maître d’ - Yum Yum, Doha
Written by Rachel Morris
In a city with a dazzling array of 5-star hotels offering up cuisines from the four corners of the globe, a restaurant with a daily menu of just 12 rotating European-inspired items is causing a culinary stir.
French-Canadian chef Hugo Coudurier has worked in some of the most celebrated kitchens in Europe and the United States, most recently for Michelin-starred Guy Savoy, Paris. But when he was offered the opportunity to establish a new dining concept in Doha, Qatar, he took a leap of faith.
“I had decided that my next move would not be fine dining,” Coudurier says, admitting the Middle East wasn’t on his radar until he met the owners of the new hotel. “I wanted something more casual, so when this opportunity came up, it was a natural fit.”
The self-consciously kitschly named Yum Yum, on the top floor of the boutique K108 Hotel in the old part of Doha, has been open just seven months and has a waiting list for dinner many more-established restaurants would envy. With whitewashed walls and a stunning view of Doha’s ever-changing skyline, diners have been lapping up Coudurier’s culinary vision of simple and uncomplicated food prepared with the best ingredients.
The classically trained Coudurier offers a short and sharp menu encompassing European and Asian flavours, with an emphasis on seafood, sourced from Doha’s bustling fish market, and the highest-quality meat and other produce. Main courses top out at QR65, and all proceeds from the restaurant and the hotel are donated to charity projects in South Asia.
“I try to change the menu as often as possible,” Coudurier explains, saying he tends to go with the European seasons, with recent dishes focusing on veal, potatoes, and even truffles.
Off the Menu
Yum Yum already has a group of hardcore regulars, so when Coudurier switched out two much-loved favourites on his menu, there was an outcry. “We took some items off the menu and people asked for them again and again,” says the chef. The ravioli with parmigiano and basil, and the beef with pomme purée have been reinstated, but you have to be in the know to order them. The most popular item has never actually featured on the menu – the burger – Australian grain-fed Angus beef on brioche with cheddar and French mayonnaise, served with hand-cut fries. It is the most requested item in Yum Yum’s repertoire. “It’s not on the menu, but has become popular through word of mouth,” says Coudurier.