New menu at the fabulous Bu! - The Hub, World Trade Centre Mall, Abu Dhabi

It is hard to believe it is already a year since Bu! wowed us with their grand opening and brought a unique experience to the city. It was quite a coup that it came to Abu Dhabi and did not go to Dubai. If you have not been, the restaurant is a striking piece of work, both quirky and chic but always stylish. This pan-Latin establishment recently introduced its new menu and tonight I am here to try it. 

 The restaurant blends a very natural an urban-industrial vibe with elegant touches. Its terrace is one of the best places for a drink in the cooler months, but for now, my guest and I are seated indoors, a  refuge from the early Summer heat. 

Dinner starts off with a duo of ceviches and a duo of tiraditos. For the uninitiated, a ceviche is a South American dish of fresh seafood that's been 'cooked' in a citrus based sauce. A Tiradito, on the other hand, is a typical Peruvian dish that is the equivalent of sashimi. 

We have a serving platter of Ceviche vegetariano and a Salmon ceviche. The former is a lovely departure from the usual seafood, meaning vegetarians will be quite happy with this. Amidst the tomato, jicama and green aji, is avocado, all topped with truffle oil. Also, the Salmon ceviche, with mango, neither overripe nor green, is nicely balanced by ponzu sauce, ensuring that sweet and sour aspect of the dish. Rich and aromatic sesame oil adds to the complexity of this seemingly simple ceviche. 

Next, we have the tiradito, 2  of 5 on the menu, including a vegetarian option. The Truffled huachinango or red snapper, is intense thanks to black truffles, while texture is born from fried quinoa. Finally, Atun & Hamachi,  with beautiful ginger, coriander and lime has that typical freshness you would expect. This yellowtail tiradito has togarashi, a  Japanese spice, sprinkled over to give even more flavour. 

To drink, I start with a  glass of Devaux NV Champagne. I am as excited about this champagne as I was when Bu! first introduced it. You will be surprised how good it is and makes a wonderful break from the usual house champagnes around the city. 

It is a Friday night and the music is subdued in the dining area, just perfect. Friday afternoons are typically hectic with many people brunching. The laid back music, easy on the ear, does a lot for ambience. However, a walk towards the bar is a different story altogether, with the DJ belting out killer dance tunes.  

I pass by the expansive, theatrical open kitchen and glance at and what looks like dumplings in a yellow sauce. I think nothing of it and take my seat. Soon after, our final appetisers are served. One of them is, in fact, the said dish - GyoZas Tacu tacu a lo macho. Aji Amarillo, a cornerstone of Peruvian cooking, allows the gyoza to bathe in its sensuously yellow coloured sauce. I like the texture of the gyoza - memories of an October trip to Osaka come flooding back. They are filled with mixed seafood, rice and beans, with a hint of coriander. Oh, I could have more of these! 

Our final starter is just a marvellous creation. It oozes creativity and has me excited the moment is placed in front of us Res Tataki Y Tuetano is a beef dish that uses marrow. It is served in a hollowed out the bone, with flavours of chimichurri and pecorino cheese adding intensity to this dish, while puffed rice is on top of the beef to create a sense of - well, you have a look and see. 

It is a dish that in an essential way takes me back to my childhood. I am reminded of my time at the kitchen table as a 6-year-old, sitting with my dad after dinner, sucking the marrow out of the pork bones my mum had prepared. Who would have thought that this dish would evoke such a memory!

I have been doing a round up of steakhouses in the city and one feature that is becoming important is for a chef to come out and engage his guests. As our main course arrives, I am thrilled to see that Chef Humberto Canales Salinas does something that would be at home at any of the top steakhouses - he arrives at our table to serve the Lomo al Trapo, a Tajima Full blooded tenderloin which is cut tableside and left on a  grill that reminds one of a barbecue. Argentinian chimichurri is spread over the tenderloin to create what is a beautifully served and executed wagyu. I understand that this is a standard service for anyone who orders it. Highly recommended!

Bu! offers 14 by the glass wines and to pair with my tenderloin, I have a glass of the Château La Bonnelle Saint-Émilion Grand Cru 2011,  full and rich and pairs very well. 

When I have had the explosion of tastes have had on a night like this, I am always ambivalent about having dessert because I want to savour those flavours, but I succumb to the temptation and I have dessert. The first is quite clever - how do you take something like Churros and create a dessert that can excite? Well, you mix them up with some Mexican coffee, ice cream and spicy cinnamon and the result is a Bu! favourite. I cannot but enjoy the warm-cold contrast of this dish. 

 For something a little different but another throwback to my childhood again, my guest has the Tres leches - a sponge cake that does justice to the name. Forget everything else on the plate. Focus on the cake - it has the most amazing texture. 

Bu! is a special restaurant with food to match. The new menu explores new parts of South America while also bringing some visually arresting dishes. The restaurant is huge, so on quiet nights, it can feel cavernous, but that should not detract from amazing dishes that stimulate the palate with their daring combinations. Bu! one of 20 essential restaurants in the city. 

The Essentials
4th floor,
The Hub at World Trade Centre Mall,
Abu Dhabi
+971 2 666 8066
Brandon Stoltenkamp
Disclaimer: I was invited to try the new menu courtesy of the restaurant