May 27, 2008

Biella – Muscat City Centre

Biella - Muscat City Centre

Biella is a new Italian restaurant that has opened in Muscat City Centre right below the Noodle House. We have been waiting for this restaurant to open for ages and have called up City Centre several times to ask when the hell it will open. I heard a couple of days ago that it has finally opened up so we had to pay it a visit ASAP. I have no idea if this is an international franchise, but I know that it has a branch in Dubai.

Biela

The atmosphere and seating area at Biella are both quite nice. There are loads of seats inside the restaurant. The place is divided into two main sections, one for smokers and the other for non-smokers, however, there are not real separators between the two sections, but we could not tell if smoke could be an issue because the place was almost empty when we went there.

Biella - Starter

Biella has just opened three days ago, so just like Japengo the other day, their menu is not fully available yet. We took a bit of time to decide on what to have, we were a little bit hungry and everything on the menu sounded delicious. We ended up having a ‘Insalata Di Pollo Con Aceto Balsamico’ (RO 3.6 – pictured above) which I thought would be some cheese coated chicken starter, but turned out to be chicken salad with cheese balls (How come I didn’t notice the insalata?!). It was alright, for a salad at least, but it was not really our usual idea of a starter.

Risotto Al Frutti Mare

My colleague and I hand originally wanted to have something from the sandwich menu, but it was not available for serving yet, so we ended up having a sea food spaghetti (pictured above) and a L’affumicata pizza (RO 4.4 – picured below) which had onions, mushrooms, pepperoni and chicken. I loved the bread of my pizza, but that was about it. I do not like mushrooms and I thought that the onions were just way too much. I probably ordered the wrong meal and that’s why I did not like it much. My colleague thought that the spaghetti was nice, but not AMAZING. I thought exactly the same about my pizza, not bad, but not the best I’ve had for sure and nowhere near that.

Laffumicata Pizza

We wanted to have a cheese cake and a chocolate fudge cake for the desserts, but none of these were available yet, so we thought that we will have a Tiramasu (RO 3 – pictured below) instead which we thought was just alright. It was quite large in size and can be shared with one or two people.

Biella - Tiramisu

We thought that the service of Biella was excellent, the staff were very friendly, probably a bit too much because the place has just opened. The place was not busy at all while were were there, so the whole fleet of waiters was buzzing on our table all the time asking us how our food was. They had a small blooper though and broke a glass we had on our table, luckily nobody got hurt.
Biella

We ordered 1 starter, 2 main courses, 1 fresh juice, 1 fruit cocktail, and 1 desert, our bill came out to RO 21.

We thought that our experience at Biella was okay, but I personally did not think that the food was all that. I would give it a 7/10 for the quality of the food and I’m being very generous. That is probably because we ordered the wrong stuff, salad was a bad idea of the starter and my choice of Pizza was badly not compatible with my taste. Might give it another chance, but only for the sake of experimentation and not when I’m craving for a good meal.

May 9, 2008
del_yahi

Recipe: BB Chicken Sandwich

 BB Chicken Sandwich

Here is a quick recipe for a good sandwich for big gatherings, it should not take you a long time to prepare and it requires a very small number of ingredients. BB, or Black Beautify, is a reference to the balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce   used in it.

Ingredients (for 6 sandwiches): 

  • 4 medium chicken breasts (diced into cubes)
  • 5 sliced cloves of garlic
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 buns of white bread
  • Salt/black pepper

Method

  1. Wash the chicken cubes and then drain them well. Put the chicken cubes in a bowl, add the Worcestershire sauce, the salt and finely crushed black pepper.
  2. Mix the chicken with the ingredients well and leave the bowl in the fridge to marinate for 30 minutes minimum. You. Then take them out of the fridge 15 minutes before you use them.
  3. Put a frying pan on a medium flame, add the EVOO and the garlic to it, then as soon as the oil starts to sizzle, add the chicken. Sauté the chicken until it turns white and then add the balsamic vinegar. Keep sautéing the chicken until it is done. If the chicken is still not cocked well you can add small amounts of water or chicken stock to help cook it.
  4. Slice the buns and fill them with the chicken. You can add cheese or any kind of sauce you like. It can be served with chips or fries.
May 5, 2008

Japengo – Shatti Al Qurum

Japengo - Shatti Al Qurum

Japengo is a new Japanese restaurant located in Shatti Al Qurum area on Shari3 Al Hub (Love Road). It opened three days ago. Unlike the what the name suggests, it is not cafe, but a proper dine-in restaurant. The Love Road was hit badly by Cyclone Gonu and it has not been fixed yet, Japengo is the first restaurant to open up there and there aren’t enough proper parkings yet around, but people seem to somehow find a place to just stop their cars and come in. The place was busy today when I went to it.

Japengo

Japengo is pretty big from the inside and has additional seats outside from both sides of the restaurant. There are some allocated tables on which smoking is allowed inside, the restaurant is pretty big so the non-smoking section should not be disturbed by it, but still, there is no separator or barrier between the two sections (I did not know where one starts and the other ends).

Japengo

Japengo was opened less than a week ago and more than half of its menu items is not available for serving yet. You are given the full menu with all the unavailable items indicated with an x mark. A point worth noting is that Japengo is not your average Japanese restaurant, as it seems to have a lot more than just sushi. The menu has an appetizer section, salads section, sandwiches section, sushi/ sashimi section, sushi rolls section, Italian pasta section, pizza section, and even Lebanese food section (which I thought was insane!).

Japengo - Sushi Rolls

We decided to go for Shake Kawa Sushi Rolls for the starter (6 pieces in a single portion, cost RO 3.3), those  were sushi made in a roll and then cut into six pieces, the dish came with a plate of Soya sauce and some Wasabi (the green thing). Our Japanese-food-knowledgeable friend told us that we are supposed to use our chopsticks to take small bits of Wasabi and mix it with the Soya sauce then dip our sushi in the sauce before eating it. Our experiment succeeded and it was delicious. I really cannot remember what the Shake Kawa Sushi had in it, but it was cold, soft from the outside, and a little bit crunchy from the inside.

Japengo - Calamari

We also had fried calamari (costs RO 2.9) as our second starter, I had no comment about it other than it was very well done. The dip that came with it was amazing.

Japengo

We had a tough time selecting our main course as the majority of dishes were not available yet, we did not want to go for something Italian or Lebanese dish, because that would just be wrong. Why would anyone go for a Lebanese dish at a Japanese restaurant?! I had a tougher time selecting a dish because I wanted to have something with chicken, and there was nothing with chicken other than the sandwiches. One of my friends ended up taking the Japengo Club Sandwich (pictured above- costs RO 3.9) and the other took a Cheese Burger (pictured below – costs RO 4.4). I ordered a Chicken Breast Sandwich (not pictured – costs RO 3.9) which came in a bun with French fries. I thought that was really good, loved the sauce that they used, but half way through I realised that maybe we ordered too much for a day. But it was very good.

Japengo - Cheese Burger

For the drinks we ordered watermelon juice (RO 2.1), lemon juice (RO 2.1), and mango smoothie (RO 2.5). I loved my mango smoothie so much I had to order another one before we left. It was surely one of the best smoothies I had in town.

In total we ordered 1 starter, 4 main courses, and 5 drinks. Our bill came out as RO 34.750 taxes included.

We thought that the food at Japengo was amazing, the service was good overall – even though the waitresses acted plainly weird and refused to let me photograph them.  The prices are a tiny bit more expensive that the Noodle House, but are Okay for a restaurant of its range and in that location.  We would have loved to try some other things in the menu, but we couldn’t because the restaurant is still not fully ready yet. I would recommend it for everyone when it properly starts offering all the items in its menu.

May 2, 2008

Cafe Glacier – Al Khuwair

Cafe Glacier

Cafe Glacier is a very old coffee shop in Zakher Mall in Al Khuwair. It is, just like Darcy’s Kitchen, a unique Omani franchise. It has two branches, the main one in Al Khuwair, and the second smaller one in Markaz Al Bahja. Even though it opened in 1995, I’ve never actually been to it before last year.

Cafe Glacier

Glacier of Zakher Mall is not the most spacious of restaurants, there are less than 10 tables inside and a couple outside the cafe in the mall side. However, the place is not tight in space at all, and I think that smoking is prohibited inside the coffeeshop. I’ve only been to Glacier around lunch time and the place did not seem busy at all during any of my visits.

Cafe Glacier

Glacier’s menu is made up of a long list of cold drinks and juices, ice creams, pancakes and waffles, but in addition to these they also serve rolls and sandwiches, salads, and snacks such as burgers and different types of stews.

Cafe Glacier - Club Sandwiches

On 99.9% of the times we have Glaciers we always go for the club sandwiches. Glacier’s club sandwiches are one of the best in town, if not THE best. The club sandwich meal comes with potato chips and is very filling. The reputation of club sandwiches at work is unchallengeable, it is our definitive take away lunch ever.

Cafe Glacier - Sate Maison

On the remaining 00.1% of the times we order at Glacier we usually got for the Sate Maison that comes with peanut sauce. I enjoyed it when I had last time, even though that must’ve been really ages ago.

Toasted sandwiches such as the club sandwich cost from RO 1.700 to 2.600, salads cost from RO1.400 to RO 3.200, snacks cost from RO 1.500 to RO 3.400, cakes cost around RO 0.800, ice creams around 2.500, and pancakes and waffles cost from 1.100 to 2.100.

I didn’t really try a lot of things at Glacier, but I really can’t recommend the club sandwiches enough, I think that it is the perfect office lunch for those who want to have something simple yet delicious at a place that is not crowded at lunch time!

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 28, 2008

Oven Grilled Chicken

Chicken on the Oven

This recipe is simple easy way for making  a very tasty chicken grilled in the oven. It takes 10 minutes of spices preparation and around an hour of grilling without the need to check it. I consider it a healthy meal as itdoesn’t require any oil for cooking and contains a couple of herbs and spices which are rich with helpful minerals.

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken, 600grams or 800grams
  • 2 crushed or thinly sliced green chili
  • 1 medium sized onion chopped in cubes
  • 2 medium sized tomatoes chopped in cubes
  • 5 crushed gloves of garlic
  • 1 tea-spoon of black pepper
  • A hand-full of chopped coriander
  • ¼ tea-spoon of turmeric
  • ½ tea-spoon salt
  • 2 lemons

Method:

  1.  Clean the chicken well and peal the skin off
  2. Rub the green chili, garlic, black pepper, turmeric, and salt all  over the chicken.
  3. Fill the inside of the chicken with the chopped onion, tomatoes, and coriander.
  4. Squeeze the lemons on the outside and inside of the chicken.
  5. Wrap the whole chicken with aluminum foil and put it on an oven tray.
  6. Put it into the oven for an hour.

If you are using a gas oven switch the down flame at medium to high heat. If using an electric oven use 260‘C.

Optional vegetables could be grilled next to the chicken, but make sure you wrap it with aluminum foil otherwise it will burn for that long.

The chicken could be either eaten with rice or bread. If rice is used its advised to have some sort of curry such as Dal (lentils) as the chicken wouldn’t be very saucy even though the tomatoes is inside it.

Enjoy.

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 8, 2008

Chicken 900

Chicken Breast

This post is dedicated to one of our favourite English teachers, the one and only, Mr Don Yager. We invited him over to the Omani Cuisine during his visit to Oman this year, he retired three years ago and now lives in Iowa, USA. Chicken 900 is a chicken steak served in an American style with three side dishes, namely, mashed potatoes, garlic bread, and honey green salad. Named Chicken 900 after the legendary English 900 book.

Chicken Steak Ingredients (For Four People):

  • 4 tender boneless chicken breasts
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp of honey
  • 1 tbsp of red grape vinegar
  • 2 tbsp of tomato paste
  • 1 tsp freshly crushed black pepper
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt

Method

  1. Crush the garlic cloves, add half of the black pepper, honey, vinegar, tomato paste, and Worcestershire sauce, mix them well and then put the combination in the fridge for half an hour to allow the flavour to blend.
  2. Season the chicken breast with salt and the remaining crushed pepper.
  3. Heat a frying pan and drizzle some EVOO. When the pan is screamingly hot place the breasts on it.
  4. Get the mix from the fridge and wait for one of the sides of the chicken breast to whiten in colour, when that happens, flip the chicken breast and brush that with the mix. Wait for the other side to whiten, then flip and brush. Repeat the process until the mix finishes.
  5. Add water to the pan, wait for the water to evaporate, then check if the chicken is cooked using the knife test. Repeat this stage until the chicken is cooked.
  6. Serve with mashed potatoes, garlic bread, and salad.

Optional:

  • You can optionally fry slices of zucchini along with the chicken.
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 (that was when I decided to finally check some good cheap blenders for smoothies – to get one home), 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.