Alright, the first ever post of #faja3! Thanks everyone for the tips, recommendations and words of encouragement about this food journal. We have been pushing this back for some time, and we finally decided to publish the blog. We were also encouraged to do this after a visit to an unusual Chinese restaurant in Abu Dhabi over the weekend so without further ado here goes!
We headed to Abu Dhabi to catch up with a friend and had some time to kill (and empty tummies), we were not sure where to head to so we started browsing through the Time Out Abu Dhabi magazine seeking some food inspiration and came across Qian Zhou Hotpot by coincidence.
It is not in any of Abu Dhabi’s fancier districts and finding it was not a very straightforward task as the restaurant’s Chinese receptionist could barely speak any English (To be fair the English level of all the Chinese and subcontinent staff was below average), but after struggling a bit and referring to the restaurant’s entry on Foursquare we were able to locate it.
It is on the second floor of a shabby old building in an old area of Abu Dhabi (Or what seemed like an old area. It is called Najda Street). The escalators do not work and there was an odd smell around the building, we were wondering if we were in the right place but the Chinese writings and decorations assured us we have successfully found it.
It is a small eatery made up of two rooms, and despite the fact we visited late in the afternoon there were still several tables occupied mainly by Asian people who seemed to be well-acquainted with the restaurant and its menu. Chinese music in the background? Check. Overtly simple layout and decor? Check. Minimal use of English? Check. Still did not deter us!
Once seated, we were given a big sheet of paper with a long list of ingredients (Not dishes), and we had to basically pick the pot’s ingredients in order to cook them ourselves. We were quite clueless and were not helped by the fact the staff were mere order takers and provided little advice on what newbies like us should do. We decided to simply try to mix and match ingredients and see what other diners were ordering and how they were cooking their food. You get to choose the sauce(s) as well from a small buffet.
Once you get all your ingredients and the pot you simply start cooking and experimenting. We had a smaller pot but changed it to a bigger one to put more ingredients, as you can see in the pictures. The first attempt was not exactly satisfying, so we had another go with a different sauce mix and it was better.The whole experience set us back by AED 91, which is much less than what one would order from your typical Chinese restaurant/franchise (Especially in Dubai).
It was definitely an intriguing meal, not your usual one but one that we would tr again at some point in the future.
Service: Friendly and prompt, communication was a bit of an issue. Would give it 3/5
Ambiance: Typical Chinese melodies and background Chinese TV. The fact you could hardly hear any English or Arabic could be a plus point 3.5/5
Food quality: 4/5, the ingredients were fresh and good (Same goes for the sauces). It’s down to you to create your own combination and make it good
Value for money: 4/5: At 91 Dirhams it was definitely good value for money (Portions of ingredients given were big, if we actually had a better idea about what to order and how to prepare it then it would have been even less we reckon)
Overall rating: 3.5/5: Worthy of another visit(s) in the future. Qian Zhou Hotpot does not seem to promote itself, it doesn’t need that. It has its regular clientele. It seems more than content as it is, which only adds to its charm. Not pretentious, simple yet very interesting.
Will leave you now with some more shots from our visit. Notice the Lebanese and Palestinian flags!