Ramadan got off to a slow start for me thanks to some travel and a brush with a deuteronomy-inspired tummy bug. But now, I’m in full Ramadan-mode. I have to be honest, while I love the lavish Ramadan tents around town (and this year there are some corkers), sometimes you want something a little different for iftar beyond the live cooking stations and Um Ali coma.
Eating outside the five star bubble doesn’t mean you compromise on quality, taste and experience. Quite contraire! Here are my top picks for breaking your fast without the five star fanfare:
When I hear “fusion” attached to a restaurant I do balk a little. Yugo bills itself as an “Asian fusion” restaurant – melding Thai, Japanese and Korean food, helmed by a French chef. A quick look at the menu allayed my fears and a taster put them further to rest. Using fresh ingredients and a sense of humor (something sorely lacking in some restaurants in this town), this is a place to return to again and again. You will find favorites like pad thai and stirfries but also some unusual dishes like deep fried brie and a spicy Korean dish with potatoes and meat.
Located in the Gate Mall, within weeks of opening it’s garnered a loyal following and a bit of a buzz. Casual, fun and well executed Asian-inspired food, they also have a Ramadan set menu which features a bit of everything – salad, soup, starter, curry, noodles and dessert for QR149.
Must order: Try the Brie-Age – a Japanese take of French classic of fried Brie and a deep, rich and surprising Massaman lamb curry.
This is as much as a dining “experience” as anything else, but the bonus is the food is simply divine. This year they are offering a special iftar set menu with starters, a main course and dessert. We will get to the dessert in a minute. The menu changes weekly, but on my visit there was a deliciously creamy harira with gold leaf, sambousek stuffed with smoky lamb and a perfectly unctuous shrimp and spelt dish.
Where IDAM excels is the details – the artisan bread basket comes delivered warm to your table, the fruit platter with tiny apricots between courses, the matching juices, the tea trolley with four honeys to choose from and little timers to make sure your brew is perfect.
Then, there is the (pre) dessert trolleys. For Ramadan they have an Arabic inspired cart with rosewater cakes and traditional Arabic sweets. Then there is the petit four cart with home made marshmallows and other treats – all before the actual dessert which was a date souffle with labne sorbet. Combine this with THAT view and exceptional service and you almost don’t mind the QR290 per head price tag (10 percent off for Culture Pass members). If you do one thing this Ramadan, it should be having iftar here.
Must order: It’s a set menu so go with the flow!
A perennial favorite of mine, their Ramadan menu showcases the innovative cooking this place is known for. Iftar is a very pocket-friendly QR95 and options include a Madras masala roasted chicken and shakshuka with eggplant. The mezze includes curry vegetable sambousek and tomato burghul. They are also running a series of events during Ramadan including kids cooking classes – check their website for updates.
Special mention: The always dependable Isla Mexican Kitchen has an excellent Ramadan offer – QR99 all you can eat tacos. That sounds like a challenge to me!
How is your Ramadan going? What are your favorites so far?