First impressions: Ocean's bounty

Malavika Ravi drops anchor at Gem Garden for their latest attraction - Seafood nights on Wednesdays - and wonders why it isn't held on all days of the week

Image Credit: Xpress/Virendra Saklani
A chef at Gem Garden garnishing a fish preparation

Located within the classy setting of Holiday Inn, Al Barsha, Gem Garden is every seafood lover’s dream come true.

The entrance to the restaurant looks deceptive and could easily be mistaken for an extension of a conference room. However, once you step inside all doubts and second guesses go for a toss as the strong aroma of grilled fish wafts in the air and sends your hunger pangs on overdrive.

For the special Wednesday night seafood extravaganza, the extensive buffet will leave you wondering where to start.

Spoilt for choice

Squid, crab, lobster, oyster – there’s every kind of seafood sitting on the buffet counter. For appetisers, I would strongly recommend roulade of salmon with cream cheese from the salad menu. This deliciously made rolled mixture tickles your tongue and melts in your mouth in spite of being cold. The cream is perfect and the salmon flawlessly prepared. The stuffed squid with shrimps can be given a miss as the rather rubbery-like texture may leave you slightly tired after all the chewing.

If you want a sweet and sour explosion in your mouth, try the seafood salad and Thai squid salad with lemon and chilli dressing

You cannot arrive at a seafood night buffet and not experience the magic of an open kitchen where you get to see the chef prepare the fish and sauces of your choice, and grill it to perfection right in front of your eyes.

I opted for pomfret in a sauce full of Indian spices. The crackle and sizzle as the sizzling grilled fish arrived made me hungry all over again. And the dish exceeded all expectations.

I was now feeling adventurous and my friend and I decided to venture into the unknown and try a range of different dishes.

It was a rather bittersweet experience, quite literally. While we enjoyed the rich flavours of the baked Sultan Ibrahim fish that came with tahina sauce, we regretted trying the roast potato with tomato basil and shrimp that didn’t taste all that great and seemed a tad chewy.

For dessert, we were faced with the arduous task of choosing from an inviting array of sweet delights.

I would certainly recommend the chocolate fountain with marshmallows, cream caramel and the tiramisu, which left me asking for more. As I polished the last bit of tiramisu from my plate, my stomach felt like it was about to explode. I left the restaurant with a feeling of satisfaction and approval.

For Dh145, the buffet is a steal.

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