Jing Asia - Crowne Plaza, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi
I always thought of Yas island as the place I go to if I need something from Ikea. That was it. Recently, on the other hand, I have discovered that there is a growing casual dining scene and I ended up dining at two places over there in the last few months. Yas Island, has been growing therefore in my mind as a place worth visiting.
Having tried Stills Bar at the Crowne before, we knew where to find the place. If you are lucky, you will be seated next to the floor to ceiling windows. While there are other seating options including the terrace, this seemed like a good choice given that it was a bit cool that day. Unfortunately for us, our table for 10 was right where the door was, so we had to contend with the opening and closing of the door, the breeze and constant rush of traffic. More careful planning of the table layout could prevent this. Not a great start!
|Welcome to Jing Asia.|
The salad bar is fantastic and memorable in terms of variety and presentation. This makes it the best I have seen at the brunches I have been to, and certainly the best by far of any 4* establishment in the city. The dedicated olive oil and herb oil area is also fantastic, reminding of Giornotte at the Ritz Carlton. The highlight of the salad area was the variations on the beetroot theme, with the beetroot and cheese cocktail lingering in my memory.
|Excellent salad bar.|
The sushi chef was very kind to respond positively to my request for sashimi. I know you might think there is nothing amazing about this, but for me it was. I was at a Saturday brunch once where sushi was served and I wanted sashimi, but the chef said they only served sashimi on Fridays and in the evning. Bizarre. Anyway, I was able to enjoy sushi and sashimi, and while I felt the temperature at which it was served was not cool enough, it was not the worst I had had.
|Seafood presentation - yes, my sentiments exactly.|
Jing Asia offers some nice drinks. For the all-inclusive drinks package, they offer soft drinks, an Australian bubbly as well three reds and a couple of whites too. In addition to these, there were also fruit juices and local and premium water. Of course not many guests do not know that they offer premium water as they put local water on the tables, but they do have San Pellegrino and Acqua Panna available. These are all on display on the drinks stand. I like the fact that they have a choice of reds and whites. I tried the Chilean red but it was not as full and rich as the Argentinian red a lovely Shiraz from the Mendoza region. This is the advantage of giving guests options.
|Major positive - wine selection.|
|Thought I would capture on one plate the out of place frogs legs and rabbit stew.|
|Seafood thermidor - quite tasty|
|The kids' corner.|
Overall, I would say that Jing Asia was a let down and did not live up to the hype that my friend created. The cliche that a couple of swallows do not make a summer was evident here. Jing Asia has potential to be a great place, but they need to address the lack of 'Asianness' about their brunch and revisit their main dish station. Having a fantastic salad bar, wine options and a dedicated kids' area is good indeed, but not enough to elevate it as a Friday brunch to exceptional. Yes, I know they are part of a 4* hotel, but they are charging a 5* price for their brunch. There is also of course the competition out there: For example, for a fairly similar price you have Sofra (325 Dhs net)at Shangri-la and Sky Brunch (350 Dhs net) at Hyatt. Granted, each brunch offers something unique, but if its is food and taste you are after, the last two will meet and exceed that expectation. By the way, The Garden at its sister hotel on Hamdan street, Abu Dhabi offers a very entertaining and family-friendly Friday brunch for Dhs220.
So, if you are looking for brunch that allows your kids to feel part of the afternoon and for you to have food without the wow factor but a choice of wines, then Jing Asia might just be what you are looking for. After his experience, this writer will pass. Potential is there though!
The low down
250 Dhs Soft drinks
300 Dhs Full drinks package