Asian Garden: Authentic Thai food in Abu Dhabi

Photo May 30, 13 58 53Some of the best and freshest Thai food in Abu Dhabi can be found in a working-class neighborhood of downtown, located in a small restaurant just behind the brightly-lit Bollywood cinema called El Dorado. Asian Garden may be a bit on the grungy side, but it’s a place you’ll want to come back to again and again for solid, tasty Thai at rock-bottom prices.

Asian Garden serves unpretentious, hearty food. Its one of the few places to order authentic Thai outside of hotel restaurants, and its menu also includes a section with Chinese dishes and Filipino specialties. This mix reflects the combined expertise of the restaurant’s two owners, a husband and wife team; he’s Thai and she’s Fillipina.

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Max’s: The most popular restaurant you’ve never heard of

Photo May 23, 13 40 55This popular restaurant is located just off a major road, but set back enough that passing cars could easily miss the building. There are no signs outside advertising its location on the first floor of a residential apartment building on Abu Dhabi’s waterfront corniche.

Still, once you do find your way inside, somehow every single table is full.

Welcome to Max’s Restaurant, the most popular Filipino restaurant you’ve probably never heard of.

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Kosebasi: Anatolian in Arabia

IMG_9097Kosebasi, a grill serving South Anatolian Turkish cuisine, is a chain restaurant that first opened in Turkey in 1995. Based on its success and popularity at home, it began expanding to international locations in 2008, according to its website.

Today it has several branches in the Arabian Gulf countries. Its Abu Dhabi restaurant opened just over one year ago in the upscale food court of a large mall in the heart of the UAE capital.

But Kosebasi isn’t your average food court stop.

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Dockside indulgence in Abu Dhabi

20140518-224014-81614307.jpgThe sea port on the northern edge of Abu Dhabi is lined with fish sellers, cargo storage facilities, and wooden fishing dhows – perhaps not where you’d expect to find a restaurant with one of the best and widest selections of Emirati food in the UAE’s capital.

But Al Arish, an Emirati seafood restaurant along the docks, is all about unique surprises.

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Indian Chef finds ‘happiness’ in Mongolian Chinese

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Who says you have to be Chinese to make good Chinese food?

At the Mongolian Chinese Restaurant in Abu Dhabi, the chef is Indian – but he sure knows how to “tingle your taste buds” with a good meal of Asian food.

Sudis Rana, originally from Calcutta in the eastern region of India, came to Abu Dhabi to cook his specialty, Cantonese and Szechuan cuisine. Rana learned from Chinese chefs working in hotels in India beginning at age 14. That was 30 years ago.

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Traditional Egyptian breakfast for the Gulf

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Visiting Abu Shakra, an Egyptian food restaurant in Abu Dhabi, is like dining in Cairo.

This working class restaurant evokes Egypt’s crowds and frenzied pace. In its crowded kitchen space, a single cook grabs from assorted bowls of hummus, fried eggplant, and French fries, all sitting within reach on the counter.

Even its main location – on the ground floor of a faded apartment tower with paint peeling from its concrete facade and wires dangling from dusty windows – would fit in more in old Cairo than in the UAE’s modern capital.

Abu Shakra’s food is as authentic as it comes.

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Camel burgers: fast food for the Gulf?

Camels have always been integral to survival in the inhospitable deserts of the Arabian Peninsula.

Just over a half a century ago, before the arrival of modern sports utility vehicles, bedouin relied on camels for transportation and companionship in the region’s harsh climate.

These days, camels are what’s for dinner.

Or at least they will be, if one Emirati restauranteur gets his way.

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How to find Cholula in the Middle East

Cholula is one of the best and most versatile hot sauces on the market.

Branded as the “flavorful fire,” Cholula isn’t actually all that fiery. The Mexican hot sauce registers a measly 1000 on the Scoville scale (a single jalapeño pepper can be up to ten times hotter).

But Cholula, with its blend of mild pequin and arbol peppers combined with herbs and vinegar, is a must-have for any pepper lover.  That little bottle with the famous wooden top goes well with just about anything – eggs, pizza, salads. Cholula is perfect when you want flavor and not a lot of burn.

The only problem with Cholula?  It’s hard to find outside of North America.

That’s where Fuddruckers comes in.

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Fiery pho: Vietnamese food in Abu Dhabi

image The best Vietnamese food is fresh, spicy and prepared by actual Vietnamese cooks. And believe it or not, there is good, authentic Vietnamese cuisine in the United Arab Emirates. Hanoi Cafe, which runs two locations in the capital and another in Dubai, is the region’s home for skewers of affordable Vietnamese coconut chicken curry or large bowls of freshly-made pho soup.

The restaurant’s Khalifa Street branch opened nearly seven years ago, in part to serve the growing community of Vietnamese expatriates living and working in the UAE, who now number around 20,000.

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