Start-up of the Week: Saudi chef’s fusion cuisine aims to satisfy all cultures

The main encouragement to start his business came from his family, friends and followers on social media. (Supplied)
Updated 19 September 2018

Start-up of the Week: Saudi chef’s fusion cuisine aims to satisfy all cultures

RIYADH: Mansour Ismail, owner and head chef at Chef Culture, said what makes his establishment unique is that people feel as if they are eating at home.
Chef Culture, in the north of the eastern province of Alkhobar, specializes in traditional Gulf and international fusion cuisine. It was launched on May 25 and provides catering and takeaway services.
“I started my restaurant because I believe I have a unique touch which is going to spread across the world,” Mansour told Arab News.
The main encouragement to start his business came from his family, friends and followers on social media, he added. Chef Culture’s signature dish is tandoori lamb, a reflection of the fusion of Gulf and Indian cuisine. “What makes this dish unique is the balance between the two cultures in terms of spices and flavor. This has always been the best-selling dish on our menu,” said Mansour.
Another example of mixed flavors is the Japanese dish shrimp tempura, which is made with Halabi pistachio. Mansour added that a popular order with their catering services has always been the cherry kebab, in which Gulf and Armenian flavors are blended together. What gives this dish its distinctive flavor is that its cherry sauce is made from fresh produce.
“Our main concentration in Chef Culture is in mixing different influences of food from around the world,” said Mansour. He added that all the dishes were created from scratch and took him through trial phases of tasting the food before he was satisfied with the end result of his creations.
The goal at Chef Culture is to showcase Gulf cuisine with an inter-national twist by providing a blend of flavors and a taste that suits the palates of different cultures.
Mansour’s message to aspiring chefs is that the food industry is growing at a rapid pace and that there are big opportunities for talented people to thrive in the culinary world.
He started cooking 12 years ago as an amateur, then decided to develop his hobby by attending cooking courses in India. The chef also attended local and international live cooking shows. This gave Mansour the idea to mix Gulf cuisine with others from around the world, particularly from India, to create his fusion food menu.

What We Are Eating Today: Shiro

Updated 05 June 2020

What We Are Eating Today: Shiro

It is always refreshing to stumble across a new eatery and for me, this was one unexpected bonus to come out of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) quarantine period.

Gripped by a sudden lockdown craving for sushi, I took to the HungerStation app to search for a suitable Japanese restaurant and found Shiro.

Opened in Riyadh in 2017, it has yet to achieve the recognition of other sushi chains such as Sushi Yoshi, Tokyo, or Nozomi. But my first experience of Shiro certainly set my taste buds buzzing.

From the standard California roll to the more adventurous dragon-eye fry, Shiro’s menu covers a wide range of the sushi spectrum, including traditional, purist-friendly sashimi.

I would recommend the deep-fried, sauce-doused special avocado fry, as well as the rainbow roll California, and the mixed tempura futomaki. For a tamer option, go for the classic temaki.

The restaurant also offers dishes to satisfy non-sushi palates, which can help settle family debates over which outlet to order from.

One of the menu highlights was Shiro’s miso soup with its perfectly balanced flavors. My fellow diners also enjoyed the crab salad, which came with a lovely light dressing, crunchy sweetcorn, and baby corn, and the chicken noodles were another big hit.

Shiro gives customers the option to customize any of its wok entrees, and we chose chicken, udon noodles, and teriyaki sauce. The udon noodles are the real deal; thick, chewy, and utterly satisfying. Orders can be made online at or via HungerStation.