Take in the Doha skyline while dining at Alain Ducasse's Arabian outpost Idam

The restaurant, which has dominated the city’s dining scene for a decade, just celebrated its 10th anniversary.

Geometric glass panels that partially run from the floor to the museum’s dome allow stunning views of cloudless blue skies and the Persian Gulf coast to flood in (All photos: Idam by Alain Ducasse)

Haute cuisine without prohibitively haute prices is always most welcome. With fine-dining prices around the region (Kuala Lumpur included) skyrocketing, it makes good sense to save one’s dollars for culinary experiences further abroad that combine the best of flavours, service and presentation and yet also offer value.

A recent happy discovery was Idam by Alain Ducasse in Doha, Qatar. The restaurant, which has dominated the city’s dining scene for a decade, celebrated its 10th anniversary on Jan 26 this year. It is located in the iconic IM Pei-designed Museum of Islamic Art (said to be greatly influenced by the Ibn Tulun mosque in Cairo, Egypt) which was established 15 years ago.

Those who have visited before would know the approach is nothing short of spectacular. Perched along the Corniche, Idam is housed in the eyrie of the museum, on its fifth level. Given that it is a Ducasse-helmed dining room, the interiors are driven by the equally recognisable name of Philippe Starck. Geometric glass panels that partially run from the floor to the museum’s dome allow stunning views of cloudless blue skies and the Persian Gulf coast to flood in. Despite the visual grandeur, there is also a palpable sense of welcome, courtesy of luxe but homely touches such as floor-to-ceiling display cases stacked with coffee table books and an exquisite, eclectic collection of glasses.


Ducasse (in grey) on his recent visit to Idam to commemorate 10 years of partnership with Qatar Museums

Idam’s cuisine is Mediterranean-inspired, with a distinctive Arabian streak cutting through it. Props must be given to its lunch menus, which offer quite possibly the best deal you can find in Doha, with the choice of a four-course menu for just QAR250 (RM297) per person or a more indulgent six-course one at QAR520 per person. In comparison, the discovery menu at Alain Ducasse’s Le Meurice Paris restaurant is priced at €300 (RM1,406) for 3½ courses, cheeses and desserts. Unless you are especially ravenous, however, the four-course menu at Idam is ample.

As Idam bears the Ducasse name, naturally, no expense is spared in ensuring a world-class experience, from the provision of Puiforcat silverware (the legendary 19th-century silversmith’s origins are deeply rooted in Paris’ Marais district and was acquired by Hermès in the 1990s) to Le Thiers by Chambriard knives.

After an array of amuse-bouches, begin with an interesting take on surf ’n’ turf as plump scallops are seared and served swimming in a herb-flecked beef broth before moving on to the fusion flavours of stewed ox heart cabbage in an umami-rich seaweed gravy, topped with puffed rice, scallions and pistachio. For mains, choose from fresh-as-can-be red snapper in citrusy grapefruit jus and roasted fennel or roast chicken in cream with celeriac and romaine lettuce. What gives the latter dish bonus points is the shaving of cured egg yolks added to it before guests tuck in, giving a celebratory, truffle-esque flourish to the entrée.


Red snapper, grapefruit and roasted fennel

For desserts, select from a light but flavourful pear, smoked with black tea and black cardamoms, and served with a buckwheat condiment or the Ducasse-style date soufflé, accompanied by laban (buttermilk) sorbet. Dark, strong Arabic coffee makes a worthy complement, of course, but for something different, opt for a cup of Arabian-founded Tchaba Tea, whose foundations are built on the essence of cha-no-yu, or the Japanese tea ceremony. There are several signature blends to choose from as well as time-honoured favourites. Be sure to pay especial attention to the glorious tea trolley, complete with a dozen gleaming silver tea caddies, while a personal triple-tea infusion timer (complete with colour-coded sand timers to indicate a light, medium-bodied or strong brew) ensures the cuppa is steeped perfectly to your liking.

What makes coming for lunch an equally capital idea is being able to dine on the terrace versus the dining room, which allows you to drink in the Doha skyline with a non-alcoholic drink in hand (it is an Islamic art museum, after all). There is also the added bonus of being able to deliciously while away the rest of the afternoon perusing the museum’s great collections of Islamic treasures and objets d’art, which span 1,400 years and are sourced from three continents.

It was only upon our return to Kuala Lumpur that a friend told us of Idam’s signature and very special dish of camel served with foie gras, truffles and souffle potatoes, that requires at least a week’s preparation, necessitating a return trip. When we enquired about the meaning behind Idam’s name, our affable waiter informed us it was inspired by the Arabic word for “generosity towards the care and attention paid to guests”. In Malay, however, idam conveys a sense of “intense longing” or a craving, even. Whichever language or meaning, we think both sum up one’s experience here perfectly.


Idam by Alain Ducasse, Museum of Islamic Art, 5th Floor, Corniche Promenade, Doha, Qatar. Daily, 12.30-2pm; 7-9pm. For reservations, call +974 4422 4488 or email [email protected].

This article first appeared on Jan 23, 2023 in The Edge Malaysia.

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