The restaurants at The Groves, one of Riyadh Season’s entertainment zones, offer an enticing chance to explore and sample food from around the world.
Zama Zulu, for example, serves up South African dishes that are prepared using traditional cooking methods and showcase African flavors and spices. It is a charming place to dine in winter and the menu offers diners the perfect balance of comfort food and satisfaction.
Do not miss out, for example, on bunny chow, the restaurant’s signature dish, which is traditionally a hollowed out loaf of bread filled with sumptuous curry. Simply choose the protein of your choice: chicken, beef, shrimp or vegetables.
Other notable items on the menu include provoleta al forno, pollo asado, and baked banana for dessert.
Besides the food, another big attraction at Zama Zulu is the traditional displays of Zulu Dance and Zulu Rhythm, with daily performances by dancers wearing cheerful-looking traditional dress.
Every detail at the restaurant is carefully curated to temporarily transport visitors to a distant land as Zama Zula uplifts your mood with more than simply its food. The South African aesthetics of the restaurant interior and the music and dance add layers of positivity and energy to the atmosphere. The alluring aromas, the rich culinary and musical traditions, and the dancers moving around the restaurant all work together to spread good cheer among guests.
Diners are advised to arrive at the scheduled time so so that they so not miss the show that accompanies their meal.
The Groves is open from 4 p.m. to 3 a.m. on weekdays, and from 2.30 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Visit onelink.to/yyvqbt for more information about The Groves and to make a restaurant reservation. For more information about Zama Zulu, check out #zamazulu_sa on Instagram.
The restaurants in Saudi cities offering a taste of Persia on a plate
Restaurants in the Kingdom offer flavor-packed Persian dishes, including the national dish of Iran
Launched in 1999, the Persian restaurant Alshaya has expanded to nine locations around the Kingdom
Updated 21 March 2023
RIYADH: Persian cuisine is popular around the world for its healthy, hearty and luxurious dishes.
The aromatic and flavorful cuisine includes perfectly cooked fluffy rice, grilled or stewed meat such as chicken, lamb, goat or fish, and vegetables that are enhanced by a variety of nuts, fruits, herbs and rich spices like cardamom, saffron, cinnamon, cloves, sultanas, berries and dried rose petals, among others.
Bordered by Iraq, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Oman and Turkemenistan, Iran comprises diverse ethnicities, with neighboring countries having a huge influence on its food.
Popular Persian dishes include ghormeh sabzi, chelo kabab, dizi, kabab koobideh, khoresht gheymeh, zereshk polo, tahdig, faloodeh and tulumba, among others.
Renowned Saudi food blogger Hisham Baeshen is known for his cooking videos on Instagram. With about 4 million followers, Baeshen makes dishes from around the world, including Saudi Arabia.
Baeshen said that he has cooked Persian food, with his favorite being the national dish of Iran — ghormeh sabzi, a stew prepared with meat and kidney beans with a side dish of zereshk polo, a mixture of white and saffron flavored basmati rice topped with barberries.
“I consider sabzi as the king of Persian foods. With a side order of zereshk rice, which I consider one of the staple dishes in Persian food,” Baeshen told Arab News.
Drawing similarities between Saudi and Persian cuisine, the blogger said: “I would absolutely recommend Saudis cook Persian food at home, because all the materials that you need for the Persian kitchen are available in the Saudi kitchen and the techniques used in cooking Persian food are not very different than the Saudi cuisine.
“Many people have tried Persian recipes and loved them. Honestly — very beautiful and delicious.”
Here are some restaurants in the Kingdom offering a taste of Persia on a plate.
Founded in 1990 in Bahrain, Isfahani has expanded its presence to eight locations across Bahrain and in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, with branches in Dhahran and Alkhobar.
Ahmed Alqaseer, vice president of Isfahani group, said that Isfahani started when his uncle, Elias, gave his father, Jalil Alqaseer, the business.
Ahmed’s father took it upon himself to learn more about Persian culture from top Persian chefs by visiting Iran and Lebanon.
“The most important thing for us is to explore and share is the quality of the food. We keep on tracking, developing and adding more dishes,” Ahmed said.
With many great options to choose from, chelo kabab remains by far the the most popular choice among diners.
“Chelo kabab is the dish that gets the most recommendations and gets sold out the quickest in Isfahani locations and food delivery applications like Talabat,” Alqaseer said.
Isfahani’s target for 2023 is to expand to new locations and focus on its design, ambience and food.
“I want the customers to have a great restaurant experience and taste, as if they are in another world. We keep on developing the food and getting new recipes all while maintaining the quality of the food. The new restaurant will have customers will feel like they are in a very modern Persian restaurant,” Alqaseer added.
Mohammed Abduljabar is the owner of Zahra Zad, one of the only Persian restaurants in Al-Qatif.
“We decided to open a Persian restaurant because we saw that there weren’t any in the city of Qatif. The people of the city love Persian food and we wanted to give them something to indulge in,” said Abduljabar.
The soft opening of the restaurant, which is adorned with paintings highlighting Persian culture, architectural style and clothing, took place in February this year.
“We try to capture the true essence and atmosphere of a traditional Persian restaurant through these paintings and decorations. We have all sorts of paintings that symbolize Persian society and dress. Additionally, we added Persian music to add to the ambience.
“I think before starting any project, it is very important for us to study the culture thoroughly so that project truly succeeds,” Abduljabar said.
He added that the most popular dishes are mixed Persian grills — a mixture of beef and chicken kabab — and kashk bademjan, a Persian eggplant dip.
To satisfy one’s sweet tooth, Zahra Zad offers saffron cake and bastani sonati, a rich pistachio ice cream with saffron and rose water.
Taking accessibility and inclusivity into consideration, Abduljabar has kept its ground floor exclusive to people who are unable to climb stairs.
To make the restaurant attractive for customers of all ages, Zahra Zad also contains a shisha cafe.
Alshaya is another Persian restaurant with branches in Riyadh and the Eastern Province. Started in 1999, Alshaya has expanded to nine locations around the Kingdom. The restaurant offers traditional Persian dishes such as kabab, sultani steak and morgh chicken kabab, among others.
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Where We Are Going Today: 'Maraya Social' restaurant at AlUla
Atherton provides a set menu of European cuisine with inspiration derived from AlUla’s local produce. Guests can enjoy the freshness of the farm-to-table experience
Updated 20 March 2023
If you are planning to visit AlUla’s many wonders, especially the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hegra, do not miss out on the nearby mirrored Maraya and its rooftop restaurant, Maraya Social.
The establishment is one of chef Jason Atherton’s newest restaurants and offers a refined experience.
Atherton, a popular British chef, opened his flagship restaurant Pollen Street Social in 2011 in Mayfair, and earned a Michelin star within six months.
The Social Company, Atherton’s group, has since grown into a globally renowned name, with a portfolio of restaurants now including Maraya Social.
Atherton provides a set menu of European cuisine with inspiration derived from AlUla’s local produce. Guests can enjoy the freshness of the farm-to-table experience.
Our dinner kicked off with a welcome drink, a sparkling ginger kombucha, and freshly baked rosemary focaccia with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil for dipping.
We then had seasonal vegetables served with uniquely flavored dips, an Italian salad made with tomato cubes, black olives, basil leaves, and shallots, followed by salted baked beetroot with smoked goat’s cheese and gel made from AlUla’s oranges.
Our main dishes were a salmon confit served with Moroccan couscous, a tender and juicy beef rib-eye steak with peppercorn sauce, and roasted cauliflower risotto with a pistou of green vegetables and parmesan.
For dessert we were served the AlUla date and banana pudding topped with spiced toffee sauce and crispy caramelized hazelnut and gold flakes that complemented the luxurious vibe.
Our feast concluded with a delightful cheesecake topped with lemon jelly and a layer of meringue.
Surrounded by mountains and the magnificence of ancient AlUla, Maraya Social’s spectacular outdoor ambience is relaxing, featuring a view of starry night skies.
Check out its Instagram @marayasocial for updates.
First European Food Festival in Riyadh takes visitors on a culinary tour of Europe
Saudi Arabian Chefs Association hosts contest for Saudi and international cuisine
The participating countries at the festival presented visitors with an assortment of culinary specialities
Updated 20 March 2023
RIYADH: Riyadh’s first European Food Festival brought unique flavors and experiences to visitors who embarked on a culinary journey of Europe in the heart of Saudi Arabia.
Organized by the EU delegation in Riyadh, in cooperation with the various embassies of EU member states, the Saudi Commission for Culinary Arts, and the Diplomatic Quarter in Riyadh, the festival took place on March 16 and 17.
The festival was kicked off by Jaap Ora, project manager of the EU Embassy in Riyadh. In his speech, Ora expressed his joy at the organization of the event, which brings together several European countries to share their culinary traditions with their Saudi friends.
He mentioned loyal hotel partners, including the Hilton Hotel, the Radisson Blu Hotel and others, and expressed his gratitude to all the partners including the Saudi Arabian Chefs Association, the Culinary Arts Commission, and Mayada Badr and her team for their generous support of the initiative and for bringing a Saudi element, namely Saudi coffee, to the event.
Ora told Arab News: “The idea of such a festival was born out of the mutual love shared by Europeans and Saudis for good food as well as our desire to show the diversity and quality of European food and share the richness and refinement of European cuisine available in Saudi Arabia.”
The idea of such a festival was born out of the mutual love shared by Europeans and Saudis for good food as well as our desire to show the diversity and quality of European food and share the richness and refinement of European cuisine available in Saudi Arabia.
Jaap Ora, Deputy head of EU mission to KSA
He added: “Countries share their culture among themselves. Those who come to Saudi Arabia from abroad admire the Saudi culinary traditions and hospitality. Tonight, we invite you to be travelers visiting Europe, experiencing the richness of European cuisine.”
The participating countries at the festival presented visitors with an assortment of culinary specialities.
Belgium delighted visitors with tender, lightly caramelized Liège waffles. The Czech Republic highlighted the best cronuts in Prague from the Oh Deer Bakery, while Denmark brought forth juice and cake with dried fruits. The Netherlands prepared Dutch waffles for festival-goers, a favorite among children.
French restaurant Chez Bruno presented risotto, pasta, and pizza, as well as cool lemonade with cucumbers, and elderflower syrup, which tastes a bit like litchi and is known for its medicinal properties.
Several prominent French bakeries were present at the festival, including La Grenier à Pain, La Vie Claire, Fareen, and Eric Kayser with croissants stuffed with frangipane or pistachio cream, savory croissants, madeleines, quiche, brioche, meringues, and macarons. The Crêpe House was loved by adults and children alike, who patiently stood in line and appreciated and enjoyed the festival atmosphere with its international colors and smells.
Italy was strongly represented with a wide variety at the Eataly stand, from lasagnas, cannelloni, pizza, and unbeatable gelato that brought the flavors and colors of Italy to the Kingdom.
Riyadh’s first European Food Festival brought unique flavors and experiences to visitors who embarked on a culinary journey of Europe in the heart of Saudi Arabia. The festival, which took place on March 16 and 17, was organized by the European Union delegation in Riyadh, in cooperation with the Embassies of the EU member states, the Saudi Commission for Culinary Arts, and the Diplomatic Quarter.
The Spanish pavilion, Azura Tour de Espana, conquered visitors’ taste buds with its paella. Halal versions of wine and beer also sparked curiosity.
A Flamenco group performed to a lively repertoire of Spanish songs, and the atmosphere of the festival was elevated by the warm singing and the graceful dancing.
The Delta Cafe from Portugal offered a variety of dome-shaped lotus cakes. The famous Portuguese music group Al-Manata, formed by Portuguese expatriates who met in Saudi Arabia, also presented a set of Portuguese songs.
Yasser Jad, president of the Saudi Arabian Chefs Association and a consultant for the culinary hotel industry, explained the association’s competition, held in conjunction with the festival, to Arab News.
“It is a two-day competition sponsored by Tamimi Market and Qasr Al-Awani. There are two categories, one for traditional and modern Saudi cuisine and one for international cuisine since the ingredients for it come from countries in the EU,” he said.
“The chef/candidate must present a starter and a main. They have one hour to finalize and present their dishes.”
He added that a jury of two will give a score based on pre-defined criteria that they had decided upon.
Where are we going today: DOM - a new taste to the noodles
DOM is the perfect place to order from if you’re looking for something with a side of nostalgia
Updated 19 March 2023
Virtually everyone in Saudi Arabia grew up loving and eating Indomie instant noodles, a staple in every kitchen that is super easy to make. Each family has a unique method for preparing Indomie, which is the perfect late-night snack or quick fix.
The DOM cloud kitchen has brought a new taste to the noodles with their own sauces and seasonings. The kitchen serves two sauces — the sweet teriyaki and the tom yum. Just like many of us experimented with our noodles, DOM has created new twists to make the experience more enjoyable.
DOM is offering a variety of options, including noodles made with veggies, chicken, beef and shrimp. The brekkie noodles include eggs so it’s a great option for breakfast or if you want a source of protein. Their mouthwatering side dishes include bang bang chicken or shrimp, corn on the cob, and broccoli bites.
DOM is the perfect place to order from if you’re looking for something with a side of nostalgia. The concept is simple and straightforward and a great option for a quick meal at work or for movie nights.
One hearty bowl of DOM costs about SR25 ($6.6). Available from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m., DOM can be ordered through HungerStation, Jahez, and Mrsool in Riyadh.
Indomie is produced by Indofood, the Indonesian instant noodle pioneer and one of the largest instant noodle manufacturers in the world.
For updates and more details follow DOM on Instagram @dom.ksa.
Where We Are Going Today: Signor Sassi - an authentic Italian cuisine
There are more than 130 dishes on the menu and the quality of the fresh ingredients shows
Updated 17 March 2023
Riyadh’s newest high-end dining spot has been hyped as the best Italian experience in town, with a modern take on authentic cuisine prepared by a talented team of Italian chefs.
The restaurant, an offshoot of one of London’s best Italian restaurants, is run under the expert eye of chef Filippo Pagani, who also helps run San Carlo Cicchetti as executive development chef with owners Modern Food Company.
Signor Sassi’s main building, The Villa, has a modern and elegant interior with multiple windows and a glorious skylight that bathes the dining room with natural light. Evenings have a more romantic feel, as diners are treated to dimmer, warmer hues and occasionally live music.
There are more than 130 dishes on the menu and the quality of the fresh ingredients shows.
The signature and most famous dish is the Avocado Bernardo: an avocado base topped with lobster and baby shrimp served with cocktail sauce, introducing the most interesting and fresh combination of flavor.
Octopus salad is a must-try. Fried octopus, octopus, rocket, potatoes, lemon dressing and paprika combine well and build an appetite for your next dish.
Another great starter is the Tuna Bresaola, a dish of cured fish, ricotta, rocket, tomato and a balsamic dressing. A great balance of flavor between the sourness of the dressing and creaminess of the cheese.
The hearty tomato-based Spaghetti Lobster did not disappoint, while the Truffle Pizza may very well be the best in Riyadh, topped with mozzarella cheese, fresh truffle, porcini mushrooms, rocket and parmesan shavings.
The Chef’s Special Creme Brulee, a delightfully thick vanilla custard cream topped with hardened caramelized sugar, is a great send-off after a delicious meal.
The original Italian Tiramisu is also a signature dessert, made with homemade lady finger biscuits soaked in organic coffee with mascarpone cream.
Not all dishes hit the same heights, however. The flavorless Cloud Potato starter was saved only by the garnish of truffle and parmesan. The mushroom risotto, listed as a signature dish, was subpar.
Signor Sassi offers cocktails and drinks themed after a city or area in Italy. The “Milano” is a blend of mango, white peach, lime, freshly squeezed pineapple juice, mint and almond syrup.
The “Rivoli” blends red grape juice with homemade non-alcoholic vermouth, anise, rosemary, lemon, thyme and cinnamon syrup.
The best seller is the Signor Sassi Limonata, made with fresh organic lemon, blue curacao syrup and soda.
As for service, the hosts were somewhat confused about set menu regulations. Reservations are complicated and the restaurant requires guests to pay in advance before they visit.
Regardless of the troubles, the high-end food truly makes up for it — as long as you make the right selection.
Open daily from 1pm to midnight, Signor Sassi is a great addition to Riyadh’s fine-dining options, in a venue with remarkable interior design.