Wide selection of Asian dishes - Cho Gao, Crown Plaza, Abu Dhabi

A few nights ago I visited Cho Gao at Crown Plaza in Abu Dhabi for a drink. It is a venue known for its expansive Asian menu and generally attracts guests for its dining options as well as just for drinks.

As I walk in I am immediately struck by the lively atmosphere. It is a week night, so this is testimony to the popularity of the venue. I am greeted by a waitress who offers me a table, but I decline and stay in the lounging area. It is more a waiting area than anything, but is marketed as a lounge. However, it affords me a relatively quiet place to enjoy a drink. It should be noted that they also have traditional bar seating too.

The lounge-cum waiting area. Cosy. 
Gorgeous lanterns
Simple tables and benches create a homely feel. 
Feeling peckish, I request  a menu. It is like a 'Best of the Far East' and features some typical dishes from Japan, China, Thailand, Indonesia Vietnam and Singapore. I choose the vegetable tempura and a selection of steamed and fried dumplings. I like the casual feel of the place. There is a lot of wood, almost raw, lending itself to that rustic look. Lantern-style light fixtures create a very Asian ambience. Add to this very chatty and engaging waitresses and you some elements as to why Cho Gao is popular.

Dim sum selection
My dishes arrive and I try the tempura. There are some interesting vegetables used, including cauliflower and broccoli. Not really sure that these work because they do not cook evenly because of the stem and the flower part being different in texture to begin with. Also, I find it too oily. Looking at the tempura I can clearly see oil. Finally,  I  prefer it served with the very traditional tentsuyu sauce, so I am not too keen on this.  Next, I try the dim sum and this is more to my liking. The shrimp in particular is light and fresh. Yum. Finally I try one of Cho Gao's most popular starters, or so I am told, the cho gao wasabi prawns. It is served with wasabi mayonnaise that really packs a punch, but evens out nicely with the sweet mango salsa.
Vegetable tempura
Wasabi prawns. 
The service is very attentive, but leaves enough time to just be without being disturbed. A lovely balance. Asian restaurants are renowned for good and warm service, and this for me is the highlight of the evening. There are a number of dishes on the menu I would like to try, and I look forward to my next visit to have more than just a  drink.

The bottom line

Cho Gao,
Crown Plaza on Hamdan Street,
Abu Dhabi
02 6166166

Starters 25-68 Dhs
Mains 42-146 Dhs
Dessert 28-32 Dhs

Brandon Stoltenkamp