It’s made in fired ovens. David thinks that it’s two layers and the ‘puffy’ bread rises because of the construction of the dough. To me the dough looks like a single pancake. They make a lot of it. It’s the sliced bread of life here. It’s the Middle East equivalent of French bread served in NY. And then there’s the Tandoori oven. They slap pieces of dough against the sides and make another form of bread. When I attended a banquet at a home, there was a portable Tandoori available for on the spot baking. My assessment – it sure beats sliced white ‘Wonder Bread.’It looks like there’s something stuffed inside. Either way the food is good.Since we were in the outdoor kitchen, it afforded us a view to some pretty good cooking.
David said don’t do it. He said it’s a chain and it’s not too good, too formula…. He’s eaten in a lot of places by now, so he’s more sophisiticated in his taste and evaluation. Unlike Ajii which both of my kids approved, PF Chang was a place to avoid according to both children. With a lack of choices I found myself drawn to try it. All local reviews were positive and everyone raved about the dynamite shrimp. Now I have found out that the entire six restaurants at this site are owned by a single company group. So far it’s been very successful with no parking and lines everywhere. I’m not impressed that cheesecake costs $8 (33SAR). A burger at Shake Shack is only $8. But my eye was on PF Chang. The singles section is like an afterthought. The space is small and cramped. Service is very attentive. They do a little show to mix some dipping sauce tableside. The food – dynamite shrimp is the local NY version of deep fried shrimp covered in a mayonnaise sauce. It’s pretty funky in NY and so what else can you say. It is a recipe that was made on the spot in NY with ingredients at hand in a combination of ingredients put together from a bad dream. Not bad…. Just not worth mentioning again. Dynamite – it’s in the hot cloying sauce. Anywhere else and without the sauce, this is tempura shrimp.
Chicken lettuce wrap has the standard iceberg lettuce – ice cold – to wrap around diced chicken and deep fried crispy rice noodles. Decent. The shrimp dumplings were covered by steamed wonton skins and were largely tasteless, hence the dipping sauces. There was green apple soda, way too sweet, but with a crunch green apple slice. I’ve not made another foray to try the mains yet. But so far David and his sister were right.
I bet you wondered when I spoke about Amara (lukewarm) if I had left out the pictures of the restaurant because it wasn’t the greatest. Nope, just a senior moment. David was the one to find it. He pushed me on a quest to find roadside sculpture. And with a family (J, daughter) we could eat upstairs!Yeah, it’s a lot different view. If you are single you eat somewhere else. Same food, just different view. As a single, I read. I’ve got a library on my iTouch. Reading ain’t conversation. But a good page turner is a distraction. Yay for ebooks.
It’s a multilevel restaurant. Singles (men) sit in the open air sidewalk tables. Families (aha! I had one with me) can use the outdoor terrace overlooking some apartments, police station, hotel, and an unfinished tower. Did I mention a view of the ocean? But you can’t see this at night. Of course you never have a chance if they seat you away from the view. Which they did, even though they promised a nicer table if we had a reservation. It seems my (our face) face didn’t rate. Dinner wasn’t bad. And afterwards we had the pleasure of walking across the street to the mosaic octopus. Yeah!
It was in the same building as Ajii. Actually we found and targeted Amara first. We had to return to Amara twice when we were out of restaurant options because of the late hour (11:30PM) and the failed attempt at Palm Garden. It was so late because of that night dive. See… all my posts have lately tied together in a logically illogical way. Horray!
When the kids were here they were very considerate and accommodating. We ate Middle Eastern food mostly. David never cared for it much in NY but he was in country and determined to sample local fare. We ate in Yildizar a restaurant rated all over the internet as one of the best in Jeddah. I can’t say that it was particularly special, but separate searches by all the family came up with the same name. Maybe they stacked search engine? On the last night together both kids determined we would try Ajii an oriental fusion restaurant that we had found. The food was surprisingly good. Funny for me was that it wasn’t the food that was important as much as the company. Now that the kids have returned home, the food is more attractive looking back at the pictures. We arrived just before evening prayer time. It was strange to be in a good restaurant as the only patrons from start to finish of the meal. No matter, it was the ultimate in private dining. Pick a table, any table at all….
It’s an Asian fusion restaurant. We ate there and it was empty except for us. Like anywhere else it’s a mystery how some places are popular and others are empty. It was a very good menu and food was very good. J got into the car to drive. Nope, we (she) didn’t break the law. There were still some time zone issues. It’s hard to eat dinner when your body thinks it’s 2AM. And afterward you can walk over and have an experience with a mosaic octopus sculpture in the traffic circle.J wasn’t here long enough to recover from jet lag. She’d left LA, flown to NYC, and arrived in Jeddah pretty much discombobulated. (I always wanted to use that word in a sentence!)
What do you expect from a restaurant named Ketchup. It’s an American grill staffed by Filipinos serving burgers. Nope, we didn’t try it. And just down the other side is a Johnny Rocket’s, don’t ask. And nearby is a Bentley and Lamborghini dealership. We chose Maesti an Egyptian menu. All the food styles tend to run together. I think you can get falafel across all cultures here. Good? Yes.
And then there was the Palm Garden on the Corniche. We wandered by and were drawn in by the lights. Ah! A really big men’s section. David made it a point to remember this place so we could drag his sister in for a good time. And later on we did.
David and I found this restaurant on the first night when we toured the Corniche. It had a very large men’s section to which David commented, “If we eat in every restaurant once with J and once by ourselves, it will truly be two different experiences.” Go figure.
The first try with J did not work. We arrived at rush hour (10PM) and decided to try again. The kitchen is near the waiting area so I took the opportunity to look and get some images. The cooks didn’t mind.
J was embarrassed so she didn’t look. Bread, two kinds, are made in a brick oven and tandoori oven. Yes it was interesting enough, that when J finally came with us to see, she shot a video of the bread rising in the brick oven. It was a worthwhile effort and another good memory for me.Waiting!?Falafel is not on the menu. But with our pre meal tour of the kitchen, I knew we could order it and it was certainly good to eat it.
It’s not much to see on the outside. And parking in the area is a nightmare. But the crowds must have been onto something. We’d have gone twice if time and parking had permitted.The men’s section had a distinctively different vibe.
This trip we made several excursions to the Balad. We just wandered the narrow winding streets. The kids didn’t buy a thing. We just looked at the street life and commerce. J didn’t like me just shooting the camera from the hip. David inadvertently distracted her with his patter so I got to trail and shoot. We passed a lot of interesting merchants. One thing I found is that it helps to ask about strange products. We found that gum is sold in blocks. Silva told me it’s to flavor certain dishes in cooking. David and I just chewed the gum and found it to be enough to make you stop chewing gum. It had the consistency but the taste…ugh!
Did I tell you that I never had a cooking lesson? And the Food Channel was a recent phenomenon that I watched when all the movie channels didn’t have a single flick worth watching. I discovered I could cook the first time I was away from home in med school.
My mother had a simple rule raising three sons. You help out or you don’t eat. So I cut, diced, chopped, and prepped for years. I had that aha moment when I realized that the final step was to throw it into the pan and voila, dinner. Rice is a challenge for everyone. I eyeball the quantity of rice and water, perfect every time. Smug, aren’t I? Who cares? I don’t starve. I do wish there was a more varied menu but hey that’s my own fault and I can’t readily fire the chef.
I got some Pillsbury biscuit dough and made dumplings. The dough is not expensive in NY but here it was a bit more money. Not enough money to break the deal but enough to make me decide it would be a project to make the dough myself. And it’s not always available in the super market. And it is carried in only one market that I have seen so far. Are you following me?
So the big experiment…I tried with flour baking soda, baking powder, salt and some luck. No go. The dough was tough and didn’t rise. It had an interesting color only a cook (me) would love… and eat (close eyes).
To back up one step, Pillsbury was a shortcut that has been in my memory and I think it was my mother’s invention. (Secret: She once told me Chinese cooking is easy. It’s technique. The ingredients can all be substituted depending on what’s available on hand.) But I’ve been using biscuits so long that I don’t remember the origin. It’s kind of like remembering when I first learned to use chopsticks. Who knows? You’ve just been doing it all your life. Roll out the dough, stuff it with whatever, steam it, and you’re good to go. The primary rule is that whatever your ingredients, you like them, and you will like the end result. I tried to explain this to Julia, but I’m not sure the lesson has stuck.
So I went online with a usual internet search that will virtually tell me any secret of life. And the first page of hits was how to cook with Pillsbury biscuits. No home recipe to make them. Biscuit recipes, yes! But I’m pretty sure Pillsbury is not using vegetable, shortening, butter, buttermilk, and an assortment of other ingredients that got longer and more complicated.
Then it occurred to me that Bisquick in the super market might work. Right! They make biscuits and I had seen some in the store. Of course I had seen it (memeory is still good, spelling just average) but it wasn’t available. That’s the problem. Sometimes they have stuff and sometimes not. It’s random. And a royal pain in the … You would think that inventory in the same store chain would be consistent. No! Some stores have things that the others don’t. And the elves take extra care to move stuff around between my visits. And where you put something is random and seemingly unrelated. Grocers don’t put salt and sugar together, and the artificial (fake!!!) sugar is in another place. Come on where’s the logic?!!!
No Bisquick! Ahh… doughnut mix??? You don’t see that in NY. But, aha, it rises. I got the idea from Pillsbury’s tube which suggested the idea. ???Is it sweet? Well it’s only a couple bucks to try. It’s a bit more complicated than Pillsbury. You have to proof the dough (let it rise) three times. But otherwise it looked similar and tasted similar to the Pillsbury. Pillsbury on the internet doesn’t give out the secret recipe. Hey it’s just a biscuit. Alton Brown food channel uses buttermilk, butter, and an assortment of ingredients that had me lose interest in about 5 seconds.
Doughnuts!!! No holes. Who’s counting. At Dunkin, you buy the holes separately. I just made them together. (I don’t/figured out have a doughnut hole maker). Not bad and would be even better with chocolate sauce.
I steamed a batch instead of frying, which was the original point of this experiment. And the dough rose and puffed just like a Chinese char siu bow. Now and I can make dumplings in the future and not worry about Pillsbury. The next problem will be that they don’t sell doughnut mix in NY. But I got a way to make dumplings like home. Everyone needs a little home?
I did make the sweet potato chips while proofing. I got this recipe from Ruth Reichel, bless her. She was a critic for the NY Times a while back. I saw her interviewed wearing sunglasses and an awful red wig until I found out she was disguised so that the restaurants wouldn’t spot her and treat her extra special.
Getting the chips thin is the trick. Lisa wouldn’t let me use a mandolin (very sharp cutter, not musical) because she cut herself once upon a time. So I have used the potato peeler. It works. But the mandolin is so much faster. And I haven’t cut myself yet. Ha ha it occurs to me that Lisa might object to me using a sharp scalpel blade during surgery. I probably shouldn’t use sharp things. Two of my assistants cut me last year. Now when they hold the knife, I’m standing in the next room (kidding).
The nuts I made (almond, cashews, peanuts) the other day. I have a recipe that is sooooo simple. And they are now in the news as a healthy food. And for my dear wife, I swear that I don’t add that much salt and sugar. I must say that the nuts don’t last for very long when the kids are around. It seems that the Mediterranean diet is rich in nuts. That’s another good thing. I can get raw nuts easily.
And I made red lentil soup. It’s a horrible pasty yellow color so no picture. But the taste!! I used grilled mushrooms, onions, curry and cinnamon. Wow!! This was really healthy with lots of fiber and cholesterol lowering action. The problem was the bread, which came with it (yes, I bought it,… but they were twisting my arm). Balsamic vinegar, olive oil and multiple kinds of bread to soak and dip in the soup….
I fear the doughnuts won’t last long either. Mmmmm…. Chocolate sauce or cinnamon?
There’s a formula that they seem to follow. There is usually a super grocery store. There’s a food court. There is entertainment consisting of amusement rides and video games. What I don’t get is that they are so large it really is ideal to exercise in a climate controlled environment. Instead people visit the food court and gain weight.
I might as well write about the other deep dish pizza in town. So far I’ve only seen one branch. It is run by Filipinos, what else. They sing happy birthday very loud. It’s decorated like any other in the US. The pie is about the same. You have the Numero Uno Supreme because that’s why you came. They put a head on your iced tea. It’s doesn’t matter. I don’t drink beer.
I may have written about Pizza Hut before. Pardon me. I am photographing restaurant food lately if I’m not shooting the fishies. I have to say that I was never ever in a Pizza Hut while in the USA. So it is no small measure to say how desperate one can become if you need to choose eating establishments by what is within walking distance. Like everywhere else, it’s made by Filipinos here. And it might surprise you to know that many pizzerias in the NY are now run by Albanians. I know, but that’s what someone told me. Deep dish pizza is better in Chicago and even in Uno’s but ‘any port in a storm’ so they say. Yup, by golly! That’s a glass of Mountain Dew… might as well go all in.
Most folks like to eat around midnight. And maybe that has contributed to the enormous obesity problem. Anyway the dumplings look like NY but they are definitely not! As I said recently, sizzling anything is reasonably decent. Here it’s chicken.
I hadn’t intended to do much for Thanksgiving. It’s not a holiday here. But the market had some chestnuts (from China). I kept remembering the tainted milk. All the produce is labeled with its country of origin. I got an Egyptian pomegranate and bananas from the Philippines.
Everyone I speak with has a different way to do it. I’ve used a microwave, boiling hot water, and oven roasting. I went with roasting. As usual there were a bunch of molded spoiled nuts. There’s nothing you can do, it’s built into the process. I had a pumpkin that was a chance spontaneous purchase a couple weeks ago.
So I made a passable soup. It reminded me of the soup my daughter took over a few years ago. She took the recipe my wife used in the Silver Palate cookbook. Anyway it was a good soup. I had some fresh bread, cheese, and corn fritters. It reminds me that sliced white bread is sold in the market. But it is the flat breads and all the other variations, which make bread so much fun. There is focaccia, Egyptian, Ethiopian, and you name it. I never see the same thing twice. The price can be as low as 25 cents. It turns out that this is a real bargain. You just have to remember not to indulge too vigorously.
I like to multitask while cooking. So I was roasting peanuts as well. The have loads of beans, grains, and nuts available in the market. I made all this stuff weeks ago and enjoyed it thoroughly. For Thanksgiving I’ll phone home and then avoid turkey sandwiches.
It’s a decent restaurant – Chinese of course. And it’s part of an international chain. They have branches in Lebanon. (I didn’t think they were that good.)Lately they give you roasted cashew nuts and raw carrots. A tart flavored tea is also complimentary. There’s a flower on the table.
The duck roll is really Peking Duck style. I’ve given up on soup because it’s way too starchy. For main courses, I’ve discovered that no one does too much to kill ‘sizzling’ whatever. So you are safe with beef or chicken. Otherwise the sauces can really kill a dish.
This restaurant would otherwise be the equivalent of a Brazilian churrascaria. Basically it’s the same setup – salad followed by grilled meat carved from the skewer at the table. You eat till you drop. Our nurses eat like birds so that the consumption of large quantities of meat is lost on them. I had a great time. It was a meal sponsored by one of the drug companies – a touchy subject these days. And the representative was stuck in traffic so she arrived for dessert. Me, I was just along for the ride. I was told to show up and I did. One thing that our nurses enjoy is taking group pictures. So we did.
I was driving Farid’s car for a few days while he was away. My nurses have been pretty wonderful in making life a bit easier. So I took them on a field trip as a way of thanking them. Jen runs my clinic. The other Jen is my OR nurse. They are both left handed like me. Anna joined Jen and is not left handed. We went over to the Corniche (beach) and caught the sunset – not too spectacular this particular night. Then we ate in a Chinese restaurant. Hey! I gave them a choice and this is where we ended up. Finally there was a late night shuffle through the Balud – the old city. We ended in a Body Shop – just like the USA – where I stood outside (family only- female). What I did not know was that it is illegal to be out with a woman not your relative. Come to think of it I have been single with other families. But anyway, I read somewhere that it is forbidden to be out with single women, morality and all that. So here I was with three (women) and in trouble again without realizing it.
This reminds me of another way to get into trouble around here. English is really a second language for everyone else. Most of the MD’s are Arabic speaking. Our nurses are mostly Filipino except for batch of new Chinese nurses recruited by the last nursing administrator. One day it was dim in the OR. One of the spotlights we use had a missing bulb. I asked for a candle. (It’s a joke!) Usually the nurses ignore me. Once in a while they pause and actually look to see if I’m serious. I never get a candle. (To be honest I’m old and I need more light to see. – Another joke.) On this particular day the new Chinese nurse took exception to my request for a candle. What did I say? She just stopped talking to me. No, I don’t speak Chinese. What?! Well she told Jen, my regular nurse, I had just insulted/embarrassed her asking for a condom. Huh!?!? It doesn’t sound the same and in the context of the OR I suppose a condom or a candle were both strange requests. I don’t know what to do. They did not fix the lights in any case. Honest! I didn’t make this up and I certainly didn’t intend to insult anyone. At the end of the evening out, the ladies bought bananas – 3kg for 10 SAR about $2.50 – that’s cheap.
They give you a complimentary bowl of chips and salsa. Otherwise you see here a brisket taco. It’s not really Mexican. But it says on the border, just not which border. Dessert is absolutely decadent. It’s a puff pastry kind of dough fritter that comes with a dipping chocolate sauce. I admit I had it once. The second time I took most of it home and finished it over several sittings. And I have not ordered it since then because I know my heart would not tolerate the cholesterol load.
I was fortunately invited to attend a Saudi banquet in honor of two physician administrators one coming and the other going. Here are some observations. The invitation was for evening dinner. This means come over after the last prayer – about 9PM. You sit in areas cooled by outdoor fans.
Once you are seated there’s not too much movement and social mingling. No women – not even the female medical colleagues. And if there were women, they would have to mingle in a separate area. The pool setting with seating all around. And it was hot so you needed the fans.
You sit and talk with the fellow next to you and you’re out of luck if it’s someone who’s not conversational. This polite conversation goes on for about 2½ hours. Everyone who arrives after you comes around and shakes hands and then drifts off to sit in an empty spot. I suppose the next time I will know this and pick my partner a bit more carefully. And I think that I will make it a point to move around anyway. Little cans of soda and a bottle of water at each place setting. There were a few cans of diet Coke. No alcohol allowed.
Dinner was buffet style but we changed seats to a formal table setting. Everyone ate quickly like they were famished. I certainly was hungry since I didn’t know dinner would be served at nearly midnight. After 30 minutes everyone started to say goodbye and quickly departed. I am told this is the style. So my observations are based on this experience and the questions I asked afterwards.The buffet line loaded with too many interesting choices.
….of course I ate too much.
So far my experience with Chinese cuisine here in Jeddah has been abominable. Would that be too strong? The sauces are too hot as in hot pepper. You could die! Or they are too sweet as in diabetic coma! There’s not much subtlety. They don’t know from soy sauce or sesame oil. I suspect that the cooks are Filipino so what do they not know that every wok jockey in NY knows? My Filipino nurses all laugh at me when I say this. But really the food looks ok but the taste is definitely lacking. The prices are high as in it costs what a moderate meal would cost in NY. No one pays like that in NY. I’ve tried about every fast food Chinese counter and restaurant that I have seen. There have been some reasonable meals. Spring rolls which seem to be the Middle East equivalent of samosa are wildly popular. Dumplings are horrible and poorly flavored. Don’t do it. Soup is way over starched thickened weak broth with nothing much of substance added. Enough….? So I chanced upon this all-you-can-eat buffet. They give you dessert and soft drink. It’s odd to see Waldorf salad and samosa included in the selections but they do have to cater to the target audience. There is a separation of the sexes with ‘families’ and ‘singles’ sitting separately but still comingling at the buffet trays. I guess I just shouldn’t see a lady eating. And to be sure they still wear their veils so it’s a bit of a mess to try to eat if you’re a lady. It becomes lift veil and chew, then repeat. The atmosphere/ambiance rates a zero and would get a minus rating if ever there was one. The whole place is dimly lit with fluorescent lighting. Ugh! But I’m here to eat and so I ignore the bad lighting.
The food is edible and if you pick carefully you can be fairly satisfied. Some of the sauces are red hot – beware. The appetizers are basic but I do enjoy the spring rolls, so I load up. Samosas are ok as well so go for it. French fries?
I like mine at McD’s so I avoid them at this restaurant. Soup? If you pick around the starch base you might come across some veggies and dry chicken. But it’s soup and I have some. The main courses are over burdened with cloying sauces. And the noodles – two kinds – are basically spaghetti without seasoning. It’s not worth eating overcooked noodles. So far I haven’t had indigestion from the warmed food. Salad with real leaves, lettuce, and that Waldorf looking thing are incongruous but some of the audience is gobbling this up. Dessert is fresh fruit and something sweet. One week it was rice pudding and the next it was mango custard.
Hot dog stands are New York. You don’t really encounter them too much elsewhere. Somehow they do a brisk business. Everyone seems to survive. It’s quintessential NYC.
My bad, I don’t remember the name. It’s new on 8th Avenue. It’s fast food Asian as if the wok guys weren’t fast to start with. It’s got a big lunchtime crowd. It’s not a quite got that ‘it’ quality, so I haven’t tried the food. But, I do like the art. Restaurants come and go with frightening quickness. This one is at least distinguishable, though it’s hard to say the food will really catch on. It reminds me of a hole in the wall Ramen noodle shop with a line out the door at all hours. My daughter doesn’t care for ramen so we haven’t tried it.