A new café offering Omani favourites with a twist is worth checking out – just as long as you like chips Oman, finds Kate Ginn
As I bit into the mini chicken burger with jalapeno and guacamole, there was an unexpected crunch and suddenly the inimitable taste of Chips Oman flooded my mouth.
Closer inspection of my little burger revealed a thin layer of finely crushed chips at the bottom. Welcome to Moza wa Khamis, a newcomer to the culinary scene, which opened its doors to the eating public in February and claims to be Muscat’s hippest Omani Fusion Cafe. This, as I found out, includes a liberal use of the Sultanate’s perennial favourite snack, Chips Oman, as a side and ingredient.
The founder of Moza wa Khamis, Yusra Jaffer, is referred to as the “mother” of the café and there is a homely feel as you walk through the door.
The décor is bright and airy with white-washed exposed stone walls, white tables and a wooden floor. Colourful cushions are scattered around the benches and white plastic chairs. According to a waitress, the café is based on cartoon characters shown in the Sultanate during the 1980s and these adorn the menus, tables and walls, while songs and episodes from the series are played.
It’s a clever idea to plug into this nostalgia and gives it an edge of fun.
Unfortunately when we turned up for a late lunch at 3pm on a Friday, the café was empty. The two waitresses and the guys in the open kitchen seemed pleased to see us. Perhaps they were getting a bit lonely.
To be fair, a colleague who has visited Moza wa Khamis several times tells me that it’s usually heaving with life in the evenings and during Sunday lunchtime, it was doing a good trade, too, apparently.
With two waitresses to our three guests, we were ushered in and menus presented without delay. I went for the saffron frappe to sip on while choosing the food and my fellow diners, FG and Miss C, opted for water. My frappe was served in a very cute jam jar-type glass with a handle and was excellent, refreshing and creamy with just a hint of saffron popping up on the tongue.
The menu was every bit as eclectic as I expected, taking dishes shared by Omanis over the years and updating them with modern touches, such as the prawn biryani with Chips Oman.
I liked the sound of Khamis in Frankfurt, a hotdog with…yes, you’ve guessed it, Chips Oman, but was tempted more by the mini burgers with the Mexican vibe. FG went for Khamis in Beirut, a falafel sandwich, while Miss C only had eyes for the Chicken Shawarma wrap. For a starter, we shared the “Alexandria” from the “Egg” section of the menu, which turned out to be an omelette stuffed with ful medames (mashed fava beans), not one of my favourites. I only had one mouthful but FG tucked in and pronounced it as “nice”.
All of our main dishes were served with a side of CO (Chips Oman) and bits of greenery. And all had the obligatory CO crunchy filling. Miss C said her shawarma was “okay”. I think a side of fries rather than CO would have elevated it in her estimation.
The falafel was crispy and reasonably tasty, although I seemed keener on it than anyone else.
At this point, it would have been good if other customers had turned up but alas we were still the only ones. It was a bit uncomfortable, especially as the waitresses were “hovering” around our table. Discreet serving is far more preferable.
The undisputed star of the show came at the end. Dessert was French toast with caramelised bananas and peanut butter on the side. Miss C and I made short work of it.
We would have lingered for a coffee, but the café was absolutely freezing (rather over enthusiastic air conditioning), not conducive to making you hang around for long. Perhaps that explained why the waitresses were fluttering around us so much – probably trying to keep warm. Of course, we could have asked for the air con to be turned down but it was time to head out.
A very nice touch was how the bill arrived, in a clay frankincense pot filled with old-school sweeties, toffee and bubble gum.
I will be back, but next time I’ll go in the evening and take a jacket.
7.5 /10 Food
6 /10 Ambience
Something different, but go in the evening
Moza wa Khamis
Best Western Premier Muscat, Way 3341, Dohat al Adab Street, Al Khuwair
Tel: +968 9380 0356
Opening Times: Sun-Weds 12noon-11pm, Thu-Sat 12noon-12 midnight
Lunch for three plus drinks: RO16.7