Browsing articles in "Restaurant Reviews"
Mar 22, 2008

Wok of Life Reviewed at Kishor’s

Wok of Life

Fellow blogger Kishor Cariappa posted on his blog a review of Wok of Life, the new Chinese restaurant in MBD. Check out his review here.

Feb 24, 2008

Kababji – Al Khuwair

Kababji - Al Khuwair

We paid a visit last weekend to Kababji, one of the new kebab places in Al Khuwair, if you read any of the local newspapers you must have seen their ad campaign which has been going on for a couple of weeks now. Kababji is located next to Badr al Samaa health centre in Al Khuwair. It is an Arabic/Mediterranean grilled food dine-in restaurant and sandwich coffeeshop.

KAbabji - Bread

Kababji is quite spacious inside and has a separate big room for families. We were two guys, so we sat in the open section, which got slowly filled up with families once the family dining room got fully occupied. We were impressed by the staff of Kababji as they swiftly guided the families through sections of the open section and then sealed up their tables using section barriers. However, the longer we stayed the more and more families filled up the open section until we started feeling uncomfortable (you can’t look in any direction other than in front of you as people will think that you’re staring at their daughter!!) I couldn’t even photograph the place afterwards because of this!

Kababji - Starters

I did not think that there was anything extra special in Kababji’s menu, it is the known Lebanese/Turkish/Mediterranean menu, for starters they have hommous, tabouleh, fettoush, moutabbale, etc. They have several types of kebab: halabi, khaskhash, istambouli, orfali, several grilled dishes, pizza-like pastries, fatayer (pies?), shawarma, a couple of rice dishes, and some sandwiches.

Kababji - Kebab

We ordered a Kababji Special, which is a mixed kebab grill that has kebab halabi, chicken kebab, tikka, shish tauk, eggplan kebab, and Italian kebab (don’t ask me where they got that from). The Kababji Special comes as a dish for four or for two, we got the smaller one, it came with two plates of hummous. The food we got was not the most amazing, it tasted very average and no where as good as the grilled food of other places such as the Turkish House. Some of the tikka we got was not even cooked well enough.

Kababji - Menu

Starters in Kababji cost RO 1 to RO1.5, grilled sandwiches about RO 1, meal for one person RO 2.7, and meal for four RO 9.5. Shawarma sandwiches cost RO 0.350 each, a plate costs RO 2.5. Desserts cost RO 0.5 to RO 1.5.

We did not order anything other than water and our Kababji Special dish, that cost us about RO 5.

The service at Kababji was excellent, there was no shortage of waiters and the food came quickly. However, we did not think that their food was special at all, I wouldn’t say that it was bad, but I can’t see myself saying ‘oh, I feel like having Kababji’. It looks like a good place for couples and families wishing to eat in a private place, but we surely did not feel comfortable as families started invading our section of the restaurant.

Feb 19, 2008

The Noodle House – City Centre

The Noodle House

Something is happening in town, several high-profile new restaurants opened all almost at the same time during the last couple of months, one that I visited and had to write a review about is The Noodle House, a Chinese restaurant in Muscat City Centre. The Noodle House is found on the first floor of City Centre, right at the entrance of the newer side of the mall (same side as the Boarders bookstore). It is really nice to have an option other than Chili’s for people like us living on that side of town (we do not acknowledge the existence of Hamburger Nation, we are THAT much unhappy with it).

The Noodle House

The seating of The Noodle House is quite unique, it is very spacious and open. The main seating area in the center of the restaurant is made up of long tables and benches on which diners have to sit on. It kinda feels funny at the first few minutes when sit on s bench because there is nothing to support your back, but you can drag the bench a bit closer to the table and then lean on the table, I thought that this felt more comfortable. There are regular chairs on all tables by the sides, so you can sit on any of these if you cannot sit on the benches.

The Noodle House Menu

Part of the ‘Noodle House Experience’ is ordering from their menu, each table has a paper pad of menus, from which you have to tear one and mark up dishes you would like to have. The menu has a selection of appetisers, wet noodles & soup, wok fried noodles & rice, specialities, and desserts. In addition to the order pad, there is a long list of drinks on the table. They have tens of ice teas and fruit soda mixes.

The Noodle House

The Noodle House

I’ve been to The Noodle House twice: the first time I shared two dishes with a friend, the second time I went with a large group of people and we ordered more than half the menu, it was cool as we tried everything, but the problem was that I had no idea what I ate or what I liked the most, so I really don’t think I can make any serious recommendations on what to try, but generally we were very happy with the food. It was rich with flavour, very nicely presented, and in a good quantity.

The Noodle House

You should watch out when ordering that not all dishes come with rice or noodles, especially ones from the Specialties section of the menu, but you can order side dishes such as vegetables or rice to make for it.

The Noodle House

Desserts are also usually ordered in advance at The Noodle House. We tried the banana beignets with mango syrup and vanilla ice-cream, a friend of mine was crazy about how good it was, so we tried it but, we were no impressed with it as much as her. We also tried the crispy friend wontons with caramel ice-cream (pictured below), the group did not think that it did not have enough caramel, I didn’t think that it was special at all.

The Noodle House

Starters in The Noodle House cost from RO 2 to RO 3, main courses cost from RO 2.5 to RO 5, desserts about RO 2, and drinks range in price from RO 0.7 to RO 2. Two main courses, with three drinks cost about RO 13 – taxes included.

I had a great time at The Noodle House, even though I never tried their starters and did not like their desserts, but their main courses were great, the service was good, and the place has a nice atmosphere. Make sure you try it out next time you go to Muscat City Centre.

Feb 6, 2008

Cafe Barbera – Shatti Al Qurum

Cafe Barbera

Cafe Barbera is an Italian Coffeeshop that opened last year in Shatti Al Qurum right next Shatti Cinema. For some reason, it never seemed inviting enough for me and only checked it out when a friend of mine suggested we go to it as apparently he comes to have lunch at it quite regularly.

Cafe Barbera

We attempted sitting outside at firstt, but the weather was way too cold for us to survive. The place looks very nice inside, it has a unique antique look and feel, and some really nice sofas all over the place. It is still relatively small though and because smoking is allowed inside it does not necessarily feel comfortable.

Cafe Barbera

The menu of Cafe Barbera is quite big, they have a variety of drinks and juices, spaghettis, club sandwiches, and other hot dishes as well. We had orange juice, mint and lemon juice, and a called coffee drink called ‘Roma’ that looked nice and, according to the friend of who tried it, tasted good as well.

Cafe Barbera

For our main courses we had a Barbera chicken club sandwich, a chicken baguette, and shrimp bruschetta dish. All the dishes we ordered were served with salad and two of them were served with potato wedges. We generally liked all of our dishes, I personally ate the chicken baguette, which I thought was good but not really special. I hated the wedges, they did not look or taste nice. Unlike me, my friends thought that their dishes were excellent.

Cafe Barbera Cafe Barbera

We thought that the service at Cafe Barbera was good, it was fast, the food was what we ordered, and the waiters were friendly and talkative. My friend says that it gets bad at lunch time when the place gets crowded and many people sit outside. Never had that myself, but thought that I’ll just let you know.

Cafe Barbera

Drinks at Cafe Barbera cost from about RO 1 to RO 2 and main courses cost from RO 2 to RO 4. We ordered three drinks and three main courses and our bill came out at RO 13.79 – taxes included.

Cafe Barbera

Cafe Barbera was a nice change, their place is nice, the service we had was good, and the food was as described. The place is however small and smoking is allowed inside, so it is not necessarily for everyone.

Jan 18, 2008

Review: Nando’s – Al Qurum Commercial Area

Nandos - Muscat

Nandos is a spicy grilled chicken restaurant in the Qurum Commercial Area right in front of the CCC. The cuisine of Nandos could be said to be Portuguees with an African twist, and is loved internationally by its fans in a cult-like manner. The restaurant closed down after the cyclone Gonu hit Muscat last year and only opened up on Eid last month. It looks different and nicer now, but a bit tighter in space as well

Nandos

Nandos in the Middle East is different from branches abroad in that it is a proper dine-in restaurant, you do not go up to the counter and order in Oman, you get seated, the menu comes, and then you order the same way you would do at a Pizza Hut or a Chilli’s. I loved the atmosphere of the restaurant in places where you had to almost serve yourself, get the sauces, cutlery, and everything else and think that Nandos is ‘almost’ boring here because of this, but I guess that it might not work in the Middle East because of culture differences.

Nandos - Humous - Oman

Nandos menu is made up mostly of chicken dishes. For starters, they have chicken liver, chicken wings, corn, mixed olives, and humous. I think that I tried them all, and my favourite is the humous which comes with a bit of Nandos spicy sauce and a deliciously tender pita bread.

Nandos Quarter Grilled Chicken - Oman

The famous main course of Nandos is grilled chicken which you can order either as a quarter, a half, or a whole chicken marinated with the level of spiciness you choose: Lemon and Herb, Mild, Hot, and Extra Hot. The Extra Hot is probably way too hot for many, start with Mild even if you are a fan of spicy food. Nandos is very famous for its spicy sauces that you should find on the table, there are various ones which you should try out if you’re there.

Nandos - Chicken Breast in Pita - Oman

Other main courses served at Nandos include chicken burger, chicken breast in pita bread (pictured above) , chicken rolls, chicken strips with rice, and espitada – which is a dish of grilled chicken cubes served with cooked vegetables. (pictured below) Some meals such as the burger and beast in pita come with Nandos spicy mayo which you could also order separately as a dip. Many of the dishes come as meals that let you pick one or two sidelines to have with the chicken, these sidelines include chips, rice, and coleslaw.

Nandos Espetada - Oman

Starters at Nandos cost about RO1, while a main course meal for one person costs between RO2 to RO3 – taxes excluded.

We are happy to have Nandos again in town after Gonu, many of the people that went to it in the few first days did not seem to be happy with the service, and I was not happy with the food either, but the last time we went to it for dinner a couple of weeks ago everything was perfect. If you have not tried Nandos you should surely give it a try.

Jan 1, 2008

Review: Allaudin (Omar Al Khayyam) – Al Khuwair

Allaudin - Omar Al Khayyam

Allaudin is an Indian-Chinese restaurant located in Al Khuwair next to the traffic lights of Madinat Sultan Qaboos (MQ). The name Allaudin is the new brand of the restaurants of the Omar Al Khayyam group, a very old local restaurant chain.

Allaudin - Omar Al Khayyam

Omar Al Khayyam is of the same class as restaurants such as Spicy Village, Grill House, and Al Akhatham, they serve almost the same exact menu at very similar prices. If restaurants were to have ratings, the restaurants above would have 3-star ratings. Nothing fancy, but clean enough to some extent to dine in. Allaudin is relatively spacious, the place is decorated with elephants and other Indian-looking artifacts at the entrance. It has a private dining room upstairs.

Allaudin - Omar Al Khayyam

We went to Allaudin for dinner and ordered Chili Beef, a dry dish of small beef shreds cooked with spicy herbs and chili, it was hot as expected of an Indian restaurant in a good way – and that required the use of a box of tissues. We also ordered humous, naan and paratha bread, which all were quite good. For the drinks I had lemon juice, which was not that good, but I guess you can’t ask for much when you pay 200 baisa for a glass.
Allaudin - Omar Al Khayyam

The prices of Allaudin is relatively cheap, we ordered one main course, one humous plate, a mix of breads, one fresh juice, and one bottle of water, and that in total cost us RO 3.400. Overall, dinner at Allaudin was good, we liked the food and we thought that we got what we paid for.

Dec 19, 2007

Review: Woodlands – Sohar

Woodlands Restaurant - Sohar

Fine Indian restaurant Woodlands has opened earlier this year in Sohar. If you are coming from Muscat you have to take the right turn from the Sohar Globe roundabout and then turn left from the first roundabout after it to go towards the new banks district. Woodlands is five minutes from there right before Al Turaif roundabout on the left side of the road. This is the third branch Woodlands opens, the first is in Ruwi in Muscat, the second is in Salalah, and the third most recent one is in Sohar. Woodlands won the Oman2day Restaurant Awards 2007 for the best service category and was a finalist in the best Indian restaurant category (which was eventually won by Mumtaz Mahal).

Woodlands Restaurant

Woodlands Sohar looks nice, it is very spacious and has tables varying in sizes for all sorts of diners. There are also three or four private family rooms with eight seats each. I am not sure of the smoking policy in Mumtaz, but I doubt they allow it. We thought that the staff of Woodlands were all very friendly and caring, though at many times they did not seem to be trained actually well (They surely did not win the award mentioned earlier for their Sohar branch). I’ve only been to the restaurant with my family, yet we were never offered any of the family private rooms before we asked for one. In my most recent visit to the restaurant, each one of us ordered a main course each but when the food came the waiter took one of the food pots and started putting some of it on each of our plates without asking us if we wanted to share it or not. A major third blooper is that there is no way to ask for anything when you dine in a private family room without going out of the room and calling a waiter. Not sure if they are not supposed to check on your in the family rooms for culture reasons or not. Not to say that Woodlands’ service is horrible, they are usually fast and never screw up your food, but occasional bloopers happens quit often probably because the restaurant is relatively new.

Woodlands Restaurant

Woodlands menu is quite large and can be hard to decipher, especially as the person who wrote the menu must’ve had gotten tired halfway through as the first half of the menu has descriptions of each menu item, while the other half has titles only. We asked the waiter for help on several occasions, but the answer he gave always was ‘this is chicken cooked with onion and capsicum, it is a gravy dish’ for half the dishes we asked about, and that was not really helpful. The manager occasionally tours around and he seems to have suggestions on what to have and more things to say about the dishes than newer waiters.

Woodlands Restaurant

Regardless of how much I bitch about Woodlands, it is actually my favourite restaurant at the moment, I love their food. They have a wide set of starters, my favourites are the Crumb Fried Fish and Chicken Lolly Pops (both not pictured), on our last visit we had Fish Tikka (pictured above) which we unfortunately did not like, the fish tasted weird and each piece shattered into threads when we poked it with a fork. The waiter might suggest you take two or three starters at least, even if you are two or three people only, which could be too much if you are going to have a main course each. The best starter we had was the Crumb Fried Fish, be sure to try that one out.

Woodlands Restaurant

We had no complaints about the main courses, everything we tried tasted amazing. We always order the gravy Chicken Manchurian (pictured above) which we thought was rich with flavour and very well done. We usually have this with buttered or garlic naan bread. My personal favourite is the Chicken Biryani (pictured earlier above). I hesitated to have it because I thought it would such a boring dish to have, but now I don’t think that I’ll ever have a Chicken Biryani better than that of Woodlands. It was not too spicy yet very delicious. We tried a Kadai Chicken gravy (pictured below) which was also good. We thought that the potion of food given was very decent.

Woodlands Restaurant

We did not explore the drinks menu of Woodlands and have only been drinking soft drinks during our visits. It is worth mentioning that Woodlands Sohar does not serve alcohol.

Vegetarian dishes at Woodlands cost about RO 2, chicken and meat dishes cost aroud RO 2.5 and sea food dishes start from RO 3. Bread starts from 0.300 a bread. In our very recent visit to Woodlands we had 1 fish starter, 4 main courses, some bread, and 3 soft drinks for about RO 19 – taxes included.

We thought that dining at Woodlands was generally a pleasant experience, disregarding the occasional waiters’ cluelessness of what they menu has. The food is delicious and the place is nice. All of you rich people coming to purchase land plots in Sohar can finally have a good dine-in restaurant to celebrate your new investment in Sohar itself.

Dec 12, 2007

Review: Turkish House Restaurant – Al Khuwair

Turkish House - Al Khuwair

The uncreatively named Turkish House Restaurant is located in the commercial area of Al Khuwair next to Al Liwan shisha joint, it is the most popular Turkish restaurant in town. Turkish House is a proper dine-in restaurant and is not another one of those little generic Turkish coffeeshops/sandwich-shops scattered all over Muscat. Many call it ‘The Fish Place’ for its excellent fish dishes.

Turkish House - Mixed Starter

Turkish House is adored by many, it is normal for people to stand in queue waiting for tables to be available during lunch time. The restaurant has started as a small regular sized restaurant, it expanded in the past when they added the new ‘romantic’ section (as some lame Omanis like to call it) in the back of their main building, and it is currently in the process of taking over the entire floor of its original building. That new section was not yet opened when we visited the restaurant two weeks ago.

The crowd of Turkish House is very diverse, during our stay we say a gathering of some college boys and girls, a table occupied by a family, and a business looking group on the other side. The place seems to attract both Omanis and expats as much.

Turkish House - Naan Bread

The menu of Turkish House shies from being exotically Turkish and mainly consists of generic grilled Mediterranean dishes, which is not necessarily a bad thing at all. Cold Mediterranean starters, salads, grilled dishes, fish dishes, and fresh juices are the main highlights of the menu and they are all usually served with a large naan bread and/or chips.

In my most recent visit to Turkish House I had a humous starter and a dish of chicken kebabs served with chips (not pictured), which was very well cooked, tender, and tasted simply delicious.

Turkish House - Mixed Grill

The service of Turkish House is average I guess, their staff are relatively friendly and seem to know regular customers, but the field at which Turkish House really shines is the food, which is really good.

Prices of Turkish House are moderate, a mixed starter dish (pictured above), a mixed grills dish for two (pictured above), and two fresh juices cost around RO 10. Regular dishes cost around RO 3 and Fish dishes start from RO 6.

Lovers of Mediterranean food, grilled food, and fish should check out Turkish House.

Sep 10, 2007

Review: Pane Caldo – Jawharat Al Shatti

Santino’s was recently rebranded as Pane Caldo. The restaurant is still in the same place in Jawharat Al Shatti, but now bigger (they invaded the shop block next to them), they did not change the furniture of the place and there is apparent change in the staff or the ambience of the place either. However, Pane Caldo does seem to have now a more emphasised contemporary image that is less casual and more fancy with their choice of colours and finish-off I guess.

I am not sure if it was just me, or the fact that it was my first time to set at that particular place in the restaurant, but there did not seem to be a lot of private space left between the dinning tables on the center and the left side of the restaurant. It’s true that the place is bigger now, but it still feels very tight because of the number of tables they have inside.

Pane Caldo is not fully open yet, when I was there last week they had a temporary menu that was really difficult to read, we did not know where one item description ended and that of the next started. We did not know which of the numbers were the prices of what meals.

I am not sure of the number of new items were there on the menu, we had for the starter some mushrooms covered in cheese, which I did not like very much (I am no Super Mario), one of us had one of the calamari starters (photographed below).

For the main course we had some sort of ‘red’ pizza that had beef, pepperoni, chicken strips, and tomato slices on it, which I thought was good, but not mind blowing.

The place is still in the process of changing into its new brand, so it is not surprising that their menu is still not fully developed. I do not think that there was an increase in the prices, but I am not really sure of that as I did not actually compare numbers.

Check our previous review of Santino’s here.

Sep 9, 2007

Review: Mumtaz Mahal – Shatti Al Qurum

Mumtaz Mahal is most probably the finest Indian restaurant in town, it is located on the hill behind the Qurum Natural Park and has been in service since the 80s. It is loved madly by the Oman Today magazine as they gave it the award for the best Indian restaurant four times in the five years they’ve been doing their awards.

A review about Mumtaz Mahal is not complete without talking about the location of the restaurant and the view, especially at night when all the blinders that cover the glass walls are lifted to show the view of the road lights and the movement of the cars from above to make a charming sight of the busy life of modern Muscat.

Mumtaz is very spacious with loads and loads of seats, there are also a couple of tables outside the main hall that people sit at when the weather is good. A live band is supposed to perform in the main hall of the restaurant on some days, but I’ve been to the restaurant twice, once on a weekend and another on a week day, and I did not see this band.

The place can easily be fully occupied on any day of the week, when we got there at 7 .30pm yesterday there was barely anybody at the restaurant, but by the time we left around 9.30pm the place was full. It is recommended to book a table in advance instead of showing up expecting to be seated right away. The crowd at Mumtaz seemed to be older than those at the places we previously reviewed with a lot of expatriate families dinning in.

The staff of Mumtaz were very friendly and talkative, at the two times I’ve been to it they helped us with the menu, chatted about India (as if we’ve never had Indian food before?) and even talked about random stuff like cameras and photography. They food did not take a lot of time to get to our table, they literally put the food on our plates and helped us share the starters, we were very impressed.

The menu of Mumtaz is pretty extensive, in addition to their starters they also serve soups, dry tandoor grilled dishes and curry. There are vegetarian stuff in all sections of the menu and a lot of fish and lobster main courses as well. Spicy dishes are labeled with a small drawing of a chili to warn those who cannot handle spicy food.

For the starters we had the three non-vegeterian items they had on their menu, namely Machli Masaledar, these are deep friend fish fingers cooked with spices (the one at the bottom of the place in the image above), Chennai Murg, these are spicy deep friend chicken fillets (on the right side of the plate in the image above) and Murg Methi Kebab, some tandoor flavoured chicken kebabs cooked with some sort of leaves. I liked the chicken fingers more than anything else, the way they were cooked and the way they tasted made it irresistible. The fish fingers came second and the kebabs came third. They all had a hint of spiciness which I did not think was overly hot.

For the main course we had three different chicken dishes, Murg Angaarey – extra spicy tender chicken pieces cooked with garlic, Balti Murg – chicken cooked in traditional North Indian sauce, Chennai Murg Masala – a spicy dish of dry chicken cubes with coconut, curry leaves and black pepper. We also had a bowl of Ghosht Shahi Khorma -a meat dish cooked in gravy sauce with dry fruits and nuts. We ate those with chicken biryani rice and some garlic nan bread.

The food we had was very good, a couple of dishes we had were extra spicy and I would not recommend them for the weak-hearted. For a first timer I would recommend Balti Murg with plain rice or chicken biryani rice – you can’t go wrong with the basics!

We checked their dessert menu, they had many variations of Indian sweets with cheese, which we did not try and had instead their ‘home-made’ ice creams, it tasted very *unique* and had some saffron in it.

Mumtaz is obviously more expensive than the majority of Indian restaurants in town, the starters cost about RO 1.5 to RO 2 each, while vegeterian, chicken, and meat main courses cost RO 2.5 to RO 4, and sea food dishes cost RO 5 to RO 8.

Mumtaz is also a licensed restaurant, we were probably the only table that did not order any alcohol, you see bottles of wine coming and going all the time. A guy on a table next to us ordered some sort of pinched coffee which was made live right next to him.

We thought that the experience at Mumtaz was amazing, we had a great time, the food was delicious and the service was very good.