In contrast to much of the Yas Hotel, which has a minimalist and futuristic feel – all cool whites and icy blues – Angar, the Indian restaurant located on the ground floor, feels rather cosy. The walls are painted a deep terracotta red, coloured lanterns dangle from the ceiling and a large, glittering gold lamp draws attention to the open kitchen and tandoor ovens.
We began by sharing a complimentary bowl of fresh, grease-free poppadoms and crisp papads, accompanied by a selection of chutneys, which included a notably good, verdant green, spicy coriander dipping sauce and a sweet apple chutney, featuring tiny pieces of tender cooked fruit.
The decent-sized menu has a good selections of breads, a couple of soup-based starter options, a list of main courses and a larger section dedicated to dishes from the tandoor, served in appetizer or main course portions. We decided to begin by sharing one of these: the signature tandoori platter.
Of the four different elements, two were hits, one was fine and the other a distinct miss. On the plus side, bite-sized pieces of yogurt-marinated chicken were tender and juicy, with a mild, sweet, cardamom -infused aftertaste. The lal mirch tikka was also good - pleasantly charred around the edges, with a smoky, spicy flavour.
Although smooth and tender, the minced lamb kebabs (gilafi sheekh kebabs) just lacked a certain something; they were fine, but needed to have been more generously seasoned with herbs and spices to really make an impact. Two huge king prawns were served with heads and tails on, but despite looking rather spectacular, they were a real disappointment; they had been overcooked and as a result, the meat was tough and rubbery.
A main course of paneer makhanwala was rich, as expected, with the tablets of mild, chewy white cheese holding their shape well and providing a nice contrast in texture and flavour to the smooth, buttery tomato sauce. My teekhe jhinga bhuna featured prawns sautéed in a nicely spicy sauce, which was thick with soft, slightly caramelised onions and tomatoes. Strangely, however, the tails of the small prawns had been left on and as they were completely covered with sauce, I had a choice between removing them myself (messy) or slicing them off, thus missing out on valuable pieces of meat. Not wanting to coat my hands in curry, I opted for the latter.
We also ordered a Punjabi salad to share. I had expected the ingredients (cucumber, tomato, red onion, carrot and green chilli) to be diced and tossed together in some sort of dressing, but in fact they were served plain, arranged on a plate in thick slices with the two green chillies left whole, which seemed quite odd. The crunchy vegetables did, however, cut through the heaviness of the two curries well and freshened up the meal.
Service was, for the most part, good: our waiter knew the menu well and was keen to make suggestions. Towards the end of our meal, when the restaurant began to fill up, we started to feel a little neglected, though. It took a long time for our plates to be cleared and staff seemed more intent on tending to the needs of the new guests rather than delivering our bill.
Compared with the other restaurants I have visited on Yas Island, this one ranks highly. Perhaps it is not quite worth driving out to the island for, but if you're already there and in the mood for a curry, it should more than satisfy.
A meal for two at Angar, the Yas Hotel, Yas Island costs Dh381, including service and tourism charge. For reservations, call 02 656 0600. Reviewed meals are paid for by The National and reviews are conducted incognito