We visit the FACT Award-winning Thai restaurant’s first venue in the capital.
Sticky Rice is one of the UAE’s great homegrown success stories. So, we were excited to see the Thai restaurant expanding from Dubai to Abu Dhabi. Here’s FACT’s exclusive first look inside Sticky Rice Abu Dhabi.
Located on the first floor of Yas Mall, close to the Apple Store, Sticky Rice Abu Dhabi has brought its signature dishes and unique style to the capital. Echoing the original JVC outpost in Dubai, the casual restaurant is easy to spot due to the Instagrammable Kew duck logo that stands proudly above the signage.
Sticky Rice Abu Dhabi’s décor includes a colour palette of stark grey floor tiles, exposed ceiling ducts, black countertops, and explosions of yellow cladding to emphasise the restaurant’s industrial interiors. However, playfulness is found throughout the restaurant space, from the plushy stuffed claw machine to the artworks displaying the beloved Kew character in various getups, including an Emirati kandora and Hawaiian skirt. Rubber ducks are scattered throughout the restaurant, including 7,500 stuffed into glass casings on a large feature wall.
Sticky Rice Abu Dhabi’s menu draws inspiration from the original restaurant. The menu covers starters, salads and soups, plus fragrant curries, noodles, rice and stir fry. Highlights include the sticky tamarind chicken tenders (a firm favourite of FACT’s editor-in-chief), Som Tum Thai (Thai papaya salad), Spicy Kaeng Keaw Wan (Thai Green Curry), Pad See Ew Pak (Stir Fried Thick Flat Rice Noodles) and a series of seafood platters. Portions are more than generous, but you won’t want to miss Mama’s Special River Prawn Tom Yum, the Sticky Tamarind Wings and (of course) the Mango Sticky Rice.
Developed exclusively for the Abu Dhabi location is a selection of Thai BBQ dishes and Thai roti stuffed with banana or Nutella and drizzled with condensed milk. The latter sweet treats are served from a dedicated window beneath a sign that reads “eat until your full” in Thai.
The original Sticky Rice can be found in Dubai’s Jumeirah Village Circle and was a passion project initiated by Amena Rakkuson (affectionately known as Mama) and her son, Mo Abedin. Rakkuson, a self-taught cook, who harboured a desire to open her own restaurant, began preparing meals in her family kitchen and delivering them to customers across Dubai. Over time, she built a loyal following, who regularly ordered her authentic Thai delicacies. Tragically, Amena passed away in 2021 due to Covid-19-related complications.
The opening of Sticky Rice Abu Dhabi was first announced on the restaurant’s Instagram account in November of 2021 as “a love letter to all the beautiful people of Abu Dhabi who have been driving all the way down for years, and still manage to queue for an hour to sit and eat Mama’s food with us.”
Having picked up two consecutive FACT Awards for ‘Best Thai Restaurant in Dubai, ‘ Sticky Rice’s star is on the rise. It may have taken some time, but this bona fide Thai restaurant is ready to make its mark on the capital.
Sticky Rice Abu Dhabi is open daily from 12pm to 10pm.
GO: Visit www.stickyrice.ae for more information.