Where We Are Going Today: IOTA Coffee Shop in Riyadh

To check out their latest offering, visit them on Instagram @iota.sa
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To check out their latest offering, visit them on Instagram @iota.sa
Where We Are Going Today: IOTA Coffee Shop in Riyadh
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To check out their latest offering, visit them on Instagram @iota.sa
Where We Are Going Today: IOTA Coffee Shop in Riyadh
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To check out their latest offering, visit them on Instagram @iota.sa
Where We Are Going Today: IOTA Coffee Shop in Riyadh
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To check out their latest offering, visit them on Instagram @iota.sa
Where We Are Going Today: IOTA Coffee Shop in Riyadh
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To check out their latest offering, visit them on Instagram @iota.sa
Where We Are Going Today: IOTA Coffee Shop in Riyadh
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To check out their latest offering, visit them on Instagram @iota.sa
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Updated 05 December 2023
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Where We Are Going Today: IOTA Coffee Shop in Riyadh

To check out their latest offering, visit them on Instagram @iota.sa

If you see a matcha specialty cafe in Riyadh with a long line of customers, it is most likely IOTA, located on Al-Sail Al-Kabeer street in Al-Ghadir district.

Matcha has replaced coffee as a morning drink for many locals, evident in the increased number of matcha specialty cafes and other outlets including matcha drinks on their menus.

Matcha is believed to be a great substitute for coffee as it contains more caffeine and powerful antioxidants. The matcha powder used at IOTA is premium ceremonial from Japan, handpicked and shaded between three to four weeks.

The famous ice matcha drink there retails at SR24 ($6.40), similar to the price of matcha drinks offered in Starbucks and local cafes in the Kingdom.

IOTA also sells its matcha powder along with the matcha essential kit, including a whisk and bowl.

Their matcha powder can be used to make authentic Japanese matcha tea, mixed in your morning oatmeal or bowl of granola for added benefit, or used in baked goods.

The cafe also offers a variety of cold and hot drinks, which sell at SR8 ($2.13) for a cup of tea, and SR24 ($6.40) for cloudy, a specialty hot coffee drink.

Other popular drinks include their drip hot coffee, iced cloudy, iced espresso and iced latte.

Plant-based milk options are available and include coconut milk, almond milk and soya milk.

IOTA also offers a variety of baked goods — and you never know what you might find there on a visit. Last winter, they served fresh custard and raspberry profiteroles, and beating the heat wave in August, IOTA put affogato to the menu — a shot of espresso added to a scoop of ice cream. They also serve matcha affogato.

IOTA opens daily from 6:30 a.m. to midnight from Sunday to Thursday, and from 7:30 a.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

They deliver through the Chefz app.

To check out their latest offerings, visit them on Instagram @iota.sa.

 

 


Saudi Arabia’s citron season returns with its own culinary heritage

Citron is a versatile fruit that has found its way into many Saudi traditional dishes, juices, and drinks. (SPA)
Citron is a versatile fruit that has found its way into many Saudi traditional dishes, juices, and drinks. (SPA)
Updated 23 February 2024
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Saudi Arabia’s citron season returns with its own culinary heritage

Citron is a versatile fruit that has found its way into many Saudi traditional dishes, juices, and drinks. (SPA)
  • Mubarak Al-Khanajer, a farmer in Wadi Al-Dawasir, told Arab News: “The citron fruit belongs to the citrus family, and it is usually harvested in January and February, making it a winter fruit that the locals are accustomed to in this season”

JEDDAH: In winter, citron, known as etrinj, returns to Saudi homes from the Kingdom’s farms, bringing with it myriad health benefits and a distinct flavor that in some regions has crafted a culinary tradition of its own.

The fruit is farmed in Jouf in the north, Wadi Al-Dawasir in Najr, and Al-Ahsa in the Eastern Province.

Part of the larger citrus family, citron particularly thrives in Jouf due to its favorable climate, water availability, and fertile land, making it one of the region’s most prevalent trees alongside olives and palms. Citron also stands out as a key agricultural crop in Al-Ahsa farms.

Citron is a versatile fruit that has found its way into many Saudi traditional dishes, juices, and drinks. (SPA)

Mubarak Al-Khanajer, a farmer in Wadi Al-Dawasir, told Arab News: “The citron fruit belongs to the citrus family, and it is usually harvested in January and February, making it a winter fruit that the locals are accustomed to in this season.”

HIGHLIGHTS

• Citron is farmed in Jouf in the north, Wadi Al-Dawasir in Najr, and Al-Ahsa in the Eastern Province.

• Farmers sell it with prices ranging from SR15 ($4) to SR20 for a basket of 10 to 12 fruits.

• In Jouf, locals enjoy citron tea during winter, prepared by peeling, extracting pulp, and infusing it in hot water with sugar, saffron, or without additives.

He noted that the success of citron farming in the region was due to climatic factors including temperature, relative humidity, light, and wind, adding that temperature was one of the most important factors determining the success of citron farming, in addition to the type of land, whether loamy yellow or heavy clay free from harmful salts.

Agricultural technician Abdulrahman Al-Sweis told Arab News that it was important for the crop to receive good agricultural care and be in a sunny area well-protected from the wind and planted in a spacious field.

Citron is a versatile fruit that has found its way into many Saudi traditional dishes, juices, and drinks. (SPA)

He pointed out that the citron fruit was popular for its qualities and was part of the Saudi cultural heritage, adding that there was more awareness about it now through social media.

He said: “Many have started using it as a treatment to face winter diseases due to its richness in vitamins that increase the body’s immunity.”

Gifting the fruit to relatives, friends, and neighbors during harvesting season has been a cultural tradition in the Kingdom. However, the practice has diminished as some opt to sell their harvest, driven by its increasing popularity owing to its significant health benefits.

Citron is a versatile fruit that has found its way into many Saudi traditional dishes, juices, and drinks. (SPA)

Coming in yellow, green, and occasionally orange hues, citron’s larger size, mild acidity, and delicious taste make it akin to a lemon. Packed with antioxidants, vitamins, fibers, calcium, zinc, selenium, manganese, and potassium, it boasts numerous nutritional and health benefits.

The versatile fruit has found its way into many Saudi traditional dishes, juices, and drinks. In Jouf and Al-Ahsa, residents relish preparing marisah, a mix of citron squares with chili, turmeric, mint, and optional additions of salt, dates, or sugar. Some enjoy it sliced or as a jam.

Mohammed Al-Masn, a farmer, said that some locals eat it or make a juice or jam from it. On the diversity of dishes that incorporate the fruit, he added: “The residents of the province do not make citron marisah as in some areas in the north of the Kingdom … they make Al-Wadma which is unique to Al-Ahsa.”

Citron is a versatile fruit that has found its way into many Saudi traditional dishes, juices, and drinks. (SPA)

Al-Wadma is a traditional Hassawi dish, made of dried small fish and citron juice, accompanied by radish, green onions, and lettuce. The fish is either ground or crushed before being combined with citron juice and pieces of citron. After letting it sit for some time, it is eaten with radish leaves.

In Jouf, locals enjoy citron tea during winter, prepared by peeling, extracting pulp, and infusing it in hot water with sugar, saffron, or without additives. Citron juices, featuring various flavors such as turmeric, ginger, and mint, are also popular.

While citron was traditionally not commercialized, recent years have seen some farmers sell it, with prices ranging from SR15 ($4) to SR20 for a basket of 10 to 12 fruits.

Al-Masn pointed out that the citron plant was also suitable for indoor cultivation.

He said: “Ensure the pot is positioned near a window receiving ample sunlight to maintain a temperature above 18 degrees Celsius. When spring concludes, the pot can be moved outdoors permanently and then returned indoors during autumn. This plant can also be seamlessly integrated into home garden settings.”

 


Where We Are Going Today: Riyadh’s Pierre Herme Paris

Where We Are Going Today: Riyadh’s Pierre Herme Paris
Updated 23 February 2024
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Where We Are Going Today: Riyadh’s Pierre Herme Paris

Where We Are Going Today: Riyadh’s Pierre Herme Paris

Visitors to the Four Seasons Hotel in Riyadh can get a taste for luxury from more than just the decor and surroundings.

At Pierre Herme Paris they can sample pastries and sweets conceived by French pastry chef Herme, known as the “Picasso of pastry.”

Among the most popular desserts are French macarons, and vanille cakes infused with exotic vanilla cream from Tahiti, Mexico, and Madagascar.

Dacquoise biscuits are adorned with crunchy hazelnuts, hazelnut flakes, thin layers of milk chocolate, milk chocolate ganache, Chantilly cream, and several ice cream flavors, while the pink rose macarons from Isfahan, Iran are filled with rose petal cream and raspberries.

All the pastries are lovingly prepared in the hotel’s kitchens and showcased in museum- style class cabinets.

One of the things that  impressed me about Pierre Hermé Paris is that it is headed by the Executive Pastry Chef Steve Thiery from France, who joined the global pastry-making operations in 2019 after honing his talents for a decade and
a half in pastry kitchens from French Polynesia to France and Morocco.

 


Where We Are Going Today: Plenty Sld’s

Where We Are Going Today: Plenty Sld’s
Updated 21 February 2024
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Where We Are Going Today: Plenty Sld’s

Where We Are Going Today: Plenty Sld’s

Plenty Sld’s is a salad bar in Riyadh that lives up to its name, with plentiful salads that will surely satisfy your hunger. 

Located in Al-Mohammadiyah district, they serve a variety of mouthwatering salads featuring inventive flavor combinations and their signature crunch, which adds a pleasant texture to your salad.

Lulu zalat, their signature salad, consists of a substantial bed of rocket and lettuce with a variety of vegetables and fruits including sweet potato, carrot, crunchy okra, and pomegranate. It is topped with caramelized walnuts, salad dressing and feta cheese. 

The MENA salad features flavors from the Middle East and North Africa and includes cucumbers, roasted corn, fried eggplant, fried onions, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, goat cheese, and a special lemon vinaigrette dressing. It’s a great choice for people who want a hearty but light lunch. 

The Asian-inspired colorful crab salad features shredded cucumber, mango, carrots, crab sticks, sesame seeds, and beans — ideal for those who enjoy a mild flavor profile. 

The “make your own salad” option at Plenty Sld’s is great for those with allergies or discerning palates who wish to mix and match their own sauces.

They provide a variety of dressing options including spicy sauce, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and lemon, and lime peanut sauce.

They also offer nutritious juices that will keep you energized all day, such as a vitamin C shot and a ginger manuka shot.

The restaurant only serves takeout.

For updates and more details, check their Instagram @plenty.slds.


Where We Are Going Today: ‘Jazzar’ restaurant in Jeddah

Photo/Supplied
Photo/Supplied
Updated 19 February 2024
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Where We Are Going Today: ‘Jazzar’ restaurant in Jeddah

Photo/Supplied
  • The shokaf was a grilled cut of fine tender meat that showcased the chef’s expertise

Jazzar is the ultimate destination for a carnivore’s feast in Jeddah.

Named after the Arabic term for “butcher,” Jazzar offers a wide range of fresh meat cuts. Upon entry, you are greeted by sensory delights — rows of coal bags, live cooking by skilled chefs, the aroma of freshly baked bread and grilled beef, and trays displaying an array of meats as well as a butcher inside a glass-walled room filled with meat on the second floor.

For those with a passion for meat, Jazzar is a culinary haven. However, vegetarians might find the scene a bit intimidating, as the restaurant proudly embraces its carnivorous identity.

During my visit to Jazzar, I opted for hamees — tiny, tender slices of meat and fat, delicately arranged on a bed of bread and adorned with tahini sauce and chopped green chilli. The tantalizing taste makes it a must-try dish.

My second choice was the tenderloin with entrecote sauce. While the tenderloin did not live up to its name entirely, the flavorful fries on the side compensated for any shortcomings.

The shokaf was a grilled cut of fine tender meat that showcased the chef’s expertise. Among the appetizers, the hummus stole the show, served with a thin slice of shawarma meat, adding a delightful touch to an already satisfying dish.

Each order at Jazzar comes with a complimentary shirazi salad, featuring a medley of grilled and fresh vegetables with a drizzle of tahini sauce, accompanied by a plate of cooked potatoes with savory gravy.

Situated on Prince Sultan Road, Jazzar not only boasts an enticing menu of meat and grill options but also offers a selection of refreshing juices. The service was great, with each order arriving at the table in less than 10 minutes.

For updates and more details, visit their Instagram @jazzar.ksa.

 


Bangkok: Ancient culture and cutting-edge health care 

Bangkok: Ancient culture and cutting-edge health care 
Updated 19 February 2024
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Bangkok: Ancient culture and cutting-edge health care 

Bangkok: Ancient culture and cutting-edge health care 
  • The Thai capital is becoming an increasingly popular destination for those seeking both traditional and preventive medical treatment 

BANGKOK: Thailand has long been a favorite destination for travelers from across the world, thanks to its beautiful beaches, stunning scenery, vibrant cultural heritage, and always-on-the-go cities. But another facet of Thailand is now attracting numerous visitors to the Southeast Asian nation every year: it’s cutting-edge healthcare. 

An increasing number of visitors are drawn to Bangkok not just for the Thai capital’s ancient temples and bustling markets, but by the promise of world-class medical treatment. 

 

Khalaf Al-Otaibi traveled from Riyadh to Bangkok for medical treatment this month. (AN photo)

Thailand has emerged as a global hub for healthcare seekers, offering a unique blend of traditional hospitality and state-of-the-art medical expertise — the pursuit of health is interwoven with the rich tapestry of Thai culture. 

 

Rajeev Rajan, the chief business development officer at Bumrungrad International Hospital, told Arab News that quality of care and winning the trust of patients are the staff’s main concerns. 

“A patient wanting to travel to Bumrungrad can (simply) send us an email with a medical report. We take that report, and we give them an expert opinion with the cost of everything in advance,” he said. “Once the patient receives the appointment confirmation, they provide us with their flight details. When the patient lands, he or she is received from the gate of the plane, and escorted through our fast-track immigration office. We also have a complimentary shuttle service every 15 minutes from the airport to the hospital or to a nearby guesthouse.” 

Typically, the patient will enter the hospital the next day, where Rajan said there is a support team of more than 170 people who speak Arabic. A member of the team will accompany the patient throughout their treatment. Several of the doctors also speak Arabic.  

The hospital also offers prayer areas and Halal food choices for Muslim guests, and Rajan explained that the hospital also remains in close contact with relevant embassies, offers visa extension services, and provides dedicated offices for medical liaisons from diplomatic missions. 

Chulalongkorn University, home to Thailand's oldest medical school. (Shutterstock)

Of the 1.2 million patients Bumrungrad receives each year, Rajan estimated that 50 percent are from overseas, and of those around a quarter are from the Gulf region. 

Rajan said the hospital will soon open a coordination office in Riyadh and noted that the ministries of health in both Thailand and Saudi Arabia are in discussions about technical collaboration opportunities. 

Rajan said that Thailand received 50,000 visitors from Saudi Arabia in the last four months of 2022, and that he expected the total figure for 2023 to be around 250,000 to 300,000. 

“If you look at anywhere in Europe (or elsewhere in the West), you know, it’s expensive (to visit from the Gulf),” Rajan said. “Thailand is very close. Flights are affordable, and the destination itself is very affordable. This might be one of the only destinations where you have 100 percent security, and you have the halal foods, mosques, beaches... So, it is a culturally favorable ecosystem.” 

At Bumrungrad, Arab News also interviewed Khalaf Al-Otaibi, a 55-year-old from Riyadh, who had come to the hospital for treatment. 

“Once I arrived here, it took less than 10 minutes to see my doctor. Their services are great. They respect their patients. They explain everything in detail, and doctors (really listen) to what you say,” Al-Otaibi said. 

One of the rooms at Bumrungrad Hospital. (Shutterstock)

Jiruth Sriratanaban, associate dean for planning and development at Chulalongkorn University’s faculty of medicine told Arab News that his university is the oldest medical school in Thailand. 

“We work closely with the King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital, which belongs to the Thai Red Cross Society,” he said, adding the hospital is the only site in Thailand that provides proton therapy for cancer patients. 

Tanupol Virunhagarun, CEO of BDMS Wellness Clinic, part of Bangkok Dusit Medical Services, said that health and wellness was an increasingly important factor in people’s travel plans. 

“Our patients come twice a year, usually, to check their body fat and blood. Those from the Arab countries are mostly interested in advice about longevity, anti-aging, weight loss, and sexual health,” he said. 

“At our clinic, we pay attention to physical, mental, and even spiritual health, because we believe that to have a healthy body, you should have a healthy mind. That is how our clinic is different from a hospital; we do a lot of preventive medicine here,” he added. “We want people to check their health before they get sick.”