We’re located at Al Assalah Towers, Azaiba, Muscat. Call in at (+968) 2411-7596
Team Y tries out an eatery that bowls its trio over with bistro-like standards and unassuming charm.
The difference between a good restaurant and a great one goes beyond the food alone. The first impression – from when you walk inside for the first time, to the presentation of the menu and the friendliness of the staff – adds to the experience.
From that account alone, the moka&more outlet in Ghubra hits all the right notes; taking a deep-dyed approach to dining that we can’t quite fault. Although it’s set up in an unassuming corner of Al Assalah Towers, the eatery remains buzzing, even through the night.
Perhaps it’s the humble setting itself. Having an airy dining area decorated with décor you can buy (coffee beans, chocolates, and the like), and attentive staff that greet you upon arrival has its bonuses.
We (three) friends take our seats by the counter.
Each of us is soon presented with two menus – one for food and the other for drinks – and we quickly ask for servings of
a salmon and cream pasta, penne alfredo with chicken, and a steak and mushroom sandwich, alongside a glass of minted lemonade with ginger chiller and a mixed berry smoothie.
The drinks arrive first. We have it on good authority that the mixed berry smoothie is the best we’ve ever tasted in Oman. The freshness and texture of the yogurt base with the flavours of the berries make for a soothing treat after a long and hard day at work.
This goes for the lemonade too. The icy base and the freshly-squeezed lemon juice makes for an enjoyable drink with just a firm kick from the grated mint leaves.
Our food arrives a few moments later – all fresh from the pot with steam breaking away from the top layers of the pastas.
Full marks go to the chef for presentation. The neatly cut-up sandwich is parted in the middle by a bed of fresh veggies and mushrooms doused in fresh balsamic, and steak (which is more accurately a brisket) that’s filled up to the brim.
It’s hard to judge from our facial expressions alone and he throws us the cold shoulder to our request for a bite. Yet it turns out that the sandwich is up to mark.
“The meat is cooked perfectly and vegetables in the salad are fresh,” he says, before going on to talk about how the cheese complements the texture of the beef, and how it all comes to life inside the freshly-baked brown bread.
He claims it to be a brilliant sandwich although from the appearance alone, it can pass for a large sloppy joe. Tempting indeed.
Much of our mate’s talk can be wheedling to keep us off our pastas, though it doesn’t take long for us to dive into our orders. A few bites in, we realise that the pastas have a charm of their own.
Accompanying the dishes are two slices of fried brown bread, both crunchy on the outside but soft and fluffy on the inside.
With penne that’s cooked to perfection in white sauce, and garnished lightly with herbs, olive oil and condiments, the pasta – especially the mushroom and chicken one – shines through the lot.
The chicken is grilled but tender, and the smoky flavour from the meat emanates just enough through to the sauce to give it a touch of sophistication we’ve only seen in more elaborate pastas.
For RO3.4, though, it remains a steal.
However, this cannot be said about the salmon and cream pasta. While we thoroughly enjoy its flavoursome white-sauce base and soft penne, the salmon turns out to be a bit too salty for our liking.
For the most part, the dish is delectable but for the small slices of salmon, which we try to avoid.
It’s the only letdown of the night. In fact, we even give our chef the benefit of the doubt and continue with our supper.
After leaving our plates clean (and setting aside the salmon), we then turn our attention to pudding – the cheesecakes.
We ask for the remaining three cheesecakes on the counter – Lotus, strawberry, and blueberry ones – which are brought to us in mere minutes.
The cheesecakes turn out to be delightful despite being prepped earlier; though it’s the strawberry and raspberry ones that we take a shine towards. The cakes are easily the biggest we’ve had in a restaurant before.
They’re also among the best we’ve had in Oman – with soft and creamy cheese, flavoursome topping and crunchy base – and is second only to what we’ve had at the Paul restaurant before.
A little bird once told us that it’s wise to stay away from elaborate dishes at local cafes. But, with moka&more, we’re glad we set aside that advice. The folk here know how to throw a spread, and that alone is worth the dough we shell out.
Al Assalah Towers, Azaiba, Muscat
Opening hours: 7am to 11pm
Contact: (+968) 2411-7596
Dinner for three: RO24.2
A café-styled eatery rustling up scrummy dishes that give upmarket restaurants a run for their money.
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