When we turned up at Eat Street today, on its first lunch shift since soft-opening last week, it was packed, and we were hard-pressed to find a table, and so slid into one of the booths that hadn't yet been cleaned after the last occupants left. Must have been kids here, I thought, when I saw the proliferation of dirty napkins on the seat. I was wrong. Grown-ups will get messy here, too, which, with street food, is a good thing, the proof in the pudding. Next time I go, I will ask for a kilo of tissue on arrival. And I will go again. Eat Street is awesome.

Usually, in Oman, 'international cuisine' either means a boring-ass buffet, or a roadside restaurant covering all its bases but not doing anything particularly well. Eat Street's underpinning street food concept lifts it above the dull, and the desperate. The menu is exciting and it makes sense - plus, it is a genius idea in that they will never want for new dishes. They have every street in every country from which to source inspiration. Their current lunch menu, we were told, is limited compared to the evening one. And already they've dipped into a whole load of disparate cultures and made it work. 

So what did we have? I refer to my notes, photos, and the stains on my face: the Chang-Mai coconut chicken burger, the Bondi burger, the Canadian poutine, the Ukrainian langos, the Spanish churros and the Parisian crepes. There are also a dozen or so 'pizzas' on offer - the inverted commas are for the Italian purists reading this - which boast toppings such as gnocchi, Caribbean salsa, and hummus. I don't know. Who can really say what is a pizza, and what is bread with things on top of it? I'm too full at the moment to proffer an opinion. I will say though, also for the purists, that the Canadian I lunched with proclaimed the poutine to be very tasty, but decidedly NOT poutine. It's a curd issue, apparently.

As for the rest, it was well-presented - in supercool surroundings and a buzzy atmosphere - and really, really tasty. My chicken burger was perfect - succulent, bursting with flavour and texture, and it left a fragrant crust around my mouth. The star of the day, though, and the biggest surprise, was the Ukrainian langos. For those of you unfamiliar with Ukrainian cuisine, I am now able to condescend to you by sharing that this is a dish usually served with the national salad, on New Year's Eve; deep-fried bread, made from a special dough, and stuffed with sour cream, cheddar, and mozzarella. Just a tiny crunch on the outside, delightfully light and gooey within. It's the cheapest dish on the menu, too, and definitely my favourite. And the churros were lovely too - there's clearly someone in the Eat Street kitchen who knows their way around a deep-fryer. I could have done with a little more sauce, and some saltiness in the caramel dip, but I'm nit-picking. Speaking of which, the bill comes to your table tucked inside a copy of the Lonely Planet. It's a nice touch; it celebrates the global nature of the food, but I only worked that out after the change came back in a Tanzania edition...we'd been handed the tab in Syria, from 1999, which was a bit confusing and kind of depressing to flick through. Tanzania was much more cheery. It's got a picture of a giraffe on it.

Eat Street is in MQ, next to Crafty Kitchen, and it's open for lunch 12pm to 3pm, and dinner 6pm to 11pm. They only just opened so remember to go in with a little patience and before the worst of your hunger hits - the staff, although admirably friendly, helpful and informative, were pretty stretched today at 1.30. And take some wipes and a mirrored compact for after.















I usually write about things I've already eaten, but I'm making an exception for this, firstly because it's a bit more useful to you that way when it comes to events, in that you need to know before they happen in order to attend, and secondly because I went to this last year and loved it. It's a box-ticker: the food, the music, the atmosphere, the setting. And the moon, ah the moon. It's a ridiculously romantic night. At least one new couple who attended the first of these events is now happily married - coincidence? So, now, read about how much I enjoyed the first Shangri-La's Full Moon Beach Dinner, then call 24776514 and book your seats for the next one, which is on October 27th.


Quick, make this before summer is over. It's delicious and light and so easy.

Peel the outer leaves off a nice big raw fennel bulb, and discard those ones. Keep the green feathery bits on the top of the fennel, and chop them finely. Then slice the rest of the fennel up, from the top down to keep the shape. Peel an orange, and slice that up too. Put the orange and the fennel (including those feathery bits) in a bowl with some black olives, and add salt, black pepper, and olive oil. Leave it marinate for a few minutes. Eat.

Because this is quite an unusual dish, can be made in advance, and has a fancy Italian name, it's good to serve as a dinner party starter. If you want to enjoy it to the full, though, I suggest eating it alone, so you can slurp the juice at the end without fear of judgement.


In my life, which has clearly included far too much free time, I've come up with a number of spectacular ideas. Nasty, scheming people later thought of and had the foresight to patent some of them. The Bum Bra, conjured up on a particularly humiliating cross-country run past the local boys' school (I was a chubby youth), was later brought to market in America under another name and made its inventor millions. That was my biggest miss. It was also me who thought up the idea of putting express salons at airports. I'm a genius. Other ideas are still in tact - disposable sieve inners, that's one I might just put into production. I hate cleaning sieves and would far rather throw away the clogged metal basin than spend precious minutes stabbing ineffectively at bits of dried pasta with a too-thick fork tine.

One idea that nobody, including me, has dared to put into practice yet, is my world-changing weight-loss concept: Imaginarianism. I think there are still Fruitarians around (although they are probably dying out quite fast, but quietly), and you remember the Breatharians? They claimed to exist only on air and positive thoughts. Well, Imaginarianism takes that idea, does away with the positive thinking aspect - it's just not practical if you're trying to lose weight - and replaces it with a package (which would be purchased online, from me, at a totally exorbitant reasonable price) including DVDs, books, posters, and of course an app.

This is a GUARANTEED weight-loss programme. Anyone strong enough to type a letter of complaint at the end of it is welcome to their money back. It works on strong scientific principles that I made up. The core of it is this: the hard thing about cutting back on the foods you love is the loss of the pleasure you would otherwise get from them. And yet we know, from some article I must have read somewhere, that the mere THOUGHT of food can not only set the metabolism racing (witness the explosion on social media of Food Porn) but can lead to a feeling of fullness, happiness, and satisfaction, the smell being close behind imagination as the most powerful sense. Couple these unquestionable facts together and you have Imaginarianism, where you lose weight by not eating, and IMAGINING that you are. 

Obviously you can't just go ahead and do this on your own. Oh no. Much like Scientology, you must master the art through a series of stages. So, within my Imaginarianism package, you would receive stimulating, sensuous essays on gourmet meals; scratch cards with some of the most delicious scents - freshly-baked bread, cookie dough, a juicy steak on the grill; breathtaking photos of Michelin-starred food that I will steal from Pinterest  source from celebrity chefs. The app would direct you to nearby eateries with well-placed, discreet windows against which to press your nose. Also, recipes you can make yourself in order to savour the scent of the cooking, solely for consumption by non-initiates of course, if you choose to stay in contact with any of these weak, flabby, inferior people after you've completed a couple of stages of Imaginarianism and are empowered and beautifully emaciated.

Well I can't say any more, copyright and all that, and the details won't be completely worked out until I get the money from Kickstarter. Meanwhile I will continue working on taglines. 'You Are What You Think You Eat'. Too long? 'Don't Fill Your Plate: Contemplate!' Or maybe just '(contem)plate'. In the right font, some sort of scientific/hipster type, that could look great, and would make a nice Instagram handle too. Although 'Imagine You Look Good' is my favourite so far. 

(Patent pending.)


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