Taste of Abu Dhabi Experience

We've been living here in the UAE for almost five years and have always been curious about this annual food festival called Taste of Abu Dhabi, but would either be too busy or too lazy to actually come see it. Fortunately, we were given a couple of free VIP passes to the event at the du Arena last November, so no more excuses. The first night of the festival was on a Thursday so after work, my husband and I decided to go on a quick road trip to Yas Island just to finally experience it.

It was already quite late when we arrived at the venue because of the heavy weekend traffic. The line outside to claim the tickets was quite crazy, but inside the venue itself was even crazier (I mean the good kind of crazy). Jampacked, busy and also very much alive! Signs of the fun experience that awaited us inside.

They had quite an impressive selection of restaurants, drinks and desserts, including retail shops (more like fashion and art pieces) who participated in the festival.

We roamed a little bit to get a feel and know what our options are, and immediately tested a couple of servings from Boa Restaurant's booth, which included American beef corndogs and Wagyu beef slide with broccoli. Super yum!

The menu offered by Koi Abu Dhabi was definitely my favorite of the night. Their trio of chicken Yakitori, creamy rocky shrimp tempura, and steamed black angus beef bun was truly a winner on my books (plate, rather). We're planning to actually go to their restaurant and dine this weekend.

To be honest, I would have been a little bummed with the very small servings offered if I were a paying customer.

Of course I did not forget to treat my sweet tooth. For dessert, I chose Baklava and Pistachio ice cream from Dolmabahce, the so-called "home of authentic Turkish cuisine". And I have to say they didn't disappoint. It was a beautiful marriage inside my mouth.

I also had a little fangirl moment when I saw Celebrity Chef Siba Mtongana giving a live cooking demo at the OSN booth. She was just as bubbly and charming in person. Exactly how I imagined she would be and maybe even more. She was very refreshing to watch and her jokes were so on point.
We capped the experience dancing and singing along with The Wailers who performed that night. They came out around 9:30 in the evening and really pumped up the crowd. I can't believe I know most of the lyrics to every song! Everyone was smiling and was just having such a grand time reliving Bob Marley's music. Even the shuttle bus ride from the venue to the parking lot was hilarious. Just imagine random singing, high fives, and endless laughter (lots and lots of laughter) among strangers. The overall vibe was just festive. It was amazing.
That's my very happy husband enjoying unlimited drinks after a week of hard work. The smile says it all. We had so much to drink that we ended up booking a nice room in Yas Rotana because someone got a bit tipsy and unable to drive. What was just a planned night out turned out be an extended weekend retreat. Exactly the kind of extra breather we needed for sure. 

Australian author Gregory David Roberts said it best: "Food is music to the body, music is food to the heart". And that is exactly what Taste of Abu Dhabi was all about. I can't wait for next year!

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