What does it take to be named 'Best Newcomer' at the FACT Dining Awards?
If you're after a dining experience that dares to be different, head to Les Dangereux in Abu Dhabi. Located at Mamsha Al Saadiyat, Executive Chef James Soo Yong Kim's new restaurant is shaking up the capital's dining scene.
This first-of-its-kind restaurant in Abu Dhabi offers a French dégustation experience anchored around a fine dining vision, a penchant for storytelling and is executed with a finesse often lacking in the UAE capital. The intimate restaurant space, with its arched mirrors, gold accents and ivory seating, offers a soothing setting reflecting its beachfront locale. Floor-to-ceiling windows provide views of the sand-sculpted shoreline, but the transparent kitchen will likely capture the attention of diners visiting Les Dangereux.
The constantly evolving restaurant prides itself on its farm-to-table concept, with ingredients coming from a 113,000-square-metre farm in Yas Island. These are used to create unexpected combinations for the 15-course Le Voyage Chef's Tasting Menu (AED 1,000 per head). Les Dangereux ditches traditional starters, mains and desserts, instead opting for a tasting menu that celebrates fine-dining French cuisine while being altogether international. Dishes meld local influences with global appeal, producing an exceptional dining experience focusing on innovative culinary experimentation.
We begin with the Avocado, which Chef James claims is "the very last avocado toast I will ever make professionally." This elevated take on the breakfast favourite is crafted to resemble a cigarette. It utilises crème fraîche and trout roe at the tip of the cylinder in place of the expected smoked salmon. Elsewhere, vinegar powder is used as an acidic replacement for lime. The result is a visual treat that plays with perceptions and acts as a precursor to the culinary adventures unfolding across Les Dangereux's accomplished menu.
We won't deconstruct each individual dish in this review, as we want you to experience the surprises for yourself. The Caviar & Egg course is a tribute to Chef Thomas Keller of the three MICHELIN-starred The French Laundry in California. Here, a chawanmushi (Japanese steamed egg custard) is served within an eggshell with maple syrup, parmesan cheese and a generous dollop of Bottarga caviar. It's a delight that's as decadent as it is comforting.
The Escargots and Laban was our favourite course. Chef James treats the ingredient with respect and rather than serving it in the shell, he tempuras the gastropod and serves it upon a maiz tortilla with black garlic and a 130-day Оxaca mole sauce. The punchy course ends with spherified laban in an ode to the restaurant's Abu Dhabi location and as a means to cleanse the palate.
The playfulness of the menu continues with the BDSM Potato, a take on Spanish tortilla with trout roe, saffron, and pomme dauphine, before hitting us with the Carpaccio. The ingredients list for this course reads "non-disclosure agreement", and it's up to diners to determine what the thin slithers comprise of (spoiler alert - it's not meat). This dare-to-be-different approach to dining is as impactful as it is impressive.
As we work through a moreish lamb sando and Dibba Bay Oysters served with Imperial caviar and Champagne beurre blanc, the dining adventure ups the ante with its premium ingredients and technical prowess. An impressive Wagyu course uses an MB9+ Australian striploin grilled on woodfire embers accompanied with a sous vide and fire-toasted endive ensconced with a Roquefort cream. The third component of this dish is the bone marrow, which is rolled into identical cylinders and crisped in a light tempura batter.
Desserts range from the G.T.O.A.T (greatest tiramisu of all time), prepared table side amidst plumes of liquid nitrogen and the divisive Oud. The latter serves a spiralised churro, crisp on the outside and oh-so-soft within and pairs it with an oud and frankincense chantilly cream that is moreish and potent.
Les Dangereux is an evolving concept, with an ever-changing menu sure to pique the interest of returning diners and first-timers to the restaurant. A chrome outdoor bar and terrace menu is also in the works ahead of the winter season, with the tasting menu only served within the art deco-inspired dining room.
Les Dangereux was recently awarded 'Best Newcomer' at the FACT Dining Awards Abu Dhabi 2023, due to its menu composition, food presentation, taste, restaurant ambience and stellar service. The restaurant excelled in all these criteria while telling the story of Chef James' career, taking diners from the past to the present amidst premium ingredients and persuasive storytelling.
If you're looking for one of the best new restaurants in Abu Dhabi – look no further.
GO: Visit https://eatapp.co for reservations and more information.