Where We Are Going Today: ‘Grill It’ - a fast-food chain in Saudi Arabia

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Updated 03 November 2023
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Where We Are Going Today: ‘Grill It’ - a fast-food chain in Saudi Arabia

  • The hummus costs SR18 and comes with a piece of freshly baked bread — it doesn’t feel like it is from a fast-food chain. We devoured every last bit

Grill It welcomes customers with a neon-light greeting — “Free Smells.” And, indeed, the smell of grilled meat and fried food is in the air even before you open the door.

With several branches in Riyadh and, so far, one in Alkhobar, Grill It is a fast-food chain that offers quality options such as fresh salads and can serve up a semi-fancy meal without breaking the bank.

Famous for its chicken shawarma, gourmet burgers and signature appetizers, the menu has enough variety to keep you trying new meals each time. There is also the usual favorites for repeat orders.

The classic fries come in a plastic cup, and the last fry is just as crispy and enjoyable as the first. At SR12 ($3), they are a delicious treat.

The hummus costs SR18 and comes with a piece of freshly baked bread — it doesn’t feel like it is from a fast-food chain. We devoured every last bit.

Visitors might also try the chicken shawarma, which is of a good size. There is a variety of options for shawarmas, and burgers as well. There are a few catering items available — great for your next office meeting or family gathering, but most sandwiches come solo. Fries and drinks need to be ordered separately.

Delivery is available via the usual apps.

For operating hours and specials, visit @Grill_it_ksa on Instagram.

 

 


Where We Are Going Today: Bunrise bakery in Jeddah

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Updated 23 June 2024
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Where We Are Going Today: Bunrise bakery in Jeddah

  • The cream cheese frosting was a highlight, with hints of sour that added depth to a flavor that proved surprisingly close to an apple pie sans apple

Bunrise is a Saudi bakery that has masterfully adopted the concept of fluffy dough rolls, reminiscent of cinnamon rolls with a creative twist.

I tried the original cinnamon rolls that have cream cheese frosting, and the caramel pecan sticky rolls. Upon opening the box, I was greeted by the heavenly aroma of freshly baked rolls, straight from the oven. The warmth, soft texture and sweet flavors were delightful.

The cream cheese frosting was a highlight, with hints of sour that added depth to a flavor that proved surprisingly close to an apple pie sans apple.

What sets Bunrise apart is its ability to incorporate local Saudi flavors into its sweet and savory options. The za’atar rolls with pomegranate molasses; cream cheese rolls with chips and hot sauce; and sweet and savory bacon rolls with original maple syrup are just a few examples of its innovative creations.

In addition to its signature rolls, Bunrise offers a variety of sweet options, including Victoria rolls filled with pastry, cream and fresh strawberries; lemon raspberry rolls with sweet and tangy frosting; and chocolate rolls topped with ganache.

To complement its delicious baked goods, Bunrise also offers a range of hot and cold beverages, including iced tea and milkshakes.

You can order from Bunrise in Jeddah through various food delivery apps, including Jahez, Hungerstation, ToYou, The Chefz, and Lugmety.

For more information, visit the Instagram @bunrise.sa.

 


Chef Fadi Kattan’s debut cookbook celebrates Palestinian cuisine

Updated 22 June 2024
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Chef Fadi Kattan’s debut cookbook celebrates Palestinian cuisine

DUBAI: Franco-Palestinian chef Fadi Kattan says the release of his debut cookbook, which pays tribute to Palestinian cuisine, feels “confusing.”

More than eight months have passed since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, and the current catastrophe is something Kattan could never have predicted when he began writing the book two years ago.

However, in the middle of every difficulty lies an opportunity, as they say.

Kattan is based in Bethlehem. (Supplied)

“None of us imagined this horror,” Kattan, who is based in Bethlehem, told Arab News. “On the one hand, I think we need it. People need to see what we are and who we are. We have had enough of this monolithic, dehumanizing image of Palestinians. At the same time, it’s very difficult to be talking about food and celebrating food in this situation.”

The pages of Kattan’s book, “Bethlehem,” reveal a personal portrait through vibrant snapshots of local foods and markets, natural landscapes, Kattan’s family members, and Bethlehem’s culinary community. Designed by Lebanese illustrator Nourie Flayhan, the book cover features warm hues of red and yellow, embellished with a border of patterned embroidery, reportedly native to Bethlehem. It is a love letter to Kattan’s ancient hometown.

Divided into the four seasons of the year, “Bethlehem” features over 60 recipes. (Supplied)

“Bethlehem is called ‘the city’, but in reality it’s a small town,” he said. “It’s a very interesting place. It has a lot of history. The symbolism is very strong because you have (one of) the oldest churches in the world, Church of the Nativity, and opposite it you have the Mosque of Omar. It refers to Omar Ibn Khattab’s pledge to not build mosques in place of churches, but next door. And I think that’s a very strong message of the fact that there’s no coexistence here: We’re all Palestinian. It’s beyond coexistence.” 

Despite Bethlehem’s vibrancy, Kattan says his home has been impacted by the Israeli occupation. The settlements and concrete walls give the “feeling that the city is being choked more and more. At the same time, what I see in Bethlehem is the resilience of people and the fact that people are still surviving and are still here, even though a lot of the components of a normal life are not there.”

“Bethlehem” includes recipes such as taboon bread, cauliflower makloubeh and stuffed eggplant. (Supplied)

Tourism in Bethlehem has also taken a hit since last year’s Oct. 7 attacks, he adds.

Divided into the four seasons of the year, “Bethlehem” features over 60 recipes including classics such as taboon bread, cauliflower makloubeh and stuffed eggplant. The chef describes his recipes as accessible, aiming to make Palestinian food as approachable as French or Italian cooking. He also touched upon the contested topic of Israel’s appropriation of Palestinian food and culture. “I don’t always fight it. I think that just telling our story is enough, because our story is the real story,” he said with a smile.

Kattan, who founded the modern Palestinian eatery “Akub” in London, hopes readers will “make a mess” out of his book. “I want them to cook with it and make their copies dirty,” he said. “I want it to be a book in kitchens across the world.”

Chef Fadi Kattan’s cheese-stuffed grape leaves

Chef Fadi Kattan’s cheese-stuffed grape leaves. (Supplied)

Serves 10

Ingredients:  

Cheese parcels 

20 fresh grape leaves (or substitute leaves stored in brine) 
1 tablespoon raisins 
Olive oil, for brushing 
150 g / 5 1⁄4 ounces Akkawi or Nabulsi cheese (or substitute another fresh brined cheese, 
such as halloumi, fresh Syrian cheese, or queso blanco) 

2 small tomatoes, thinly sliced 
3 tablespoons dried and crumbled zaatar leaves (or substitute oregano)

Dressing: 

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
1 pinch of salt 
Leaves of 5 sprigs of fresh mint or fresh zaatar or another green herb of choice 
2 drops of water (optional)

Method: 

  1. To make the parcels, if you’re using fresh grape leaves, blanch the whole leaves in a large pot of lightly salted water until they turn a deep green and are soft to the touch, 5 to 7 minutes depending on the thickness of the leaves. Drain well. 
  2. Put the raisins in a bowl filled with enough warm water to cover them, because we need to hydrate them slightly.
  3. Brush ten little ramekins, 5 to 7 cm / 2 to 3 inches in diameter, with a bit of olive oil. Place two grape leaves in each one, with the top side downwards so that when we flip the ramekin, we’ll end up with the outside of the leaves facing up.
  4. Cut the cheese into ten equal portions. Drain the raisins.
  5. Put one piece of cheese, a slice of tomato, a few raisins, and a bit of zaatar leaves on the grape leaves. Fold the leaves to enclose the filling in the ramekins.
  6. Preheat the oven to 160°C / 325°F. Place the ramekins in a roasting pan and fill the pan with water to the height of the grape leaves in the ramekins.
  7. Cover the top of the ramekins with a baking sheet; we don’t want the grape leaves to dry out.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the ramekins from the water bath and let cool.
  9. When you’re ready to serve, flip the ramekins onto plates to see the beautiful stuffed grape leaves.
  10. To make the dressing, combine the olive oil, salt, and herbs in a blender and process to a homogenous green sauce. Add the water to thin the dressing, if needed.
  11. Sprinkle it on top of the grape leaves and serve.

Where We Are Going Today: ‘Ricci San’ - traditional Japanese cuisine in Jeddah

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Updated 21 June 2024
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Where We Are Going Today: ‘Ricci San’ - traditional Japanese cuisine in Jeddah

  • The chef’s selection includes a three-kind omakase sashimi on ice and a four-kind omakase nigiri plate, showcasing the restaurant’s commitment to quality and authenticity

Nestled on King Abdulaziz Road in Jeddah’s Obhur neighborhood, Ricci San offers a sophisticated blend of traditional Japanese cuisine and modern culinary innovation.

This new dining outlet has quickly garnered attention for its sleek, contemporary aesthetic and artful approach to flavor.

The restaurant’s interior harmoniously combines deep red sofas, private seating sections and warm timber accents, with striking paintings inspired by the Japanese master Hokusai’s “Great Wave Off Kanagawa” adding a cultural elegance.

Ricci San’s menu honors the legacy of Japanese cuisine, while infusing it with fresh, innovative twists. The “Bites and More” section features an array of delightful starters. Miso soup and edamame beans served in various styles — salted, spicy, and truffle-infused — make for a perfect beginning. The shrimp and vegetable gyoza offer a delightful mix of textures and flavors.

For those seeking something a bit more unconventional, the taco offerings are a revelation. From duck and salmon to tuna and shrimp, each taco is a unique fusion of Japanese and Mexican culinary traditions. The Wagyu beef, with its rich, melt-in-your-mouth quality, stands out as a highlight.

Ricci San also excels in its “Japanese fried and crispy” category. Chicken kara-age, with a generous addition of yuzu kosho mayonnaise, is a crowd-pleaser, as are the crispy salmon sushi rolls. The raw and new-style sashimi, such as the hamachi ceviche with grapefruit dressing and mizuna, offer a refreshing and zesty taste adventure.

The chef’s selection includes a three-kind omakase sashimi on ice and a four-kind omakase nigiri plate, showcasing the restaurant’s commitment to quality and authenticity. The hot pot and wok selections, such as the spicy beef noodles with tenderloin, and the truffle hot pot with mushrooms and koshihikari rice, provide hearty, comforting options for diners.

Main courses feature dishes such as organic lamb chops with Korean sauce and daikon, and chicken supreme with lemongrass, grapefruit, and soy — each plate a testament to Ricci San’s dedication to combining flavors and textures in exciting ways. Vegetable sides, such as truffle fries, sauteed mushrooms, and shredded corn, complement these dishes beautifully.

For dessert, Ricci San offers simple, yet delectable, choices, such as churros with cream cheese and toffee, matcha tiramisu, and choco praline fondant. The drinks menu, though concise, includes refreshing homemade chan da iced tea and Ricci mocktails, with options such as Mango Pine Blossom, Lemon Black, Pine Kokonattsu and Royal Paradise.

However, pricing has been a point of contention for some diners, with claims that the cost does not always align with the quality and portion sizes. Additionally, despite the varied menu, certain dishes, such as the truffle hot pot, can be overly rich and lacking in balance.

Ricci San remains a celebrated destination for those seeking a fusion of Japanese culinary artistry and modern innovation. For more information, visit @ricci.san on Instagram.

 

 


Recipes for success: Chef Thomas Jean-Paul Pascal Colette offers advice and a special salad recipe

Updated 21 June 2024
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Recipes for success: Chef Thomas Jean-Paul Pascal Colette offers advice and a special salad recipe

DUBAI: French chef Thomas Jean-Paul Pascal Colette has worked in Michelin-starred kitchens in Paris and influential eateries in Moscow. He is now chef de cuisine at The St. Regis Red Sea Resort’s overwater restaurant Tilina.  

Colette says his grandmother, also a chef, was the inspiration behind his passion for cooking. “I always helped her, and it became quite natural that, when I was around, like, 12, if I was alone at home, I would try to cook something for myself, or for my family,” he tells Arab News. 

Here, he discusses common kitchen mistakes, annoying customers, tips for amateur chefs and shares a special salad recipe. 

Tilina at The St. Regis Red Sea Resort. (Supplied)

When you started out, what was the most common mistake you made? 

Seasoning. I started out in a Michelin-starred restaurant, and there, it wasn’t just salt and pepper. It was all about the balance in the dish, so you also need to think about the acidity and things like that. So at the beginning it was quite complicated. Every time my chef tried something I made, he was, like, “No, it’s not good. It’s missing this, this and that.” 

What’s your top tip for amateur chefs? 

Don’t be scared to experiment, and don’t be scared to fail, because, actually, many great dishes came from failure. So try and enjoy it — that’s what cooking is all about. 

What one ingredient can instantly improve any dish? 

Many chefs will say it’s love — because you need to care about and love what you are doing. But for me, it’s salt. Seasoning is so important. Even if you have the best ingredients, if you don’t season them, they’ll lack flavor.  

When you go out to eat, do you find yourself critiquing the food?  

No. Even if there’s something wrong, I would never tell the chef. If I see a mistake on the service side, or if there is food I don’t like, I would just try and learn from it to prevent my own customers from experiencing it. 

Tilina at The St. Regis Red Sea Resort. (Supplied)

What’s your favorite cuisine?  

It’s really about the chef, not the cuisine. If I want to go to a restaurant, then I’ll find a chef that I want to try, so it will be either be a set menu or his signature dish. And when I go back to France, I have to have a nice steak tartare. 

What’s your go-to dish if you have to cook something quickly at home? 

Pasta. You can play with it so much — you can make it with fish, with meat, with vegetables… Boil some water, put some pasta in, and see what you have in the fridge: maybe some shrimp, some tomato, a little bit of garlic and parsley. That’s perfect. 

What customer behavior most annoys you? 

Asking to change an ingredient in a dish. When I make a dish, it’s all about the balance. So, if you take out one ingredient, then the idea behind the dish doesn’t make sense anymore. I really try to avoid doing this. I’ll go and talk with the guest, and rather than change the dish, maybe try to do something special for them, something else that they would like. 

What is your favorite dish to cook? 

Seafood. This was my childhood in Normandy: When the sea was low on Sundays, we would go and pick up fresh fish. We’d go back home and cook them very simply, with a little bit of garlic, parsley, cream, and that’s it. So seafood always reminds me of this time. 

As a head chef, what are you like? Are you strict? 

You can’t run a kitchen without discipline, everyone needs to be focused during service. But, I don’t believe that discipline comes from shouting, it comes from mutual respect.  

Chef Thomas’ Red Sea Salad recipe 

INGREDIENTS: 

500g heirloom tomatoes; 3 Carabineros prawns; 10g chives; 10g salmon roe; 5g gelatine leaves; 1 egg yolk; 100g grapeseed oil or sunflower oil; 10g olive oil; 1 lemon; 50g parsley (leaves)  

INSTRUCTIONS: 

For the tomato jelly  

1. Process 250g of tomatoes in a blender. Once the mixture becomes smooth, strain it through a cheesecloth. 

2. Place the gelatine leaves in cold water. 

3. Take 50g of the tomato mixture and heat to 50° C. Add the gelatine, let it melt and then add the rest of the tomato mix. 

4. Pour 80g of it into each of three bowls and place in refrigerator. 

For the tomato tartare  

1. Boil 1L of water. 

2. Using a small knife, make a small cross at the bottom of the remaining tomatoes. 

3. Put the tomatoes in the boiling water for 10 seconds, then put them in iced water, remove the skin and dry them with a paper towel. 

4. Cut the tomatoes into four, remove the insides to get tomato petals. (Keep the insides for later, they can be used for a sauce.) 

5. Chop the tomato petals into cubes of 0.5mm. 

6. Finely chop the chives. 

7. Mix the tomatoes and chives with 5g olive oil, the juice of half a lemon, and salt, then place in the refrigerator. 

For the marinated prawns  

1. Clean the prawns. (Tip: If you keep the heads and the shell they can be used in a sauce or soup later). 

2. Chop the prawns in 1cm cubes. 

3. Mix the prawns with 5g olive oil, the juice of half a lemon, and lemon zest. Let them marinate for 10 minutes.  

For the parsley mayo  

1. Warm up 100g of grapeseed oil to 72°C, then pour it into blender with parsley leaves and mix for two minutes. 

2. Strain the mixture through a cheesecloth. 

3. Put 1 egg yolk, salt and pepper in a bowl and whisk while slowly adding the parsley oil. 

Plating  

1. Take your plates of jelly out of the refrigerator 

2. Place a circular disc on the jelly and put 1.5cm of tomatoes and 1.5cm of marinated prawn inside. Remove the circle. 

3. Finish with a few dots of parsley mayo and a few dots of salmon roe. 


Recipes for success: Chef Yann Lohez offers advice and a tasty tomato salad recipe 

Updated 20 June 2024
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Recipes for success: Chef Yann Lohez offers advice and a tasty tomato salad recipe 

DUBAI: French chef Yann Lohez has spent 15 years working in five-star hotels across the world, with stints at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, Geneva’s Kempinski Hotel, the Evian Resort in France and now The St. Regis Riyadh, where he is the executive chef.  

His passion for cooking began in the quaint countryside school where his mother cooked for 80 children. 

“Every morning, during the break between classes, my classmates would ask me to go to the kitchen and ask for the menu,” Lohez tells Arab News. “I would rush to the kitchen and smell the food. I have all these memories in my head and it stuck in my DNA.”  

The St. Regis Riyadh. (Supplied)

The first dish he tried to make on his own, he recalls, was mayonnaise.  

“My grandmother always made egg noodles for Sunday lunch, and my task was to make the mayonnaise. It’s a great memory. I remember this dish was amazing,” he says. 

Here, he discusses his favorite dish and his top tips for amateur chefs. He also shares an heirloom tomato salad recipe.  

The St. Regis Riyadh. (Supplied)

When you started out, what was the most common mistake you made? 

I faced a lot of challenges, especially when making pastries. For pastries, you always have to follow the recipes and you have to follow the technique. And as a cook, you make the recipes yourself. It was difficult for me to follow a proper recipe. Cooking is more about the sense and the feeling, but for pastries you have to follow the recipe exactly to get the right consistency. It was challenging. I always say I’ll never be a pastry chef because I don’t want to follow all these recipes. That was my challenge. 

What’s your top tip for amateur chefs? 

Let’s take steak for example. When people are cooking at home, they take the steak from the chiller and put it straight in the pan. This is a mistake. You need to keep it at room temperature for at least 20 minutes. When the protein is in the chiller it is very hard, so you need to make it more tender. And you definitely need to add some marination. You add the sauce, the olive oil and some spices in order to overload it and allow the spices to turn into fiber. Only then do you cook your steak. 

Greek Mezze. (Supplied)  

What one ingredient can instantly improve any dish? 

It’s not an actual ingredient. It’s patience. And love. Whoever you’re cooking for — you, your family, your friends or even for customers — without passion you cannot achieve the right dish.  

When you go out to eat, do you find yourself critiquing the food?  

Not really. I always go to the restaurants to enjoy, not to give criticism. It makes me happy to explore different cultures, different food and different ways to cook. And it gives me inspiration.  

What’s the most common mistake you find in other restaurants? 

It’s about how you engage with the guest. Sometimes the waiter is too close or too eager to interrupt. When I’m in a restaurant, I want to be free and enjoy the food and not be disturbed every five minutes.  

When it comes to food, I’m French, so I like my meat to be rare. It’s difficult in this part of the world to get rare meat. It needs to be not cooked on the inside, but hot. Very few restaurants make steak the way I like it. 

Slow braised beef checks orzo ragout. (Supplied)

What’s your favorite cuisine? 

I don’t really have one. I’m very open-minded about food and food culture. I think it’s the best way to get new ideas. I love Indian food. I love Arabic food. I love Asian food. When I go back to France, I love to have traditional slow-cooked meat or something buttery or creamy.  

What’s your go-to dish if you have to cook something quickly at home? 

Omelet. It is very, very fast for me to make. I am very passionate about it also because my father raises chickens and I always get organic eggs. I think it’s the best way to get the right protein as well. An omelet gives you power throughout the day. It really takes five minutes to make. You can make it with anything, whatever you have at home. 

Wild ceps Aquerello risotto aged parmesan. (Supplied)

What request by customers most annoys you? 

Sometimes the guests do not respect the team. Mistakes can happen. We take the opportunities to learn from our mistakes, but there is no point in showing a lack of respect to anyone. 

As a head chef, what are you like? 

To answer this, I’ll tell you a bit about my background. As I told you, my mother was a chef, but my father was a military policeman. So I learned that discipline is very important to get things done right. However, with this new generation, it’s very important to be fair and to be close to them. You need to lead by example. That is what is most important. I’ve had chefs who shout a lot, but this mindset doesn’t work anymore. I don’t shout in the kitchen. I’m strict, but I want to be close with my team. That’s the secret of success.  

Chef Yann’s heirloom tomato salad recipe 

Chef Yann’s heirloom tomato salad recipe. (Supplied)

 

INGREDIENTS: 

160g goat cheese; 10g honey; 2g Espelette chili  

For the Bloody Mary jelly: 0.5L tomato juice; 5 drops Worcestershire Sauce; 2 drops tabasco; 10g vegetal gelatin; 2g celery salt  

For the heirloom tomatoes: 1 beef heart tomato; 2 Black Krim tomatoes; 1 green zebra tomato; 2 yellow pineapple tomatoes; 8 cherry tomatoes; 1/2 bunch chervil; 1/2 bunch dill; 4g oregano salt; 2g three pepper mix  

For the basil oil: 200ml extra virgin olive; 1/2 bunch basil leaves  

For the Kalamata soil: 50g kalamata olive; 50ml balsamic cream sauce   

INSTRUCTIONS: 

1. In a small bowl, mix goat cheese, honey and chili with a fork. 

2. Roll four balls of 80 grams each. Wrap each of them in a 15cm x 15cm square of cling film. Close it by bringing the four corners together and turning to get the shape of a tomato.  

3. Put the four balls in the freezer for three hours, until they turn hard, then remove the plastic and insert a skewer into each. Keep in the freezer until your Bloody Mary jelly is ready. 

For the Bloody Mary jelly 

1. Heat all the ingredients for the Bloody Mary jelly in a pan and whisk until the jelly becomes smooth.  

2. Soak the goat cheese balls in the jelly on their skewers until you get a red, shiny color. 

For the heirloom tomatoes 

1. Cut all the tomatoes into different shapes. 

2. Keep four green tomatoes for decoration. Fry them for 30 seconds. 

3. Seasoning is important. Add salt and pepper five minutes before plating. 

4. Use the chervil and dill leaves for decoration. Dry them, along with the tomatoes, for five hours at 60 degrees.  

For the basil oil 

1. Put the basil leaves and the olive oil in a mixer and blend. Strain the oil through a coffee filter to get clear green oil. 

For the Kalamata soil 

Dry the olives for five hours at 60 degrees (same as the tomatoes). When they harden, allow to cool, then mix until you get a powder. 

PLATING: 

The plating is always a chance to bring your creativity to the stage. My only advice is to reflect nature on the plate. Start with the beef heart tomato slice in the middle as a base for your goat cheese balls. Don’t forget to add a tomato stalk to them to create ‘realistic’ tomatoes. Create a garden around this with the rest of the tomatoes. Add olive dust and a dot of balsamic cream sauce for the acidity. The dish should be served at room temperature.