Qatar Eating was recently invited to attend an evening of shellfish deliciousness at Sheraton’s new seafood restaurant Al Maskar. Seafood dishes are an integral part of the Doha food culture and Al Maskar, with its variety of molluscs and crustaceans, is perfect for seafood lovers and those looking for a special dining experience.
2017 UPDATE: Please note that this outlet is now closed for renovation, and will reopen as a branch of Nusr-et Steakhouse.
I headed along to the Sheraton on a Monday night to try out their new Shellfish Market extravaganza. The evening was conceptualised as fine dining wrapped up in a fresh seafood buffet, with Chef Liju describing the theme as ‘a buffet of vibrant seafood salads, with the main course and dessert served at the table’.
The design of the dining room at Al Maskar follows the seafaring theme with vintage prints, blue pops of colour and oceanic artefacts displayed on the walls. The seating arrangements are comfortably casual, with a mix of blue dining chairs and white couches. The outside terrace was stunning in the evening balmy weather – a real hidden gem.
The Al Maskar ship takes pride of place at the entrance and was a perfect spot to display the starter buffet. It should be noted that the evening was a small taster of what to expect at the Shellfish Market – so the variety and layout of the buffet will be more extensive in the future.
The seafood buffet showcased a variety of cold starters and salads, including a ‘Be Your Own Chef’ Caesar Salad Making Corner with shrimps and parmesan cheese. The Octopus Salad with olive oil and balsamic dressing was stunningly vibrant, both in flavour and looks. The shaves of asparagus, radish, fennel and bell pepper added crisp, fresh notes to a well-seasoned dish.
The Lobster Tabbouleh had all the zesty flavours one expects from tabbouleh with the added bonus of cooked lobster. The Tuna Nicoise salad was beautifully composed with fresh chunks of tuna, crunchy vegetables, whilst tangy olives and soft boiled eggs added texture. I really appreciated that it was a salad with actual depth of flavour and substance as this type of salad is usually full of green leaves which can be underwhelming.
Ice was a predominant element of the buffet acting as a shrewd way to highlight the food and keep it cold at the same time. The traditional fishing technique known as al maskar (after which the restaurant is named) was referenced in the shrimp display. Cocktail sauce was available for the shrimps, as well as garlic aioli, salsa verde, tartare sauce, and wasabi mayonnaise. All these sauces have the right levels of tangy, sharp flavour that is needed when enjoying cooked shrimps, and I particularly enjoyed the cocktail sauce and wasabi mayonnaise.
Thanks to Chef Liju and his team diners enjoyed fresh, firm oysters that gave a hit of crisp, salty sea air. I savoured them with a mix of the vinegar sauces – the cucumber and shallots accentuated the salty favour and added further freshness. Jalapeno sauce and caviar was also available to dress the oysters and I couldn’t resist trying the caviar. Caviar = little pearls of oceanic goodness…yummy.
Fresh seafood is abundant in the region and you can try shellfish, local fish and international seafood at many of the dining establishments in Doha. At Al Maskar you can expect dishes that have been conceived with more care and precision, with accompanying dressings that highlight, rather than mask, the delicate fish and shellfish. The Lobster Tail had a zingy orange preparation with the subtle hint of coriander.
The Chefs are not afraid to play with techniques and they successfully bring a complexity of flavour by smoking, curing or marinating their proteins. Salmon is available both smoked and cured, with a spectacular home-made Gravlax marinated for 48 hours in a sugar/salt brine solution. The beautifully presented South American Ceviche was a refreshingly light dish with marinated hammour and mango in a lemon dressing. And the Tunata Tataki had perfectly seared tuna accompanied with wasabi mayo sauce.
The main course of Seafood Mixed Grill was brought directly to the table – straight off the grill and steaming hot. Hammour fillet nestled in between Grilled Lobster and Shrimps, with two dainty Scallops. The seafood was grilled to perfection and enjoyed with a delicious buttery sauce.
Dessert was a crispy, fried Banana Katsu, which really needed a caramel sauce to go with it. Cut Fruit of pineapple, melon and strawberries was served at the end, which was a lovely fresh ending to a rich meal of vibrant seafood.
Shellfish Market is on every Monday night at Sheraton’s Al Maskar from 7.00pm – 10.30pm.
Priced at QR 420 per person with soft drinks; or QR 550 per person with selected grapes, grains and beverages.
Call 4485 3000 to book or email F&[email protected]
Miss QE was a guest of Al Maskar Seafood Restaurant.