Where We Are Going Today: THAT Cafe

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Photo/Supplied
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Updated 09 August 2022

Where We Are Going Today: THAT Cafe

Photo/Supplied

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.


Where We Are Going Today: Arches Coffee House

Where We Are Going Today: Arches Coffee House
Updated 05 October 2022

Where We Are Going Today: Arches Coffee House

Where We Are Going Today: Arches Coffee House

With plenty of natural sunlight seeping in from the windows, Arches Coffee House in Alkhobar is the perfect little getaway from your desk if you’re on deadline and want a slight change of scenery. Under many of the chairs, there are outlets so you can charge your device as you recharge, too.

On the afternoon of our visit, people with laptop bags had them leaning on the walls as they sipped their beverages quietly while looking out of the window.

If you do not want to read your notifications or respond to emails, an area in the back contains a bookshelf with a selection of books to browse and borrow. A few games are available there too, if you feel like passing the time in that way.

The cafe has a selection of savory and sweet delights, notably the mozzarella and tomato danish, their labna with zataar croissant and their raspberry eclair and date cake.

The barista recommended we try their banana pudding, a glass jar containing layers of fresh banana slices smothered with custard-like creamy goodness with a sort of cake base at the bottom.

They recently introduced matcha to the menu and it is offered in both hot and iced varieties. Beverages can be made with regular full-fat milk or one can choose lacto-free milk and they offer Alpro brand’s barista coconut variety, almond or soya as options.

Also at the barista’s recommendation, I tried their pineapple iced tea, which was refreshing. The iced tea had tiny pieces of fruit floating in the cup to nibble on. What I liked was how the iced beverage contained round ice cubes which melted very slowly and did not water down the drink rapidly.

The cafe, as the name implies, has arches. The white ceilings are carved to honor their architectural inspiration.


Where We Are Eating Today: Flaky

Where We Are Eating Today: Flaky
Updated 03 October 2022

Where We Are Eating Today: Flaky

Where We Are Eating Today: Flaky

Alkhobar has a cool new restaurant in town — a whole place dedicated to crispy chicken born and breaded locally.

With the slogan “Crunch it out,” Flaky opened up earlier this year on the trendy Alkhobar City Walk. The main wall upon entering the eatery is decorated with a giant hand-painted chicken with sunglasses.

With a small seating area to the side and a sink so that you can wash your hands before and after a deep fried feast with sauces galore, Flaky is a good spot to stop for a quick bite or to indulge in for a longer time.

Flaky promises that every single chicken it sells is locally raised. Then the restaurant’s free-range chickens are chilled to ensure optimal freshness and are fried to order.

The original burger consists of crunchy chicken slathered with melted cheddar cheese, fresh lettuce and some pickles to add a tangy punch between a perfectly toasted bun. It comes with a spicy option as well — the same concept with a different homemade sauce.

They also offer a maple sriracha burger, a buffalo burger and a Nashville burger — which promises to be a bit hot.

For those who want brunch in a bite, Flaky offers a chicken n’ waffle option in original and in Nashville-style. They also offer chicken strips and, of course, french fries: Original and loaded Flaky fries.

There are eight kind of sauces for SR3 ($0.8) a pop. Most of Flaky’s burgers are around SR30 and the fries are separate.

This summer, Flaky started to offer little ice cream bites in what they refer to as the “guilt-free zone.” The bites are layered with vanilla ice cream and coated in chocolate.

They now also offer mojitos in addition to bottled water and sodas.

Working hours are daily from 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. on most days and from 3 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Fridays. Check Flaky’s Instagram page @flaky.sa for more info.

Delivery apps like Hunger Station, Jahez and The Chefz can have your Flaky order sent right to your front door.


Alkhobar chill: Gioelia Cremeria offers a taste of Italy on Saudi Arabia’s east coast

Alkhobar chill: Gioelia Cremeria offers a taste of Italy on Saudi Arabia’s east coast
Updated 01 October 2022

Alkhobar chill: Gioelia Cremeria offers a taste of Italy on Saudi Arabia’s east coast

Alkhobar chill: Gioelia Cremeria offers a taste of Italy on Saudi Arabia’s east coast

A cool new ice cream cafe and shop has opened on Alkhobar City Walk, offering visitors a true taste of Italy.

Owned and run by local man Bader Al-Hussaini and his family, Gioelia Cremeria Italiana is packed full of tasty delights — from thirst-quenching fruity gelato and chocolate cakes to cookies and cannoli.

Before opening the store in mid-September — the first outlet of the famous brand in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East — Al-Hussaini and his father traveled to Italy to sample the products they would be selling.

On opening day the place was packed with happy customers young and old as they sampled the dozen or so treats on offer.

Al-Hussaini recommended we try the pistachio gelato, and it tasted like summer in a cup. The creamy texture of the ice cream combined with chips of pistachio was neither overwhelming nor too subtle. It also came with a thin wafer on the top to give it extra crunch.

As well as the desserts — available for eat-in or takeaway — the shop offers a wide range of hot and iced coffees, smoothies, frappes, and bottles of sparkling and still water from Italy.

Al-Hussaini said his personal favorite was the gelato, “because I really like it and we don’t have many gelato shops here in Alkhobar.”

He told Arab News that unlike most ice creams, gelato does not contain much water, “which makes it more creamy.”

Gioelia Cremeria Italiana is open from 4 p.m. to midnight.


Palestinian kebab shop named as one of Italy’s best street food outlets

Palestinian kebab shop named as one of Italy’s best street food outlets
Updated 30 September 2022

Palestinian kebab shop named as one of Italy’s best street food outlets

Palestinian kebab shop named as one of Italy’s best street food outlets
  • ‘The kebabs from Ciao Kebab are so good,’ says editor of Gambero Rosso food guide
  • Right-wing politicians in Italy have targeted kebab shops as foreign invaders

LONDON: A Palestinian kebab shop in Bologna has been named one of the best street food outlets in Italy by the Gambero Rosso food guide, The Times reported on Friday.

Ciao Kebab was singled out as the best street food outlet in Emilia Romagna, a region famous for its parmesan cheese and prosciutto ham, and considered a temple of Italian cuisine.

Opened in 1991 by a Palestinian emigre, Ciao Kebab is now run by Omar Shihadeh, 33, the founder’s son.

It offers a gourmet kebab made with beef, local vegetables, and the option of a homemade tahini or spicy tomato sauce.

“They might not admit it, but a kebab can beat a piadina,” said Shihadeh, referring to the cheese and prosciutto-stuffed flatbread that won the Gambero Rosso award last year.

“Gambero Rosso is getting more international. They saw we do a quality kebab,” he said, adding that Bologna is “surprisingly open” to “new food.”

But right-wing politicians have targeted kebab shops as pernicious foreign invaders, and officials from the anti-migrant League party have sought to shut them down.

Shihadeh’s colleague Andrea Liotta said he knew of a kebab shop in Verona, northern Italy, which had faced hostility because of its perception as a “foreign product.”

Pina Sozio, who edited the 2022 edition of Gambero Rosso, said the guide had never before given the accolade to a non-Italian food outlet in Emilia Romagna.

“It’s a region rooted in culinary traditions, but the kebabs from Ciao Kebab are so good, and this is a way to encourage people to change habits,” Sozio told The Times.

“Things are changing. Italians still argue endlessly about the right way to cook pasta carbonara, but when it comes to street food they will try other things if they are good.”


Where We Are Going Today: Caffeination cafe

Where We Are Going Today: Caffeination cafe
Updated 30 September 2022

Where We Are Going Today: Caffeination cafe

Where We Are Going Today: Caffeination cafe

Caffeination cafe, already well known in Alkhobar’s Olaya neighborhood for its bottled iced coffees and ice-cream sandwiches made from fresh cookies, has recently revamped its menu.

We tried the spicy tuna sandwich, which consisted of slices of bread layered with fresh avocado, flaky tuna marinated in hot sauce, and greens.

Caffeination’s lattes, both iced and hot, hit the spot, but their refreshing iced tea mojitos really deliver the kick you need. We tried the peach-flavored version, which was sweet, but not too overpowering. They also offer a variety of non-dairy milk for vegans and those who are lactose intolerant.

The Wi-Fi is a bit spotty, but there is plenty of seating upstairs and downstairs, as well as a few places to plug in your devices. A large picnic-style wood bench faces the wall near the stairs, and there are four smaller tables with multiple chairs.

Framed pieces of art on the walls and small potted plants add to the comfortable decor.

Soft music is played throughout the cafe, but is turned off during prayer times. A prayer rug is available for customers to use. There is only one restroom, so you might have to wait your turn.

Several full-length mirrors are ideal for a mirror selfie, or for jolting you back into working mode when you catch yourself staring into space.

Caffeination’s main Alkhobar branch is open from 5.30 a.m. till midnight most days. A soft opening was held recently for their second branch, which is located in Riyadh in Larsen Valley.

Follow @caffeinationco for the address, operating hours and special offers. They also deliver locally on most food apps.