Food, Online Magazine, Showdown

The Scrumptious Factor

Jeddah’s food reviewers spill the beans on what makes their mouth water.


Foodies-Final-222I work full time in a Saudi digital and social media marketing agency in Jeddah, I’m also a professional photographer with an eye for food photography and styling. My passion for cooking arose while studying in Manchester and continued ever since.

How did the idea for Foodies come to life?
It started on a Whatsapp group in 2012 with less than 10 people. I had just come back from the UK after studying there and learning how to cook and I needed a circle to share this with. The idea was to chat and discuss recipes, new restaurant openings and make recommendations on where to eat. The Snapchat account came out in March because we wanted to share our experience with the public.

How do you choose your team?
I chat and follow each candidate before I recruit him or her. Some approach me, while I approach others. They must have a passion for food, either by cooking, tasting, writing or blogging, or be food business owners (home or retail).

What are the most important traits in food reviewers?
A reviewer has to be credible. To gain people’s trust, he has to know food, understand taste, presentation, cuisines and what makes a dish worth it.

What were your best and worst food experiences here in Jeddah?
One of my bad experiences was a local burger shop. I tried it the first time and it was really bad. As a second chance, I tried it again after a few months, but it still failed to impress me. Another was a Middle Eastern restaurant famous for its mixed grills; it was so bad that I ran to throw up in its bathroom.

As for great experiences, a local cafe and bakery on Batarjee Street satisfies my taste buds with their sweets and bakery items. Another is a famous Lebanese franchise on Tahlia, their kitchen is as impressive as their amazing food and ambiance.


HANI NOUR (Member)Foodies-Final-3

I work in advertising, but food has been my passion since day one. I’ve always loved communicating and sharing my restaurant experiences, and have always been known to be the go to guy when it comes to outside dining.

How did you join the Foodies group?
Darwish and I had a lot of mutual friends but we never got the chance to meet. One of our mutual friends once talked about The Foodies on Facebook and I commented by requesting to join. Darwish saw my comment and immediately started his initiation tests.

Any favorite dishes?
Anything my mom cooks.

What do you think completes a dish?
Good company. Everything tastes better when you have good friends around you.

What is the most surprising dish you have ordered?
Fried Crocodile from The Meat Company in Bahrain.


SAWSAN AL BAHAITY (Member)Foodies-Final-1

I am a young Saudi with a varied background from advertising and marketing, to music and singing. I am currently an entrepreneur in the food business.

How did you join the Foodies group?
I got to know about them from Ahmed Darwish, whom I’ve known through family. There had to be certain criteria to be eligible to join, this included owning a food business or being a chef, but generally being zealous about food and directly dealing with it.

Were you always interested in food and different cuisines or has that been a recent development?
I have been interested in food ever since I can remember. When we were kids, my siblings and I used to watch our mother bake cakes. We watched her put the ingredients of her chocolate cake and eagerly waited to lick the remaining batter. She cooked everything herself; we rarely ordered food from outside and that got me attached to food.

What do you think completes a dish?
Truffle oil.

What is the most surprising dish you have ordered?
Eggs benedict with truffle oil.



I was born in Taif and have spent the past 10 years traveling and sampling cuisines all over the world. I work as a consultant for an F&B consulting company based out of Washington DC, USA and my primary job is taste profiles and mystery reviews.

What is it like pursuing food and restaurant critique professionally since you write at Saudi Gazette?
I am a different type of critic, as I don’t talk to owners or managers directly before I go, but I welcome their comments afterwards. This way I am served the same food as any other customer without any perks. So far, almost every restaurant I’ve reviewed has contacted me and the owners were more than willing to change the highlighted issues.

Were you always interested in food and different cuisines or has that been a recent development?
Yes, food has been my passion for the longest time and I enjoy all cuisines from Southeast Asia, Europe, Latin America, South Asian and Middle East. In fact I have separate restaurant preferences for main dishes, sides and desserts. I am an all out foodie.

What do you think completes a dish?
Three things, taste, taste and taste. It doesn’t matter if it’s a hole in the wall cafeteria or a fancy 5 star restaurant, if the food is good, customers will visit.

What is the most surprising dish you have ordered?
In Jeddah: Crispy Crazy Maki at Ohayo; it combines crab, avocado, cucumber, crispies and a crazy mix topping guaranteed to make even non Sushi lovers fall in love with the fantastic creation.

In Riyadh, it will have to be the mango sorbet in Nozomi. Internationally, if I had to pick one it would be Kare Kare, which is a traditional Filipino stew complimented with a thick savory peanut sauce and served with ox tail meat.

Instagram: hamza_eats


I had been working in corporate finance for 12 years, but then I decided to open my own restaurant, The Green Kitchen, and enter the world of food professionally. I have been interested in different cuisines since an early age. This has developed over years and became a passion.

Are you thinking of pursuing food critiquing professionally?
Yes. I’ve read a lot about food critique and will definitely pursue it professionally.

What is your favorite cuisine and favorite place that serves it around here?
My favorite cuisine is Japanese. I haven’t experienced the perfect Japanese restaurant here yet but the best among local restaurants so far is Benihana.

What do you think completes a dish?
Nice presentation is always the best way to complete a dish. I enjoy the appearance of a dish as much as its taste.

What is the most surprising dish you have ordered?
The most surprising dish I’ve ever ordered was the Extremely Fresh Lobster Sashimi at a Japanese restaurant in Dubai. The lobster was still alive while the dish was served.

Instagram: mhrating
Snapchat: mhenaidy

LOAI ARIFLuai-Final-2

I believe food is an adventure. My family had a great experience with restaurants for a long time, so it’s in my genes. Now I have become a marketer, cook, food blogger and vlogger as well as a partner in a Chinese restaurant. My Samurai looks, especially the hair, have earned me the name Samurai blogger.

Where you always interested in food and different cuisines or is this a recent development?
Ever since a young age, my grandma would always ask for my opinion in the dishes she made. Out of all her grandkids, she would choose me because she knew I had a gift when it came to food. As years went by, and I headed to university, my friends would always count on me to cook.

Would you think of pursuing food reviewing professionally?
I am trying to achieve my general goal of upgrading the standard of the food world in Jeddah. My personal aim is to be a reference and consultant in the field of gastronomy; I am trying to achieve that through training courses and professional food coverage via social media. I think my modeling experience has helped me reach a wider audience especially on Snapchat.

In your opinion what completes a dish?
Presentation is very important, that and olive oil too.

What is the most surprising dish you have ever ordered?
In Mykonos, I once ordered ravioli stuffed with crab dip in yellow creamy sauce, it was perfect. This question will make me cry.

Instagram: loayarif
Snapchat: loay.arif

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