Back in the day (ok around five years ago), Yum Yum at K108 Hotel was the hottest dining ticket in town. With a sun-drenches dining room, views for days and a French chef turning out unique and sometimes challenging dishes.
But Doha’s dining scene is one that is driven by fashion and fads – the chef left, other places opened and well, people moved on. But this place continued to deliver. I confess I was one of those diners who moved on to other more shiny objects.
So I sheepishly returned recently to see how it was holding up. Sadly, the dining room was empty on our weekday lunch run.
It’s a big and airy space, but one that isn’t used as best as it could be. One of the reasons for the slow uptake is I believe its lack of an alcohol licence. Not that I believe all restaurants should serve alcohol or need to, but this is a space and a location crying out for a bigger following. And, for some people, lack of choice is a deal breaker.
With new staff in the kitchen, the menu is a little more encompassing and crowd pleasing than its former iteration. Six mains and six starters plus a choice of three desserts. which still changes regularly. Their business lunch offer is an three courses for QR89 and two for QR69.
When it first opened, the menu reflected the French origins of the chef. Now, it’s more international – a lamb rack sharing the menu with a Thai chicken curry. Starters are heavy on the salads with a burrata with tomato vinaigrette being a nod to its heritage.
Proceedings started well with the delivery of a perfectly executed offering of warm sourdough rolls. So few restaurants in this town get their bread right – this is spot on.
A starter of chicken salad with ranch dressing is well executed if a little bland. Fried calamari with passionfruit mayo is more successful – a tangle of perfectly cooked and battered tendrils with a tangy sauce. Served on a board (OK I will forgive that), it’s light and bright.
When it first opened, the restaurant offered an “off menu” burger to satisfy demand and I’m pleased to say it remains just as good. Unlike others in the city, its construction is perfect, ingredients encased in a proper bun – neither sloppy nor under-seasoned. It was also a perfect medium rare – but more of that in a minute. A minor quibble – it was served with ketchup and mayo and both were clearly from a bottle. This is what I expect from a casual dining establishment, not one with a pedigree like YumYum.
When I ordered the beefsteak with tomatoes I was locked in an existential inner FOMO battle with whether to choose it or the seafood pasta. I should have ordered the spaghetti. A miscommunication with the kitchen (we asked for the burger well done and the steak medium rare) further compounded my bad choice.
The steak arrived looking the business but with the texture (but none of the style) of my Converse All Stars I was wearing. Thinly sliced (with gristle), it was overcooked and disappointing. The potatoes it was served with were also weirdly flaccid and the tomatoes seemed an afterthought on the plate.
I should have ordered the pasta.
To their credit the service staff (there were three handling the two of us) handled the situation professionally. For perhaps the first time in Doha, I was proactively asked why my food was practically untouched and this was relayed to the kitchen. When their offer of a new dish was rebuffed, they took the dish off our final bill and offered free coffees.
This is a restaurant that should have more exposure than it does – sitting in an empty dining room is not as romantic as it seems. I’d like to think our actual orders were sub par, but a good restaurant’s offering should not have any weak spots. The menu seems to have suffered perhaps from a lack of direction and a desire to please all people. Should you go? Well, to be fair their lunch menu is great value (and the burger remains excellent) and if you choose well, is a an alternative to the West Bay.
Yum Yum at K108 Hotel
80 Ibn Abdul Muttalib Street