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, 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 30, 2008
del_yahi

Kofta with Zucchini Sauce

Kofta

An exotice Arabic dish we cooked earlier this month, takes about an hour to make, and is recommended for larger gatherings.

Ingredients

Kofta

  • 1 Kg minced beef
  • 2 tbs finely chopped parsley
  • 2 tbs finely chopped scallions
  • 1 small minced red onion
  • 1 tbs of cinnamon
  • Salt/pepper

Zucchini Sauce

  • 4 medium zucchinis
  • 2 cans of chopped tomatoes
  • 6 chopped cloves of garlic
  • ½ tbs of crushed red chili
  • 2 tbs chopped parsley
  • ½ tbs chopped mint
  • 2 tbs of balsamic vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt/pepper

Method

  1. Mix well all the ingredients of the Kofta. Create finger shaped (or balls) of the mix. Put a little bit of oil on a non-stick frying pan and start frying the kofta until it is well done. (It is also possible to grill the kofta instead of frying it if you would rather do that instead).
  2. For the zucchini sauce, add some olive oil to a saucepot and sauté the garlic and the red chili for 3 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and after a minute add all the chopped tomatoes with the bay leaves. Wait until the sauce starts to boil then cover the saucepot and put it on the lowest flame for 10 minutes.
  3. Cut the zucchini to small pieces and sauté it in the same pan you used for frying the kofta . Keep sautéing the zucchini for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the zucchini, parsely and mint to the tomatoe sauce in the saucepot. Add some salt and peper as desired to the sauce. Cover the sauce pot and leave it on a low flame until the zucchini is well cooked.
  5. Place the kofta on the serving plate and pour the sauce on top of it.
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.