three great places - Muscat
Written by Ayesha Khan Illustration by Philip Bannister
With the finest luxury hotels, and an alluring buzz straight from 1,001 Arabian Nights, the Omani capital is teeming with exciting dining options. Here are three that are sure to satisfy any palate.
While there are plenty of Chinese eateries scattered around the Sultanate, China Mood, located at the Al Bustan Palace, is the only one that combines fine dining, location, and design in such an expert way. While the varied menu (which ranges from fresh catches from the Arabian Gulf to Peking duck) is impressive, it is definitely upstaged by the theatrics of the tea sommelier, who pours out infusions from her elaborate teapot in an almost ceremonial manner. The chef recommends the crispy Peking duck (probably the finest one will have west of Beijing), beef Szechuan, and host of dim sum. The décor is decidedly Chinese (red and black, with Chinese calligraphy) with a ritzy touch, and there are several private dining rooms for more intimate gatherings. There is also an outdoor seating terrace overlooking the sea.
This fine dining Moroccan restaurant will transport visitors to a glamorous Moroccan palace, where the utmost attention is paid to hospitality, resplendent décor and, most importantly, great food. It is located in the prestigious Al Husn (aptly named after the Arabic word for castle) section of the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa. The food at Shahrazad is quite authentic, be it the tagine lamb tfaya or the traditional harira Marrakeshia soup. No meal is complete without tea and a selection of signature halayout (pastries made of almonds, honey, orange blossom, anise, and sesame seeds) and these are of exceptional quality at Shahrazad. The knowledge of the staff, coupled with the fact that nearly all of them are Moroccan, adds to the pleasure of dining at what claims to be the only authentic Moroccan restaurant in Muscat.
For an authentically Omani night in Muscat, Kargeen Caffe in Madinat Al Sultan Qaboos should not be missed, albeit a little less high-brow than the other two fine dining options. Named after the Arabic word for ‘little wooden cottage,’ it is a great open-air garden atmosphere, with plenty of shisha, the region’s traditional hookah pipe, which comes in a host of flavours including apple, mint, and strawberry. Servers are dressed in traditional Omani costume, and serve the finest pan-Arabian cuisine. Not to be missed is the shuwa, a traditional Omani delicacy, in which a whole cow or goat is marinated in aromatic spices and slow braised for up to two days. There is also an indoor seating option for those averse to the strong smell of shisha smoke.
Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz-Carlton Hotel
Al Husn Hotel, at the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa
Madinat Al Sultan Qaboos