When you enter the glass doors of THAT Cafe in Riyadh, one word comes to mind: serenity. If you’re looking for a new place to have intimate discussions with friends, work remotely or even spend some alone time with a good book, this is your spot.
THAT Cafe, which opened in January of this year, is a specialty-driven coffee shop offering a diverse selection of drinks inspired by both Saudi and Japanese culture, ranging from traditional Saudi coffee to Bom Ji lattes.
You’re met with an endless array of local and international drinks and a full menu of drip coffee — your choice of single-sourced or limited yield — that you can top off with any plant-based or dairy milk.
The iced Saudi coffee is an option you won’t easily find anywhere else, as is the iced Hojicha latte, a type of Japanese green tea.
On the Zen garden-style upper floor, the ambiance is set by the melodic sounds of oud playing in the background.
The sleek coffee shop design and workspace tables make it perfect for any purpose, whether that’s work or pleasure.
THAT Cafe’s dessert menu makes it difficult to choose just one option. A must-try is their muhalabiya cheesecake — a piece of Middle Eastern heaven bursting with the flavor of sweet rose water.
As you leave, you’re welcome to take a small packet of fresh coffee to try later — all you have to do is add water, and you can enjoy the taste of THAT Cafe from the comfort of your own home.
Top chefs dish up Italian-Saudi fare at AlUla culinary event
Updated 27 November 2022
ROME: Traditional Saudi dishes took pride of place on a menu alongside food from Italy and Sicily at the closing event of the seventh edition of the Week of Italian Cuisine in the World, held in AlUla.
Staged by the Italian embassy, the recent culinary gathering was organized in cooperation with the Royal Commission for AlUla, the Italian Trade Agency office in Riyadh, and Slow Food, an organization based in Italy that aims to protect gastronomic, cultural, and biological diversity.
Italian chef Pino Maggiore, a member of Slow Food’s cooks’ alliance and owner of the Cantina Siciliana restaurant in Trapani, Italy, travelled to AlUla to work on the menu with chef Osama Ahmed Alswayah of AlUla’s Suhail Restaurant.
The pair tapped into the heritage of Sicily, Maggiore’s homeland island, which for historical reasons is heavily influenced by Arab culture.
They used Saudi ingredients from the “Ark of Taste” catalogue of endangered heritage foods, produced by the Slow Food organization.
Members of the Italian business community in the Kingdom, Saudi officials, and representatives of AlUla’s hospitality sector were welcomed to the event by the Italian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Roberto Cantone.
This year, Slow Food and the RCU formed a strategic partnership focused on building local capacity, promoting AlUla as a destination for food lovers, and exchanging the philosophy of Slow Food with the traditions of AlUla to raise awareness and preserve the national intangible heritage of the region’s cuisine and agricultural practices.
Cantone said: “The project opens a new chapter in the history of Italian-Saudi cooperation in the cultural field and the relevance of Slow Food’s philosophy to the Kingdom’s efforts to preserve its cultural heritage.”
Along with enjoying the culinary experience offered by Maggiore, guests were able to tour a “Food Heroes” photo exhibition showcasing the excellence of four Italian artisans; a beekeeper, shepherd, mussel farmer, and restaurateur.
Jointly produced by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Slow Food, the exhibition was designed to highlight the importance of the intertwined values of tradition and innovation at the heart of Slow Food’s philosophy.
For a sweet and memorable breakfast or dessert, Jeddah’s “It. Caffe” has it all, and something new to offer too.
I always look for something unique when I visit a place, and this cafe and restaurant satisfied my curiosity. It has all the regular great foods, but also boasts the “croffle”, a mix between a croissant and waffle, and a circular croissant known as a “croll”.
I visited the caffe with my family and ordered different things to try together.
First was the Croque Madame: Sourdough bread, bechamel sauce, Gruyere cheese, smoked turkey, whole grain mustard, side salad, chili oil, and fried egg.
The It. Special French Toast was is a custard stuffed brioche served with custard dip, cream, blueberries, raspberries, corn crumble and creme anglaise sauce.
Honey, poached pears, berry coulis, and cinnamon powder took the cafe’s porridge to another level.
There are many items I was curious to try just for their name and look, such as Barbie’s choice, a chocolate sponge cake with ruby chocolate and Feuilletine mix) and a summer jam bubble waffle made with strawberry ice cream, berry compote, strawberries and white chocolate.
It. Caffe’s interior is mainly white and blue, with a giant glass window wall, allowing the sunbeams to light up the entire place.
If you like your food to look as gorgeous as it tastes, this is the place to visit. Dishes are always prepared and displayed in the most sophisticated manner.
Friendly staff with big smiles, who attended to all our needs, were the icing on the cake.
RECIPES FOR SUCCESS: Chef ArChan Chan offers advice and a delicious chicken wings recipe
The executive chef of Hong Kong’s Ho Lee Fook was in Riyadh earlier this month, where her restaurant has launched a pop-up eatery in Riyadh Season’s Al-Murabaa food zone
Updated 24 November 2022
RIYADH:Chef ArChan Chan’s story is one that could inspire many an aspiring cook. By her own admission, Chan had “no idea about cooking,” when she started her career, but she is now executive chef of the Cantonese restaurant Ho Lee Fook in Hong Kong.
“In many Asian countries, like Hong Kong — where I grew up, cooking is not really (considered) a profession. I was a foodie who loves eating and I knew that I wanted to do something I was passionate about,” Chan told Arab News. “So, when I went to university, I asked my lecturer if there were any food-related subjects I could take. He told me the university offered a catering course, so that’s how I first got into the industry, but also through tourism and hotels. That’s how I began working in kitchens.”
Earlier this month, Chan was in Riyadh, where her restaurant has launched a pop-up eatery in Riyadh Season’s Al-Murabaa food zone. Here, she discusses the versatility of spring onions and avoiding a ‘military-like’ kitchen atmosphere, and provides a recipe for chicken wings.
What’s your top tip for amateur chefs?
If you’re planning to cook meat — any meat — soak it in four percent brine. It adds a lot of flavor and tenderness. You can do that before any method of cooking; it’s a very simple way to make things tasty.
What’s the one ingredient you believe can improve any dish?
I love spring onion or scallion. It’s an ingredient that works with a lot of dishes. It adds texture and flavor to something as simple as steamed fish. You pour hot oil on and some spring onion on it. It just releases those flavors, especially if you add a bit of soya sauce and a bit of salt and sugar. It’s delicious. You can even add it to instant noodles.
It doesn’t necessarily annoy me, but it can be difficult when someone asks to modify a dish. We understand that people have different needs, of course; sometimes there is a dietary requirement. But it’s definitely challenging to deal with people who don’t want garlic, or spring onion, or some other ingredient that we use a lot. We can accommodate those requests, but we know the dish will taste different.
What’s your favorite dish to cook?
I love anything that’s cooked in a wok. It’s just really, really satisfying — the fire and the smell of the smoke. It's always sizzling. So, anything that I can cook with a wok, especially wok fry, is great.
As a head chef, are you quite calm and laidback? Or are you a strict disciplinarian?
I spent some time in old-school kitchens, where the head chef would be, like, yelling — very military-like. But I’ve also spent some time in kitchens where it was a little bit more like: You can’t yell at someone; you can't use fear. Personally, I like to guide (my staff). My rules are things like: I need honesty. I need care. I need respect. These are things that people working together need to agree on. That’s a very basic thing to do as a human being. And once you agree, there's a lot of opportunity.
It's OK to make mistakes. But I urge them to ask questions. So, there's a lot of guidance, and then a lot of challenging, like, “Why have you done this? What goes through your mind when choosing this method?”
RECIPE: Chef ArChan’s Chongqing chicken wings
1kg chicken wings
1 packet potato starch
2 tbsp chopped garlic
1 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns
1 stalk spring onion, cut into 4cm lengths
50g dried chilli
1 tbsp of ground spices (cumin, five spice, or spice mix)
1. Add the salt to the water and stir until salt is dissolved, giving you a 4% salt solution.
2. Lightly coat chicken wings in potato starch.
3. Deep fry chicken wings at 180C for six minutes, or pan fry for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.
4. Season the wings with some salt and your favorite ground spices.
5. Sauté the garlic, Sichuan peppercorns and spring onion in a pan on high heat.
6. Add a tablespoon of water and the dried chilli. Sauté until fragrant.
7. Add the fried chicken wings to the pan. Toss for 15 seconds to absorb all the flavors. Serve.
Where We Are Going Today: 'Wicht' fast-food restaurant in Jeddah
The name of the sandwich shop is derived from “Sandwicht,” a Saudi colloquial word for a sandwich that was popular among children during the 80s and 90s
Updated 23 November 2022
Two slices of bread and a slice of your favorite ingredient or spread is a quick and easy way to solve your hunger. Yes, sandwiches are always welcome in all forms and fillings.
Wicht, a Saudi fast-food restaurant in the Al-Salamah district of Jeddah, offers a yummy array of sandwiches with different fillings inspired by Saudi and Mideastern cuisine that will take you back to the 80s and 90s.
The name of the sandwich shop is derived from “Sandwicht,” a Saudi colloquial word for a sandwich that was popular among children during the 80s and 90s.
The signature filling is shish tawook and kebab, two well-liked Mideastern grill dishes that are usually served in an ordinary way in most restaurants, but at Wicht are offered with sriracha, pesto and truffle sauce.
Since the restaurant concept taps into local nostalgia, the sandwiches are topped with two of the oldest crisps, farico hot or salted potato sticks and cheetos, one of the most admired midday snacks of the old generation.
Side dishes and starters at Wicht include normal or spiced fries and jalapeno poppers, filled with extra creamy cheese.
And because no other nation took to the sandwich the way America did, the restaurant decided to offer a New York hotdog, using hotdog buns and interesting toppings.
For more details and information, visit the Wicht Instagram page @wicht.sa.