Every taste is catered for in Doha. In this episode, we’ll ‘dig in’ to all the different types of food available in Qatar. It really is a melting pot of multicultural cuisine.
Qatar has truly every cuisine on the menu for tourists and locals alike. While the nation is known for its many fancy, high-end restaurants, dig a little deeper and you will find some hidden gems.
Zhang Jia Ni’s family restaurant Zhen Street Kitchen specialises in traditional northeastern Chinese food. She says a lot has changed in Doha since her parents opened their first restaurant here, more than a decade ago. Now open in West Bay, Doha’s coastal district, the landscape may have changed, but owner Jia Ni says the passion has not.
“Why [did] I open my restaurant? Because I love to eat,” Jia Ni laughs off.
Opening over 20 years ago, Jia Ni says it’s much easier to find Chinese ingredients here now than it was a decade ago.
“[Before] When we go to China, we put [the ingredients] in our luggage. But now it is better because they have a supermarket here, a Chinese supermarket. So it's easier for us.”
Food blogger Rachel Morris is excited to see more mom-and-pop restaurants popping up around the city. Running her food blog ‘Life on the Wedge’, Morris knows her way around every plate that Doha has to offer.
“Qatar is a very food-obsessed nation. We eat out a lot. We love to dine out. And also it's extremely multicultural. So a lot of people want to replicate their tastes of home here,” Morris says.
Asian cuisine is aplenty in Doha. As well as Chinese food you can also sample brilliant Thai, Burmese and Vietnamese food – and you find it all under one roof at Tuk Tuk Saigon.
Tuk Tuk Saigon opened its doors during the 2022 World Cup. With football fans from all over the globe descending on Qatar, food offerings also became significantly more international.
“Tuk Tuk Saigon does not bring only the food. We bring the ambiance,” says Natcha Kijjullajarit Friel, co-owner of Tuk Tuk Saigon. “We get the decoration from Thailand, from Vietnam to make sure you come, you enjoy the ambiance, and you can enjoy the quality of foods that we bring to the table also.”
Burmese food is a recent addition to the menu – and Morris highly approves. “One of my favourite dishes on their menu is what's called a Burmese spaghetti. [...] It really hits all my notes. It's sweet, savoury, crunchy. It's got pickles in it. It's very cool,” she says.
Establishing a ‘foodie community'
Locals are certainly spoilt for choice in Doha. Food blogger and co-author of ‘QATAR Bite by Bite: A Lighthearted Look into Qatar’s Food Scene’ Terry Booth, organises food tours with ‘The Doha Food Project’.
“One of them we call ‘Foodies on the Go’, which is where we go to three different restaurants in one street or one area. And the other one is ‘Foodies under one roof’ such as here in Westin, where we go from three different restaurants, but within the hotel or within the hotel complex,” Booth explains.
Throughout the night, Booth does the rounds, making sure everyone is happy and well-fed. Booth works in oil and gas by day, but began food blogging three years ago.
“I do it for fun, that’s why I do it. I really get a lot of enjoyment out of exploring my passion.”
Bringing South America to Doha
It’s not just Asian cuisine on offer in Qatar.
In recent years, Peruvian cuisine has taken the culinary world by storm, both in food trends and in fine dining. When you think about Peruvian cuisine, you might think of ceviche or quinoa. But there’s so much more to it, explains Hasan Kayabasi, the head Chef at COYA Doha.
“Ceviche is kind of what represents Peru. But there's more than that. [There are] 3,000 different types of potatoes, nearly a hundred types of corn.”
“Before the 16th century, in Europe and the East, we didn't know what the potato was. “[They are] originally from Peru. And there are chilies that are specific to Peru also. It goes in almost everything in Peru that you cook,” Kayabasi says.
What truly defines Peruvian cuisine is the signature dish Arroz Nikkei. It consists of marinated sea bass, charred over an open flame resting on a bed of fragrant rice.
A sizzling taste of Korea
With the global rise of Korean pop music and drama series, the popularity of Korean barbecue has also catapulted internationally. It’s a truly interactive dining experience – best enjoyed with family and friends.
Yee Hwa first opened its doors in Qatar in 1998, years before the Korean cultural wave. Today, Seung Moon is continuing what his parents started, opening two more branches, and spreading the love for Korean barbecue.
“Korean barbecue is different in a sense that everyone around the table is involved. Our meat is thinly sliced so that it cooks easily, and at your own pace,” explains Moon.
“Whether you eat it for lunch or dinner, as a couple or in a group, the mix of dishes, sauces, meats and flavours make Korean barbecue as dynamic as the country itself.”
Mama Rozie, a restaurant with an extensive menu of Malaysian and Indonesian cuisine promises the taste of home-cooked food.
Born in Malaysia, Mama Rozie first came to Qatar with her family in 1996. Not long after, she started cooking meals for her fellow countrymen who also immigrated, but without their families, to give them a taste of home away from home.
Through support from her community, she expanded what started as a home-based business to the restaurant she has now.
Beef rendang, laksa, and satay. These are some of Malaysia’s national dishes and the most popular ones on the menu.
Polish food in Doha?
Yes you read that right. Not far from Mama Rozie is Polka, the first and only Polish restaurant in Qatar.
Magda Lux opened Polka in late 2022, mostly because she missed eating Polish food. But she also wanted to share a piece of her culture with others, from the food to the decorations - and it truly is vibrant.
“It looks like a little museum. We did almost everything by hand, and we built a lot of things from the wood,” Lux says.
And there’s more to Polish food than just ‘pierogi’ or dumplings. Polka’s menu promises a dining experience of a typical meal on a weekend in Poland.
“We call it squeezed cabbage here, but in Poland, we call it ‘golumpki’. It's cabbage rolled with meat and rice. And zapiekanka, [which] is something like a pizza. It's delicious.”
“For me, the most important is sharing my culture. Sharing the culture by food is the most thing which makes me happy.”