If you are like me, you have your “go-to” restaurants where, (mostly) for want of a better idea, you always end up at. There is a lot to be said for the Cheers approach to eating out – you like to go where everyone knows your name…and how you like your Diet Coke. But sometimes I like to veer wildly off my usual programming.
This led me to thinking, why not shine a light on some of these places, that perhaps aren’t as widely known as they should be. Maybe they are located where you least expect them. Or perhaps they are literally off the beaten track.
Doha and Qatar is teeming with these lesser known places – this is going to be a monthly series and I also expect my Doha diners to help me scout them out – word of mouth is the best recommendations!
The first in this series is a place AZ and I tried mostly out of curiosity and on a whim.
The amusingly named D’Chopstix is located inside Holiday Villa Hotel and Residences – that cruise ship shaped building on C Ring Road. The hotel and this restaurant comes with some decent foodie cred – it’s a Malaysian chain and many of the staff hail from there. On our first visit, we had arrived looking for a slap-up Chinese meal, and left so impressed that I returned the next day to try their dim sum brunch.Let me be clear, it’s a rare occurrence that I would return within 24 hours to the same restaurant not armed with a complaint.
Rather I was so impressed, I wanted to try other options.
The restaurant has a multitude of special promotions and a series of menus the size of phone books (remember them?). For me this is usually the sign of a confused concept, but here it makes sense. The menu runs from Malaysian to Chinese, Indonesian and Japanese favorites. Rather than stretching themselves thin, they appear to have specialist chefs dedicated to each cuisine.
On our first visit we ordered off the hefty a la carte menu. The crispy Chinese beef was perfectly cooked and the sauce sticky. Kung Pao chicken was laced with chillis and could have done with more chicken to do the firey sauce justice but we still managed to clean the plate. A plate of stirfried beef noodles was moreish but perhaps outshone by the other dishes – it was the only one we didn’t finish. Meanwhile the star of the show was a chicken ramen – the broth deep and rich with flavor. It was so warming and satisfying we even asked for a top up of the broth.
At less than QR300 for four dishes plus mocktails and soft drinks, (this included a 15 percent discount for using my HSBC visa), it was great value for money.
Back to my rapid return visit – the staff had mentioned their Friday Dim Sum and Japanese Friday brunch. They didn’t have to tell me twice. With AZ working, I hotfooted it back less than 24 hours later to get a much-needed dumpling fix.
Again, the concept was wide ranging. You could choose anything off the menu of Chinese dumplings (20 steamed and four fried) as well as being able to order from the live teppanyaki and sashimi counter. Add to this a sushi and maki roll buffet, made-to-order tempura plus five hot Chinese dishes and salads and desserts – and frankly that’s a full afternoon.
But, I was focused on one thing – dumplings – and bypassed the sushi, earmarking it for another visit. It’s easy to over-order and I fear I almost did (ALLLMOST).
The dumpling selection includes well executed favorites like har gow (prawn) and sui mai (with crab roe), but also mixes it up with some unique ones like a wonderfully delicate scallop dumpling.
Standouts for me were the light as air prawn tempura, delivered still steaming directly from the chef. A char siew choong fun – aka chicken and prawn nice noodle roll – was silky and light. The menu included a rare sighting in Doha – a radish cake. I discovered this traditional beauty a few years ago in Hong Kong but never found it on menus here. Some versions can be heavy on the flour but this was perfectly portioned. You could taste the turnip – which is the point!
I only delved into the dim sum portion of proceedings but the sushi and maki looked spectacular. And here’s the thing – all of this all you can eat, plus unlimited Chinese tea – was just QR138.
Let’s just let that sink in for a minute – that’s less than I would spend on happy hour. That’s two gins and tonics in some places.
The room itself is open, with floor to ceiling windows bringing natural light streaming in (Insta ready people!), which makes a change from many Asian restaurants in this town. The staff helpful and knowledgable.
This is not so much a hidden gem, rather a well kept secret amongst many foodies in this town (conspiracy maybe?!). Well executed Malaysian, Chinese and Japanese food at accessible prices. Which is proof again, you don’t have to pay five star prices for a great meal. Which made me wonder – where has this place been my whole life?
Address: Muntazah Signal, Muntazah, Doha
Phone: +974 4408 4888
What to order: From the a la carte menu go for the ramen, claypot eggplant and the crispy beef. Check the restaurant’s social media or call for regular promotions including their Friday Brunch (order the tempura and the rice noodle rolls). Saturdays they offer Malaysian chicken and duck dishes from as little as QR25 (takeaway QR2 extra).
Do you know of a “hidden gem” we should be exploring? Let me know in the comments below!