When I’m not reviewing food, I’m often writing — usually novels — but also about hotels (and very rarely, novels about hotels). In this instance, I was out at Zaya Nurai Island for some freelance coverage and was invited to dine at the newly opened Hooked with my host. With such a lovely setting, how could I refuse?
Located directly up the arrival dock is Hooked, a Mediterranean restaurant with an Arabic twist (‘coastal influences of the Levant’ as per the website). The venue is a unique spot in Abu Dhabi (as are most of the restaurants on the island, because how often are you going to dine on a private resort island?). With a smaller interior and an expansive chicly designed exterior, this is an ideal place to enjoy a meal al fresco.
With a collection of fresh fish, a full bar, and a variety of appetizers, Hooked was a perfect place to end my tour of the island (alternatively, it would’ve been a great and filling start to my visit). Instead of ordering main dishes, my dining partner and I decided to order a selection of mezze to split for our lunch. Our meal consisted of the following: hummus (three varieties, freshly made), calamari, grilled octopus (perfectly tender), halloumi (because, cheese), and my favorite, an Arabic treat, Fatteh Shrimps (which are actually a wonderful plate for sharing). With a glass of wine, attentive service, and flowing conversation, I can think of a lot worse ways to spend a weekday afternoon. Other than a few pesky flies (which we sorted by burning coffee grounds), there aren’t many improvements or suggestions I can think of.
Would I go back? While there is not one dish specifically worth making the trip for, I do think if you’re looking for a fun day trip outside of Abu Dhabi, Hooked would be a great place to start. Given the hourly timings of the departing boats (and other restaurants at the resort, Dusk and Ginger Mermaid look like fun places to visit), it would be easy to put together a progressive meal of sorts throughout the afternoon or evening. If you are interested in one of the dining venues, but are not a guest, be sure to make arrangements ahead of time (i.e., you can’t just show up to the dock and expect the boat to take you to the island).