What We Are Eating Today: Loqmatain

What We Are Eating Today: Loqmatain
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Updated 30 July 2021

What We Are Eating Today: Loqmatain

What We Are Eating Today: Loqmatain

If you want wholesome, nutrient-dense snack choices, try Loqmatain date bars — a Saudi brand that offers healthy tasty snacks made of different types.

Loqmatain is an Arabic expression that translates as eating a small portion of food or snack, which reflects on the concept of the brand, as it offers on-the-go date bars and dip snacks that you can take to work to have with your morning coffee, or on a road trip. They are also suitable for children as Loqmatain’s products are rich in fiber and naturally sweetened.

The bars on offer are an updated version of those popular in the 80s and 90s, filled with biscuits and wrapped with date paste.

Each product is accompanied by different toppings and optional dips, including tahini, pistachio, and chocolate. The local brand deals almost exclusively with local farmers, to ensure good quality.

You can find them in supermarkets and coffee shops in many cities in Saudi Arabia. For more information visit their website: Loqmatain.com or Instagram account @loqmatain


Saudi chef to kings reveals latest recipes for culinary success

As well as developing Arab recipes for Saudi dairy products, Tawfiq Qadri has cooked up more than 3,000 different hot, cold, and pastry meals. (Supplied)
As well as developing Arab recipes for Saudi dairy products, Tawfiq Qadri has cooked up more than 3,000 different hot, cold, and pastry meals. (Supplied)
Updated 19 September 2021

Saudi chef to kings reveals latest recipes for culinary success

As well as developing Arab recipes for Saudi dairy products, Tawfiq Qadri has cooked up more than 3,000 different hot, cold, and pastry meals. (Supplied)
  • 58-year-old Tawfiq Qadri still oozes the same enthusiasm for food preparation as he did as child

MAKKAH: A top Saudi cook hailed as the chef to kings is set to pass on more of his culinary skills and recipes with the release of a new book.

Tawfiq Qadri, who has worked in palace kitchens for a succession of monarchs, is due to finish his third cookbook, “On the Table of the Caliph.”
And the 58-year-old still oozes the same enthusiasm for food preparation as he did as child.
“It all started when I was seven years old. I was fascinated with the sight of my mother in the kitchen, and I used to help in cutting carrots and cucumbers and cleaning rice. I was the only one of 16 brothers and sisters to help her at our home in Madinah,” he told Arab News.
“I joined the scouts during intermediate and high school and was the chef of my classmates at the time. I became famous for cooking the popular Hijazi dishes, which the scouts enjoyed despite my lack of experience.”
After moving to Italy to train as a chef, Qadri’s career took off as he later made a name for himself catering for royals, presidents, and celebrities.
But his rise to fame in the cuisine arts did not get off to a smooth start.
After graduating from high school in Madinah, he got a job at the Saudi Central Bank, an experience which left a bad taste in his mouth. Working in a small office, Qadri felt trapped in an environment he said killed his creative passion to cook.
At the age of 19, just six months into his job, he quit the bank without telling his family and went to stay at his uncle’s hotel. With the help of his relative, and with his parents’ blessing, Qadri enrolled in a bachelor’s degree course at an Italian institute in Sicily, spending two-and-a-half years there as the only Arab student.

BACKGROUND

• After graduating from high school in Madinah, he got a job at the Saudi Central Bank, an experience which left a bad taste in his mouth. Working in a small office, Qadri felt trapped in an environment he said killed his creative passion to cook.

• At the age of 19, just six months into his job, he quit the bank without telling his family and went to stay at his uncle’s hotel. With the help of his relative, and with his parents’ blessing, Qadri enrolled in a bachelor’s degree course at an Italian institute in Sicily, spending two-and-a-half years there as the only Arab student. He also gained a master’s degree and Ph.D. in the US based on his thesis on managing kitchens and tourist facilities.

On returning home, in 1981 he took up employment with the Royal Saudi Navy, based in Riyadh. There, he was head chef and supervisor of the navy officers’ club and would often fly to Toulon in France to join a ship that regularly sailed to Saudi Arabia, working on board as a chef. After four years in the navy, during which time he rose to the rank of sergeant, he moved into military supply management, eventually heading the operation, and organizing budgets for the whole of the Kingdom.
When the Gulf crisis started in 1990, he was commissioned to join the Ministry of Defense and became the chef of the Allied Forces, earning the rank of chief sergeant.
After taking early retirement from the navy, Qadri spent six years with Saudia airline’s catering division, developing a range of dishes, before advising international hotels on food provision and judging in many culinary competitions throughout the Arab world.
While working with Saudia airline, Qadri was featured in a Saudi newspaper article under the headline, “Passengers Love him Before Seeing Him.” On the back of the publicity, he was given responsibility for Hijazi cooking at the palace of the late King Fahd and went on to work for the late King Abdullah, and now King Salman, notably preparing the kitchen during the visit of former US President Barack Obama.
He also gained a master’s degree and Ph.D. in the US based on his thesis on managing kitchens and tourist facilities. As well as developing Arab recipes for Saudi dairy products, Qadri has cooked up more than 3,000 different hot, cold, and pastry meals, and created 42 new recipes. He is also the author of books “Saudi and the Star of the Table,” and “Guide of the Quick Cooking,” with “On the Table of the Caliph” due to be completed soon.


Bisan: Rare Palestinian restaurant in the heart of Tokyo offers up Arab fare

Bisan: Rare Palestinian restaurant in the heart of Tokyo offers up Arab fare
Updated 14 September 2021

Bisan: Rare Palestinian restaurant in the heart of Tokyo offers up Arab fare

Bisan: Rare Palestinian restaurant in the heart of Tokyo offers up Arab fare

TOKYO: A five minute walk from Tokyo’s Jujo railway station, a small Palestinian restaurant called Bisan serves popular Levantine flavors like falafel and hummus to Japanese patrons.

Named after an ancient Palestinian town, Bisan offers customers a traditional experience ranging from cuisine to music. 

The owner and chef Sudqi Mansour welcomes his customers with good humor and a chance to taste the offerings of his homeland. (Supplied)

The owner and chef Sudqi Mansour welcomes his customers with good humor and a chance to taste the offerings of his homeland.

A visitor told Arab News Japan that he had already traveled to Palestine to meditate at the tomb of Christ. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, he could no longer go there but he was happy to be able to taste Arab food in the heart of Tokyo.

The intimate atmosphere of the restaurant shows that it remains connected to Palestine, with flags hanging on the walls, photos of former leader Yasser Arafat, messages of peace, a map of Palestine, Shishas and dromedaries adorn the baroque decor of the restaurant.

The intimate atmosphere of the restaurant shows that it remains connected to Palestine, with flags hanging on the walls, photos of former leader Yasser Arafat, messages of peace, a map of Palestine, Shishas and dromedaries adorn the baroque decor of the restaurant. (Supplied)

In the kitchen, Chef Mansour is usually busy preparing the orders by cutting the ingredients with an expert hand. He said it took about 5 hours to prepare the hummus, which is the pride and reputation of Bisan, which opened in January 2011.

It was while traveling to join a family member that Mansour decided to settle in a peaceful country in Japan to introduce Palestinian cuisine to Japanese foodies.

Most of his visitors are Japanese although he occasionally has Saudi or French diners.  The restaurant is open Saturday and Sunday at lunchtime and weekdays from 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. and reservations are possible by phone.


The growth of Saudi Arabia’s food and beverage industry — from local startups to multinational chains

The modern Makkah Restaurant  appears  to have had a family section in Al-Bathaa district in Riyadh back in the seventies. (Supplied)
The modern Makkah Restaurant appears to have had a family section in Al-Bathaa district in Riyadh back in the seventies. (Supplied)
Updated 11 September 2021

The growth of Saudi Arabia’s food and beverage industry — from local startups to multinational chains

The modern Makkah Restaurant  appears  to have had a family section in Al-Bathaa district in Riyadh back in the seventies. (Supplied)
  • With a population of more than 32m, companies are now competing to enter the market in this sector

RIYADH: The culture of imported foods and restaurants was limited until the early 1980s in Riyadh and most cities in Saudi Arabia.

However, the availability of sandwiches, shawarma, and hamburger meals has spread in large cities in the Kingdom such as Dammam, Riyadh and Jeddah since the mid-1980s.
Mansour Al-Assaf, an expert in social history, said on his Twitter account that the first shawarma restaurant in Riyadh was called Abu Nawas Restaurant on King Faisal Road. The first broasted (fried chicken) restaurant was KFC and there was a Wimpy restaurant in the same street in the 1960s.
Mixed falafel sandwich meals have been available in Riyadh in Al-Malaz neighborhood on Zaid bin Al-Khattab Street since 1982.
Al-Assaf told Arab News that restaurants had existed in Saudi Arabia since the 1950s, but widespread growth took place in the mid-1980s and 1990s.
“High-end restaurants were present in some cities in the 1950s, especially in the Eastern Province, Jeddah and perhaps even in Riyadh. Most of them were hotel restaurants such as Al-Yamamah Hotel, Zahrat Al-Sharq Hotel and Sahara Hotel in Riyadh,” he said.
“(Hatem Tayi) restaurant in Al-Bathaa district was one of the oldest restaurants in Riyadh in the 1960s. It used to serve kebabs, ribs and kofta — and not far from it people would meet in Omar Khayyam Cafe to watch free wrestling and discuss Ahmed Saeed’s speeches,” he said.
Muhammad Al-Harbi, a government retiree, spoke of when he was a college student at King Saud University in 1975. He said that he used to go with his friends to a restaurant serving a traditional Saudi dish called bukhari.
“It was a small restaurant near the college. As college students, we mainly cooked at home. We only went to this restaurant when we have extra money to spend.”
Al-Assaf said bukhari restaurants had existed since the 1960s but increased in 1987, after which floor-seating dining became popular in Saudi traditional restaurants. 

HIGHLIGHTS

• The first broasted (fried chicken) restaurant was KFC and there was a Wimpy restaurant in the same street in the 1960s.

• Mixed falafel sandwich meals have been available in Riyadh in Al-Malaz neighborhood on Zaid bin Al-Khattab Street since 1982.

• The first Saudi restaurant to sell hamburgers was Herfy, which opened in 1981 under the Gulf Bridge on Khurais Street in Riyadh.

Most of the restaurants in the Kingdom were limited to male customers, Al-Harbi said. He only recalled one restaurant in a hotel called Zahrat Al-Sharq in Riyadh that had a family section.

A group of young men enjoying their fast food meal and Pepsi soft drink back in the 80s.

“Back in the old days, we rarely saw families in restaurants. The majority of those who went to restaurants were male workers and students.”
Al-Assaf said that family sections in restaurants existed in the 1960s and 1970s in Riyadh, Jeddah and many other regions in Saudi Arabia. He said that the majority of restaurants with family sections were limited to open buffets or hotel lobbies. Large international fast food restaurants and multinational chains in the 1980s and 1990s contributed to the growth of family sections.
“The first Saudi restaurant to sell hamburgers was Herfy, which opened in 1981 under the Gulf Bridge on Khurais Street in Riyadh.” 
Herfy was one of the first Saudi fast-food restaurants that welcomed families.
Al-Assaf said that families in the 1980s began to accept the idea of going out to eat in a restaurant as family sections provided complete privacy for them.
“The economic boom also played a role in the spread of restaurants.”
Al-Harbi said that during his childhood in the 1960s, eating out was not an option as his parents would not allow it. “There used to be a sweets store in Madinah that served all kinds of cakes and tarts called Salah Bakery. My brothers and I used to look at the tarts from the window outside because we knew our mother wouldn’t allow us to eat them.”
During the 1990s, coffee shops began to appear and Saudi families became familiar with different types of Italian coffee, donuts, tiramisu and cinnamon rolls.
The food and beverage market witnessed considerable growth in Saudi Arabia after the launch Vision 2030.
With a population of more than 32 million, international and local companies are now competing to enter the market in this sector.
The entertainment industry and the increased number of sports events and concerts in the Kingdom also positively impacts the food sector. This growth already appears in increased mobile delivery applications, food trucks, and international and local restaurants in large cities such as Riyadh and Jeddah and small towns such as AlUla.
Saudi’s first UNESCO World Heritage site, AlUla, has a wide range of temporary food trucks, and several fine dining pop-up restaurants including Anabelle’s, Sass Café and La Cantine du Faubourg.
In previous years, the Kingdom has witnessed many developments in the food and beverage industry as international casual and fine dining options have entered the Riyadh market, including PF. Chang’s, Cipriani and Hakkasan. Michelin star-level restaurants are also opening across the Kingdom, such as Rasoi in Jeddah.

Coffee shops have proved popular, especially among millennials — such as Caoua, Jolt, and Dose in Riyadh. Famous local chefs are also opening their restaurants, such as chef Omar Al-Saif’s restaurant KRNSH.

Al-Harbi said that the younger generation were lucky to have so many restaurant options. “You have Italian, French, Japanese and Greek cuisines. Every day a new restaurant opens in the streets of Riyadh, and local Saudi restaurants have definitely outperformed big international ones.”


What We Are Eating Today: Dumpling House

Photo/Supplied
Photo/Supplied
Updated 11 September 2021

What We Are Eating Today: Dumpling House

Photo/Supplied
  • Customers have an eat-in or takeaway option and can select from a range of dumpling bites that come with soy or hot sauces

A specialty restaurant in Jeddah is offering dumplings as a meal rather than an appetizer with an authentic Chinese twist.
A dumpling is a small ball of dough usually made with suet, that is often steamed in a bamboo basket, although it can be baked or fried.
Located in Jarir Mall, in Jeddah’s Al-Naeem district, Dumpling House offers fillings including beef, chicken, shrimp with vegetables (or either food item on its own), and chicken satay and also distributes to Asian restaurants throughout the city.
Customers have an eat-in or takeaway option and can select from a range of dumpling bites that come with soy or hot sauces. For further details go to @dumplinghouse.sa on Instagram.


What We Are Eating Today: The Morning Call

What We Are Eating Today: The Morning Call
Updated 10 September 2021

What We Are Eating Today: The Morning Call

What We Are Eating Today: The Morning Call

Everyone needs some energy to jump-start their day, and of course, some delicious breakfast.

The Morning Call is a breakfast and brunch restaurant in Jeddah that offers a sunny, cozy place where you can begin your day with a light meal, made with the freshest ingredients.

The cuisine is a combination between international and American. One of the most popular breakfast orders includes truffle scrambled croissants and warm bread pudding filled with nuts. Breakfast is never too early for dessert, so cap off the meal with a side of dark chocolate fudge and ice cream.

If you need breakfast on the go, the restaurant offers an array of options including the tartine box, the sweet breakfast box, and the ciabatta sandwich box.

The tartine box includes an open-face sandwich with sourdough bread that includes sweet or savory toppings such as beetroot avocado, mushroom and kale, ricotta figs, and peanut butter with granola.

Located in Mohamdiah district, Halima Al-Saadeiah Street. For more information about the menu or to view fascinating photos or the cuisine, visit the Morning Call on Instagram @thrmorningcall.sa