three great places - Doha
Written by Rachel Morris Illustration by Philip Bannister
Doha is the true gateway between East and West and its dining options are as multicultural as its blossoming population.
Doha is a city not known for its vegetarian cuisine, but this restaurant has attained cult status amongst the city’s myriad veggie-loving dwellers. Emphasising South Indian cuisine, it’s part of a chain of much-loved restaurants stretching from India across the Gulf and as far as North America. Highlights include the most famous South Indian export, masala dosa, a wafer thin crisp disc of rice and lentil pancake, rolled and stuffed with a potato and onion mixture. All dosa are served with three chutneys and a lentil sambar or soup. Other favourites include lentil dhal and mini idlis, coin-sized savoury rice and lentil cake that can be served for breakfast or a snack with accompaniments including chutneys, and the sambar vada, a lentil flour dipped doughnut served with coconut chutney.
If you’re not careful, you could walk straight past this veritable dining utopia. Set on three levels including a split outdoor terrace, this restaurant is in the heart of Souq Waqif and serves up some of the best Levantine food in the city. Packed nightly with large groups of friends and families sharing mezze style salads, starters and grills, the restaurant also has an outdoor area complete with a huge screen for watching the football. It doesn’t stray too far from the classics, including the crisp fattoush salad topped with slithers of crunchy fried pita bread, chickpea hummus and sambousik (savoury pastries) filled with meat or feta-style cheese, as well as deliciously tender plates of grilled chicken and lamb served with garlic sauce. Do a couple of laps of Souq Waqif to burn off your dinner.
With its smooth whitewashed walls and muted furnishings, it’s almost as if the owners of Yum Yum created a blank canvas on which the food of head chef Hugo Courdurier could shine. Trained in Michelin-star kitchens and lured to Doha to work at the boutique hotel, offerings have included a salad of fresh goat’s cheese and glossy beetroot; a duck broth served ‘Vietnamese’ style as a pho (noodle soup) and a small, yet perfectly formed, filet mignon. Other dishes have focussed on locally caught seafood, including a lobster broth punctuated with tender chunks of the precious meat, regional favourite hammour, and organic baby chicken. Those in the know also order the ‘off menu’ burger made with brioche bread. Home-made ice cream and a rotating dessert menu round off the offering.
Al Matar Street