Located in the stunning architectural construction of The Yas Hotel, Atayeb features a year-round UAE menu as well as other specialties from the region. Quickly becoming a favorite for Middle Eastern cuisine in the capital, we caught up with chef Wafaei Al Zaham in Abu Dhabi to learn about Atayeb’s lengthy menu of Middle Eastern treats.
The restaurant is set in a startling contemporary ambiance with warmly-lit interiors boasting earthy hues of orange, red and yellow. My guest and I nevertheless chose to sit outside on the veranda in order to marvel at the Yas Hotel’s spectacular shell of diamond-formed colorful lights. We immediately noted the superiority of the service as we were given a lengthy explanation on the right wines and specialty dishes.
Our meal began with a vast array of Hommous, Tabbouleh, an excellent Babagannouj made from roasted eggplant mixed with capsicum, tomato, onion and walnut and flavored with lemon, mint, parsley and olive oil; Adas, an authentic Arabic lentil soup; a plate of grilled scallops seasoned with carrots and cucumber with herbs and sweet chili sauce; and Kebbeh Sajeeh of fried flat kebbeh stuffed with lamb and mixed nuts served with tarator sauce.
Such a selection of various Arabic starters was the perfect way to experience the various flavors. The experience didn’t end there, for the mains we were served Sawdah of warm chicken liver, mixed leaves, mushroom and onion with sweet chilli pomegranate; Cous Cous Bil Dajdaj made with roasted marinated chicken seasoned with raisin and onion and flavored with saffron and ginger; Tagine Roubyan of braised marinated jumbo shrimps with chermoula mixture cooked with potato and tomato and finished with olives and lemon; and for dessert, a soothing date pudding with berry compote arrived daintily to finish off the meal.
A meal fit for a king, Atayeb is Abu Dhabi’s place to go for Middle Eastern cuisine. Certainly popular with local clientele, my guest and I marveled at how full the restaurant had become towards late evening. Syrian-native Wafaei Al Zaham joined us at the end of our meal to explain the restaurant’s future culinary plans. Of particular note was the cooking classes he was leading. These authentic Arabic cooking classes under his guidance are held throughout the summer in the hotel’s Nautilus kitchen. The price is 375 AED per person which includes the class, two beverages, and dinner at Atayeb (excluding beverages) after the class where students can taste their preparations. A delicious way to learn the art of Arabic cooking!
The Yas Hotel
Yas Island, Abu Dhabi