fast and friendly, with the hot pot arriving within minutes of ordering. You can choose between regular and spicy or an option of both with a divider in the centre of the pot. Select items from the menu to add to your hot pot like homemade noodles, pak choy, spinach, beef dumplings, crab balls and rice. A separate section entices you with fresh coriander, tahini, chilli sauce, chopped nuts, and soy sauce. The hot pot and its accompanying goodies arrive and is placed on a cooker in the centre of the table – you just add all your ingredients into the hot pot and let it simmer away. Scoop that deliciousness onto rice with your sauce accompaniments and just start eating. Like me, you may probably return every week for your shabu shabu fix. Another dish that I normally order as a starter is the spicy shrimp – with a plate filled with lotus root, bean curd and hot flavours that will, literally, blow your taste buds away. A must for anyone who has not eaten Mongolian food yet.

  • XiaoWeiYang Restaurant
  • Near the Phoenix Hotel, Airport Road, Abu Dhabi
  • +971 50 4606578
  • Mongolian
  • No
  • AED80 per person
  • Open daily 11.30am - midnight

Smoking Doll

The Smoking Doll Abu Dhabi - Pomelo Beef SaladOn a slightly higher level, but still with its own intimacy, I want to introduce you to Smoking Doll, an authentic Thai restaurant, created by the Star Corporation that also developed Leopold’s of London. The pomelo beef salad is a must-order – the pomelo gives this dish a wonderful texture that compliments the braised beef, which is slow cooked with hints of five-spice. The large and juicy tempura prawns come with a crisp and light batter. The duck dumplings also boast a very interesting taste of flavours. The South Thai dish of Massaman curry, with slow braised beef short ribs is rich in colour and the flavours dance with your taste buds, but it’s a little too sweet for my liking. A lighter dish of pad see awe chicken with al dente rice noodles stir-fried with Chinese broccoli – as authentic as anything I have experienced in my time in Thailand. Service is good and friendly.

  • Smoking Doll
  • Al Reem Island, Abu Dhabi, with a new location opening soon at Nation Towers
  • +971 2 6778849
  • Thai
  • No
  • AED150 per person
  • Open daily 11am - 11pm
  • http://www.smokingdoll.com

The Smoking Doll Abu Dhabi - Doll's Attraction Mocktail

Have you dined at any of these wonderful restaurants? Or if not, have I enticed you? Any other capital gems I should look out for?

I leave you with another favourite food quote of mine, “Food is a central activity of mankind and one of the single most significant trademarks of a culture” – Mark Kurlanskey ‘Choice Cuts’ (2002).

Bon appétit.

Liesl. x

So who’s guest reviewer Liesl? “I have been a chef for 20 (odd) years, incorporating my many travels and experience with an intense passion for food.  I have called Abu Dhabi my home for the last four years where I work as a private chef.  I love food, exploring new cultures and people. I will probably die doing what I enjoy best, and that is cooking!”

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3 Responses to “A trio of restaurants hidden in Abu Dhabi”

  1. Elaine Roos October 17, 2014 at 5:26 am

    Once again… Chef Liesl leaves me wanting to hop on a plane and come eat at all of the restaurants to be able to personally savour the tastes.

  2. Liesl December 10, 2014 at 9:56 pm

    Dear Elaine

    I am extremely happy that you have enjoyed the review by the sounds of you wanting to hop on a plane to visit these restaurants. I am delighted to know that I can tantalise your taste buds through my writing, so that you are able to experience the restaurants with me!


  3. Gita January 7, 2015 at 11:14 am


    XiaoWeiYang sounds good, I will try it and thanks for posting.

    Just to let you know that Evergreen is not a south Indian restaurant. It is known for and serves essentially a Rajasthan-Gujarat style of Indian vegetarian food and what you called the ‘dinner meal’ is a thali service. They do also serve typical south Indian tiffins like masala dosa which nowadays is found even in the most remote corner of India!

I’d love to receive your feedback, so feel free to comment any time.