Spice Market was one of the first restaurants we ate in when we arrived in September 2014 so it seemed fitting to have our ‘ one year in Doha’ anniversary here. We opted for the bento box which is changes regularly and offers great value for money. When we arrived at 12.30pm it was fairly quiet and got much busier as the afternoon progressed but the design of the restaurant is well done and it never feels too crowded. Traditionally a bento box is a home-made packed lunch which is Japanese in origin and created for one person. At Spice Market you select an appetizer, soup, salad, entrée and a dessert from a choice of about 3 or 4. Everything except dessert arrives at the same time in small bowls on a wooden tray. At first you may think there isn’t much food but it is certainly filling and more than adequate for lunch or dinner. You are also served poppadoms and a spicy dip while you wait for your bento box to arrive, these are very moreish and I have to admit we managed to eat two bowls of these before having some self constraint and asking them not to bring us anymore!
For my bento box I opted for the chicken and coconut soup, roasted beetroot salad, beef skewer, hammour then kulfi. Greg chose shrimp and rice soup, market salad, samosas, hammour and the kulfi. The soups were delicious, packed with chicken and shrimp and piping hot. I always find the soup here very salty possibly from the fish sauce but Gregs was less so. I love beetroot and the beetroot salad is so good I ate it very quickly, the labneh adds a nice creaminess to the salad and caramlaised crunchy chunks give it good texture. Greg loves sesame seeds so the market salad with sesame vinaigrette went down well. As my appetiser two small beef skewers were very tender and perfectly cooked and the samosas that Greg had were quite spicy and well balanced with a corriander yoghurt. I was impressed at the size of the hammour which was our entrée, it was a big portion and perfectly cooked, crispy on the outside and flaked away into the not too spicy chilli sauce.
Mains over we waited for a while before asking for our desserts. I was so excited for the Ovaltine Kulfi which I was pleased to see still on the menu (next to cheesecake at the St Regis it is in my opinion the best dessert in the city and would happily go to Spice Market just for it!). Kulfi is an Indian dessert similar to ice cream, here is it spiced chocolate flavour and served with a small caramelised banana, dollop of cream and a topping of popcorn, we were surprised to see a new addition of mini liquorice torpedoes which I was hesitant about but worked really well, Greg was less convinced.The kulfi is so creamy and not too rich at the end of a quite rich, flavour packed meal.
It was a lovely way to spend a Saturday lunch time and at 98QR pp for the bento box good value. For 2 bento boxes, 2 mocktails, 2 lattes and tip it came to 350QR which I think is very reasonable. Spice Market also does Vietnamese street food menu with 8 courses for 150QR pp, a taster menu 250QR pp including a bottle of wine, other set menus and a la carte. There is also a very vibrant happy hour early evening which has a great atmosphere and is a good way to start a night out. I will continue to recommend Spice Market as it has something to suit everyone – I just hope the kulfi is never taken off the menu!