Jeddah Blog

Discover the best of Jeddah!

Archive for the category “Reviews”

Elegant Fine Dining at Le Traiteur


Ramadan is a time of spirituality, self-control and self-reflection. Muslims around the world fast from sunrise to sunset choosing to spend the holy month mostly with family and close friends. Iftar is the evening meal, the breaking of the fast that becomes a special occasion every day. Whether we choose to dine at home, or savour the meal outside, it becomes more than simply a meal and takes on a higher meaning.

When it comes to dining out at Iftar time, Jeddawis are positively spoilt for choice. Food courts and malls become packed and popular restaurants reach their peak. However, what about those restaurants tucked away from mainstream? Those elegant venues not openly advertised, but the quality of their food and service is whispered about in closed circles?

In our latest blog post, Jeddah Blog’s extreme foodie Abdullah Yahya spills the beans on one of the hidden gems of Jeddah’s food scene, French restaurant Le Traiteur. After reading this review, you’ll be sure to want to experience the elegance, quality and personal touch of this fine dining restaurant.

Do you know of any hidden gems that you would recommend? Secret restaurants that only a select few know about? Let us know in the comments below.

I don’t know about you, but in Ramadan I try to avoid going to open-buffet restaurants for Iftar. They are usually overcrowded, way overpriced, and they induce overeating. I know many foodies like myself who are hesitant to dine out in Ramadan because of that. That is why if you are anything like me, you should consider visiting Le Traiteur. Tucked away in a beautiful small villa in a residential area in Ash-Shati Dist., Le Traiteur is a hidden gem that not many know or talk about.

Approaching Le Traiteur

It’s a fine dining French restaurant that I can only describe as simply elegant. The restaurant is small and intimate, it has perhaps 10 – 15 tables at most, and when you enter from the main door, you feel you have been transferred to a French ballroom.

Beautifully classic French decor

I have dined at Le Traiteur several times during the years, but I have not been there for what seems like forever, which is something the restaurant manager noticed as he greeted us at the door, saying ruefully: “Mr. Abdullah, it’s nice to see you again, even though we only see you in Ramadan lately”. It struck me that he is absolutely right. I should be visiting more during the year, because even though I enjoy dining there in Ramadan, just like many restaurants in the city, they swap their regular menu in favour of a more Ramadan themed one, which in not necessarily in keeping with the restaurant cuisine.

Tastefully decorated tables

As we sat at the table minutes before the Maghrib (sunset) calling for prayer. I was busy admiring the elegant surroundings, from the classic furniture and wallpaper, glass displays of China and glassware, elegant table cloths and silverware, to the napkins that were folded to resemble the restaurant emblem. The dim lighting gives you an intimate candle-lit feeling that enhances the experience, and just shortly after the prayer ended, they began to play some classic music in the background that added majesty to the whole ambience.

The service was ever-friendly and attentive, and our waiter took extra care of my 15 month old child and made her feel welcome too.

The Arabic appetizers.

As soon as it was time to break our fast, dates, water, laban (buttermilk), and Arabic coffee was served, with pita and French bread, and a plate of Arabic appetizers. The appetizers consisted of a variety of cheese samosa, beef samosa, kibbeh, and spring rolls. I enjoyed the samosas, and I thought the kibbeh tasted good, but was too brittle and fell apart in the plate.

The soup table: Creamy Seafood and Lentil

Then it was time to head to the buffet and choose a soup. There was a choice between creamy seafood soup and lentil soup, and we opted for the seafood soup, which did not disappoint; it was hearty and warm, but was not heavy. I took a glance at the foul jar next to the soups pots, but then I decided against it, as I needed to be more selective.Next was time to visit the salad bar, and there were more than enough items to keep us happy for the next portion of our meal, and they tasted good as well.

Great variety at the salad bar.

Our waiter then asked us to choose our main course. Every day there are three dishes to choose from, and on this particular day the choices were between Beef Picatta, Chicken Cordon Blue, and Fish & Chips. We opted for the chicken and the beef and neither disappointed, especially the chicken, which was fantastic. I liked the beef too, but by the time I swapped plates with my wife, it was a little cold, but the rice was excellent and I wished I had room in my stomach to finish the plate.

Beef Picatta

Finally, we got round to dessert, and they were no dearth of choices, as the dessert buffet was full of many choice sweets, whether Arabic or Western.

Desserts galore.

There were also many fresh cuts of fruits, and even a chocolate fountain. I especially liked cheesecake and mahlabia (rice pudding) with pistachio and flower essence, and my wife was smitten by the chocolate pudding.

The Chocolate Fountain

Overall, we were very satisfied with our experience in Le Traiteur. It is a place for one who wants to savour one’s meal slowly in a sophisticated ambience. The price is 150 SR pp, which is moderate if you compare it to similar iftars in similar restaurants in Jeddah.

The choices are not very wide making you feel the need to binge, but they are varied enough that you feel satisfied. So, if you want to escape the crowds and have a pleasant experience away from the hustle and bustle of Ramadan buffet in five star hotels, here is your chance. However, if you’re still not convinced that you need to go out in Ramadan, I understand, just make sure to visit the restaurant after the holy month for the same elegant treatment only with proper French cuisine. Note to self: “Practice what you preach, and make sure to visit the restaurant yourself after Ramadan”.

Hospitality 9/10

Ambience 9/10

Soups, salads, and appetizers 9/10

Main dishes 8/10

Dessert 8/10

Value for money 8/10

Address: Abu Al Abbas Ibn Abdulmutalib, Ash Shati, Jeddah 23513, Saudi Arabia

Phone: +966 12 605 5111

Tea and Falafel


If there’s anyone in this city who has their finger on the collective Jeddawi pulse, it’s Jeddah Blog’s Abdullah Yahya. Whether it’s honest advice on the best coffee shops  or the latest restaurant openings and dining options this is the one person you want among your handy Whatsapp contacts.

For this blog post, Abdullah has been on the hunt for a speciality breakfast hangout and he chanced upon the charmingly named Tea & Falafel on Madina Road. Scroll down to read Abdullah’s review, see what he ordered and find out how much he awarded the outlet in the all-important Jeddah Blog rating.

Breakfast is not only the most important meal of the day, but many agree that it is indeed their favorite meal of the day. As Jeddawis, in the past we only had limited options for breakfast places, but this has been changing quickly in recent years.

If social media is any indication, breakfast joints are all the rage, and of all the times we eat out, the longest we wait for an empty table is usually when we go out for breakfast.

Rustic and homely at the same time

One of the latest places to open in Jeddah is Tea & Falafel which is located on Madinah Branch Road (address: 6614 Abi Haitham Al Ansari, Al Muhammadiyah District, Al Muhammadiyah District,, Jeddah 23624). Although it is still in its soft opening phase, it is very popular already.

The tastefully decorated single’s section

It has a single section downstairs and a family section upstairs. It’s not a large restaurant and there are less than 10 tables in the family section, and maybe as many in the singles section. It is nicely decorated and brightly coloured with upbeat quotes. My favourite is their take on BFF as “Best Falafel Forever”

The spice bar

Part tea shop, part restaurant, it serves Arabic food with an emphasis on falafel. You can indulge in all of your falafel fantasies here with creations such as falafel nachos, falafel waffles, manakeesh with falafel, etc.

We loved the bright sunlight pouring in.

Since it was our first time, we played it safe and ordered an Arabic breakfast plate (40SR) which came with samplers of Arabic traditional biggest hits (hummus, falafel, foul,  manakeesh, hummus, foul, labneh, tahini, makdous, jam, potato wedges, pickles, and pita bread). It comes with a pot of English breakfast tea but we replaced that with Karak tea.

I also ordered fresh orange juice (SR14 ), falafel stuffed with nuts (serving of two pieces, SR6), and zaatar mankeesh (SR8)

Everything we tried was good, but the falafel, we thought, were exceptional. They were not too greasy and they tasted pretty good especially the falafel stuffed with nuts. I also liked the Karak tea.

Next time inshaAllah we will be trying other items on the menu, and you can bet there will be a next time, because not only did we like the food, but the service was good, the ambience was cool, and the prices were excellent. We ended up paying SR68 for 2 persons. Great value for money.

Jeddah Blog rating:

Ambience 8/10

Service 8/10

Food 9/10

Value 9/10

Overall rating 8.5/10

-photo credits: Abdullah Yahya

Saudi Comic Con from a Teen POV


By all accounts, the first ever Saudi Comic Con was a roaring success. The event was held over 3 days as part of an entertainment initiative by the Saudi General Authority for Entertainment, and according to the Arab News the event received a total of 20,000 visitors.

scc-5For some background and reviews of the Comic Convention, you can always do a quick web search. However Jeddah Blog decided to give you a different perspective. A teenage one.

Jeddah Blog spoke to 4 young teenagers, Musab Ali (13 years), Omar Dada (14 years), Ramis Faisal (14 years) and Hassan Khatri (14 years) who attended Saudi Comic Con on Day 1 and we asked them what they thought of the event.

img-20170220-wa0013

From the left: Musab, Darth Vader, Ramis and Hassan.

According to Musab: “This was the best thing to happen in Saudi Arabia. The queue was long, but it was fast-moving. It looked small from the outside, but it was very big once we entered. There were lots of hi-tech gaming consoles, XBox One, computers and PS4s on every corner for people to play on. There was also a comedy show in the evening in Arabic.”

Musab went on to say, “Lots of people were dressed up in costumes. The Joker was clearly the most popular choice. Although we were given free drinks, which was great, there wasn’t a lot of variety of food to purchase, only snacks. Also, there wasn’t enough place to sit if we wanted to take a break. However, there was a VIP lounge for people who had VIP bands.”

When asked about his favourite part of Comic Con Musab said, “The best part was the fighting scene on stage between Thor, Loki, Iron Man, Ant Man and Captain America. The life size Transformer was amazing too.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Ramis summarised the show saying, “I think it was a great experience, a large crowd, and very organised with a variety of stuff to do from trying out new games to buying exclusive merchandise. There were a lot of stalls and a show outside.”

img-20170220-wa0011

The Boys: [L to R]  Hassan, Ramis, Musab and Omar.

“I thought Comic Con was an amazing experience,” enthused Omar. “It was very organised and full of people and many games to try out, as well as many events. There were also many stalls full of interesting merchandise.” 

img-20170220-wa0015-1

Hassan getting some sage advice from Yoda.

Hassan was pleasantly surprised by the event. “The long-awaited Comic Con finally arrived in Jeddah. People were a little apprehensive and didn’t expect much for a first time in Saudi Arabia, but that wasn’t the case. There were lots of international companies selling merchandise that is pretty hard to find in Saudi Arabia or even in the Middle East.”

However, Hassan was disappointed not being able to attend the meet and greet with celebrities: “Unfortunately, not everyone had the chance to meet the guests as it was very expensive”.

Overall, it seems that the show was a great hit with teens as well as older attendees. The show, games and merchandise were of particular interest to this young group. Definitely a step in the right direction for Saudi entertainment and we can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

Photo Credits: Hassan Khatri and Ramis Faisal

Naan Restaurant: A Review


Eating out is one of the most-favoured hobbies of Jeddawis and thankfully, we’ve always been spoilt for choice. The wonderful diversity among the residents of Jeddah is expressed in its food culture too.

It is quite common to see new restaurants and cafés opening up all the time, and Jeddah Blog’s very own foodie Abdullah Yahya never misses a chance to try out the latest offering. In his latest review exclusively for Jeddah Blog, Abdullah tries out Naan Restaurant, located behind Souk Shatee.

One of my new favourite restaurants in Jeddah is the elegant Naan in Al-Zahra district. It is roomy and it’s chic, with great service and even better food. The one downside is that they have a ‘no children under 5’ policy but to be fair, I have taken my toddler along twice and they let us in with a polite warning that if she starts crying I should take her to a room to calm her down, and luckily my girl behaved both times.

So why do I like it so much? The reason is quite simply that its menu is very extensive and can meet all tastes. Although their food is not hugely different from what you’d find in many other Indians restaurants, it just tastes better. Proof of that is that I thoroughly enjoyed the Chicken Biryani even though I am not much of a rice person.

naan08First up, appetizers. We opted for the vegetable samosa which was quite good. The serving consisted of four pieces accompanied by a tangy tamarind dip, but I say skip the dip for the samosa itself is very crispy from the outside and juicy and colourful on the inside.

screen-shot-2017-02-05-at-11-02-24-am

Crispy and moreish samosas.

 

The Murg Tikka comes in this showy presentation hanging vertically on skewers. But it’s not all show, it actually tastes amazing. Very juicy and flavourful – it tingles your tastebuds and leaves you wanting more!

naan03

The juicy Murg Tikka packed with flavour.

As for the curries, I have tried several during my visits. The one I tried last was the Bombay Beef Curry, which I liked quite a bit. My only gripe was that the quantity of beef in the dish wasn’t as generous as the amount of gravy.

naan05

For dessert, we are predictable and play safe as we always opt for the Gulab Jamun. This never fails and is consistently good, albeit the serving is too tiny for its price.

Naan Restaurant

Gulab Jamun, always a safe bet.

When it comes to refreshments, I’ve tried their Mango Lassi before which is decent. This time I opted for their Gagajeer mocktail, which has among other things a weird mix of ginger, arugula, avocado, and honey. I was happy to give it a go, but it’s too weird even for me.

naan07

Are you adventurous enough for the Gagajeer Mocktail?

Price-wise, Naan is not the cheapest of Indian restaurants (not the priciest either), but it’s classy, clean, and serves great food. It definitely should be on your radar if you value some spice in your food.

Jeddah Blog rating

Ambience: 9/10

Food: 9/10

Service: 8/10

Value: 8/10

Cost per head: SR120-150

Wagamama


Wagamama is one of the latest restaurants to hit the Jeddah food scene. Wagamama is an Asian cuisine chain that was first started in Bloomsbury London in 1992 by Chinese British restaurateur Alan Yau, and now has more than 140 branches in more than 20 countries worldwide.

Many Jeddawis had been eagerly keeping an eye on their upcoming site and now that Wagamama is up and running, Jeddah Blog’s very own reviewer Abdullah Yahya lost no time in trying it out. He reports back to JB readers in this exclusive report.

The concept of Wagamama, which means ‘self-indulgent’ in Japanese, is inspired by Japanese ramen bars with food served fresh and fast. Their menu is extensive and designed to suit different tastes. And although it’s influenced heavily by Japanese cuisine, it has different elements from other East Asian cuisines.

The newly opened restaurant is still in soft opening (or at least it was when we visited it a few weeks ago). It is in Rawdah District, on the intersection of Hail Street and Al Nahdaa Street (the street parallel to Tahliah Street to the north aka Flood Canal Street).

image-31634

Wagamama’s open plan seating

When it comes to the décor, the restaurant went for simplicity in its design. It gives a feeling of open space with its high ceiling. The lamps hang down towards sturdy wooden tables, which gives a feeling of communal experience. So, if you’re one to like cozy more intimate places, this place is not for you. It also has an open kitchen, which always assures me that my food is up to high hygienic standards.

image-31638

Clear and simple – an easy-to-read menu.

The menu for Saudi Arabia is smartly designed to help one decide what to eat. It has sections for appetizers, sides, salads, ramens, curries, teppanyakis, and more. Many of the main dishes can be ordered to your liking by changing the type of meat or turning up the level of spice to your taste.

image-31628

Lollipop Prawn Kushiyaki and Shrimp Gyoza

For our first visit, we wanted to order ramen, but sadly it was still not available. We ordered fried Shrimp Gyoza (duck was not available) and Lollipop Prawn Kushiyaki. I did not like the Gyoza at all, the taste of the dough was bland and starchy, and it did not make me want to have another one. The Lollipop Prawn on the other hand was very tasty, but the serving of 3 pieces is strange, I think they should make it an even number.

image-31616

Firecracker Chicken Curry – spicy and aromatic.

For the main dishes we had the Firecracker Chicken Curry, which was amazing. Spicy and very aromatic with a side of sticky rice. The other dish we chose was a Teppanyaki dish. We opted for Teriyaki Soba with rice noodles. This one was another home run, but gun to my head, I would give the edge to the curry. The drinks we had with these main dishes were fresh juices which we liked, but did not necessarily love.

image-31654

Teriyaki Soba with rice noodles

Finally, we checked the dessert menu, not all of the items were available but the Banana Katsu was, and it was glorious. It’s a play on the famous fried banana dessert with a scoop of ice cream. We had that with hot drinks, which were not all that special.

image-31661

The Banana Katsu – glorious!

If you would ask me whether I would visit Wagamama again, my answer would be sure. With the speedy friendly service, tasty food, and moderate prices, one must be crazy to pass that over. That said, I would wait to make sure all the items on their menu are available first.

JB rating

Food: 8.5/10

Service: 9/10

Ambience: 9/10

Approximate cost per head
SR150, including two appetizers, two main dishes, 2 fresh juices, one shared dessert and two hot drinks.

Your Guide to Third Wave Coffee and Where to Find it in Jeddah


The Third Wave Coffee phenomenon, also known as the specialty coffee movement, is a trend that has been taking off lately amongst coffee lovers. But what exactly is Third Wave Coffee or artisanal food? Guest writer and coffee connoisseur Abdullah Yahya explains the basics to us in this fascinating blog post, shedding some light on this latest trend, and taking us on a journey through Jeddah reviewing the city’s cosy third wave cafés.

We love hearing your opinions, so please leave a comment at the end of this blogpost. Have you visited any of these places? What did you think of them? Which is your favourite? Hoping to get lots of feedback so that I can persuade Abdullah to write another blogpost for us very soon.

Also, stay tuned for a detailed review of our recent visit to Medd Café coming up very soon. Please do take a minute to subscribe in the right-hand menu to ensure you don’t miss any future posts.

The philosophy behind Third Wave Coffee is that people should be treating coffee less like an everyday commodity and more like artisanal foodstuff. For this reason, much attention is focused on:

  • The type of coffee beans used and the quality, so they focus on using a single-origin high quality bean, as opposed to blends. They tend to have a direct relationship with growers, and only buy fair-trade beans.
  • In house roasting of the coffee beans daily to ensure the quality of the coffee used.

The preparation methods are carefully observed, including how much of the ingredients are added and how they are added. They treat coffee making as an art, but they use scientific precision as well. That means measuring the amount of coffee carefully, and the water, as well as the temperature of water and milk used.

New coffee brewing methods are used, as opposed to using the usual coffee filter machine, like Chemex, Hario V60, and AeroPress®.  They are in general slower and more elaborate, but the result is a superior coffee.

In the last couple of years, more and more third wave cafés have opened up in Jeddah and they are becoming increasingly popular. Some of the trendiest are highlighted below.

Caffeine Lab

This place sells coffee beans and all relevant supplies directly to the customers and trains them in how to prepare the coffee. You can also go there just to enjoy a cup of coffee. It doesn’t however, sell any food, cake, or snacks, so in a sense it is more of a retail shop that sells coffee.

Location: King Fahad Street, Al-Faisaliyah Dist, to the north from Al-Serafi Megamall. Tel: 059 911 0092

Medd Café and Roastery

screen-shot-2016-10-07-at-11-02-28-am

Coffee Art at Medd Café

One of the trendiest coffee shops in the city with friendly service and excellent coffee. It gets very busy on weekends so expect to wait for a table, and it takes a long time for your coffee to be ready, so don’t go there if you are pressed for time. I love the vibes in that place; the look, the aroma from the beans, and especially the coffee. For me, the best Chemex coffee I have had was there.

They get extra points for offering a delicious array of homemade cakes and snacks. They also have a retail section where they sell coffee-making equipment and very cool mugs.

Location: Beach Tower Northern Corniche، Jeddah 21452, Saudi Arabia. Tel: +966 12 613 2122

Brew92o

screen-shot-2016-10-07-at-11-05-10-am

Brew 92°

The friendliest of services coupled with excellent choices of coffee and coffee beans. Very good Chemex, and their Flat White is especially great. They also serve all-day breakfast, so do try their omelettes and waffles. They offer salads and a few other dishes too. The place gets busy on weekends. Prices are moderate for the quality you get, and because it is closer to the center, it is the place I actually visit the most.

Location: Prince Saud Al-Faisal Street, Al-Khalidiyah Dist., opposite Saudia City, Tel: +966-564699118.

Cup & Couch

Cup and Couch

Cup & Couch

One of the more recently opened coffee spots. Very intimate and run by friendly young Saudis. The coffee is very good and the atmosphere is very casual. I tried their barista recommended Kalita coffee, and it did not disappoint at all. I also had coffee latte with coconut milk which was nice too. They also offer homemade cakes, but I was not wowed by them, and to me this is my one point that I think they should improve.

As for the ambience, I enjoyed being there very much, and so did my friends, including young children. You feel you are in a party in someone’s home with all the chatter of the customers hanging around. Upstairs in the family section they have a bench and a few tables, with board and card games and that only amplify the homeliness of the place.

Location: Al Yamamah St, Al-Salamah Dist, near Ice Land. Tel: +966 59 727 3474

screen-shot-2016-10-06-at-11-46-29-pm

Cold brewing at Medd Café

Warm & Frosty Café

Warm and Frosty

Warm and Frosty

The smallest one I have visited so far. Their family section is not ready yet, so as of now they only have the single section or the coffee to go, which is what I had. The Chemex coffee was very good and strong. They are also a retailer for coffee tools and equipment. I would say given their location, they are more suited to serve the area around them, but I did not find them special enough for me to go back, not unless I am in the area.

Location: Hilmi Kutbi St, Al-Zahra’a Dist. Unit No. 16 Jeddah 23521 6172, Tel:  00966-12 616 4890

Fire at Red Chillies


If you’re looking for a truly authentic burn-the-roof-of-your-mouth-off Pakistani Chicken Tikka then I have the perfect place for you. More on that tikka later, but first I’ve got to mention one caveat, which is that the seating is very basic. If you’re a real food lover, but not looking particularly for a fine dining experience, then you’ll be in for a treat.

And if you’re Pakistani, you just might forget where you are for a little while. Close your eyes and imagine that you’re in a typical restaurant in Lahore. Quite a delicious escape!

20160910_213322.jpg

Red Chillies in Aziziya

Read more…

Skill on the Grill – Review


Skill on the Grill is a newly opened restaurant on the intersection of Prince Sultan Street and Sari Street in the fancy new mall that brings us lots of delectable eateries. Jeddah Blog writer Samreen Ahmed set out on a mission to sample the new outfit and gave us her verdict.

Read more…

A Review of Tuesday in Love: the Breathable, Peelable, Halal Nail Polish


How excited were we when Tuesday in Love, a Canadian company specializing in water permeable nail polish were kind enough to send us some of their gorgeous nail polish colours to try out and review! It didn’t take long for me to sit down with my very close friend and beautician Sonja Morgan from Skin Deep, and try out their beautiful shades.

2015-10-27 14.07.50

We loved the colours; Cotton Candy, (YOLO) You Only Love Once and Applause, with the topcoat on the far right.

Coverage

Firstly, what we noticed was that overall the nail polishes provided great coverage. They went on very nicely and gave decent cover in one coat. The colours are funky, bright and young. Perfect for young girls and teens. We were pleasantly surprised to find that there was no strong chemical smell emitting from the nail polishes (unlike Inglot, which has a very strong smell).

Brush Size

The brushes are quite small and hence ideal for smaller nails and for painting neat edges.

Solution

The red solution was the thinnest and the pink was quite thick. The blue (we would describe it as Air Force Blue) was a smooth solution, whereas we tend to find that usually blues are quite thin. The colours had quite a nice sheen to them, and the nails appeared to be evenly coated, covering over imperfections and ridges. The solutions were opaque and just a minimal amount is needed on each brush.

We felt that they took a little longer to dry, but this can be an advantage as it is very forgiving; it is quite easy to correct any mistakes. The red was the only one which we felt really needed two coats.

The topcoat went on opaque, but dried as clear.

Bottle Size

We felt that the bottles are a great shape. They are smaller than others you will see on the market and very young and hip looking. The bottles are very easy to carry around, similar to Chanel bottles in fact. They are solid, and not tapered hence they are not easy to knock over.

To remove, simply peel off!

Removal

The most amazing thing about the Tuesday in Love nail polishes is that nail polish remover is simply not required. The solution, once dried, is completely peelable, and comes off in one piece.

The Halal Factor

One of the most important aspects for many Muslim women is that this nail polish is water permeable, and therefore halal. For those who are not already aware, Muslims must perform ablution for prayers five times a day, and the water must touch every part of their body. Regular nail polish does not allow one to do that and blocks the water out. Tuesday in Love is great for those who want to wear a nail polish temporarily – just for a lunch date, for example, and then peel it right off.

You can take a look at their halal certificate on their website. The company even give you instructions on how to test the ‘halalness’ of the product yourself.

Longevity

We felt that this was a disadvantage for Tuesday in Love. The nail polishes are not very hard wearing, and tend to chip and dent even when a topcoat is applied.

Price

At just over $12 per bottle, Tuesday in Love is quite competitive and even a touch cheaper than their rival Inglot.

Conclusion

Overall, we loved the nail polishes and feel that they are great for casual wear especially for younger girls and teens. The brush and bottle sizes are tailor-made for smaller hands, the colours are young and vibrant, and the ease of application and removal are perfect for girls who go to school and want to wear nail polish on the weekends.

The nail polish emits a soft sheen, rather than a high gloss finish, so for adults we recommend Tuesday in Love for casual events, and not necessarily for formal wear. I would definitely use Tuesday in Love nail polishes simply due to their stunning colours and peel-ability. You can’t really go wrong!

 

How to Shop for Video Games in Jeddah


Tamim Kashgari and Ahmed Jadaa are two people who take their gaming seriously. After spending a decade outside the Kingdom, Tamim returned to an unfamiliar gaming market. He tried asking around and searching online, but says that he found the information “superficial at best”.

To rectify this situation, Tamim and Ahmed began The Mouse and Controller, a blog dedicated to their love of gaming in 2012. The duo have teamed up to write this guest post, exclusively for Jeddah Blog, to give our readers the low-down on the gaming market in Jeddah. They answer crucial questions such as, who are the best and the worst retail outlets for video games? and are there any used games stores in Jeddah?

Read on to discover their top tips on how we can get the best deals on our games, and their secret to escaping the high prices and poor customer service so rampant in the Jeddah gaming market.

So you have your eye on the latest release and you’re wondering where to buy it from. Let’s take a close look at all the video game retailers in Jeddah and give them scores based on a tier system. The grid we have formulated scores the stores on a scale of 1 to 10 and is based on the following factors:

  • Convenience of store location (how many stores do they have and where are they located?)
  • Size of inventory (do they have a wide variety of games?)
  • Relevance of inventory (do they have the latest games?)
  • Customer service (attitude and knowledge of sales staff)
  • Prices (are they overly priced or reasonable?)

Screen Shot 2015-11-07 at 10.07.45 AM

Let’s discuss each of these stores in detail:

S-Tier: Tokyo Games alone at the top

With a total score of 36, Tokyo Games is pretty much sitting pretty with a fairly large gap.

Mediocre customer service and high pricing, with games at around SR 250 each, is pretty normal in Saudi Arabia as a whole and Tokyo Games is no exception. The sales representatives are a tad more informed at Tokyo Games, but they are by no means helpful. The big glaring flaw at Tokyo Games is the fact that they sell no PC games at all, or any accessories that a PC game can actually use. They are entirely a console-focused business. 

However, looking beyond those flaws, Tokyo Games is the most successful retail company that sells video games in Jeddah. The fact that they are the most widespread company in the city with almost a dozen outlets means that you are never that far away from a store. However, not all branches are created equal. There is a clear lack of quality maintenance across all stores with the ones in the more high profile locations having better maintained stock.

Tokyo Games focuses on the sale of video games which means that their inventory is usually fully stocked. You can be assured that when it comes to video game systems and their games, if an item isn’t at Tokyo Games it most probably won’t be found anywhere else. You can even order a specific game that may be out of stock via their website and pick it up at one of their outlets which is a unique feature among all retailers in Jeddah. They are also beginning to sell licensed collectibles and models, branching out into a more holistic geek store.

A-Tier: Jarir winning the battle for second place

Jarir is also a long-standing retailer in Saudi Arabia, much like Tokyo Games. The difference between them, however,  is that Jarir is more of a general store selling all manner of school supplies, books, board games, electronics and electronic accessories in addition to video games. Due to their longevity and success in the market, Jarir has many locations within Jeddah.

Due to Jarir’s nature as a general stationery store, they aren’t always up to date when it comes to getting hold of the latest games. The games do seep in eventually as they are one of the biggest retailers in the country, and no distributor will exclude them. They are better stocked when it comes to hardware. Controller accessories, extra wires, etc are easier to find in Jarir compared to other stores.

PC gaming isn’t ignored in Jarir as it is in Tokyo games, so it’s a more holistic experience when it comes to video game shopping.

Unfortunately, and quite typical in KSA, the sales experience and pricing is mediocre. Their sales representatives are neither interested in selling games, nor as informed as a Tokyo Games representative would be.

B-Tier: An Oldie, that is still something of a Goldie, Eagle Games

Now, while nostalgia might be a reason that Eagle Games ended up placing this high. There are some pretty factual realities that ensure the place it holds is deserved. Lets start off with the bad to get it out of the way.

Eagle games is the smallest of these retailers with just a single store in Rawdah, and its not very fancy. Its stock is also quite small. But, what it has going for it is that its stock is relevant even if it does take a little longer to restock if something sells out. Also they sell games at the lowest price of any video game retailer in Jeddah, averaging a price that is at least 40 riyals less on any game.

Eagle games is the only retailer that accepts used games and buys them back from the consumer for a trade in. This alone makes the store a really attractive place to visit if you’re looking to get rid of old games.

C-Tier: Everyone Else

Extra, Computer House and Virgin Megastore occupy the third tier. Extra is primarily an electronics and appliance store with video games being a secondary priority. However, they do have dedicated sections for consoles. Virgin is more of a cultural store selling smaller electronics, novelty items, books and some clothes, along with video games. Computer House is the only store in this group which is a dedicated video game retailer. None of these stores stock new games and Virgin doesn’t stock gaming hardware.

All of them share the uniform subpar customer sales experience and pricing with games almost always being priced at SR 250 regardless of their release date. A game I recently saw at Virgin released back in 2013 was still retailing at full price.

D-Tier: Oh wait, we almost forgot one!

Bringing up the rear, we’ve got Sony World in a league of their own. While Sony World does have three stores in Jeddah, that is about all they have going for them.  Their sales experience and pricing like everyone else, is aggressively mediocre at best.

Sony World’s biggest disadvantage is that they sell only Sony products and goods. The Playstation consoles and games in the shop make it the most limited inventory in the entire market. Since they have no exclusive rights to selling Playstation goods, it makes it pretty meaningless to go here when you go video game shopping.

E-Tier: The jokes, hovels and places you really shouldn’t be going

This bunch of stores is really the bottom of the pile. Outlets such as Mickey Games and X Games have not only outdated designs, but also five year old games. These places can barely be considered real stores. The only reason they do exist is because there aren’t many copyright regulations here that are enforced, so they basically sell pirated material.

Retail can't compete with this.

Retail can’t compete with this.

Is this good news for the Consumer?

With a complete absence of marketing efforts, there are massive opportunities for video game retail stores to leverage their positions. Currently, both retailers and consumers are losing out.

For example, none of these stores make much of an effort to clear their inventory once new stock comes in. On the rare occasion when they do decide to hold a clearance sale, customers are the last to know. I once walked into Tokyo Games shop to be told that it was the final day of their summer sale with games selling at 75% discount. It’s good they are doing this, but with the lack of any kind of effective communication the consumer will only find out about the sale if they are lucky.

Sales are not only for the benefit of the consumer. It is important to move old stock as it gives a bad impression to see outdated games on the shelf at full price or even at a higher price than newly-released games.

Buyers can take advantage of these lazy marketers though. As there is no competitor monitoring between any of these companies you can see some hilarious price disparity regarding some games. When I went to buy Dead Rising 2 I found it retailing for around SR 200-250 at major stores. Walking into Sony World I found the same game being sold for SR 50!

Most games seem to be priced randomly, so for the more thrifty gamer with time on her hands this means that a substantial amount of money can be saved through scanning prices at the stores before buying.

Coming to some of the more underhand tactics of retail stores in Jeddah, price gouging is quite rampant as there is no real consumer protection in Saudi Arabia. The release of Metal Gear V: Phantom Pain is a great example with Tokyo Games selling copies for as much as SR 450 – nearly double the already high average price.

Used games are ignored by almost all retailers even though they can be a huge part of the business plan of any video game retailer as it is a revenue stream with almost no cost to them generating repeated profits as games can be bought and returned multiple times. GameStop in the US is a great example of this generating nearly 50% of its total revenue from used game sales.

Used games, trade ins and customer loyalty programs. Things that no retailer in Jeddah does.

Used games, trade ins and customer loyalty programs. Things that no retailer in Jeddah does.

The Best Option for Gamers

What with outdated stock, high pricing and poor customer service, is there no way out? What can enthusiastic gamers do to get their latest fix?

Gone are the days of Playstation 1 and 2 when there would be lines outside your local Tokyo Games and Computer House asking for the latest Final Fantasy or the newest Resident Evil. With increased internet speeds, acceptance of the use of credit cards and the wider availability of the cash cards that can be purchased and used in online stores, none of us are forced to have to deal with these substandard retailers.

For those who are willing to make the shift, online stores and services are the future, and they are run to a global standard by all major companies like Microsoft (Xbox Marketplace), Sony (PSN), Nintendo (eShop), Valve (Steam), EA (Origin), Ubisoft (Uplay). They offer regular and massive discounts and their customer service is significantly better and more informed than anything that is locally present in the market. It is ironic that not only are local stores being undercut by the very same people that supply their products, but they are sounding their own death knell by selling the same cash cards to be used in these online stores.

You can follow the authors on Twitter as follows:

Tamim Kashgari: @tamimlane

Ahmed Jadaa: @AhmedJadaa.

Experience Chocolate Magic at Le Concheur


Le Concheur has slowly and steadily been making its presence felt in Jeddah. Although they are still at their soft opening stage, constantly adapting and refining their menu to customer feedback, they are already gaining a base of loyal customers in the city.

A few days ago, my children received a very special invitation from the Kids’ Party Consultant at Le Concheur, Kathy Bacchus. To their absolute delight, they were asked if they would like to attend an exclusive chocolate cup making activity with a group of other children. And if you know the JB family, when it comes to sampling dessert, you don’t need to ask us twice… Needless to say, my children were more than crazily-excited and confirmed their attendance on the spot.

Le Concheur - Front

The impressive shop front of Le Concheur.

We arrived enthusiastically half an hour early, were warmly welcomed by the staff, and ordered a berry crepe while waiting for the event to begin. The crepe was a hit with the kids; they commented on the freshness of the fruits in the crepe and proceeded to wipe the plate clean.

Le Concheur event

Children excited and ready to get started.

Once the activity began upstairs, all of the children were given aprons and chef hats. Despite having a larger attendance than expected, the activity was well-organised and ran quite smoothly.

Le Concheur, Kathy chocolate machine

Kathy explaining how the chocolate machine works.

Kathy and her helpful assistant Franko explained the importance of using tempered chocolate to ensure the chocolate cups stay intact.

Now hold your breath for the next picture…

Le Concheur pouring chocolate

Pouring tempered chocolate.

They showed us the machine used to temper the chocolate by keeping it at a very precise temperature. The flow of chocolate is controlled by a foot pedal, and filled trays are placed for a few seconds on a vibrating stand to pop any air bubbles.

Le Concheur chocolate machine

Kids’ Lab Manager, Kathy, operating the chocolate machine.

Kathy demonstrated to the children how to operate the machine. It’s not as easy as it looks!

Le Concheur, chocolate in mould

Chocolate cups setting in the moulds.

It was very hard to resist, but the chocolate cups had to be left alone for a while to set in their moulds, after which Franko gave a helping hand to the kids in turning out the moulds.

Le Concheur, Franko

Franko turning out the chocolate moulds.

Once the chocolate saucers and cups were set, the children carefully piped chocolate mousse into the little cups. They all did a great job.

Piping the chocolate mousse into the prepared chocolate cups.

Piping the chocolate mousse into the prepared chocolate cups.

The junior chefs topped off the mousse with raisins and chocolate covered nuts (the hazelnuts are my favourite!), and proudly wrapped their creations in plastic and ribbons to take home.

Le Concheur final chocolate cup

The final chocolate cup.

It was a wonderful event, thoroughly enjoyed by all of the children present and I can see this activity becoming very popular for birthdays and other private parties. Special thanks to Erik Van Der Veken, rock star chocolatier and creator of the amazing chocolate sculptures displayed instore for his hospitality and good grace.

Chocolate Sculpture

One of Erik’s beautiful chocolate creations.

Exciting information that I can reveal exclusively to Jeddah Blog readers is that Erik is working with renowned Saudi couture and bridal fashion designer Reem Faisal on a project that will be unveiled at their Grand Opening, planned for the 24th of November.

Le Concheur can be found close to Sari Bridge, at the intersection of Prince Sultan Street and Kayyal Street and can be followed on Instagram via @leconcheur and @erikvandv

Papaya: Restaurant Review


A friend and I were due to meet up for breakfast earlier this week, and decided to try someplace new and exciting. I had heard about Papaya from another very close friend who is passionate about everything food-related just a day before, and listening to her rave about Papaya resolved to visit and try it out.

Papaya is located next to Souk Shatee close to Malik Road. From the outside, the restaurant is completely unassuming. If I wasn’t looking out for it, I would probably have just passed it by without another thought. I walked around through the side gate and came to a wooden door. I cautiously opened the door, stepped in and was immediately taken by surprise.

Papaya overview

Spacious with high ceilings.

I had been told that Papaya housed many plants and was unique in its decor, but I was still unprepared for the scene that welcomed me; not only was the seating area huge, it was awash in beautiful, natural light flooding in from the high glass ceiling. I have never seen so much greenery in one space before in Jeddah with foliage growing abundantly throughout the restaurant. Add to that the sounds of trickling water from various water features scattered within and the sounds of birds chirping – it was like stepping through a portal and walking straight into a tropical rainforest.

Papaya light

Flooded in natural light and surrounded by water features.

At this point, I was thinking that even if the food was not up to scratch, it would still have been worth visiting just to experience its ambience. While I was waiting for my friend to arrive the waiters handed me the menu and came back again to ask if I would like to order a drink while I was waiting.

Papaya 2

Comfortable and clean seating.

When my breakfast companion arrived, thanks to suggestions on the buzzing Jeddah Foodies Facebook group, we opted for the cheese and zaatar manaeesh and the cinnamon pancakes. The fresh juice list was quite extensive, and we both decided to try the pinacoladas.

Papaya pancakes

Cinnamon pancakes and Pinacolada.

We were not disappointed in the least. The stack of cinnamon pancakes were topped with just the right amount of cream cheese frosting and extra pancake syrup on the side. They were the fluffiest pancakes I have ever eaten and we both agreed that they were delicious.

Papaya Manaeesh

Cheese and Zaatar manaeesh.

The cheese and zaatar manaeesh was very fresh-tasting and the flat bread was soft and not dry as I have found to be the case in many other eateries.

With just the right combination of pineapple and coconut, the pinacolada was refreshing and hit all the right tastebuds. One of the best I’ve tasted here in Jeddah.

The service was very good with waiters greeting us as we entered and making sure we had everything we needed. Prices were very reasonable at SR 60 per head. Portion sizes were generous, as we even had some pancakes left over to take away.

While browsing the menu I noticed an extensive lunch and dinner selection. I would be interested to find out how those meals would compare. Sadly for me there was no wifi, but overall it was a great dining experience and one I look forward to repeating soon.

If you’ve been to Papaya and would like to share your experience, let us know in the comments below.

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: