Sontaya St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort Abu Dhabi brings together classic Thai dishes in a serene ocean-side setting, definitely one for those special occasions.
It was the day the family was heading back to Goa sans me and I wasn’t very happy. Any time they visit, I’m thrilled at the prospects of picking them up from the airport, exploring the city like a tourist and venturing into new restaurants that we haven’t tried before. All of us particularly enjoy the thrill of seeking out, sampling and exchanging thoughts about what we eat. Since it was their first time since we’d relocated to Abu Dhabi, a trip to Saadiyat island was in order.
A short scenic drive along the clear blue ocean and we found ourselves walking into the ever-so-luxurious St. Regis. We were all dressed up and ready to splurge on a special experience – with its stunning location, Sontaya was an easy pick. Asian flavors and ocean-views are always an easy sell, aren’t they?
What kind of Thai-cuisine aficionado would I be if we didn’t start our culinary journey with the traditional raw papaya salad served with long beans, peanuts with a side of chicken satay skewers. The saltiness that the dried prawns lend to this dish is one of the reasons I find myself ordering it wherever we go.
Between sipping our Asian mocktails and endless gushing over the fabulous pool-side and sea views, we tucked into our soft shell crab on a bed of pomello salad with dry coconut, crispy fried onions and a bold peanut-tamarind dressing. The restaurant was packed and you could see people envying those of us seated al-fresco soaking up the last few days of eating outdoors before the heat wave is back.
We steered clear of the Thai curries this time as the folks were feeling a little bit adventurous. The Asian restaurant back home that our family frequents have delicious Thai curries. So we requested recommendations for more unique main course offerings at Sontaya from their staff. The pan-seared Seabass fillet with bok choy and soy reduction was packed with familiar Asian flavors but its the details that bowled us over – fried crisp sticky rice and the mushroom tempura added great textural depth to dish.
Both my parents (being the seafood-lovers they are) weren’t too keen on ordering any meat. But when the roast duck with chilli-soya bean sauce, spicy diced vegetables and soya foam appeared on our table, they offered no resistance and savored every single bite. Crisp skin, and cooked medium-rare, the duck was an instant hit and I’d highly recommend you order it too.
From the grilled salmon over a bed of young broccoli leaves with a side of crispy salmon skin, fried hard-boiled quail egg and sticky tamarind sauce to the wok-fried Vietnamese ginger and chilli prawn, it easy to see how well each ingredient was judiciously used. At no point did the tamarind ever over-power the subtle salmon while the prawns were plump and paired well with the crunchy pickled cucumbers.
To tie it all together, we got us a side of the Malaysian Mie Goreng – egg noodles with prawn and chicken tossed generously in chilli paste. Best part of dining with the family is being able to sample everything on the menu – an experience both M and I usually find difficult considering our smallish appetites.
Shots of espresso and desserts followed. Perfectly golden fried bananas, crunchy crumble with chilli flake and an airy coconut milk foam added new dimensions to the Thai desserts we’ve been used to. It had the best of traditional flavors but executed with a modern flair that you would come to expect of dining at a restaurant in St. Regis.
Kudos to the team at Sontaya – they managed to impress us with every course. We’ve tried many a sticky rice with Thai mango but none presented as beautifully. It was served covered with a mountain of candy floss that just melted away with the pouring of sweetened coconut milk, a fitting dramatic ending to a fabulous meal. It made saying good-byes at the airport a little bit easier.
Location: Sontaya, The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi