14.062 Sautéed Sword Lettuce (Three Times)

Cycle 14 – Item 62

8 (Wed) March 2023

Sautéed Sword Lettuce (Three Times)


at Din Tai Fung

(The Galleria)

-Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates-


Living Aboard the MV Adora (Day +2/13)

In transit – Abu Dhabi to Incheon.  Just finished my 2nd liveaboard.  For 10 days, I was on the MV Adora – same boat as my 1st experience (see previously 9.191 Grilled Beef Tenderloin) – sailing through the Deep South Atolls, diving from the boat, while I ate, drank (lots of drink), slept, i.e., “lived aboard” the boat.  Now flying back home, with a long layover in Abu Dhabi.

Arriving in Abu Dhabi at 23:00 last night, I slept in the lounge.

Located 34.9 km from the airport.

Waking up at 10:00 this morning, I spent a few minutes on my iPad researching things to do.  The conclusion was to spend the entire time in The Galleria Mall, which hosts many of my favorite stores and several promising restaurant options.

Suddenly wondering why “Galleria” is such a popular name for shopping malls.


Din Tai Fung

In a situation like this, I would prefer to eat something local, but Emirati cuisine doesn’t yet seem to be institutionalized, at least at a mainstream commercial level (see generally 3.334 Emirati Bamiya), so the plan had been to have lunch at a Lebanese restaurant and then dinner at a Cantonese restaurant.

Later, I would realize that the main dining area and kitchen are on the 2nd floor.

However, upon encountering Din Tai Fung at the entrance (I hadn’t noticed the listing in my earlier review of the mall’s restaurants), I couldn’t resist the opportunity to add the Abu Dhabi branch to GMTD’s list of visits to Din Tai Fung restaurants.

GMTD at Din Tai Fung Restaurants Across the World  – 5 countries and counting (McDonald’s has only 4 countries (see FAST FOOD)):

    1. Republic of Korea – Seoul (3.202 Xiaolongbao)
    2. Taiwan – Taipei (5.110 (Chicken?) Xiaolongbao)
    3. Malaysia – Kuala Lumpur (6.332 Pork Xiao Long Bao)
    4. Philippines – Manila (Ortigas) (7.184 Xiaolongbao) (7.214 Shrimp & Pork Shaomai) (8.246 Shrimp and Pork Wontons with House Special Spicy Sauce) / Manila (Taguig) (7.364 Noodles with Minced Pork Sauce) (8.254 Noodles with House Special Spicy Sauce) (8.307 Spicy Pickled Cucumber)
    5. Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (14.062 Sautéed Sword Lettuce (Three Times))

Overly excited by the menu, I ordered way too much.  Upon reviewing the order form (a paper checklist filled in with a pencil), the server did a double take, as if to say, “All this, for only you?”

(Incidentally, all the servers were Filipino, as are the vast majority of service workers in UAE, which doesn’t have a sufficient local population to supply  the work force, or at least a population willing to do the work.)

Sword lettuce is a leafy green vegetable, a cultivar of the broad lettuce family (Lactuca sativa).  Similar in shape and size to romaine lettuce, but with serated leaves that taper to a point (like a sword).  Native to Asia, sword lettuce is popular in Taiwan and southern China, often stir-fried (sautéed).

I’d never heard of it.  Ordered it on spec.

Sautéed Sword Lettuce (3.5): stir-fried Cantonese style, with oil and a touch of garlic.

It was very good.  Firm and chewy, sweetish, slightly bitter, reminiscent of the leafy part of gailan.  Exactly the kind of thing that I’d been looking forward to – Chinese restaurants in Korea generally don’t offer vegetable dishes (see 14.038 Chinese Greens) – in planning to eat at a Chinese restaurant.

Crab & Chicken Xiaolongbao (3.0): presumably because of the Muslim thing, standard pork xiaolongbao are not on the menu (mutton is).

Everything was good.

I took the leftover lettuce to go.



I purchased an UAE-related set that I will build and feature in a future post.


The massive Kinokuniya bookstore.
Among the New & Notables: Cursed Bunny, whose author Bora Chung we’ve recently had the privilege to support at an author event at SFS (see 13.309 Roast Chicken with Mashed Potatoes in Gravy and Buttered Vegetables) and at an upcoming event at SIS (stay tuned).


Amazed to see the iconic Prada logo written in a script other than the standard Latin alphabet; I’d previously seen Rolex written in Arabic on my trip to Dubai (see 10.296 Grilled Shaari Eshkeli and More) – which goes to show how much money Arabs spend on luxury goods.


Bentley Kitchen

Having already eaten Chinese for lunch, I needed an alternative for dinner (the Lebanese place that I’d originally scouted for lunch wasn’t appropriate for dinner because it doesn’t serve booze, and I can’t be eating dinner without at least beer).

Located in Sowwah Square, where the the high-end boutiques are located.

The sales rep at Prada suggested Bentley Kitchen, just around the corner.  My sciatica was really bad by that point – aggravated by trying on so many pairs of shoes at Prada (stores in Korea, Prada and otherwise, don’t carry shoe sizes beyond 285 mm (I wear 300 mm)) – so proximity was a major factor.

If I’d had more time, I would’ve sat at the bar.

Though self-described on its website as “European fusion cuisine,” the menu shots on Google suggested eclectic Californian fare, including steaks and burgers, Baja-style tacos and Chinatown-style buns, as well as lobster.

Peroni Nastro Azzuro (draft): an Italian beer seemed appropriate, having just spent a lot of time (and money) at the Prada boutique.

Alas, upon arrival, I was informed that tacos and buns were no longer on the menu.  And the lobster was already sold out for the day – really, at 4pm?

So, I ordered a Niçoise, initially as an appetizer, waiting to see if I might want to order something more substantial afterwards.

Niçoise Salad (3.0): quail eggs, perfectly cooked to medium rare, tempted me to try them for the 1st time in my life – they tasted fine but creeped me out, almost to the point of gagging.

The salad was mostly hit, slightly miss.  I really liked the seared tuna, rather than canned tuna, which I’ll definitely try on my next home effort (see most recently 13.120 Salade Niçoise), also the cherry tomatoes, hearts of romaine, and fingerling potatoes, all in bite-sized pieces for an easier dining experience.  Surprisingly, the salad got me pretty full, so that was that.  Sadly, though I do appreciate a good Niçoise, it was not the kind of thing that I’d hoped to eat for dinner on my single evening in town.

A specific style of Rolex Cosmograph Daytona watches, featuring slightly alternate design elements, such as numerals in art deco font, is nicknamed the “Paul Newman Daytona (PND),” in reference to the actor, who famously wore and used them during his side hustle as a race car driver; they were not very popular when first released, so few were produced, making them ultra rare today, now the most collectible and valuable models in the Rolex lineup – a PND owned by Paul Newman sold at auction in 2017 for $17.8 million, a world record at the time; above, the cover features a Daytona owned by Paul Newman, though technically not a PND – it sold for $5.4 million in 2020.


Etihad Airways Business Class Lounge

(Abu Dhabi International Airport)

Back in the lounge.

With paneer tikka masala and steamed rice.

Not very hungry, but I wanted to finish off the sword lettuce from lunch, which I’d hauled around all day.  However, I still couldn’t finish them, so I took the rest onto the plane.


Flight EY 856


As always, I am grateful for and respectful of the opportunity to travel internationally, whether for fun or for work, whether on economy or business class, especially business class, including airport lounge access.

Previously ranked #7 in GMTD’s list of Business Class Dining experiences, this subpar meal drops its position to #8.  Previous experiences:

  1. MNL > AUH > AMM (6.154 Shakshouka)
  2. AMM > AUH > MNL (6.160 Zaalou-Crusted Chicken Breast)
  3. AUH > AMM (9.261 Prawns Machboos)
  4. AMM > AUH (9.267 Dukkah-Spiced Salmon)
  5. AUH > MNL (9.268 Malabar Grouper)
  6. ICN > AUH > MLE (14.050 Sea Bass Fillet)
  7. MLE > AUH (14.061 Garudhiya Meal)
Stir-Fried Shrimp (1.5): perhaps the worst dish that I’ve tasted on Etihad.
But, improved with the addition of Sautéed Sword Lettuce.

Funny coincidence: on the flight, I watched the movie Elvis, featuring Doja Cat’s song “Vegas,” which includes the following lyrics: “Had your ass sittin’ first class with your burnt ass out in Abu Dhabi.”

Not as good as that time when I watched the movie Inferno – set in Istanbul, about a madman’s attempt to release a lethal virus upon the world, with WHO “agents” trying to thwart the plot – while flying on Turkish Airways via Istanbul to a meeting (in Geneva) on vector-borne diseases, as a staff member of WHO at the time (see 8.046 Grilled Seafood Selections).

This is the moment when the lyrics are rapped – alas, the movie didn’t offer English subtitles.

The holiday was amazing – even though I did have nightmares about work almost every night – but I will be overwhelmingly relieved to be home soon.

(See also ARE)


(See also BOOZE)

(See also IN FLIGHT)



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