Did we expect 2021 to be better? Well yes, we did and mostly it has been pretty much same same but with less COVID. But one bright spot in Doha has been the dining scene which shook off the year that didn’t happen to shine brightly. And, as I do every year, I have rounded up my list of the Best Doha Restaurant Dishes of 2021.
There was a lot to like about 2021 as a foodie – a handful of new restaurants, new menus and mostly no Dalgona Coffee. I loved seeing IKA opening its doors and impressing us with its chef-driven South American fare. I was also pleased to see the stunning Salwa Beach Resort hit its stride with some excellent in-house restaurants and innovative approach. And…Coya is finally here, and Bibo Doha finally got the memo and is serving up the food we wanted from them all along.
It was hard to whittle down the list (as it is every year) and yes this is bigger than I anticipated…but here are the best Doha restaurant dishes of 2021. (PS – stick around to the end for some upcoming attractions , trend predictions and other thoughts!)
Welcome back Hakkasan, it’s good to see you firing on all cylinders after a period of serviceable but not earthshattering food. A new menu and a new energy brings it roaring back – special mention for this beautifully glossy and tender tender lamb tenderloin just added to their menu. Very few places do dinner and drinks better than Hakkasan. A worthy addition to the list of Doha’s best restaurant dishes of 2021.
Ticked away inside the Al Mana Hotel on Airport Road is this Malaysian inspired gem. They extended their menu recently beyond sandwiches and coffee to include favorites like their silky Hainanese Chicken Rice. Well price and unpretentious – this place is a little gem.
This dish, at Izu at the Mandarin Oriental Doha pushes all of my foodie buttons – perfectly cooked lobster and prawns, al dente pasta and a lush but not overwhelming tomato-based sauce. Every strand of pasta coated with just the right amount of sauce. This restaurant has really blossomed since it quietly opened a couple of years ago and this is perhaps my favorite Doha restaurant dish of 2021. Hold me.
Hello W Doha. Nice to see you again. They are slowly getting their mojo back with some cracking new menu items at Spice Market. This is all the things – color, favors, textures.
Still glamorous and still pumping out some incredible food. This dish featured on their Saturday Suppers menu in 2021 and it’s a knock out. It has all the hallmarks of the restaurant’s Peruvian roots with a nod to the country’s Italian influence – notable in the Genovese style pesto.
This is the ONLY place in Doha that gets this surprisingly complex dumpling right. The dumpling skin is wafer thin yet able to contain the steaming hot soupy filling. Liang takes me right back to the restaurants of Hong Kong. Kudos to the Mandarin Oriental, they are kicking it out of the park when it comes to food and beverage in this town.
a log time coming and this tiny spot in the Al Mana Hotel has been packing in the ramentics since it opened earlier this year. It’s hard to go wrong on the short and compact menu, but for me the star is the Tori Paitan Ramen – chicken white broth. Winner winner!
OK so this was on a recent special menu but it’s seriously one of the best dishes I have had all year. And this is the beauty of Nobu, keeps surprising you whether you are a regular like me or a first timer. This dish was sublime is so many ways – texture, flavors and presentation – and indicative of their approach to food. The “pasta” is strips of gently cooked calamari…
Al Wakra’s first licensed bar serves up some pretty awesome food. And while this is listed on the menu as a side dish, it needs it’s own recognition. Order extra bread to soak up the spicy sauce. Worth the Uber fare
I didn’t pick egg sandwiches as a trend this year but here we are. And what an egg sandwich this is. Best eaten hot, this cafe in Najma serves up a cracker of a sandwich bathed in chili jam and with slightly salty slices of pastrami sandwiched in a brioche roll. Argle…..
Ignore the preening instagrammers and make a beeline for this dish – perfectly crispy fried fish fillets with tartare sauce and purple potatoes. It’s English fish and chippy by way of Peru.
Hello loverrrrr. These steaming parcels of sweet and spiced pumpkin have been living rent vfree in my head all year. Hailing from Uzbek eatery Afrasiyab, they are the perfect start to a meal and come with either a yoghurt dipping sauce or a tangy tomato one. Pocket friendly and frankly delicious.
What a revelation this place is – intensely flavored yet approachable Indian food with flair. I’m pleased to see this place earn a following. this dish is one of their many veggie offerings and is indicative of the menu as a while – well balanced and perfectly presented.
So that’s Doha’s Best Restaurant Dishes of 2021, here’s what I’m looking forward to in 2022:
- La Bodega Negra – I admire what the St Regis and Al Fardan hospitality has done with the once moribund ballroom complex at Al Gassar. La Bodega Negra is one of the restaurants in this area and for me, it was love at first sight. A recent sampler of their food reminded me – this place is terrific and I need to go back.
- Speaking of the St Regis, some new energy is on the move there. I can’t wait to see what the refurbishment brings.
- Sumosan Doha opened recently with a LOT of hype. Hoping this will bring a new edge to Msherieb
- Three new hotel openings in 2022 – Raffles, Fairmont and Katara Towers are bringing with them some big culinary names and we can’ wait.
- Cult favorite Zuma is also on the Doha agenda in 2022.
And what about Qatar food trends for 2022?
- Donuts – I think these will be everywhere in 2022. Easy to make, easier to eat and goes with Qatar’s favorite pastime, coffee.
- Korea’s global soft power domination continues and in Qatar that means more food, more Squid Game references and more K Pop.
- Pizza – all kinds of pizza. By the slice, rolled up and more.
- Plant-based chicken – it’s real and it’s coming here I’m sure of it.
- Ghost Kitchens – Talabat launched a ghost kitchen at Expo 2020 in Dubai and in Qatar we are also seeing a surge here in Qatar.
- Robots – yeah robot “waiters” – they are a gimmick and a bit wrong, but in this post COVID-19 world they are gaining popularity. Also they look good on instagram.
- Wine pairings – FINALLY we are seeing restaurants offer wine pairings to go with their menus. This is something I can fully support.
thanks for following along this year folks – it’s been awesome having you with me for the ride. Here’s to an exciting 2022!