In Doha we love a food trend – both starting them and following them (sometimes a bit later than expected). Some a good. Some are bad. Some are downright infuriating. From Korean BBQ to Dynamite Shrimp and Saturday brunches here my takes on what I think a re are the top Doha dining trends of 2019:
The popularity of this cuisine, with its mix of salty, sweet and spicy, just keeps growing in Doha. Independent restaurant Maru, with its excellent Korean BBQ has set foodie pulses racing in recent months and is fast attaining cult status. And now, from the people who brought us the beloved Yee Hwa, comes Qokio – dedicated to the art of KFC (that’s Korean Fried Chicken people). This is a trend I can fully support!
Saturday is the new Friday and I am totally here for that. Friday brunches are fun and all, but it really does take a chunk of the day. Saturday lunches, are their more relaxed cousins. With set menus and a la carte drinks, they are the best way to ease yourself into the working week. Toro Toro (probably the most improved restaurant in the city right now) has a Saturday option that will blow you away for just QR295. Other great options include Opal’s Lazy Saturday brunch and Siel et Miel’s French-inspired offering. Rumor has it that Hakkasan will also launch a refreshed Saturday brunch – with dumplings!
Old Venues – New Life
This is a cost effective way to keep the dining public happy and also keep revenues sparkling. A great example of this is the Frying Scotsman at the Radisson Blu. It’s in the space that the unremarkable Pier seafood restaurant once occupied. But add some tartan, a fun concept and very good fish and chips, and you have something fresh and interesting. Other examples of this include the B Lounge (formerly known as Admirals – review to come soon) and Siel et Miel again both at the Ritz Carlton.
I feel that this year we have seen more new, independent operators enter the market than in previous years (blockade not withstanding). Check out The Brunchery in al Sadd, which is serving up crowd pleasing brunch-inspired food. Also Pizza Box – a local start-up selling NY inspired pizza with a fresh and fun approach. Now, for someone to open a decent Vietnamese restaurant.
The Tyranny of Dynamite Anything
I blame PF Changs. they brought their much loved dynamite shrimp, with its spicy, sweet sauce and deep fried morsels to Qatar a few years back. I’ve banged on about this before but it’s time for a revisit. It’s now being emulated on menus across the country, all with varying degrees of success. Dynamite chicken, shrimp, fries…Enough. ENOUGH!
Specialty Coffee and Burgers – still
I thought the Great Coffee/Burger Reckoning would come in 2019. It didn’t. Everyday there is a new coffee shop plying Spanish Lattes or a burger joint offering even more ridiculous concoction (enough of the colored buns people. It doesn’t work!) I’m no economist (I did a year of political economy – fight the power!), but this can’t be a case of supply and demand. Vanity? Maybe.
Food Park Dining
I have to hand it to the local sports clubs, whoever came up with the idea to rent out the carparks to food trucks and cabins is a genius move. They should also be feted by Doha’s foodies. From Duhail to Al Sadd, Dafna and beyond, while the quality is variable, and the diversity not as broad as it could be, it’s really shaken up the food scene and made it more…democratic.
You heard me! Water, the giver of life, has been packaged and given a name. A certain French supermarket also has a whole display of expensive water, sourced by vestal virgins from Icelandic volcanic gardens. We’re also seeing this emulated by hotels who think nothing of charging QR40 plus for a bottle of imported water.
Trends to Watch
- Scandinavian food – the soon-to-open Al Messila Marriott has a slate of new restaurants, but the most interesting is SNøULL, by Michelin Star Chef, Theis Brydegaard. No date yet but this one has me twitching.
- Single concept outlets – A move away from cafes and restaurants being all things to all people, we’re seeing places opt to do one thing well. YAS! Nod to Le’Eclair de Genie for riding this wave.
- Food waste and plastic use awareness – Keep an eye on both of these as they also start to make an impact internationally. Qatar restaurants have a long way to go to address both issues but attitudes are changing.
- Beyond Meat – At least one Qatar supermarket chain is working to bring these plant based meat substitutes to our shores. Watch this space.