A long time ago, I wanted to be a chef… This was back when I was in high-school and back when the fanciest thing I could cook was a cheeseburger!
Back then, the Image of a Omani Chef wasn’t what it is now….we didn’t have people like Chef Issa Al Lamki or any other celebrity chefs around. Local independent restauranteurs like Khalid Al Suwaid didn’t bring up the hospitality industry to the way it is now. Most importantly, we didn’t have a school like the National Hospitality Institute to go to!
Photo from the NHI facebook page
This is actually where I see the big change…..I see young Omanis working very hard in the hospitality industry at the major hotels, your shangrilas and bustan palaces are a great example!
I see a very good reason why that works very well…..think about it; Omanis are known throughout the Middle East as the most hospitable people around! no wonder it works so well!
Of course, I didn’t end up being a chef but I stuck with the love of food anyway! So this week I went to the place that I missed out on studying in to see the caliber of students that are there!
NHI has its own fully functional restaurant, The Classroom. The place is run by the students…you get served by apprentice waiters with food that came out of chefs to be! These young people will be your 5 star chefs at your premium hotels, whats really cool is that you will be getting the same quality of the hotel food for a fraction of the price! you get a 3 or 4 course meal for under 5 OMR!!!!
1 Photo found from a search on NHI
I put their food to the test with a few other people and here is what we had!
I started off with a lovely cream of pea soup.
What I really loved was the fact that I was looking through the open glass kitchen to see the student learning presentation as he was serving it to us, they went by the photo and it looked exactly like that….as for the taste, it was rich and well seasoned. pea soup’s usually suffer from being bland as it is a difficult mix to get….do it too much and it becomes salty, do too little and you hit the bland palate. The garlic croutons here made a big difference.
Next on the menu for me was the fish cakes with tomato sauce.
I was hesitant at first, fish is something I am particular with but I thought ‘if I want to feel comfortable recommending this place to someone, I better try the riskier options…if they are good then im good’.
I’m glad I did though,everyone else had the sweet and sour chicken with fried rice but I was the only one who had the fish! it was absolutely amazing and even though it was a tad on the spicy side…it just really hit the spot. the outer layer was crisp but a smooth and almost mushy inside. the sauce was overpowered by the well flavored fishcakes but I really didn’t mind. They were something that I would go back for!
A final hoora before I went back to the office was a creme brulee……I enjoy making and eating them!! when the work of beauty first came, I was hesitant as i felt the whole thing being warm, a crusty outer layer but a cool inner layer is what I have always seen, but after I bit into it I didn’t mind the different style. It wasn’t too sugary or too eggy. It was just right! the sugar at the top could have used some more caramelizing but if this came to me in another restaurant I would still be very happy with it!
My colleagues tried a few other things like the egg Florentine:
DSC_9826 The sweet and sour chicken with fried rice:
DSC_9829 DSC_9830And the apple crumble with custard sauce:
At the end of the meal, i thought to myself…..why on earth am I not here more often? Well that’s something ill fix, so come next week u’ll see me there! also, gentlemen….this is your cheat cheap date 😉 thank me later.
Actually my last flop at the A’saffa bbq competition provided me with the eye to spot an opportunity! Ill be taking a class with NHI in a couple of weeks and ill be writing about that soon so wish me luck! (well at least better luck than the bbq competition)
photo found on the NHI facebook page
PS: after writing all of this I found out that for every meal they serve, they will donate 10% to the Association for Early Intervention for kids with special needs