Souq Waqif, Doha
3 Meals in Doha, Qatar
Foodie, traveller and writer Rachel Morris picks three great eats in Doha, Qatar.
Yum Yum (K108 Hotel, Al Ghanim, +974 44 33000)
This almost clandestine dining enclave in the less fashionable (by that we mean more residential) part of town has been luring in-the-know foodies in Doha since opening early in 2012. On the top floor of the city’s newest member of its burgeoning boutique hotel collection, Yum Yum serves up Michelin-worthy dishes for a price so reasonable it would make European counterparts cry. Helmed by Hugo Coudurier, who has worked in some of the world’s most revered kitchens, the menu changes almost daily depending upon what is fresh, in season and just delectable. A recent outing saw him create a work of art from what was billed on the compact menu simply as a “tomato and feta salad”. There's a focus on local produce such as dates, Arabian Gulf sourced shrimps and hammour (grouper). The hotel is walking distance (well in winter anyway) from the stunning Museum of Islamic Art.
Isaan (Grand Hyatt Doha, West Bay Lagoon, Doha
Whilst most seasoned travellers would run a mile rather than eat in a five star hotel, in Doha it is in these lavish establishments that you can find some of the best food you have ever eaten. Isaan at the Grand Hyatt Doha is one such place and has elevated Thai cuisine beyond pad thai and tom yum (which still feature on the menu) and has become the barometer by which others are judged in Qatar. Isaan, named after the region in northeastern Thailand, incorporates sticky rice and chili – it’s salty, sour, and hot. Doha’s version of Isaan has family-style, smaller, tapas-type portions meant for sharing. Favorites include a green papaya salad, chicken in pandan leaves, steamed mussels and a deliciously restorative sea bass soup. The space is a fusion of East Meets Gulf Arabia – open kitchens provide drama whilst artefacts sourced from Thailand give a stylish yet traditional edge. Unusually, all of the restaurant’s staff hail from Thailand and are knowledgeable and passionate about the cuisine.
Al Tawash (Souq Waqif, +974 4494 2002)
If it’s traditional Arabic food and ambiance you are after, Al Tawash serves it up in spades. This restaurant’s claim to fame is that it is one of the few serving traditional Qatari dishes including hares (wheat and meat cooked down into a paste), kabsa (a rice dish with fish or meat) and machbous (lamb with rice). You can also order an array of mezzes from around the Arabic world including favourites such as hommous, fattoush (salad), grilled halloumi cheese and fatayer (small pastries filled with feta cheese or spinach). The indoor dining space of this vast complex includes private, curtained off areas for families and other spaces where you can enjoy the food as you are meant to – on the floor and lounging on cushions, sharing the bounteous food. You can also pull up a chair on the main promenade of Souq Waqif (the city’s spectacular traditional market area), order a fresh watermelon juice and watch the passing parade of locals, expats, visitors and, well, everyone.
- A word of advice for travellers coming to Doha, not all restaurants are licensed to serve alcohol – but this is an opportunity to try the wonderfully fresh juices (or mocktails) like watermelon or the tangy lemon and mint concoctions on offer.
- Because of the summer heat (that lasts from April to late October), dining outside is not always possible in Doha but many restaurants have cleverly rigged up outside fans that spray a fine mist of water to keep diners cool.
Rachel Morris is a writer and publicist who has called Doha her home for the past five years. She has been known to write for cheese.