They do Japanese so well at Teatro - Donburi at Park Rotana Hotel, Abu Dhabi

In my first review of Teatro, one of the things I mentioned was how well it did its Asian dishes, and while the menu offers a wide international range of dishes, I still believe that it is specifically its Japanese offering that is an absolute highlight. When I heard that they were running a one month Donburi promotion, I simply had to try it and see how Chef Antonio Lopez interprets this dish.

Donburi is a traditional and typical Japanese rice bowl dish, usually comprising rice topped with fish, vegetables or beef; a homely dish and one that make sits way onto every Japanese table. 

On my way to my table, I spot a couple of people at the bar, not there for dinner;  just drinks. It is small and intimate. I like knowing that people are getting the new concept at Teatro that it is more than just dinner.  As has become customary for me now, I start with a Downtown Tokyo, a sake-based cocktail that serves as a fitting start to my evening of Japanese dishes. It is beautifully balanced and because it uses sake, it is very light and refreshing. 

We started off with the Salmon Tiradito, fresh salmon bathed in an Amarillo sauce. Charred avocado adds a wonderful balance to the dish, as does pickled cucumber. Soon after, and just before the first donburi is served, I have a bowl of miso soup which is part of an order of donburi. It is a very good rendering of miso soup, which is not overly seasoned, such an important requirement. 

Chef has made tasting portions of all 6 for my guest and me, but they are quite big nonetheless. One bowl is more than enough for one person. What follows is a trio of donburi dishes.We have the Gyudon, Oyakodon and Tekkadon. The Gyudon, with wagyu beef ribeye and sweet teriyaki, is an early favourite. The beef is nicely cooked, ensuring it is tender and moist while the mushrooms are packed with flavour. 

Tekkadon, yellow fin tuna.
The Oyakodon, chicken and egg with tangy sauce is a simple option and while flavours are not as strong, they go well. make sure to mix this one before diving in so you can get all the flavour. Finally, Finally, the Tekkadon, a mix of yellow fin tuna and spicy mayo  and shallots is my clear favourite at this stage. While the other two were made with jasmine rice, this uses sushi rice. The latter is fuller and fluffier, making it a better rice option and ultimately tastier dish. I recommend to Chef that he looks at using either Japanese rice (expensive though) or sushi rice, which is nice and moist. 

Gyudon, with wagyu ribeye
Oyakodon, chicken & egg
While sake would have been the natural choice for the evening, I am excited by the presence of Sparkling sake on the menu. It has all the lightness of sake, but the addition of bubbles elevates it to anothe rlevel. Who will say no to something bubbly?

We also try the Hokkaidon and Chukadon. The former, pink salmon with teriyaki, onion and sesame, turns out to be my daughter's favourite. She describes the salmon as 'perfectly cooked'. I agree with her. It is so easy to overcook salmon, but Chef Lopez has managed it well. The last dish, the Chukadon which is wok fried vegetables with ginger, will be a pleasing choice for vegetarians, and on the night, it emerges as my second favourite. Celery, asparagus, mushrooms, garlic, carrots and leek make for a full flavoured dish. 
Hokkaidon, pink salmon.
Mochi ice - a must!
I experienced an evening of Japanese cuisine in a restaurant with a strong international flavour. From Nikko china to Sparkling sake, it was all there. The added bonus was Teatro's fantatsic service. They have a team on the floor that work tirelessly to ensure that the guest has a good time. Yes, I was an invited guest, but I could not help looking around, watching their interaction with guests. 

Evenings like these educate guests and show them that Japanese cuisine is much , much more than sushi, sashimi and teriyaki chicken. I hope to see more of them because theyallow Teatro to showcase its strengths. It opens up all sorts possibilities like ramen weekends, robata grill evenings and so on - now that is exciting!

The lowdown

Park Rotana Hotel, 

Abu Dhabi
+971 2 657 3333

Donburi dishes priced 78-120 AED++