South Indian food is available in Muscat

What is typical Omani food? Are there vegetarian dishes in Oman and what are they? How much does food cost in Oman? I asked myself these questions before our first trip to Oman. No matter what you prefer: don't worry, in Oman you are sure to find something delicious to eat! For me it was food from all over the world and some of the best food in the world that I have found in Oman.

Here you can find out more about:

1.Eating in Oman for vegetarians, vegans and meat lovers (and for dessert fans)
2. Food culture - how do Omanis eat?
3. Prices and general information about food
4. Restaurant tips, testimonials and personal reviews




1.Eating in Oman for vegetarians, vegans and meat lovers (and for dessert fans)



Eating oriental in Oman
The question of "correct" Omani dishes is not that easy to answer. Oriental (but not exclusively Omani) specialties such as mezze are widespread in the country: for example hummus, falafel, baba ganoush, mutabel, muhamara, tabouleh, ... which are usually eaten with the fine, thin flatbread. These mezze are not only vegetarian, but mostly vegan too!


Traditional
Also typical and traditional in Oman are large plates full of spicy rice (Biryani rice), which is topped with grilled meat or fish and complemented with a spicy sauce. To be honest, even this traditional dish is originally influenced by early Indian influences.
Another typical food in Oman (which is traditionally eaten at the end of Ramadan and in the period afterwards) is Shuwa: lamb cooked in an earth oven for up to two days. The meat is marinated with special spices, wrapped in banana leaves, covered in a sack made of palm leaves in the fired pit in the ground and slowly cooked. Not my thing, but a local feast.

Sweets and dates
Sweets and dates are very important in Oman. Whether for breakfast, as a dessert or a snack in between, small, sweet biscuits (also common in the Orient), for example made from filo pastry, pistachio kernels, nuts and honey, are popular. Dates are also served on many occasions, especially for guests. At the reception you will often be served a small, cardamom-flavored coffee with dates. An absolutely typical Omani dessert is Halwa, a sweet, brown mass that is offered in different flavors.


Indian food
Due to the large number of immigrants from India, Pakistan and other countries, their cuisine is also extremely widespread in Oman and has become naturalized. Indian dishes in particular also offer a variety of options for vegetarians and vegans, but also for meat lovers.


No pork meat
What you won't find in Oman because of the Muslim faith in the sultanate is pork. In addition to classic pieces of meat, even the breakfast bacon is made from products from other animals, as is the filling of sausages.

No alcohol
Devout Muslims are not allowed to drink alcohol in Oman (as elsewhere). Alcohol is therefore not available in many restaurants or in shopping centers. Large and international hotels mostly and international restaurants sometimes have an alcohol license and thus the permission to serve alcohol to their guests. In the fasting month of Ramadan, it is possible that even in licensed hotels no alcohol is served at all. You can find an exciting contribution on the subject of "Alcohol in Oman" HERE from Expatwoman. What is definitely forbidden (even for you as travelers) and sometimes severely punished: Carrying alcohol around in public, being drunk in public and especially drunk ( even slightly) drive a car.


Fruit juices and teas
The diverse, fresh fruit juices are a special treat in Oman. Whether orange juice, pomegranate, pineapple juice, melons, or more exotic fruits and cocktails made from them ... mmmmh! Instead of alcoholic beverages, Omanis also like to have tea in the evening. A specialty in Oman is the refreshing "lemon mint" juice.

International
Especially in larger hotels, international dishes are often offered, be it on themed evenings, as a special menu to choose from, or at the buffet. Omanis also eat there sometimes, because there hardly seem to be really "chic" restaurants outside of the more expensive hotels.


breakfast
The breakfast in the hotels is also very international: typically hummus with flatbread (and often other mezze), fruits, cornflakes, bread with butter, honey, jams, cheese, toast and mostly several warm dishes, which are based on the typical "English." Breakfast, but especially Indian dishes such as lentils and curries.



2. Food Culture - How Do Omanis Eat?



The classic variant: A home-cooked biryani with meat or fish is eaten at home with the whole family, with everyone sitting on the floor around the large platter. Eating is done with the right (pure) hand and everything is shared. The rice as a raw material can be bought in large bags in the supermarket, the spices also in the supermarket or in the souk and the fish or meat directly at the fish or meat market (or also in the supermarket)


Takeaway food (often from the Indian) is also gladly taken home. Time and again we were amazed at how ordering goes: One or more people drive in front of the takeaway. Either someone goes in, orders and returns to the waiting car, but usually they just honk until an employee comes out and takes the order. The waiting time is bridged with speeches in the car, sometimes a short lap is driven "around the block". Impatient contemporaries honk to "ask" whether their order is not ready yet? Once it has been put together, the food is brought from the snack bar to the car.


GrillsWe saw again and again at the roadside, at a large square or near the beach. As with the takeaway, you can buy something to eat here and either eat it straight away, take it home or to a picnic area.


picnicis especially popular on the weekends (Friday and Saturday). With family and friends if necessary, you can go to one of the many sun-protected picnic areas (often on the beach) and spend the day together.


Restaurants as we know them, there is hardly any. Often take-aways, which are also called coffee shops, also offer some tables and chairs where you can eat your menu right away. In classic Omani restaurants or in the more rural areas, it is common for only men to eat in the general dining room. Couples, families and women alone are directed to a "Family Room". These are small rooms that can be closed with a curtain and thus made private. The aim is to protect women from the curious glances of men eating alone or in groups. Depending on the restaurant, people can also sit on the floor in the family room to eat, or there is a small table.


Hotel restaurantsare usually not only open to overnight guests, but also to locals. They are often used to "have a nice meal" both by families, by couples and by groups of women and men.



3. Prices and general information on food


The Prices for dining out in Oman vary a lot. Hotel restaurants, especially those in the four- and five-star hotels, are rather expensive to very expensive. If you eat or take away food in Indian restaurants and takeaways, however, it is usually very cheap compared to our prices. Alcoholic drinks(in hotels with an alcohol license) are usually relatively expensive.


In Supermarketsyou will find quite a variety of international products and edibles: from Swiss chocolate to Indian spices, canned foods from international brands and local specialties. The local and local vegetables and fruits are very exciting and some of them were unknown to me. Unfortunately, taking photos in the shops is mostly forbidden and the ban is enforced. In general, the strong Indian influence can also be felt here - especially with the spices. Fine rose water and a typical Omani spice mixture are suitable as souvenirs from a supermarket ... but there are also special, local nibbles in many shapes, colors and flavors.


eatyou should (like so many other things: wave, say hello, receive documents, etc ... also) with the right hand. While the left hand is traditionally used for cleaning after going to the toilet, the right hand is the "clean hand", which makes sense when eating with the hand, but also has a great symbolic effect.


Especially in Salalah, where also big ones Fruit plantationsexist, many dealers stand with a more or less large one Stand (sometimes even with seating) on ​​the streetand sell fresh fruit and more directly. If you like, you will be invited to a small tasting and the dealer will of course be especially happy if you buy something afterwards. Back then we stocked up on healthy provisions for the long drive north.


The Hygiene conditions in the restaurantsare general Well. We ate everywhere without giving much thought and never had problems with "Montezuma's revenge", stomach aches or other health restrictions.


Ramadanis the Month of fastingthe Muslims. During this time, devout Muslims are not allowed to eat, drink, smoke, or some other things (such as behavior) that should be avoided from sunrise to sunset. That is something very special Breaking the fast, a joyful festival, at which extensive feasting and the end of Ramadan is celebrated.
For you as travelers, this means that hardly any restaurants / takeaways are open during Ramadan that you should also not eat, drink, smoke or chew gum in public. In large, international hotels it is still possible to get something to eat, but sometimes no alcoholic drinks are served during Ramadan and some hotels close their bars and restaurants completely during the day.
When planning your trip, think carefully about whether these restrictions (but also exciting insights into the culture) are okay for you, or whether you would prefer to schedule your trip for another time?



4. Restaurant tips, testimonials and personal reviews


During all of our trips through Oman, we have stayed in hotels of different price ranges and star ratings and often ate in hotel restaurants. We have gathered a wide variety of culinary experiences. On the way we ate in simple pubs, in takeaways and in international restaurants. I have found one of my - worldwide - favorite restaurants, experienced a lot of hospitality and yet only got to know a small fraction of the cuisines in Oman.

I will briefly introduce and describe some of the restaurants - including the hotel restaurants - to you. Of course, food is always a matter of taste! I personally attach particular importance to vegetarian menus and was almost not disappointed anywhere.


Muscat

Shangri-La al Husn Hotel - Breakfast buffet in the Sultanah Restaurant
The breakfast buffet of my dreams with a variety, freshness, service and friendliness that you can only dream of. For hotel guests of the Shangri-La al Husn included in the (not exactly cheap) room rate.

Sultanah Restaurant in the Shangri-La al Husn Hotel
Inside or outside high above the bays, you are served international dishes and menus - every day from a different country. Nice ambiance, expensive and with few options for vegetarians.

Shahrazad Restaurant in the Shangri-La al Husn Hotel
An Arabic restaurant (Omani, Moroccan and Lebanese cuisine) in a nice ambience for dinner inside or outside high above the bays, expensive and with few options for vegetarians.

Capri Court Restaurant in the Shangri-La Hotel
A restaurant with Italian-international dishes, inside or outside, near the sea. International audience, rather high prices.

Tapas & Sablah Restaurant in the Shangri-La Hotel
On a wide space near the sea (in the hottest season with a large, cooled tent), rear tables "non-smoker", front tables "smoker" (and also very popular with locals for an evening shisha). The menu includes Oriental, Central European and Asian mezze and tapas, of which you can order 5-6 (for 2 people) - or of course more or less - and then share, depending on your hunger. Not cheap either, but a bit flexible with the number and type of food ordered.

Al Tanoor Buffet Restaurant in the Shangri-La Hotel
Very busy, also many families with children. Inside, near the buffet, a rather cozy restaurant atmosphere, outside a larger, covered hall with lots of tables. Lots of local, Arabic dishes, as well as Indian, Persian, Turkish and Mediterranean. The buffet is not cheap for 25 OMR, but it is extremely extensive. My insider tip, especially for vegetarians: If you order "only the salad buffet", you pay 10 OMR and of course you can only help yourself at the corresponding buffet. However, there are so many delicacies on offer as a "salad" that I haven't missed anything.

There are other rice restaurants in the Shangri-La Hotel, but I haven't tried them personally.

Lounge / Bistro - Restaurant in the Kempinski Hotel Muscat
Nice location and nice furnishings at pool level, fine, small (not very cheap) dishes on the menu. Unfortunately - after we had received the menu card - we were kindly ignored until we were hungry and fetched the remains of our travel provisions from the room and, a little frustrated, moved to the beach without knowing how the food would really have tasted.

Various restaurants in the Kempinski Hotel Muscat (international, Indian, Thai)
The menu prices are generally rather high, which is acceptable for fine dining. Unfortunately, the Indian was also fully booked for us as hotel guests, in the Thai I would have only received "pure rice" as a vegetarian and in the international buffet restaurant "some salad" (for around 60 EUR) - after the already unusual lunch, definitely not enough.
The breakfast buffet is very varied and fine, with many freshly prepared dishes. However, the friendly staff was so overzealous with clearing that we only ate in "shifts" (someone fetched, someone eats and defended the plates).

As is so often the case in life, our somewhat sad experience with eating at Kempinski also had a positive side: Hunger made us leave the hotel and so on We discovered a restaurant nearby, which has since been one of my absolute favorites in the world:

Zahr El-Laymoun Restaurant
The Lebanese restaurant on the promenade in the new quarter "The Wave" at the al Mouji Marina on the outskirts of Muscat is a revelation - not only for the starved. Above all, the many different mezze variants are a dream, both in terms of taste and the lovingly arranged appearance. Of these 5-6 different ones to share with two people fit perfectly. In addition, the freshly squeezed fruit juices in the half-liter jugs - mmmh! The prices are reasonable (even if not cheap, as is the case with many takeaways, for example), the staff incredibly friendly, flexible and patient, the beautifully arranged, different tables, chairs and benches look relaxed and yet beautiful - and the ambience on the promenade, where many foreigners but also locals strolling is cozy and exciting at the same time.

Shakespeare and Co. Restaurant
The restaurant is right next to the al Mouji Marina on the outskirts of Muscat (the wonderful snorkeling tours to the Daymanijat Islands also start here). While outside you can see the small harbor, the many new buildings and the Marsa Plaza, inside you will notice the cozy and creative interior. The service is flexible and friendly, there are also warm meals, small dishes and salad combinations in the afternoon.

Grill at Qurum Beach
At Qurum Beach is one of the places where there is a grill in the parking lot in the evenings, where the Omanis not only get something to eat quickly, but also stand together, discuss, eat ... next door on the beach they also like to meet , later in the afternoon football is played and later, at sunset, couples and families go for a walk.


More tips, personal testimonials, photos and reviews of restaurantsin the mountains of Oman, in Sur, the city of traditional dhow ships, in Nizwa, in Haima in the middle of the Rub al Khali desert, in the desert camp in the Wahiba desert, as well as in Salalah in the very south of Oman.


In the meantime, I wish you bon appétit, wherever you are, and I strongly recommend that you try the diverse oriental cuisine if you haven't already known it.

You can find out more about our experiences in Oman here:
Oman Road Trip: An adventurous dream trip through the whole country

Dear travel greetings
Miuh