Mayrig: Where authentic Armenian flavors meet family recipes

Updated 30 May 2012
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Mayrig: Where authentic Armenian flavors meet family recipes

It all started in the town of Jabal Moussa, Armenia, when Manouchag, an Armenian grandmother, who though was not rich or famous, had one particular talent that set her aside from any other grandmother in the town; Manouchag was a fantastic cook.
Manouchag, Armenian for violet eyes, was a little girl when a big war broke out in her native country forcing her to set sail to Cyprus. She grew up in a children’s home, where she stayed until she graduated from high school. She then moved to Lebanon where she met her future husband. They both lived in a beautiful mansion overlooking the sea in Ayn Mreisseh, where she raised her six children.
Manouchag used her cooking skills to quiet down her grandchildren, asking them to help her in the kitchen; her mission was to create wonderful Armenian dishes for her family. She was extra careful in guarding her secret recipes. However, she made one important exception: her children and grandchildren.
Manouchag inspired her grandchildren to start a business to celebrate her talent. They opened a restaurant that serves traditional Armenian cuisine and named it Mayrig. The restaurant was born in Beirut with an army of professional mothers working as chefs and using only Manouchag’s ancient recipes.
In February 2011, Mayrig opened its second branch in Jeddah. The restaurant is located in a small villa overlooking King Road and the Andalus Street. The exterior of the villa is done in Armenian style — with wood, stones and marble. Inside is a two-story restaurant: The ground floor serves only men while the second floor is for families. The interior of the restaurant is colorful with walls made of beige rocks and wood and Syrian-designed marble floors. Mayrig can seat 250 diners at once and 50 diners in the terrace area.
The menu comprises a range of authentic Armenian dishes. Among their fresh salads is Itch, an Armenian tabouleh made with buckwheat, onion, tomatoes and parsley. The dish is eaten with cabbage leaves as serving spoons. Sempougov salad is a cold eggplant salad with onion, tomatoes, parsley and lemon and olive oil dressing. Vospi salad is a lentil salad with chopped onions, tomatoes and pomegranate vinegar sauce, eaten with crispy bread, and it is highly recommended here.
For cold entrees, Derevov Sarma is a dish made with zesty vine leaves wrapped around juicy rice mix. The Mayrig Selection is highly recommended, which is a dish of kebbe with lentils served with chopped white onion and olive oil. Kebbe with potatoes is served with chopped tomatoes, onion and parsley while the raw meat kebbe is served with minced meat, onions and pine nuts.
In the category of hot entrees, on offer are different appetizing dishes such as Gdzou Patates, consisting of diced, spicy fried potatoes. Sou Beureg is a layered pastry made with three kinds of cheeses. Soujok Fekhara that is made with Armenian beef sausage with tomato sauce is cooked and served in pottery.
As for the main course, Mayrig serves authentic Armenian dishes cooked with Armenian spices and baked in pottery. Mante is a minced meat dumpling cooked in a stone oven. Tomato sauce and yogurt is added when serving the dish. Fishnah Kebab is another popular dish here and consists of a grilled kebab dish topped with wild sour cherries and french bread.
Tika Kebab is a diced beef grilled in skewers and served with diced fried potatoes and salad. Missov Frikeh is another recommended dish made with Frikeh pilaf, beef and topped with wild sour cherries.
Every good meal has to have a sweet ending. For dessert, diners should try the Armenian style walnut pakhlava or Achtalieh, which is a milk pudding topped with pistachios and served in a pottery jar. Anouch ser, a sweet rolled pastry filled with cream, is a smart choice too.
The restaurant offers Shisha indoors and outdoors for its diners.
Expect to pay: SR150 to SR200 per person.
Opening hours: From 1 p.m. to 1 a.m. on weekends
and from 1 p.m. to 12 a.m. on weekdays.


Temperature Restaurant: Farah Al-Ohali offers Saudis a new take on comfort food

A family eating at Temperature restaurant. (Supplied)
Updated 18 October 2018
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Temperature Restaurant: Farah Al-Ohali offers Saudis a new take on comfort food

  • Al-Ohali has unusual offerings that could be called the ultimate comfort food
  • She credits her Kuwaiti genes for her innate desire to explore new palates and cuisines

DAMMAM: Turning up the temperature this summer in Al-Khobar is a “modern home cuisine” restaurant, founded and run by a young Saudi-Kuwaiti female chef, Farah Al-Ohali. Temperature is just seven months old, but Sharqawis are already familiar with Al-Ohali’s unusual offerings that could be called the ultimate comfort food.
The 22-year old credits her Kuwaiti genes for her innate desire to explore new palates and cuisines.
“The dining scene in Kuwait is much more developed; and people are much more open to experimenting with their palates, compared to other GCC countries,” she told Arab News. Coming from a family of innovative cooks — her aunt is known to cook up a notoriously delightful kabsa with turkey, instead of the traditional chicken — Al-Ohali has always loved cooking and would spend hours preparing and hosting elaborate dinner parties for friends and family.


In 2015, Al-Ohali left for Florence, to pursue the culinary arts professionally. She enrolled in an intensive certification program, learning techniques for over 250 dishes, assisting the chef in his kitchen, and working in a high-pressure environment. Coming back to the Kingdom, Al-Ohali was happy to cook for her family, but they weren’t impressed.
“The butter, cream, and flour characteristic to [what they thought] of Italian cooking was missing and they hated the ‘Italian’ I made for them,” she said with a rambunctious laugh. And thus began her journey to adapt flavors to the Saudi culture.
Her research was simple: She just asked Saudis what they ate and why they liked eating a particular dish. From there, she started an Instagram-based business and a pop-up food kiosk for public events. Some of her most popular creations have been chicken tenders in a waffle cone; nachos with chutney; mac and cheese grilled sandwiches; and coffee-marinated brisket sandwiches. Before long, Al-Ohali was approached by a marketing and talent management agency who helped her set up the restaurant.
Now, Al-Ohali is the creative force and chef behind Temperature (the most important element of every dish). The ambience reflects her effervescent personality: a snazzy beverage bar, bistro-style furniture and fittings, and rose, gold and green accents.


The breakfast menu is Al-Ohali’s personal favorite and it’s easy to see why.
First, we tried The Anita, a grilled brioche sandwich brim-full of layers of beetroot pesto, basil pesto, labnah, kashkawan and mozzarella cheese. Elevating a standard pesto sandwich, The Anita is worthy of weekend-morning indulgence. Plus points too for its Instagram-worthy pink hues.
“I use simple flavors that you would eat at home, but they are paired unusually with an ingredient that is not commonly used here or with an ingredient that you wouldn’t think of normally using,” Al-Ohali explained.
The Mushroom on Toast bears testament to her approach. Brioche bread topped with mushrooms, an in-house special cream, parmesan, arugula, sunny-side-up eggs, and, finally, balsamic vinegar drizzle. The tart vinegar offsets the sweet mushroom cream and creates an interesting fusion of flavors.
The Messy French, a crunchy brioche bread with salted caramel and maple syrup served with ice-cream, makes for a perfect accompaniment to the hazelnut latte. The menu is limited, but you can be assured that ,whatever you order, your expectations of comfort food are elevated a notch or two.
The Temperature is definitely on the rise.