Muscat’s top ten tables
Oman is no stranger to foreign influence and Omani cuisine reflects the rich ethnic and tribal mix with flavours blended from the Arabian and Indian subcontinents in dishes such as grilled mishkak kebabs, shuwwa and harees. Mix this up with East African curries and local ingredients like fish and dates and you have a recipe for truly innovative local cuisine.
Many hotels serve international and fusion cuisine but for classic Omani, look out for qabooli- a rice dish with nuts, raisins and meat and shuwa- slow roasted lightly spiced meat which is cooked underground for up to 24 hours.
For sweets you can’t go past local dates and halwa- a blend of sugar, semolina, ghee, saffron, almonds and fragrant rosewater. Both go perfectly with khawa- an aromatic black coffee flavoured with cardamom.
No trip to Muscat is complete without ticking a few of these gems off your list;
Bait Al Luban
Conveniently located at Muttrah Corniche, this place is cleverly styled to envelope guests with the warmth of an Omani home. With the scent of Frankincense wafting through the air (Al Luban means frankincense), this restaurant combines Omani hospitality with the flavours of ancient trails blazed by travellers from East Africa to India for an unforgettable dining experience. The menu showcases classic Omani dishes from around the country, such as mansheb- rice cooked with fish and a coconut broth from Salalah; Shuwa and a number of satisfying local rice dishes such as qabooli rice not to mention the freshest local seafood prepared Omani Style. www.baitalluban.com
Four open kitchens in the heart of The Chedi Muscat showcase Muscat’s finest culinary flavours – Western, Asian, Middle Eastern and Indian. Dine on the outdoor patio, the elegant dining room or checkout one of eight private dining rooms and lounge areas- perfect for get togethers with family and friends. Don’t miss the legendary Friday brunch with free flowing champagne.
Popular with expats and locals, this laid-back Muscat restaurant serves Omani grills and Italian dishes in a lantern-lit garden and shisha lounge. Kargeen is the old Omani word for a little wooden cottage and this place lives up to its name. Done up in wood and wrought iron and decorated with bright rugs, it blends traditional Eastern style with classical Western culture creating a welcoming haven of tranquillity. If alfresco is more your style, a candle lit dinner on the lawn or under one of the cosy canopies is the way to go.
Sharing its name with this lost ancient city in the country’s south, Uhbar offers up food with a fusion of present and past to reflect Oman’s rich cultural history and mystical past. Order the muttrah paplou (seafood soup with plump wontons) coupled with ubhar harees, a porridge-like chicken dish topped with rich onion sauce. When it comes to dessert- the halva based specialities are a real highlight.
A night of Omani culture at the Royal Opera House can only be topped off by a meal in the adjoining precinct. This is Omani food with a modern take with some dishes looking more like a work of fine art. While the modern take on the shuwa and Omani lobster will thrill some, the real highlight is the delicate flavour of the frankincense ice cream
Mughlai cuisine is a style of cooking developed in the imperial kitchens of the Mughal Empire. Mughlai cuisine offers an amazingly delicious variety of food ranging from hot spicy shorba or soup to saffron enriched biryani cooked over slow fire to ginger based meat curries to puddings with delicate flavours of rosewater and cardamom.
Located within the spectacular Shangri-la Al Husn Resort and Spa, Shahrazad is a striking and elegant restaurant that features the cuisines of the Arabian peninsula, including Omani specialities. With the alluring fragrance of spice and the rhythms of live Morrocan music welcoming guests, dining at Shahrazad is a culinary and cultural adventure.
The humus is out of this world and the signature dish is fattoush, a traditional chopped salad dressed in a zesty lime vinaigrette, prepared at the table by the chef with style and flair.
Mumtaz Mahal, Qurum
One of Muscat’s best Indian restaurants, with excellent cooking and sweeping views. For a theatrical finish order a snake coffee flavoured with flambéed orange peel.
Due to reopen in early 2018 is the famed Al Loomie Restaurant which is located on the premises of Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz Carlton Resort (currently undergoing an extensive refurbishment). Founding Chef Salim Al Kalbani and his wife Amal brought something new to the Sultanate with their catering brand “The dried lemon,” taking classic dishes and giving them a local twist. Al Loomie brings together local products and contemporary culinary techniques for a five star dining experience in a traditional ambience.
If you are after a completely different flavour then this award winning fine dining Italian Restaurant at the Grand Hyatt Muscat will no doubt satisfy. The restaurant features specialty menus from regional areas of Italy using only the finest and freshest produce available – the essence of authentic Italian cooking. Stand out dishes include those from the Piedmont region in Italy.
The outdoor terrace overlooking the Arabian Sea is a wonderful place to spend an evening in the winter season.