On another uncharacteristically windy and rainy Dubai day we decided to venture beyond the Brunch buffets we’d come to know and love and try a set menu alternative at Hoi An. Josh was unsure but we had to give it a go and Dad and Jane were here too so it was pressure on for our first non-buffet brunch in Dubai.
It’s not a memorable location alongside the Sheik Zayed Road and the entrance and reception area are nice but probably a lot less glam than you’d expect from a Dubai hotel and a Shangri-La Hotel at that. Hoi An is upstairs with Chang Palace (a Chinese restaurant) at the other end of the mezzanine which overlooks the reception area. We weren’t sure if it was open when we first walked in as it was very quiet, but one table was seated so we ventured in. You’re greeted by friendly staff and a very small but lovely room. All very traditional with hanging lanterns and a lady playing traditional Vietnamese music. I actually liked that it was really small and intimate making a nice change from some of the large scale brunches Dubai is famous for. There’s no view but that doesn’t really matter, the room makes it. The restaurant gradually filled up (with one family arriving with an hour to go – a crazy move as far as I’m concerned) and it was a nice relaxed atmosphere. This isn’t a party brunch but it’s all the better for it.
The waitress let us know that we’d received a small portion of every appetiser to start with (there’s about 12!) and then we could go back for more of particular dishes we enjoyed. Although I’m a huge fan of buffet brunches, it was actually a really nice change to be served at your table and have the chance to try a bit of everything. Stand out dishes included: the seafood deep fried spring rolls (it really works), the coconut prawns, the dim sum (not the prawn one though, that was a bit strong) and the Cha Ca fish cakes. We were then onto the Pho with a beef and chicken option to choose from. This was quickly followed by the salads and the mains. The salads were both very good with a tasty beef salad and a green papaya and shrimp option that was a much needed light options before the mains. The standout main dish was the chicken in X.O sauce (seconds were soon ordered). I also really liked the seared beef. Dessert was traditional – ice cream with a tangy mango soup which was delicious and Pandan Sago which I’m not so sure about (I don’t think that was the restaurant’s fault, I’m not sure I’d ever be a fan!)
The drinks package included sparkling which is bordering on crazy given the price (more on that below). The white and red wine were equally drinkable but I think the sparkling was the standout. There was a signature cocktail that was ok but I’d stick with the wine, spirits weren’t an option so you’d need to be a beer or wine drinker here. Note. Although we thought the staff were brilliant this was slightly tainted towards the end with the drinks. I know brunch goers like to push it and I can understand when staff say no but in this case I think it was a bit much. At 3.40pm (the brunch ended at 4pm) I thought I’d try the house cocktail – I was told (very firmly) that it would be the last drink for me, which given that I was having lunch with my parents and we were as faraway from rowdy as you could get, a bit much. My Dad also asked for more red wine as there was only a small amount left in the bottle and was pretty much told he’d had enough too! We were able to laugh it off and it was only a small point but it was a shame because it was otherwise a perfect brunch.
At AED 295 (house beverages) and on the Entertainer (2 for 1), this is a bargain! We couldn’t get over the quality and quantity for the price. No wonder they weren’t happy with the last drinks order in a way, we’d probably had our money’s worth ten times over!
The Guestbook comment: “A very good alternative style brunch if you are looking for a relaxed afternoon in a quiet but authentic setting with great food and drink. This is definitely not a party option but offers a great break from the buffet brunches of Dubai and is excellent value for money.”