Chef German Huerta's Special Iftar Menu at Bu! - World Trade Centre Mall, Abu Dhabi

Iftar is upon us, and there has been a steady trend among a handful of restaurants the last couple of years to offer iftars that are smaller and more sustainable.  The lifeblood of iftars remain at big hotels where buffets cater to people seeking that feeling of Arabia through dishes and iconography. They can be nice. Just last night I felt I wanted to go to one. However, it is the iftars at  a select group of restaurants that continue to grab me, as they did three years ago when I experienced my first. I was recently invited to try the iftar menu created by Head Chef German Huerta, a menu described as a combination of 'South American cuisine with a  Middle Eastern influence'. Two thoughts emerged.

1. The changing Iftar landscape in Abu Dhabi

Iftars have become very foreigner friendly now, with many restaurants serving alcohol after sunset. It means I could have a glass of bubbly with my set menu. But the changes go beyond the serving of alcohol. There is a different mood in restaurants. I recall 5 years ago when this was unheard of and the only music one could hear was very solemn music. Bu! felt like a  normal night, with music, at a lower volume, still very part of the evening. Not far from me were two tables with ladies dressed in their weekend best, sitting back enjoying  a few drinks. Bu! manages to offer that night out that you would ordinarily have to wait for a month or so. Nice!

Chef Huerta doing his thing 
2. The menu

Great value for money, using the familiar sharing concept that is so synonymous with Bu! At 195AED per person, the menu offers what people need right now - something that is affordable. But it is not just affordable. 

The Entradas have a perfect mix of sweet and salty with the Agave cheese date platter the obvious reminder of the time we are in. Clever, and I like the combination with the cheese.  The Skillet Gobernador & guacamole, a shrimp and cheese based dish really counter the sweetness of the dates quite nicely. The mains include a Corn fed baby chicken that is robust in its flavour and tender in its texture. Next, the  Pescado al grill, or Grilled fish is more subtle, with tomatoes, onions and herbs indicative of that. Incidentally, Chef uses baramundi, a  nice change from sea bass. The Lamb chops, on the other hand, take me back to strong flavours, highlighted by the Peruvian pachamanquera sauce. I suggest you have the fish in the middle of these other two intensely flavoured proteins. The contrast is sensational. But that is not all. Two other dishes, including Grilled vegetables and Garlic rice ensure a very balanced menu - it is the latter that impresses me most.  

If there is a  feeling that the Middle Eastern influence is missing in these dishes, Chef reminds us what he promised us with a dessert line up that is as Arabic as it comes. Although I find the kanafeh too different for my liking - I miss the melting cheese when I usually have kanafeh - the taste of both the umali and baklava is spot on. A really nice Arabic end to the evening!

Overall, it is a perfect iftar experience if you want to break from the traditional iftars around large hotels. Personally, I enjoyed the music while dining - we really have come a long way from say 5 years ago. Chef's menu offers tremendous value while keeping flavours true to Bu! and at the same time maintaining a connection to traditional iftars with some of his menu items. 

The Essentials

A Special Iftar menu
The Hub, World Trade Centre Mall,
Abu Dhabi
+971 2 666 8066

Iftar 195 AED Per Person, minimum 2 sharing
The special menu is served until around 14/15 June when Ramadan ends
Brandon Stoltenkamp