Have you ever had one of those evenings when nothing turns out as planned? That is the story of my Taste Test this week.
All had started well as I set off from Seeb with a friend to try out a new Italian restaurant that someone had mentioned in Oman Avenues Mall.
I’m very partial to pasta, as is my friend, so by the time we arrived at the mall we were in a frenzy at the thought of creamy carbonara or spaghetti and meatballs.
Then it all went wrong. First, we couldn’t find the restaurant. We trooped around, upstairs and downstairs, and no one seemed to have heard of it until a friendly mall cleaner directed us back to the ground floor. There it was, right next to the Information Desk (which we had also been unable to find). It was also closed, due to open shortly.
Time for Plan B. Luckily, on our travels around the mall we had spotted an Indian restaurant open on the second floor.
So it was up the escalator (again) resetting our taste buds to expect Indian rather than Italian for dinner. A friendly waiter, wearing a light-blue branded t-shirt with the words ‘A new way to eat Indian’ on the back, welcomed us into RazmAzaan, which bills itself as an urban Indian canteen (whatever that may be).
It turns out the restaurant had only opened two days before with a soft launch, but word seemed to have spread already as it was bustling.
I liked the huge open kitchen behind windows, enabling you to see the chefs, all of whom are from India, busy with service.
RazmAzaan is the brainchild of an Omani sportsman who wanted to offer authentic food that tastes home cooked. There are some nice touches, such as offering a discount on the next visit if plates are returned empty to avoid food wastage.
While it’s not high end, it’s definitely a cut above the usual mall food court eaterie.
For drinks, we went for a cucumber ginger tango and classic mojito before browsing the menu, which is extensive but not too excessive to scare you off. Great to also see options on the menu for gluten free, dairy free, vegan and heart healthy, not a common sight in Oman.
A mixed Indian platter, including onion bhajis and pakora, seemed a good start, followed by butter chicken with plain naan, malai kofta, and sikandari RazmAzaan raan, baby leg of lamb cooked in tandoor and a house special.
The sikandari was not available, a shame when it’s being promoted as one of the chef’s prides, and our waiter instead suggested the Tandoor “e” RazmAzaan, pickled wild sea bass, quail, prawns and lamb kebab, a dish neither my friend or I had heard of before.
What the waiter didn’t tell us is that this dish is actually a starter. It turned up with the mixed Indian platter. Confused, we ploughed on anyway. The drinks were late turning up, too, but proved to be excellent when they did, freshly made.
Our mixed platter was a bit dry and needed a dip to provide texture. But oh my, the dish we had never heard of, Tandoor “e”, turned out the best food of the night. It arrived to our table in a copper pot, with the meat and fish cooking on skewers from hot coals at the bottom. The fish and lamb were sublime, sweet and succulent and so tender, while the quail was a balance of delicate flavours. At RO8.5 for four or five skewers, it might be a little pricey for some. There was no sign of the butter naan that we ordered to go with it either.
In contrast, the butter chicken didn’t quite hit the same heights, being too sweet and heavy on the tomato, though the poultry was perfectly cooked.
Our malai kofta (gluten free), balls made of vegetable and cheese in a sauce of ground cashew nuts, got a thumbs up from both of us.
Our waiter – who kept going AWOL – mentioned desserts. We said give us “five” to let the main go down and he never came back. In fact, none of the waiting staff came near us. If someone had, the teacup phirni (rose-flavoured mousse with passionfruit pulp) or the homemade mango ice cream would have got the nod.
I feel that I have to be fair here and say that teething problems are only to be expected in the first few weeks of a restaurant opening (and this was only day three). There are clearly staffing issues to be sorted, but I am hopeful it will be smoothed out.
The main waiter, who brought the bill, did ask for our feedback and apologised, asking us to give them another try. I will, but not for at least a month or so.
So while we missed out on Italian food, we discovered an Indian restaurant that could, in time, be a bit of a gem. And that makes it a worthwhile trip in my eyes.
7 / 10 Service
7.5 / 10 Food
7 / 10 Ambience
Service hit-and-miss but decent food. Shows promise
2nd Floor, Oman Avenues Mall, Ghubra
Tel: +968 2450 3403
Dinner and drinks for two: RO24.88 (inc taxes)
Y Magazine reviews anonymously and pays for its meals