Anantara Eastern Mangroves’ executive chef, Idin Asmitha, discusses culinary philosophies and Thai flavours
Set amidst the UAE capital’s protected mangrove district, Anantara Eastern Mangroves Hotel Abu Dhabi stands out for its five-star service. The hotel’s buzzing vibe, thanks to its central city location, is balanced with tranquil mangrove views in its backdrop. Making the most of this setting, Anantara Eastern Mangroves offers dining options catering for every taste. Drawing from the brand’s Thai roots, the signature restaurant Pachaylen offers an authentic experience with traditional Thai flavours. Specialities from all over the world can be found at Ingredients, while The Pool Deck hosts Mediterranean feasts. We speak to executive chef, Idin Asmitha, who takes us behind the scenes for a glimpse into the hotel’s diverse culinary offering.
How did you discover your passion for cooking?
“I have fond memories of helping my mother fix our family dinners. I learnt so much from her while we prepared all our meals from scratch and I still vividly recall every dish she taught me to cook. It was those moments spent in the kitchen that ignited my passion for cooking. During this early training at home, I also learnt that adding a personal touch to the recipe makes your dish a success – a philosophy that sees me through my work even today. Following instructions is easy but it is that unique personal style that works as a special ingredient, making a dish extraordinary.”
Tell us more about your role at Anantara Eastern Mangroves
“As executive chef, my primary responsibility is to oversee the hotel’s culinary operations. Maintaining the brand’s standards to the highest levels possible with the work we do in the kitchens is also an integral part of my role. This involves many different components, including planning new menus, sourcing ingredients from the best suppliers, studying market trends, monitoring local competition, looking after speciality restaurants, ensuring consistency and helming our banqueting operations. While this might sound routine, every moment at the hotel is as eventful as the next and no two days look alike. There is always something different to look forward to every day, which keeps me going, and something new and exciting to bring to the table, quite literally.”
The hotel boasts some of Abu Dhabi’s most popular restaurants. Could you tell us more about the outlets?
“The Anantara brand was born in Thailand and then expanded throughout the world but we remain true to our roots. Our signature Thai restaurant, Pachaylen, serves as the perfect example. The venue has become a favourite among gourmands in the capital, who return time and again to sample our authentic aromatic curries and spicy salads. But, at Anantara, the focus is not only on Thai cuisine. To find success in a culturally diverse landscape, it is important to cater for every taste. Diners will find cuisines from around the world at the hotel. The all-day venue, Ingredients, promises a feast for the senses with international dishes. Our rooftop bar, Impressions, serves Latin American, Japanese and Mexican finger food. At The Pool Deck, we host barbecue nights with Mediterranean grills against views of the mangroves.”
With several outlets, each catering to a different audience, what is the primary philosophy that guides these concepts?
“Although distinct in character, the underlying philosophy uniting every dining experience at Anantara is world-class service straight from the heart. We believe that the most amazing stories begin in the kitchen and we want our diners to take a fond memory home with them. Quality is the highest priority as it can instantly win over an audience. But the little things also matter. We interact with every guest, offer five-star service and create an ambience that evokes luxury to make sure the setting contributes to the overall experience.”
With fierce competition on Abu Dhabi’s dining scene, how do the venues at the hotel stand out?
“Authenticity is the key. Take Pachaylen, for instance. We try to keep the experience as authentic as possible with classic flavours, a traditional setting and knowledgeable staff. And it all comes together beautifully.”