Sunday, August 19, 2012

Najd Restaurant

Najd restaurant is one of the few restaurants in Riyadh which serves authentic Saudi food. There are many restaurants in Riyadh, but Saudi food requires a lot of time to make, so there are very few restaurants that serve authentic Saudi food. Najd is an experience in an of itself. The building is designed to look like an old Arabian fortress with buttresses and old patterns on the wall. In the middle of the restaurant is an open air garden which featured an old-style well. The restaurant is divided into rooms so that families can eat in privacy. If you remember, seating is divided in restaurants between family and male seating. The reason there are rooms in this restaurant is to allow women some freedom to unveil so they can eat in comfort. (Note: I don't wear a veil when I go out in public, though I do wear an abaya, which is a loose black robe which I wear over my clothing. Saudi women, especially in Riyadh, veil at least some part, if not all, of their faces. It gets tricky if they want to eat in a restaurant because they are not to unveil in the presence of unrelated people. )
We were shown to a spacious room with rugs on the floor and cushions placed against the walls of the room. There was a small fireplace at the end of the room. The room was decorated with traditional Saudi crafts, beautiful pottery and woven rugs on the walls. We took off our shoes and relaxed against the cushions. Our server brought in two large woven mats and placed them on the floor. We ordered a meal sampler for 3 people so we could try different foods. They brought in enough food to feed our family of 7 for a week! I was astounded at the variety of the dishes. Most of the food was stewed with various combinations of meat, vegetables, and rice.  I really wish I could tell you the names, but I don't know what the food was called. We tried camel, chicken, beef, and lamb in different ways. The camel was rather fatty, but incredibly tender. I enjoyed some of the vegetables stews. None of the food was spiced very heavily. It was very tasty. My children really did a great job trying the different foods. I think there were only a couple little dishes that we didn't enjoy. For dessert, they served us dollar-size pancakes (not like american pancakes) soaked in honey and warm ginger balls of cake. The ginger cake was delicious.
The meal was wonderful. I felt like we had eaten in a Bedouin tent and had been showered with the famous Arabic hospitality. I look forward to going again. 

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