Japanese Ohmi Beef at The Foundry, Steakhouse of the Year - Southern Sun Hotel, Abu Dhabi

The Foundry recently won the coveted Best Steakhouse in Abu Dhabi Award at the Timeout Awards ceremony. Amazingly, despite this being their award from a third local publication in the last year, people still ask 'Where are they?' You see, The Foundry has challenged the prevailing notion that to be acknowledged, you need to be part of a big hotel. It has also confounded people by being the only all-day dining restaurant to make such an impression on the dining scene. I have written before about its night time transformation from all-day dining to steakhouse and encourage you to try it if you have not. ( http://bit.ly/1G92X2Z )

The Foundry's latest promotion, Ohmi Ma Wagyu, illustrates once more that it is a serious steakhouse and has cuts to rival any other steakhouse in the city. Having already offered Miyazaki beef, another one of Japan's great exports, it was only logical that they should continue to introduce more beef from Japan, arguably the breeding ground for the world's finest beef. 

I recently visited The Foundry to expereince its Ohmi Ma Wagyu. The first thing that occurred to me is the menu prices. Herein lies one of the strengths of The Foundry - it offers an experience  at a fraction of what you would pay at other steakhouses. These particular cuts are offered in 100g to 400g, so it really caters for every pocket. Tenderloin, strip loin and a very unusual cut for the Abu Dhabi market, the flank, are the three principle cuts. However, my guest and I choose the value for money Wagyu tasting platter. 

To get us started though, we follow our waiter's recommendation - the Moet Chandon Rosé which is just gorgeous. I am surprised more restaurants do not push pink bubbly. While the Moet Chandon is fast becoming, as my 9 year old would say, 'so last season', the Rosé remains enigmatic in this part of the world. Our waiter is self assured but humble; the kind of waiter you can just chat to. It is so easy to follow someone's recommendations when they know what they are talking about, isn't it? 

Soon, the evening is initiated proper with the amuse bouche. It affords us the chance to meet the new Chef de Cuisine, Jayada Ramasawmy, who like his predecessor, is also from Mauritius. His amuse bouche is a compelling introduction - Japanese risotto with slow cooked quail egg, topped with foam of truffle and mushroom. Despite the striking aroma as the dish is served, tasting reveals it to be very delicately flavoured, full of restraint, something I appreciate. 

The starter follows and is visually arresting. Langoustine, poached,  with lobster jelly - a dish that hints to the creative energy that can be expected from the new Chef? Ginger tempura and foam of bonito round out a very ambitious dish. The lime sorbet really holds all the elements together in this dish. It is surprising and a delight.

But if ever an evening was about the main dish this is one of them. Our Wagyu tasting platter is served - very simple presentation. Cherry tomatoes, cloves of garlic and  a small hill of salt in the corner. This is a dish is about the beef, and chef allows for no distractions. Similarly, my guest and I do not allow ourselves to be sidetracked either, and we forego the variety of three  recommended sauces. 

The striploin and tenderloin are simply beautiful. They pack so much flavour thanks to that very high marbling of A5. In retrospect, there really is no need for sauce. It would certainly rob the Ohmi of its inherent flavour. The latter shows why is it is regarded, along with Kobe and Matsusaka, as the top Wagyu in Japan. 

The wine that accompanies the Ohmi is a Meerlust Merlot 2010. The wine list, by the way, reflects a balanced  and affordable selection of wine. While there are cheaper options like the good Simonsig wines, to do this beef justice, you need something fuller, and the Meerlust offers just that. This ruby coloured wine already invites one as it is poured. It is intense. Expect berries on the palate. Overall, A very good wine in that price range to match some excellent cuts of meat.  I do recommend decanting about 20-30 minutes before though, something that will bring out the richness even more. 

I am tempted to resist dessert so that I can keep the beefiness in my mouth, but when I hear 'chocolate', I am easily swayed. You have seen this before - Valrhona chocolate sauce is poured over a chocolate sphere ... best not to spoil it for you. 

There are still doubters and detractors out there who will question this relatively unknown restaurant's right to its success. They will argue that because it is not housed in a 5 star hotel, it cannot be very good. They are wrong. Three awards as well as a recent ranking of number 1 on tripadvisor are objective reminders of the growth of The Foundry. One of the things that impresses me is that the restaurant still remains a work in progress - you can only imagine how they can still fly. 

The Ohmi Promotion runs until 3 December 2015.

The Essentials

The Foundry,
Southern Sun Hotel,
Abu Dhabi 
+971 8184888

Disclaimer: I consult at restaurants and hotels in an attempt to look at the entire product to take service levels to where they should be. I visited The Foundry courtesy of the hotel.