Chinese restaurants in Riyadh are numerous but most of them are under the same group. That’s not necessarily an unusual thing but it also makes choices a bit limited. When you go into one restaurant, you immediately assume that the rest of their sister restaurants are more or less the same. This is probably the reason why we haven’t written a lot about most of the Chinese restaurants in Riyadh even though they’re considered as institutions. A few years ago, we visited Mirage Restaurant and while the ambiance is unique and fancy, my father didn’t like their dishes (and he’s a big fan of Chinese food!) and so every time we suggest any of Mirage’s sister restaurants like Gulf Royale or Diamond, he hesitates and suggests something else. We did try and wrote about Le Chateau when it opened in 2013. It was grand and fancy and flamboyant. It made our eyes sore from looking at different colored lights and sparkles. The food is okay and that’s not a great thing because the food is expensive! If we pay for such prices, we expect an out-of-this-world gustatory experience; not an out-of-this-world decor only.
Anyway, my husband and I were at Localizer and we were hungry (what, we’re always hungry! lol). We decided to set foot in Diamond Restaurant, even though I had my doubts. You know, fancy venue, so-so food. I was impressed with the darkly glamorous and eccentric interiors of the place. The restaurant is spacious yet intimate; it has booths by the glass window overlooking Tahlia Street where 2-4 persons can take refuge and small round huts for bigger groups of people. It also has an open area that welcomes guests upon alighting from the elevator and walking through a crazy lit hallway to be greeted by a samurai bust, or something like that. The waiters are friendly and attentive. We picked the booth because there’s just two of us. It takes some time to get used to the dim lighting and as a blogger, I hate it because I can’t take good photos of my food. Hahaha!
Diamond Restaurant has a massive menu with an array of Chinese cuisine classics with contemporary twists and fusions. It won’t be a Chinese restaurant if it didn’t have pages and pages of menu complete with photos! Apart from the Chinese dishes, they also have sushi and maki rolls along with some Indian dishes. Most of them are priced above SR 60. They serve prawn crackers with sweet and spicy dips while waiting and they’re one of the highlight of a meal in this restaurant, haha. We asked for a refill.
I ordered the Spicy Maki Roll while my husband went for the Shrimp Chowder. The former came in a long rectangular plate, all doused with hot sauce and without soy sauce. I asked the waiter for soy sauce and wasabi and he looked at me like it was the first time he heard of such combination. He insisted to bring me the sweet chili sauce and I asked, “WHY?!” Hahaha! Seriously, I had to explain to him that soy and wasabi go hand-in-hand with sushi. Kuya naman (oh brother!).
The Shrimp Chowder is not good. Yes, it’s that simple. It’s a bit salty, doesn’t have substance and watery. We should have ordered the soup with truffle. The maki roll is okay; a bit too spicy for my liking because the taste of the maki got lost amid the hot sauce already. I left three pieces on the plate, even if I knew I was wasting food. I just couldn’t finish something with hot sauce flavor. Don’t get me wrong, I like spicy food but this just overwhelmed my taste buds.
The Steamed Mix Dumplings came next and they were all right. Not sure what I got though but I’m pretty sure there was a meat dumpling and a vegetable dumpling somewhere. We loved the sauce that came with it. When it comes to food, bring out the sauces and condiments and we Filipinos will be happy with any thing! Haha!
Our main dish is the Crispy Duck and the Garlic Fried Rice. My husband loves fried duck and we’ve tried the ones in Peking Restaurant and Riyadh Chinese Restaurant. He’s on the lookout for the best so we have to try the duck at Diamond. It ranked lower in taste and texture than the two. Why? It was dry and extra chewy. The serving of duck in our plate didn’t have a layer of fat on it. I wasn’t sure if the duck was well-browned (uhmn because of the lighting). Ducks are supposedly almost chewy but this one is CHEWY all right I had to chew rigorously for its lean meat to disintegrate in my mouth. The garlic rice went well with the duck though and that one we enjoyed even though it’s not the rice in used in most Chinese fried rice. This one used native ingredients and it lent its local flavor to it.
You might wonder where the dessert is. We don’t order desserts in Chinese restaurants; they’re not as appetizing to me as desserts in other cuisines. Every thing had a scoop of ice cream to it, haha. Although Diamond has cakes and sweet pastries.
A few weeks ago, I was with a group of friends and we were taken to Diamond for a treat. The only dish that was remarkable was this huge fried fish that came like a sculptured skeleton in a big plate. The sauce was separated from the fish, although it’s really meant to be poured. We were all scared that it will turn the fish mushy. It was crispy and great for sharing. However, the sauce wasn’t salty or spicy enough. Whatever flavor it was supposed to give the fish, I was at lost as to what it should be.
We might have ordered the lackluster dishes in their menu. I have no doubt that I will be back to try what other diners are raving about: the Shrimp Balls, Fried Honey Beef, Oven Baked Fish Masala and Teppanyaki. Anyway, we can’t deny the fancy vibes that Diamond has. It’s luxurious and it’s sprawling area is good for groups celebrating special occasions. The price is a bit high but nothing compared to its sister restaurant Le Chateau. For some Chinese food cravings, their refinement of these classic dishes are noteworthy.
Diamond Chinese Restaurant
Localizer Mall, Tahlia Street,
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Operating Hours: 1:00 PM to 12:00 AM