Indonesian month a winner at Teatro - Park Rotana, Abu Dhabi

Teatro at Park Rotana has made tremendous strides as a restaurant offering diners an international menu, and its varied menu has really has worked with diners. What I have enjoyed about Teatro is the way it has kept its menu fresh by running monthly promotions. You may also recall the Donburi promotion earlier this year: Donburi at Teatro Last month, they had an Italian month, for example. When I was invited to try their Indonesian month, I was naturally keen because it is not that easy to find Indonesian dishes in the city.

As has become customary with me, I start off at the bar with a glass of Prosecco. I cannot quite understand why more people don't use   a bar at a  restaurant for an aperitif. It creates an evening where you feel you really are out for the night. And when you can pick up a glass of Prosecco for around 45AED, you feel it is worth it.

Soon after, I move to my table where I am intrigued to see what is on the menu.  Chef Antonio Lopez runs a very creative kitchen, so I would like to see what they have come up with. As was the case with the Don Buri promotion they ran a few months ago, there are 6 Indonesian dishes on tonight's menu. I have a word with Chef Ronny, an Indonesian native, whose contribution to the menu was integral. He says he wanted to offer dishes from his homeland that spanned the country, while at the same time allowing him to have a dish or two from his hometown.

The evening starts out with Sate Camur, a south Indonesian staple and indeed a dish that is popular the world over. I am of course referring to 'satay' as we know it. It is nicely presented on a banana leaf, accompanied by rice and three dips. Chicken, beef and shrimp offer quite a variety for guests and serves as perfect sharing dish. By the way, kudos to Chef Ronny for his raw chilli sauce - it has  a lot of bite!

After this, I have, of course, Nasi goreng, a classic Indonesian fried rice dish. The texture of the rice is what makes this a wonderful dish. The rice is just above par-boiled, giving it a nice texture. Simple, good. However, a small green mango salad, sambal, which is a sauce usually made with shrimp paste as the main ingredient,  and krupuk, deliciously crunchy shrimp crisp complement the dish. When I look at the menu again, I notice that this dish is 70AED, and enough for one person. This means that with a glass of wine, you can experience  a night out at Teatro for 120AED! 

I have written often about the by-the-glass wine options at Rotana restaurants, and Teatro at 31, is certainly at the upper end of options. This is perfect for those dining alone or those who would like to pair their wine with their dishes. The Nino Franco Rustico, my favourite prosecco, is available at a very reasonable price, and by the time the nasi goreng is served, I am well into my first glass. It is worth paying the extra 30AED extra and upgrading from the Valdo Prosecco. 

Leaving south Indonesia, Chef takes me to south Sumatra by serving the Ikan Bumbu Kuning, king fish served with tamarind and tumeric. The sauce is hearty, with sweet and sour elements perfectly balanced. A surprise for me is the bok choy that sits underneath the fish - an unexpected little bit of happiness. 

I have a word with Chef Ronny and ask him which dish reminds him most of his mother - many a chef will cite his mother as the inspiration behind his choice of his career. Incidentally, it is the next dish, the Sapi rendang, a beef curry that turns out to be my favourite of the night. With caramelized elements, there is a defined sweetness in the dish that is juxtaposed perfectly by chili sambal. This is a  time when the side sauce is actually essential to the experience of a dish. Finally, the rice. The coconut milk steamed rice is simply delicious. I have a few spoonfuls on its own and I love it. 

It is interesting that he chose this dish as representative of his mother and hometown for it is also, I believe, the one filled with most heart and soul! While Prosecco would have been a  good accompaniment, I opt for  a Pinot Noir instead, a beautifully smooth Murphy Goode -  an excellent choice, recommended by my server Crisantha

Next, I opt to skip dessert which is on the normal Teatro menu and instead head to the bar for a digestif.  Manish, behind the bar, endeared me to the bar a while ago with the Tokyo downtown, my favourite cocktail at Teatro. Tonight, he is bolder as he creates a smoked Hennessey Cognac based drink, named Silk & spice. The making of the drink lives up to the name Teatro, while its taste lives up to the name of the drink!

As the evening ended, I reflected on another superb concept that will please regulars of Teatro. An Indonesian promotion fits effortlessly and plausibly into their concept of good Asian dishes as part of their menu. Very well priced dishes, between 70 -115AED, especially in this climate of penny pinching, will ensure that while saving a few dirhams, guests will actually have an evening of hearty Indonesian food, with a bit of insight into Teatro's very exciting young Indonesian chef, Ronny. You will find this to be an experience filled with tremendous heart. 

The lowdown

Park Rotana Hotel, 

Abu Dhabi
+971 2 657 3333

The Indonesian promotion runs November 2016.