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Archive for the tag “reviews”

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

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.

A Taste of the Orient: P.F. Chang’s Comes to Jeddah


P.F. Chang’s stylish Chinese restaurant is one of the 6 new internationally renowned brands that Alshaya is introducing to Jeddah, others being The Cheesecake Factory, Shake Shack, IHOP, Texas Roadhouse and Pizza Express. All of these gorgeous eateries are the talk of the town, and are collectively housed in Le Mall, on Tahlia Street (opposite Debenhams).

If you’re anything like me, you simply can’t get enough Chinese food, and are always on the lookout for that perfect combination of sweet and sour, salt and spice. My good friend Ayesha Nigar visited P.F. Chang’s recently with her family, wondering what the fuss was all about and reports back exclusively to Jeddah Blog.

Jeddah has slowly been gaining a reputation as a destination of food diversity. I have witnessed  this first-hand as I have been dining in some of Jeddah’s most exquisite restaurants which have been sprouting like mushrooms in this Western region of the Kingdom. If your taste buds are craving full flavour and a great culinary experience like no other, look no further than P.F. Chang’s.

menu

P.F. Chang’s selected menu.

Located in the Le Mall Complex on the fashionable Tahlia Street and nestled amid the other five internationally acclaimed restaurant brands operated by Alshaya International Trading Co., P.F. Chang’s sits proudly at the center of attention. It is the namesake of its founders Paul Fleming (P.F.) and Philip Chiang (whose surname is shortened to Chang), who opened up their first restaurant in Arizona in 1993, and now they have numerous branches worldwide.

Modern decor at PF Chang's, Jeddah.

Chic and classy decor.

Finding parking space was a hassle as we went on a Saturday afternoon for lunch and the entire area was flooded with hungry customers. After circling Le Mall twice, we were fortunate to get one right outside the American Gallery. Upon entering the restaurant our faces brightened as a smart looking waiter, dressed in a black professional uniform greeted us warmly, and escorted us to our table. Contrary to its appearance from without, the restaurant is actually pretty spacious with seating arrangements nicely spread out in different wings. The décor is chic and classy which is an unconventional departure from regular Chinese restaurants where the whole ambiance is completely taken over by traditional red lanterns.

Additional sauces specially mixed by our waiter.

Additional condiments mixed by our waiter.

As you browse through the menu you might feel that although there is not a wide variety of dishes on offer, but a very wise selection of a tasteful menu.

Delicious egg rolls.

Delicious egg rolls.

We began with the Hot and Sour Soup that was promptly served within five minutes of the time of the order – a great start! In addition to this, our waiter offered an explanation of some additional sauces and prepared his special concoction as we watched. The Chicken Lettuce Wraps and Egg Rolls were served next, and were thoroughly enjoyed by all of us; my five year old daughter, in particular, fell totally in love with the egg rolls.

Crispy Shrims in a zesty sauce

Dynamite Shrimps

Then came the most talked about ‘Dynamite Shrimps’. Crispy shrimps with a zesty sauce served in margarita glasses lived up to their reputation. They were truly remarkable and cooked to perfection. My husband and I shared one, and both of my young daughters shared the second one.

PF Chang's Fried Rice with Chicken.

P.F. Chang’s Fried Rice with Chicken.

For the main course we had Chang’s Spicy Chicken, Sesame Chicken, Mongolian beef, P.F. Chang’s Fried Rice with Chicken and Singaporean Street Noodles. All of the dishes were executed perfectly, and special mention must be made here to the vibrant colours of the ingredients in the Sesame Chicken which were as much a feast for the eyes as for the stomach.

Sesame Chicken

Sesame Chicken

I am not much of a beef person, but my red meat loving husband enjoyed every mouthful. Although the restaurant was packed, yet the service was surprisingly quite efficient and the food was served right on time. For myself, the food fulfilled all the possible criteria that are important to me as a foodie; it looked inviting, tasted divine and felt exquisite. The staff members were always alert to help you with a smile, and above all the manager visited each and every table.

Sesame chicken

Chang’s Spicy Chicken

The servings were generous and a bit pricey, but it was all well worth it. I believe that one should not mind paying a little extra when you are getting such great quality in return. Unfortunately, there was no room left for us to try the desserts, but we definitely would love to do so on our next visit. My entire family had a great time and look forward to going back.

Expect to pay: SR 125 per head. Portion sizes are large, so there will be plenty to pack up and take home.

5 Fun Things to do with your Children during Winter Break in Jeddah


For many children in Jeddah, depending on which school they go to, they are either in the middle, or just starting their Winter Break. If you are wondering how you’ll ever be able to keep the little monkeys busy this holiday, we have some great places to visit and fun things to do right here in Jeddah.

Fakieh Aquarium

Launched earlier this year to much fanfare and excitement, Jeddah’s first aquarium can be found on the busy Corniche Road. Enthusiastic Jeddawis have been flocking to visit the aquarium and have come away with excellent reviews. They tell us that the area is very clean (food and drink are not allowed inside), and the staff are efficient and organised. The dolphin show is a must-see. Open every day from 11am-11pm and from 1:30pm-11pm on Fridays. Make sure you keep a note of the dolphin and seal shows which are scheduled every day for 1pm, 7pm and 9pm and plan around this time. Free wifi is a great plus for those of us who hate to stay away from the internet for long.

Kathy Bacchus wrote in to tell us, “A lady’s morning at Jeddah Aquarium found me there. Vibrant, fresh and welcoming from the outside,we purchased our tickets with ease. Inside, I was struck  by the imagination and detail in my undersea exploration. The aquarium is vast with many shark, stingrays, starfish and all species identified and described carefully which I found very educational for all ages. The Dolphin show is a must!.On the day,there were School trips visiting  and school children giggling enjoying the show. All in all a very enjoyable visit and a delight to families”.

Expect to pay: SR 50 per person for entrance to the aquarium and SR 50 per person for the dolphin show.

Cafe Ceramique

Situated in Stars Avenue Mall, (by the entrance that goes up to the supermarket – thank you Soreya!) this delightful spot is a sure winner with kids of all ages. Children choose a clay object, from figurines to decorative plates, and then take their time to paint the piece, being as creative as they like. Once they’re done, you take the finished pieces to be glazed and set, and return after a week to pick up your masterpiece. The only problem is, your children might want to start all over again when they see how awesome their creation turns out. One 11 year old girl says, “I like Cafe Ceramique because it’s fun to pick out what you want to paint and then you get to keep what you’ve made”.

Parents can also have a go at practicing their artistic skills. Snacks and drinks can be ordered while painting.

Expect to pay: SR 30-100 per clay piece depending on the size.

Stationery Fantasy

Particularly popular with younger children, Stationery Fantasy on Prince Sultan Street, next to GNP Hospital offers a range of activities kids can indulge in from cooking to arts and crafts, the sandbox, dress-up and a large ball pit. You buy tickets from the counter for your choice of activity and then send the children into the activity room while you sit and watch them through large glass windows. The children are generally well-supervised by staff. Snacks and drinks are available for purchase. Stationery Fantasy also caters to birthday parties. “I like going to Stationery Fantasy because they have lots of nice games which are a lot of fun, especially the ball pit. I like the snacks too”, says a very active 9 year old boy.

Expect to pay: SR 7-45 per activity. The sandpit is SR7 each, the cooking class SR15 and the carpentry section is around SR 45.

Sail Island

Now that the weather is warming up, it is the perfect time to take your young ones to Sail Island. Located on the Corniche (you can’t miss the huge white sails atop the venue), children have a blast swimming in the pools and playing in the sandy playground. The restaurant is set up overlooking the sea and in our opinion, it’s one of the best places to view the sunset from. The best part is that the entrance tickets can be redeemed at the restaurant for meals. The grilled hammour is particularly delicious and cooked to perfection. One boy we asked said, “they have a big area to swim in with fun sprinklers and the beach-side sandy playground.”

Expect to pay: SR 60 per adult and SR 40 per child.

In10So

If your children are in the older age category, then you might want to introduce them to In10so (pronounced Intenso, aimed at kids over 10 years). This gaming area can be found on the third floor of Serafi Mega Mall, on the opposite side of Moon Toon, and also in Red Sea Mall. It’s a great place for teens to hang out decked out with a snooker table, Playstation and Xbox games, and racing/ go-carting. They also have a wide range of challenging arcade games and a bowling area. The latest pop music plays in the background and there’s even a hangout spot with sofas and lights for the teens to chill and chat. There’s also a snack bar with snacks and beverages. One young teen says, “I like it because it’s a good alternative for older siblings to hang out instead of going to Moon Toon which is more for younger kids.”

Expect to pay: SR 50-100 depending on the number of activities chosen.

For more kids’ stuff, click here.

The Perfect Cup of Tea at Teayana


Teayana has been a firm favourite of mine for years. Their Belgian Waffles, Chocofruit Mana’eesh (with lashings of Nutella), Apple Strudel (sadly discontinued) and Golden Assam Tea can lift my family’s mood on any given evening. Their breakfasts are yummy too, and will totally need a blog post of their own. For this week’s review, however, our adventurous Zareen Muzaffar visits Teayana and bravely experiments with some new and exotic blends of tea.

For all tea lovers out there, I have some good news for you. The Teayana tea lounge is the place to be if you want to try out different kinds of tea flavours. I tried Teayana’s Spicy Tea Latte and although the blend was too spicy for me, the overall experience was good and I promised myself to try the simple Tea Latte on my next visit.

Teayana Spiced Chai Latte Jeddah Saudi Arabia

Teayana Spiced Chai Latte.

My friends ordered the Relaxation Tea and Digestion Tea. Digesting tea is a  classic combination of multiple herbs which act to calm the nerves and settle the digestive system. Ingredients include Chamomile flowers, peppermint, fennel and anise seed. After being infused, it is light yellow with a taste of mild minty anise sweetness. It may be enjoyed plain at any time of the day, but best drunk after meals. Relaxation tea includes fine cut organic rooibos herb with leaves of strawberry, lemon, nettle, fennel and a few orange peels. The taste is extremely mellow and calming.

Teayana’s food menu boasts of paninis, sandwiches, man’eesh, and desserts include their all-time favourite carrot cake, waffles, crêpes and a bunch of other options.

We received our tea with a small attractive timer that made us feel tea is serious business. To get the best from your tea, the correct amount of time must be allowed in order to diffuse the flavours, which enhances the taste and effects intended. We were asked to give approximately five minutes before trying the healthy blends of tea. The aroma emanating from freshly brewed pots of tea is worth a visit, and the food is a cherry on the top. Although I was in the mood for tea during my visit, the coffee lover in me really wanted to try out the caramel latte.

The Awesome Tea Tower full of various tea leaves stored in colour-coded canisters, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

The Awesome Tea Tower full of various tea leaves stored in colour-coded canisters.

The bottom floor is home to the wide variety of tea that Teayana offers, and you can buy 100 grams of loose leaf tea for SR 100. But if you’d rather give some blend a try before purchasing a lot of it, then you can ask them to give you 50 grams instead. This would be a better option for those who are still experimenting with flavors to find their personal favourite. The tea tower on the main floor displays tea canisters that contain 150 tea types in three main colours making them easy to identify and choose from. Each colour represents a tea category, so the green represents green tea, the red canisters contain black tea and the orange containers hold Herbal tea.

Teayana Tea Sets on Display 2 Jeddah Saudi Arabia

Exquisite tea Sets for sale.

The varieties of tea include black, white and green tea, along with oolong and herbal tea leaves. The indicators of tea strength will allow you to determine how much you need depending on whether you are in the mood for something mild or strong. They also sell a beautiful assortment of elegant tea pots, cups, mugs and loose leaf jars. There are some gift baskets available too making the perfect gift for that special friend who loves tea and would love receiving a gorgeous tea set complete with a great blend of tea.

Teayana Tea Sets on Display Jeddah Saudi Arabia

Perk up your daily sip of tea with these elegant Teayana Tea Sets.

I just hope the Teayana management can hire more staff members because the orders take too long to arrive, and I saw only two waiters rushing all over the place trying their best to serve everyone in a timely manner. The good news is that Teayana now offers delivery of certain food items from various locations. Details available on their website.

Teayana has three branches in Jeddah:

– Teayana Hamra, 
Andalus street, Planet food Mall
02-668 1660
– Teayana Khaldiyah,
 
Rawdah Street, Lines Mall
02-606 2646
– Teayana Redsea Mall, 

Malek Road, Redsea Mall, Gate #9
02-215 0620

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Fayfa Garden Centre


If there is one thing I truly miss in Jeddah, it’s the greenery. Plants, whether flowering or otherwise, tend to lift my mood and brighten the surroundings. The presence of plants in our homes have many benefits, from providing us with much-needed oxygen to purifying air and balancing indoor humidity. But where does one go in Jeddah to look for house or garden plants? Zareen Muzaffar visits the Fayfa Garden Centre in her hunt for some beautiful shrubs, but ends up finding much, much more.

Patio Sets at Fayfa Garden Centre, Tahlia Street, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Patio Sets

Are you looking for some fresh plants for your home? Or perhaps some easy-to-manage artificials that look like fresh plants? Interested in turfing or landscaping, but not sure where to go? Not to worry. You will find all sorts of green beauties nestled in Fayfa, located on Tahlia Street in Jeddah. This awesome garden and gift centre is home to a variety of plants, flowers and decorative items for your garden, as well as beautiful patio sets.

Garden paraphernalia at Fayfa Garden Centre, Tahlia Street, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Garden Paraphernalia

Two whole floors at Fayfa are dedicated to all the paraphernalia that truly belongs in your garden or patio. With a wide range of colours and designs available, you can match your patio set with the perfect plants and decorations with ease. You will even find a range of fragrant and fragrance-free candles tucked into the corner when you enter the store. One beautiful item that caught my eye was an ornate wooden cart that one can place either in a garden or inside one’s home.

Wooden Cart at Fayfa Garden Centre, Tahlia Street, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Wooden Cart

The store’s back doors lead to a surprisingly pleasant area that is home to a variety of animals. Decorated with different rides for children and a small cafeteria, the walkway leads to a small zoo that your children will love. You will also find fresh flowers, plant pots, soil and seeds in this open area.

How about a lively cockatoo?

How about a lively cockatoo?

For those whose children love animals and are looking for the perfect pet to adopt into their family, Fayfa also has an enclosed pet center very close to the zoo where you will find beautiful parrots, cats, puppies and fishes for sale. Not to forget some friendly monkeys and if you’re brave enough, completely coiled snakes. You can visit the Vet clinics too once you’ve taken your new pet home.

Animal Cages at Fayfa Garden Centre, Tahlia Street, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Pets looking for a loving home

Whether you are new in Jeddah or an old resident, Fayfa has a lot to offer for those looking to spruce up their house or garden. And a nice spot for those looking for a pet as well.

For more information please call 02-6695669

A review of ‘Head Over Heels in Saudi Arabia’


Many of us heard via social media about the play Head Over Heels in Saudi Arabia being performed at the Effat University. Our very own Anousha Vakani was lucky to win tickets and attend the performance. She pens down her thoughts and reviews Head Over Heels in Saudi Arabia exclusively for Jeddah Blog.

Head Over Heels in Saudi Arabia – a satirical look at the lives of Saudi women.

When I first heard about Maisah Sobaihi’s solo performance Head Over Heels in Saudi Arabia over a year ago, I was just as surprised as everyone else to hear that such live entertainment exists here for, and most importantly BY women. I was looking forward to attending the October 2012 performance and luckily enough none of my expectations were disappointed as the play was every bit as witty and poignant as previous reviews and promos promised.

Also worth mentioning is that I happened to win one out of three giveaway tickets from Alaa Balkhy’s blog, so a shout-out of appreciation is due to Alaa Balkhy, her blog and her designs at Fyunka for being the cherry on top of a wonderful evening.

October 2012 introduced the first ever Arabic performance of Head Over Heels in Saudi Arabia. However, as I don’t speak Arabic, I attended the English performance at Effat University on the 9th of October. The English performance was peppered with just the right amount of Arabic words and phrases to add to the hilarity and Arab flavour of the play.

Head Over Heels in Saudi Arabia is a satirical performance based on the private lives of Saudi women. As if pulling off a show that dances with almost dangerous grace around such a theme isn’t an extraordinary feat on its own, Maisah Sobaihi also plays the role of writer, director and sole actor of her performance. This one-woman show is the perfect blend between a play and stand-up comedy, and Ms. Sobaihi switches with fluid ease from playing the different characters and narrating the scenes unfolding before her audience.

Maisah Sobaihi captivating on stage.

The curtain rises to the sound of music and a striking first impression as the stage is divided into three sets, each designed as per the classic Arabian tastes of colour and lavishness. Dressed in red and black, Maisah Sobaihi begins her performance with an introduction on how she “fell in love in Saudi Arabia” against all odds. Right from the very beginning Ms. Sobaihi is engaged in a conversation with her audience; an audience that relates to her story and to the stories of Maryam and Laylah.

She introduces the character of Maryam as a wife and mother of two who finds out through the grapevine that her husband has taken a second wife. Ms. Sobaihi then takes over the plush seats of the central set and as Maryam, has a rather comic conversation with her husband who hints at an interest in taking a second wife. She initially laughs off his ridiculous reasoning of being overcome with a sense of social responsibility towards the single and divorced women of Saudi society. She retorts that if he has indeed been “struck by the cupid of social responsibility” there are a number of projects he can undertake instead, cleaning up the litter on the Corniche being only one of her many spirited suggestions.

A superb performance by Ms. Sobaihi.

Maryam’s husband then has an official wedding and Ms. Sobaihi attends it as Maryam’s spy but due to the characteristically loud music of Saudi weddings can’t understand whether wife number two is “a teacher or a preacher.”

In keeping with the light-hearted mood of the play, Maryam’s outbursts of rage combined with her incredible wit are comical for the most part, but a hush resonates in the audience as her husband’s betrayal becomes more apparent and they watch her heart break on stage.

Laylah, who is introduced in-between Maryam’s story and Ms. Sobaihi’s riveting commentary on the social issues unfolding before us, is also a mother but a divorcee of seven years. Laylah is a loud and lovable personality, and while she has a job and comes off as generally independent, she admits to being lonely. When Laylah takes the stage she is casually lounging on a chair smoking hookah and trying to convince Ms. Sobaihi to dive into a Misyar marriage. The audience is drawn into a hilarious one-sided banter as Laylah counters every one of Ms. Sobaihi’s arguments against Misyar marriages.

Ms. Sobaihi then moves to the center of the stage to comment on the conversation that has just taken place. She explains that after her divorce, her friends and family tried to convince her to remarry, but she remained convinced that ‘you can’t hurry love’.  At this point she breaks out into a song and invites the audience to join in.

Apart from love, marriage and conventionality, Ms. Sobaihi touches lightly on other issues including transportation. She portrays the dependency of Saudi women on their drivers as she calls Mohammad at three in the morning overcome by a sweet-tooth craving for chocolates from Danube.

She also talks about the Saudi obsession with gossip, retorting through Maryam that in this society people go out of their way to “make sure you know exactly what you don’t want to know.”

The stories of Maryam and Laylah take pretty predictable turns but the combination of Ms. Sobaihi’s flawless acting and commentary make for an overall touching and perceptive performance. Right before curtain fall, Ms. Sobaihi returns to the topic of the love of her own life and brings in a surprise which makes for a perfectly appropriate ending.

Head Over Heels in Saudi Arabia is a comical insight and a very artistic representation of social issues pertaining to Saudi society and a definite must-watch. If you happened to miss it this October stay tuned to Maisah Sobaihi’s official website, Facebook and Twitter pages for updates on upcoming performances.

Treasure Hunting at Hamed Carpets


A feeling of elation, a rush of excitement. Discovering a hidden treasure evokes such feelings as these, and this is exactly what I feel every time I walk into a little hidden gem of a shop called Hamed Carpets.

Hamed 1    Hamedcarpets2

The wondrous store is jam-packed with exotic souvenirs and handicrafts from Saudi Arabia and all over the world, and for those who have already experienced the disappointment in finding keepsakes for loved ones from Jeddah, this treasure trove is the perfect place to hunt.

Hamed 4  hamedcarpets4 hamedcarpets3

From antique locks to intricate trinket boxes, beautifully carved antique furniture and handmade rugs to glittering baubles, Hamed Carpets has all one could wish for, and more. There is even a gorgeous traditional wooden swing begging to be bought and lovingly displayed in one’s home.

So, next time you would like to aesthetically treat yourself, or purchase some pre-vacation souvenirs, or simply browse away while time flies past, head to Hamed Carpets tucked away on the top floor of the City Plaza (also known as the Dome Plaza) on Prince Sultan Street, and indulge to your heart’s content.

– Sabaa Ali

The Business Lunch Challenge


Many restaurants in the city are promoting Business Lunch deals, targeted at working people, presumably as ideal venues for casual business meetings. The lunches are usually a set number of options one can choose from at a fixed price, usually including a salad, a main course and a drink.

Jeddah Blog decided to try out 3 such restaurants, but to put them to their ultimate test, took along three tough customers; children aged 8 years to 12 years, in order to find out if these deals would be equally applicable to families. We then rated the restaurants out of 10. We would like to add here that the reviews were undertaken anonymously in order to gain the most objective results. None of the three restaurants were aware that they were serving Jeddah Blog that day.

Read more…

Ms. Q. goes to Laylaty


Massages are always considered to be a luxurious treat. What few people know is that in the Far East, massages have in fact been used for generations as a medical therapy for illness. In the current day, we see spas and massage centers opening up, big and small, all around the world. Saudi Arabia, the land of sand, as well the biggest market for cosmetic sales, is not to be left behind. Women here are well-attuned to the latest releases and advancements in the beauty industry.

A woman will always welcome a massage which promises to take away all the aches and sores, and Ms. Q. is no different. She recently purchased a deal for a Hot Stone Massage from Cobone; a website for introducing city-specific deals. The massage was offered by Laylaty Beauty Centre, located in the Khalidiyya District of Jeddah.

Read more…

The Entertainer KSA


A great deal is always irresistable, and we at Jeddah Blog are very excited to share our latest find with you. The Entertainer KSA has arrived. The amazing people there sent us a copy, and we can’t wait to share it with our readers!

What is The Entertainer?

The Entertainer is a coupon book which has just been launched in Saudi Arabia. They started out in Dubai in 2001 and now have 14 books in the GCC and Cyprus. The Entertainer provides buy one get one free vouchers at restaurants and other venues throughout Riyadh, Jeddah and the Eastern Province. The book aims to make eating out, family activities, beauty and travel more affordable.

The current book lasts until the end of 2012 and offers buy one get one free discounts at the most popular eateries and destinations in Saudi Arabia. In Jeddah, the book includes The Pizza Company, Vapiano, Maggiano’s, Burger King, Cinnabon, Helen’s Kitchen, Marble Slab, Fitness First, Gold’s Gym and a number of beauty salons as well as hostel accommodations across the Middle East and Asia. I even spied Paintball coupons at first glance. In total there are over 500 buy one get one free vouchers in the KSA book.

What does it cost?

The book costs SR 250, but with hundreds of buy one get one free coupons you can make the cost of the book back many times over! Furthermore, if you buy online you can get a 10% discount. How amazing is that?

Where can I get my hands on a copy?

The books are available at Jarir Bookstores and at the Virgin Megastore However, if you’d like an additional 10% discount, purchase your copy online here or visit their Facebook page for more information.

How can I get some coupons for free?

As deliciously tempting as these coupons are, as a token of our gratitude to you all for supporting our blog, we will be giving lots of them away. Our very first giveaway is a buy one get one free vouchers for Pasta Caldo in the Red Sea Mall, entitling the holder to one complimentary main course when a main course of equal or great value is purchased. We have 3 vouchers, and thus will pick 3 lucky winners! To win your coupon, simply leave a comment on this post describing our blog in 3 words. Don’t forget to leave your email address so we can get in touch.

Please note: if we can’t find a convenient way to get your free voucher to you, you may need to organize pick-up of your voucher at a fixed location in Jeddah.

Lastly, to avoid any disappointment we advise you to call the establishment before going in to claim your voucher.

Good luck !

Papaya: A Tropical Breakfast Experience


Regular Jeddah Blog reader Amreen Najmi visited Papaya Restaurant and sent us her review. Amreen grew up and went to school in Jeddah, leaving to pursue her higher education from London and Pakistan. She obtained her Masters in English Literature and also studied Professional Photography and Film Making. These days, she is working as an English and Photography Instructor in the Millenium Institute for Technology and Management (MITM). She is also working on scripts for a play and a documentary.

Author and journalist John Gunther once said, "All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast". Thus, when one morning, two of my colleagues and I were having a particularly slow start to the day, we latched on to the notion of going out for breakfast. One of my friends suggested Papaya, and I not having heard of this eatery before, immediately opted to give it a try.

The restaurant was a beautiful place behind Sawary Mall adjacent to ‘Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf’.  As soon as I set foot out of the car, I knew that no matter how the food tasted, I was sure to enjoy the atmosphere. As we passed through a narrow corridor to reach the gate of the restaurant, I could see beautiful plants and banana trees covering the walls. There was a small lounge with very artistic benches and lamps. As I entered the restaurant, I felt as if I were in a greenhouse, surrounded and filled with exotic plants and trees. The roof was made of glass and I am quite sure the effect would be enchanting on a rainy day.

 
   

The interior was spectacular with very comfortable chairs and lovely plants and waterfalls. The sound of the birds chirping made us feel as if we were seated in a tropical forest. Since we reached there at 9:30 in the morning, the restaurant was practically empty. But as time passed, people began to pour in; mostly ladies and students with their teachers.

Soon after, our waiter brought us the menus, and I was pleasantly surprised to see very reasonable prices. We ordered steak and eggs with hash browns, french toast, a cheddar cheese omelette, manaeesh and a chocolate mousse dome. For beverages, we ordered coffee, hot chocolate, and pacific paradise instead of coconut. I asked the waiter to add strawberries.

Our food was served within 15 minutes. The waiters were well-trained and very polite, and I was very pleased with my order. Extra bread and butter was served. Although the steak would have tasted better with some extra sauce but with a little sprinkle of salt and pepper it was delicious.  My co-workers were wearing a very satisfactory look on their faces, and everybody was delighted with their food.

The average cost of the breakfast was SR 35, or SR 65, depending on the order. Lunch or dinner, however, may cost up to SR 60 – 80.

I will definitely go there again, maybe for lunch or coffee. If you want to enjoy a lazy day or simply have fun with your family or friends do visit Papaya. I would really recommend going there during the day-time in order to truly appreciate the ambience.

If you would like to submit a review to be published on Jeddah Blog, email us at team.jeddah.blog@gmail.com

Yogette


It’s the start of a brand new working week, and we present to you a review of recently opened Yogette sent in to us by Shamama, a fellow blogger and keen follower of Jeddah Blog. Shamama is an LSE graduate and has been teaching business related courses at various institutes of higher education for the past seven years. She is a long-time resident of Jeddah. Shamama says, “I’m really happy to be a part of the Jeddah Blog community. The updates on events are really interesting.”

Yogette is one of the latest frozen yoghurt cafes to make an appearance in Jeddah and Shamama was one of the first to visit the cafe and report back.

We were at Park Hyatt to see the Edge of Arabia art exhibition and decided to drop by Yogette, which is having their soft opening these days. Yogette emphasises that it uses all natural non-fat yoghurt. We decided to order a mango flavoured fro-yo but were told that they’d just run out, so went we went for plain fro-yo, with a topping of fresh raspberries, blueberries, and chunks of Cadbury’s Flake. (I will always associate Flake with ice cream, I’ve had my fair share of soft ice cream with a stick of Flake in London).


The fro-yo was just the right consistency, and not too sweet. The fresh fruit and chocolate added an interesting addition to texture and flavour. You are free to choose your own toppings. The number of toppings depends on the size of the fro-yo; the smallest size has four toppings to go with it. There are nuts, chocolates, and my favourite fresh berries and fruit to choose from. It is rare to find fresh raspberries or even blueberries, or blackberries here.

I ordered a blueberry flavoured bubble tea, and my Mum ordered a pineapple flavoured bubble tea. We were later informed that they had run out of pineapple. So we replaced it with kiwi flavoured bubble tea which was thankfully available.


The Blueberry Bubble Tea

We chose to sit outside as there was a wonderful breeze blowing, and the Jeddah Marina looked particularly serene from the terrace. The décor inside was white with a splash of neon colours and interactive tabletops. Seems like a tech-savvy teenager’s dream.


The Kiwi Bubble Tea

The bubble tea arrived. Mine was garnished with a blueberry and Mum’s with slice of kiwi respectively.  Bubble teas are of Far East Asian origin and can be chosen from a choice of black or green tea and additional fruit flavours. It is a type of iced tea and the term ‘bubble’ refers to the tapioca pearl balls that are at the bottom of the drink, and which provide a chewy contrast to the sweetness and texture of the drink.

The drink was served accompanied by an oversized straw to enable the tapioca pearl balls to fit in your straw. The tapioca balls are soft and unexpectedly squishy and chewy. The tea was just the right sweetness and had a great fresh tangy flavour. I suggest that everyone try Yogette’s bubble tea at least once, as it is a new experience when it comes to drinks in Jeddah, but you may want to wait until their soft opening is over, in order to be able to enjoy the full variety of flavours.

– Sabaa Ali

Helen’s Kitchen


Helen's
When I read rave reviews about Helen’s Kitchen on Jeddah Food I was curious to find out if it was worth all the hype. The bakery is open at regular times and is a small outlet which can easily be overlooked at the intersection of Kayyal Street and Prince Sultan Street if one does not look out for it.

When we stepped inside, the atmosphere was immediately homely and cosy. The bakery items on display did indeed look delicious but we wondered if they would taste just as good. We ordered the chocolate cake, a muffin and a tropical cake to take away, and while settling the bill took a look at the seating area inside. It really was unique. Whereas most food courts at malls are noisy and impersonal, here was a place to sit down where one might believe he or she was eating at Helen’s own home. Every detail had been paid attention to down to the decorations on the wall and the magazines on display.

Once we were home, we unpacked the goodies and I’m pleased to announce that they were some of the best cakes I’d tasted in Jeddah. They were sweet without being overpowering with a truly homemade feel. We will definitely be stopping by Helen’s Kitchen for more.

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