Who needs to fly to London, Paris, and Hongkong on a gastronomic journey when all of the world’s top chefs and restaurants are already here in Riyadh? Yes, it’s made possible by the first-of-its-kind food festival in the city, Taste of the World Riyadh!
Taste of the World Riyadh is a six-day gastronomic celebration that showcases Michelin-starred chefs and famous chefs, their restaurants, and their incredible dishes. The event also presents Saudi Arabia’s most exciting culinary talents and offers delicious food tastings, live demonstrations, private dining experiences, live music and more. It opened yesterday and will go on until November 2, 2019 at the Riyadh Digital City.
Before the event, The Pink Tarha was tasked with a challenge to make a dish out of 5 ingredients they sent us. This made Reina’s dreams of joining a cooking show come true. While it’s not a contest, she gave it her best and made a Tuna Wrap with Sweet Potato Puree. It’s delicious! (I’m not being biased, haha.) It was an exciting time and definitely a nice prelude to the event we attended last night.
The Taste of the World Riyadh opened with a mocktail reception at the VIP area followed by nice introductions of some of the chefs featured in the event. Upon arriving, Reina and I went around the restaurants immediately. It was a huge venue and the booths are scattered in both ends of the area (you’ll be hungry when you reach one end which is perfect because good food awaits!). In the middle is a fire pit where the live demos were done, and where the smoke of lamb and chicken being grilled emanated. We got hungrier by the minute.
We first visited Arcane Restaurant and we met Chef Shane Osborn. OMG Reina couldn’t contain her happiness! She’s a huge fan of the Michelin-starred chef and participant in the Netflix show, The Final Table. We had fun talking to him. We also met Chef Denny Imbroisi, Chef Pascal Aussignac, Chef Simon Rogan, Chef Francesco Mazzei, and Chef Greg Baxtrom.
There are 13 restaurants participating in the event namely Arcane, Club Gascon, Elystan Street, Flesh and Buns, IDA, Maison Yaki, Olmsted, Paul Ainsworth at No. 6, Restaurant Sylvestre Wahid Hotel Thoumiex, Ritage, Roganic, Sartoria, Tom’s Kitchen, and Zelman Meats.
We were able to try one dish from almost all the restaurants with the help of our event bracelet, which makes the event one of the first cashless events in Riyadh. We just top up the card with one of the friendly and helpful guides roaming around the venue. Each restaurant has a 3-dish menu exclusively created for the Taste of the World Riyadh. The dishes are taster-sized portions that allowed us to try a range of the world’s best cuisine all in one place!
So for now, we present to you the TOP 5 dishes we tried in the Taste of the World Riyadh! Reina and I sampled 10 dishes and we want to try more! All dishes are of course worth it but for the purpose of our Top 5 series, we select the best 5 in terms of taste. Yup, we’re basing this list purely on taste.
1. Truffle Pudding (ROGANIC)
The layers of pastry, truffle and caramelized mushrooms were a match made in flavor heaven. When I tasted it, it made me remember the feeling of how a friend hugs you so tight after getting your heart broken: so good and comforting.
2. Linguine, Basil, King Prawns and Caviar (IDA)
Intricate, lavish but underneath, it’s true to taste. The most striking experience of this plate was how they have highlighted the piquancy of the prawn through the sauce of the pasta. The caviar on top complemented the composition of the dish very well.
3. Foie Gras Flan, Lemon and Chocolate (CLUB GASCON)
Foie Gras is considered to be an extravagant French delicacy. The addition of cacao to this buttery dish elevated its taste in a way that it grew on us with every bite. We were craving to eat it with some bread though as it would have seem perfect to do so.
4. Hamachi Carpaccio with Dried Apricot and Fennel Salad (ARCANE)
At first glance, we could see how the fish was skillfully sliced in this dish, along with the finely shaven fennel. For the taste, it had a hint of freshness and tanginess about it that made for a light yet satisfying mouthful.
5. Crispy Confit Brisket, Beef Fat Mashed Potatoes (ZELMAN MEATS)
Once we bit into the “ball of brisket”, the smokiness of the beef was immediately evident. We then learned that the meat inside took 8-10 hours in a slow roaster before finally being breaded and deep-fried to perfection. It may look like a small dish, but it was a heavy and hearty one.
Apart from the food, Taste of the World Riyadh also featured mocktails named after some iconic locations in Saudi Arabia like Red Sea, Al Lith, Soudah, and more. These mocktails are SR 20 each.
Get your tickets here: https://tasteoftheworldriyadh.com/tickets/
The General Admission ticket (SR 125) gives to access to the festival and credit for 2 restaurant dishes while the VIP ticket (SR 275) gives you a fast track entry to the festival, access to the Taste VIP Lounge, a mocktail on arrival and credit for 3 restaurant dishes.
You can also exclusively dine at The Taste Residence, a unique and exclusive private dining experience where guests can enjoy a 4-course tasting menu from one of the world’s best chefs. It costs SR 300 and is only available as an upgrade for VIP ticket holders.
Taste of the World Riyadh is part of the Riyadh Season. It is truly a one-of-kind experience! You should not miss this!
Taste of the World Riyadh
Digital City, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
October 28 – November 2, 2019
IG and Twitter: @totw_riyadh