Butter prawns at Oriental Kitchen
This humble restaurant scooped up our Best Budget award for 2016 thanks to its exciting and completely authentic menu. Though what they offer covers dishes from Thailand and Indonesia, it’s the Chinese-Malay fare that we love this place for. The butter prawns are what keep us coming back, time and time again. As the name hints, this dish is outrageously buttery (we’re talking cholesterol-raising levels of butter here) and covered in shaved coconut. Don’t expect fine dining, and if you prefer Westernised Asian food or meticulously prepared, de-veined seafood this is perhaps one to avoid. Otherwise, try it at least once and order the butter prawns. We can guarantee you’ll be back.
QR49. Open daily 10.30am-3pm, 5.30pm-10pm. Oriental Kitchen, Al Khalidiya Street, Najma (3336 3279).
Cachapas at Toro Toro
Richard Sandoval has been on fire with restaurant openings in the capital, but Toro Toro stands out for its menu that goes beyond the usual suspects of Mexican, Brazilian and Peruvian fare to cover traditional food from lesser-known regions of Latin America. The Venezuelan cachapas caught our eyes the most. These corn pancakes are stuffed with Halloumi cheese and topped with sweet homemade tomato jam. Varieties of corn flour are ubiquitous in Venezuela, and this warm salty-sweet snack can be found on street food stands across the country and in neighbouring Colombia. We love that Sandoval hasn’t over-complicated this humble snack, leaving it to shine on its own. A not-to-be-missed slice of Latin American culture.
QR60. Open Sat-Wed 7pm-1am, Thu 7pm-2am, Fri 12.30pm-1am. Toro Toro, Marsa Malaz Kempinski, The Pearl-Qatar (4035 5101).
Chilean sea bass at Hakkasan
At a restaurant that has been Time Out Doha’s Restaurant of the Year for two years running, you would expect every dish on the menu to be worthy of this list. And they are. From the fried dim sum platter, featuring the roasted duck pumpkin puffs, to the tofu, aubergine and shiitake mushrooms cooked in chilli black bean sauce, we’ve yet to try a dish at we don’t like. But this grilled Chilean sea bass cooked in Chinese honey rises above them all. Silky, tender, buttery and served on a bed of crunchy pak choi and crisp tempura mushrooms, it epitomises the simple but outstanding flavour and texture combinations that Hakkasan nails, and that are so rarely found at Chinese restaurants.
QR255. Open Sun-Thu 7pm-midnight; Fri noon-3pm, 7pm-midnight; Sat 1pm-4pm, 7pm-midnight. Hakkasan, The St Regis Doha, West Bay Lagoon (444 60170).
Dessert platter at Nozomi
You can’t help but notice this dramatic metre-long dessert platter emerging from the kitchen. Like something from the world of Dr. Seuss, twists and shards of spun sugar emerge from dramatic billows of smoke, which hide everything from dark chocolate fondants to pretty little edible cranes and sweet maki rolls made with coconut-infused Arborio rice, fruit and jelly. The whole thing is as stunning to look at as it is exciting to eat. You’ll find, among The elements are difficult to identify, but this is clearly a platter made to intrigue, surprise and delight. Oh, the things they can think…
QR370. Open Sat-Thu noon-4pm, 7pm-11.30pm; Fri noon-4pm, 7pm-11.30pm. Nozomi, Marsa Malaz Kempinski, The Pearl-Qatar (4035 5089).
Gazpacho at Gordon Ramsay
No longer a plain and simple fine-dining establishment, Gordon Ramsay re-opened at the end of 2015 as something altogether more laidback. Its menu epitomises the kind of casually refined restaurants that have become so popular. Its menu – decidedly Mediterranean – features gourmet ingredients like Riviera olives, plus all sorts of confits and foams, but you could also simply order a burger. If anything on the menu perfectly (and deliciously) captures this opposition, it’s the gazpacho. An infusion of cold tomatoes, garlic and raspberry is poured over a pretty wreath of cherry tomatoes, radishes and pansies. The acidity of the soup is mellowed by the creamy dollops of goats’ cheese and sweetened by aged balsamic.
QR85. Open Mon-Sat 6pm-11pm. Gordon Ramsay, The St Regis Doha, West Bay Lagoon (4446 0105).
Halawe Mchale at Debs w Remman
This new Lebanese eatery made waves with its excellent, authentic mezze and its kitsch Beiruti décor. But, though the mixed grills and savoury selections are standout, this unique dessert is the must-try dish. It's essentially a “candy floss sandwich”: the halawe mchalale comes as a bowl of sesame floss with pistachios, carob molasses and tahini, to be mixed together and eaten with warm fluffy bread. It may sound strange, but it’s incredibly moreish, and will be the highlight of any meal for anyone with a sweet tooth.
QR33. Open daily 9am-1am. Plaza Andalucia, Building B07, Medina Centrale, The Pearl Qatar (4456 8374).
Hotdog from Truck #999
We love two things about this hotdog. The first being that no-one has faffed around trying to making it all “gourmet”. It’s just, plainly and simply, an excellent hotdog with onions, mustard and ketchup in a super soft bun. It’s also served from a food truck. Yes, we know that doesn’t have anything to do with how good it tastes, but there’s something about ordering some guilty-pleasure comfort food and tucking into it with the windows rolled down and the radio blasting. This is our new favourite pitstop.
QR26. Open Sat-Thu 8am-11pm, Fri 2pm-11pm. Truck #999, The Fire Station, next to Civil Defence Junction (no number).
Teh tarik ice cream from Spice Market
Spice Market have managed to create an ice cream that you can respectably order for dessert as an adult. Though the pandan cake and miso-caramel puddings are all impressive, we love this back-to-basics new addition to the menu. Avid instagrammers will be fans of the cute takeout-style boxes, while die-hard lovers of authentic South East Asian cuisine will love the creamy, sweet, teh tarik flavour. Other grown-up scoops include dark chocolate and chilli, and white chocolate and peppermint.
QR30. Open Sat-Thu noon-4pm, 5pm-11.30pm; Fri noon-4pm, 6pm-11.30pm. Spice Market, W Doha Hotel & Residences, West Bay (44535135).
Nutella and marshmallow pizza at Illusion
Since Illusion isn’t your average nightlife venue, it’s fitting that the bar snacks follow suit. Showing off its fun side, this sweet pizza dessert combines some of our favourite ingredients: pizza dough, Nutella, marshmallows, chocolate and toffee. Decadently sweet and wonderfully gooey, we wouldn’t recommend trying to polish a whole one off yourself. But as a sweet treat to pick at, or a guilty pleasure to tuck into after a savoury meal, this is the best sharing dish we’ve found.
QR120. The Garden open daily 4pm-2am; 1933 – The Grand Hall open Wed-Fri 8pm-2am. Illusion, Marsa Malaz Kempinski, The Pearl-Qatar (4035 5757).
Soft shell crab tempura at Nobu
Nobu impresses for many reasons – not least because the venue itself - the largest Nobu in the world – is so outstanding. But for us, the dish that outshines the panoramic sea views and rooftop lounge is the soft shell crab tempura, served with an amazu ponzu sauce. Crisp, meaty, crunchy and satisfyingly acidic, trust us when we say that once you try this, no other tempura will ever live up to it.
QR175. Open for dinner daily 6.30pm-11.30pm. Nobu Doha, Four Seasons Hotel Doha, West Bay (4494 8500).
Spicy tofu lobster at Shanghai Club
While other Chinese fine-dining favourites in the city fuse the cuisine with flavours and influences from other corners of the world, Shanghai Club is decidedly more traditional. Its menu includes typical Chinese banquet dishes like Yusheng – a sashimi salad that’s mixed at the table. But our favourite is this high-end riff on mapo tofu, made with lobster and cooked in a lovely, fiery chilli sauce. We’re left wondering why no-one has thought to replace minced meat with hearty chunks of seafood sooner.
QR188. Open daily for dinner 7.30pm-11.30pm. Shanghai Club, Shangri-La Hotel Doha, West Bay (4429 5295).
Tomahawk steak at Fuego
This more than one-kilo steak is made for sharing. The tender, lean meat has a distinctive, pure taste that’s unique to Argentine grass-fed beef. Though the steak itself is sublime, what makes this dish so good is its marinade of charred spring onions and herbs. The finished dish is caramelised, smoky and indulgent. Carved with flourish tableside, it’s served with smoked potato purée, Fuego’s signature chimicurri sauce, and sides of mixed mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and pickled shallots. Take our advice – and the chef’s – order it medium. Trust us, you won’t regret it.
QR695 (Serves three). Open daily 5.30pm-midnight. Fuego, Shangri-La Hotel, Doha, West Bay (4429 5295).