Some 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.
This 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.
Kosebasi, 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.
The 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.
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.