Thursday, October 25, 2007

Shang Palace, Abu Dhabi

Shangri la Hotel
Qaryat al Beri, Abu Dhabi
Bookings: 02 509 8888

The Shang Palace is the Shangri La’s own chain of Chinese restaurants and there is a version in all of their hotels worldwide (apparently). The Shangri La’s newest hotel in Abu Dhabi is no different and we were looking forward to giving it a go as the Shang Palace restaurant in the Shangri La in Dubai is one of our favourite spots for good Chinese food.

The hotel in Abu Dhabi is currently in its ‘soft opening’ phase which I now understand to mean ‘training its staff’ phase.

This is not a big restaurant, it only has about eleven tables inside and probably half a dozen outside but what they lack in size they make up in faux Chinese lanterns hanging from the ceiling.

The staff are all dressed in luscious red Chinese jackets and look all quite smart but I am afraid that this is pretty much where the good impressions ended and the bad started. We got chatting to the Hong Kong Chinese maitre d, Franky, who told us that the chef was from Hong Kong and that the menu was the same as you would find in Hong Kong. That is all well and good but I do think that it is a little pointless having two whole pages of the menu dedicated to abalone and to shark’s fin dishes when the chances of anyone eating in Abu Dhabi of ordering them I would suggest are somewhere between slim and non-existent.

Everything we ordered was actually pretty good, nothing startling but a fair facsimile of decent Chinese food that you would expect to get somewhere like Hong Kong. Where sadly this restaurant really fell down was with the service. It was at best haphazard and at worse an unmitigated disaster. All over the restaurant diners were complaining about food not arriving, food being cold, the wrong dishes being brought out. It was chaos and poor Franky was running from table to table fire-fighting. Now I am sure that matters will improve with time as the staff and the kitchen team start to figure things out but at the moment unless you wish for a Fawlty Towers type experience I would give this a miss for about another two or three months. After that I reckon this will be a pretty good restaurant.

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