Sunday, February 12, 2017

Hooked {Lebanese Seafood on Zaya Nurai}


    Zaya Nurai Island (the luxury retreat just off the coast of Saadiyat in Abu Dhabi) has been busy this past year.  Marc Abed, Zaya Nurai’s Head Chef, has been building up the Food and Beverage options with everything from a chi-chi lounge, a sunset inspired wood-fired pizza spot (stay turned for a review in a few months), and a modern Lebanese seafood restaurant, Hooked, which hugs the island’s edge, giving diners a cliff-side view of the open sea.  The restaurant is airy with both indoor and outdoor seating, and is naturally but elegantly decorated in calm sea-side tones.  The outdoor seating area makes you feel more like you are on a Mediterranean island than anywhere in the UAE.  We went for lunch on a Saturday and practically had the place to ourselves simply because of how many people in Abu Dhabi actually don't know that this place exists!  A peaceful remote island getaway just for us! The dinner service is actually much busier with a more upbeat and vibrant scene. So if you go, be sure to make a reservation....and perhaps even stay overnight on the island?!

    Most of the menu is Lebanese mezze, with the entrees being a handful of different grilled fresh seafood. Not every fish is available everyday, only what is fresh.  Hooked follows the method of simple perfection. No need to be everything to everyone, but instead just what it does best.  The mezze are separated into both hot and cold.  All are elegant and stray from the ordinary.  The Hummus Plate is a trio of three varieties, Pesto, Beetroot and Classic with thin, crisply toasted warm pita chips. I honestly wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as I did.  The Fatoosh Salad rivals some of the best that I have tasted with crispy cold cucumbers, tangy sumac and bright fresh mint.  The Fatteii Shrimp dish was creamy and garlicy, topped with large tender shrimp and toasted pine nuts- a dish that I could eat every day.  The fried Calamari were tender and not greasy at all, but I didn't get any tentacles (yes, my favourite part)!  We tried two different grilled fish for our mains, the Sea Bream and the Sea Bass.  Both were melt-in-your-mouth moist and very fresh, and the Bass was just a bit richer than the Bream.  While the meal definitely leaves you feeling satisfied, I couldn’t leave without at least a quick taste of dessert.  They are generous servings of traditional Lebanese favorites, except for the creamy Baklava Cheesecake… a little classic/modern fusion.  Can I say that I am hooked on Hooked?  Ok, no, too cheesy.

The best part about Hooked is enjoying the great food in an indescribable atmosphere.  We could literally hear the birds chirping and the waves crashing- a far far cry from the toxic bus fumes of the city (only a 10 minute speed boat ride away).  While it is not inexpensive, you pay for the experience and the quality of ingredients.  The service is extremely helpful and friendly, and works together with the rest of the staff across of the island to make sure that diners have everything they need.  Want a special cocktail?  No problem.  If the ingredients are not already in the restaurant, they request it quickly from  the pool-side bartender.  You really feel special at Zaya Nurai, and I can’t recommend it enough if you are looking for a really special place to celebrate with your family and friends. Even those pesky kids (I can only say that because I have one of them) are welcomed so sweetly.








Hooked Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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