We sample the new pan-Asian eatery in Atlantis 1 Reviews
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Despite my own hopes of having a decent meal at Asia Republic, the expectations of the friend that accompanied me peaked and troughed the whole way there. ‘Pan-Asian?’, he retorted. ‘I’m not sure about
that.’ ‘At Atlantis? Well that might be okay.’ ‘All day dining? Is this going to be a buffet?’
Then came the moment when we arrived at the tiny cubby hole of a restaurant. My friend shook his head, repeating the name of a well-known pan-Asian canteen with suspicion. Small, yes, and with a minimal amount of tables, but actually the venue was quite charming. With the odd decorative touch to signify a Chinese sense of aesthetics, the overall impression was one of dark wood and imperial jade green.
Scanning the menu, my friend’s suspicions were strengthened by the ‘tick-boxes on a list’ style of ordering, but the staff were all very friendly and seemed to have a reasonable knowledge of the menu. We started by making a dent in the decently sized selection of dumplings. Each dumpling came (to varying degrees) comically oversized and tasted very nice, and I was impressed at how the soft yet sticky and bouncy glutinous rice dough kept the insides of the dumpling intact as I attacked it.
However, the outsized beef gyoza were nothing like gyoza. Although there was a nice crisp texture to the wrapper, the insides were so stuffed to the brim that my friend’s suggestion that they were rather like beef Wellington was not far off. The hau gar shrimp dumplings, however, were only slightly larger than normal and were sadly met with no comic analogy from my companion. They were reasonably good, but the dough was too soggy and disintegrated in a way that suggested they may have been previously frozen.
Moving on, we tried some Vietnamese specialities from the menu. We liked the Vietnamese prawn lettuce cups, which were softly spicy and sweet yet still light and fresh. The Vietnamese-style beef noodle soup was a mixed affair.
While I really enjoyed it, and found the broth had a fantastically beefy depth, it was also atypically spicy for this particular recipe, and not nearly fragrant enough. It was very good, but not perfect.
Next came the main courses. The Cantonese roasted fragrant duck was fine, but not exceptional. The Taiwanese steamed sea bass, however, was beautiful. A simple yet elegant dish with a silken texture, a bright and smooth richness from the soy sauce dressing, and a good counterpoint in the hints of ginger. Likewise, the Korean barbecued beef was wonderful, juicy and tender with a satisfying depth of flavour and sweetness in the sauce, offset by the fresh and sharp kimchi served on the side.
While I had thought the menu was very affordable, the portions were quite small. Once you’ve ordered a collection of different things it might be more expensive than anticipated. Encouraged by the delicious main courses, and disappointed to learn that the dessert tasting platter was only enough for one, I thought we were being clever when we made our own selection of desserts to share. Sadly, from the mochi ice cream, to the red bean pancake and Hong Kong-style egg tart, none of these were exceptional examples of Asian desserts, which are already quite an acquired taste. So unsurprisingly, although they weren’t nearly this bad, my friend joked that the egg tart was like a bad crème brûlée. But in the end, just as I had hoped, we ate a decent meal at Asia Republic.
The bill (for two)
1x shrimp dumpling Dhs35
1x mushroom dumpling Dhs30
1x beef gyoza Dhs35
1x prawn lettuce cup Dhs35
1x beef noodle soup Dhs45
1x roast duck Dhs60
1x Korean beef Dhs60
1x steamed fish Dhs65
1x vegetable Dhs30
1x steamed rice Dhs15
1x egg tart Dhs20
1x fruit mochi Dhs35
1x bean pancake Dhs25
1x large water Dhs25
Total (including service) Dhs515
Time Out Dubai,
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