Located in the heart of the city, Cho Gao is a beautiful modern and chic restaurant in Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi. I guess the craving for amazing Thai curries, prawn crackers and dim sums (the fried ones), doesn’t just stop at Dubai’s fine portfolio of amazing East Asian dining. Being the first completely non-smoking restaurant, Cho Gao (which means “Rice Market” in Vietnamese) offers an East Asian Experience that takes inspiration from Thailand, Indonesia, China and Vietnam. The menu obviously offers these bright and amazing flavors, and the place is…gorgeous!
Dimly lit with an abundant array of everything wooden (the chairs, tables, furniture), Cho Gao reminds you walking into of a local (east asian) house. The dim lights speak of warmth and comfort when you enter. The staff, too, are really friendly and very welcoming! We know that we couldn’t be disappointed at all. (BTW, this experience is written based on an invitation from the Crowne Plaza Management. Now I have not been paid to do so, this is just my honest opinion of the restaurant)
So without further ado…let’s get cracking on the food shall we…
Drinks and Nibbles
Now Cho Gao is quite well known for its drinks (I’ll say). And it is true for good reason as well! Of course, since I was behind the wheel, I opted to choose a mocktail itself which was very similar to a Pinacolada, or a Coconut Kiss (as they call it).
The drink itself was amazing! Again pretty much like their version of a Pinacolda, every sip left me wanting to go for more. Oh, and don’t forget about the nibbles. Prawn Crackers with a Thai Sweet Chilly sauce and a Spicy version of Soy!
We took the liberty of diving into the starters. We instead figured a lighter way to go about it was to opt for salads instead. Since we more interested in main course and had to save some space (obviously). However, we did call for a plate of fried dim sums (Chicken & Veggie).
The dim sums were spectacular! A bit oil (for my liking). But the taste along with the dipping sauces were absolutely amazing. Now everything seemed right about the fact that they were fried (the crispy dim sum wrapper and the soft texture of the stuffing inside). I would obviously be a tad more excited if the chicken had some flavor pairings with basil or chili (sort of reminiscing my adventures at Mainland China in India).
We also called for a serving of a Raw Papaya Salad and a Duck Salad (Signature dish). As we were waiting for the course to come in and as the crowd kept coming in, we did some looking around.
Impressed we were as the plates were brought to the table. Imagine something as beautiful as this…
Both salad were fresh, vibrant and full of flavor. The Papaya Salad (always a must-have at a Thai restaurant), combined juliennes of green papaya with tomatoes, carrots and roasted peanuts and brought together with a chili lime dressing. Quite rightly seasoned, this dish had the perfect balance of freshness (that you get from the papaya), the slight kicks from the chili lime dressing.
The Duck Salad on the other hand is something that absolutely impressed me! Sort of like an alteration to the pecking duck (if you want to opt for a salad version), this dish combines crispy duck, Asian greens, lime leaves and lychee, all brought together with a stick plum dressing! The duck itself is quite magnificent actually. Among all the “healthy” parts of the salad, you’ll find yourself hunting for the crispiest and most juicy duck skin! Of course, you may be wondering why I’d mention this? Honestly, it’s quite a natural tendency to prefer something crispy in a salad. Bites of any nuts, crispy duck (in this case), tortilla chips (for me) is just something that feels good! I’d definitely recommend trying out this signature – and for good reason it’s called one!
Honestly, we were a tad bit stuffed at this point – but the reason we were here was to try out the mains. And we wouldn’t get up without trying it out – we just had to fight through! After a lot of consideration and debating between the stir fries, the Thai curries, the noodles and the mains, we finally made up our mind . We thought of trying out a Beef Char Kway Teow and a Braised Beef Rendang. The only reason why I didn’t opt for the Peking Duck was cause I figure it would be similar (in a way) to the salad I just had!
Beef Char Kway Teow
Again, slightly oily for my liking, the presentation (and aroma) of the dish was absolutely spectacular. Additionally, with a simple squeeze of lime on it, the flavors of the mushrooms and the beef opened up! Taking a taste of this dish was a bold strong combination of “meat-iness”. Imagine a steak with mushroom sauce smeared across it. Moreover, the rich and dark flavors of these two pairings were quite the basis for a really good noodle dish! It was more like, diving into the earth and picking up all these raw aspects of the mushroom, the bean sprouts and obviously the noodles that held all this flavor! Would definitely recommend this dish!
Braised Beef Rendang
The presentation of this dish was actually beautiful! A few things that put me off was that a dish with curry should have been served in a bowl instead of on a plate (so it was a bit difficult to eat). Moreover the beef (for some reason), didn’t seem braised enough in the liquid. The beef wasn’t absolutely tender as it should have been – but was good nonetheless! Serving this alongside with a bowl of prawn crackers and shards of Arabic Pickles was again confusing. It just didn’t pair well together! However, all in all, the dish itself was quite nice (especially the taste of the curry), but I wouldn’t really recommend it unless I saw some change in the way it was served.
After a bit of huff and puff, we managed to call for a desert each as we needed (Yes, needed! :P) something sweet to malt everything down. Calling for a portion of a Creme Brulée and a Japanes Green Tea Tiramisu…seemed interesting!
Presentation wise, it absolutely seemed beautiful! Tempted to dive in immediately (after my usual photo-taking) we couldn’t wait to get up close and personal which each!
A créme brulée is a rich custard with a layer of sugar that’s burnt on top. This version features a custard that’s infused with Jasmine Tea. While the texture of the custard along with the burnt layer of sugar on the top is perfect, this dessert deviates a bit from what’s actually right. Honestly, the infusion with Jasmine Tea (in my opinion) is a bit too sweet I suppose. All in all, yes it does seem like a good dessert.
Again the tiramisu itself was really good – when you talk about the textures. In terms of flavors, pairing green tea (which is bitter) with coffee (which is a part of Tiramisu) seemed good to me! The texture of the dessert too was just awesome!
On the flipside, I would definitely try out the Asian Fruits on Ice! – A more fresh & vibrant sort of dessert? Of course, with new desserts being added to the menu, it definitely is tempting to go back and try out the new items!
About Cho Gao
Well, by now we reached our tipping points and I had to walk around the restaurant for some form of digestion! The place itself? Well it’s immaculately divine and I think quite the perfect place for a…date (I presume)! Hehe.
You can find out more about Cho Goa here –> https://www.facebook.com/ChoGaoAsianExperience/
The restaurant offers the following five promotions currently:
- Business Lunch with 3 options – Sundays – Thursdays from 12pm – 4pm
- Happy Hour – everyday from 2pm to 7pm
- Teacher’s Night – every Monday from 4pm – midnight
- Ladies Night (Cho Gal) – every Saturday & Sunday from 7pm – midnight
- Friday Brunch – Fridays from 12pm – 4pm