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Bahrain : The complete guide for visitors and expatriates - Yum's the word!
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By Roy Kietzman » Where in the world can you stroll down a lane and have the choice of continental, Far Eastern, Indian, Irish, Japanese or Thai cooking? Amble farther into the area, and all sorts of restaurants and cafes are found in the back streets.
Adliya, the gastronomic capital of Bahrain, is a precinct where Manama is said to end, with its Arabic and Italian restaurants, too, as well a very Normandy-looking castle. Of course, the whole country is noted for its cornucopia of places to eat: coffee shops, modest or grand restaurants, Internet cafes and fast-food outlets.

Dining in the courtyard of an old villa, in cosy old homes or at an idyllic, high-peaked Polynesian spa on a duck and flamingo pond – these are just a few of the options. For many visitors to the Gulf, however, it’s the opportunity to go to Arabic restaurants and sample the legendary mezze, shish kebabs and other renowned specialities from across the Middle East, from North Africa to Iran.

Watch the breadmaker at work at the Sheraton Hotel’s Golestan restaurant and take in a bit of the ambience of Iran. Even the coffee and tea are authentically Persian. On the northern corniche of Manama is Gulafshan, another Iranian restaurant, with classic styling and statues and reliefs of the ancient kings of Persia.

Two dining rooms and garden seating make it a pleasant place to be on cool evenings. The Iranian restaurant at the third level of Al A’ali Shopping Complex serves up good skewered hamour as well as succulent kebabs.

Arguably the most popular Arab restaurant, however, is Al Abraaj which has five outlets across the country, but Tarbouche in City Centre Hotel, Al Berdaouni at the Regency InterContinental and Zahle in Gulf Hotel will provide excellent food, too, along with those endearing melodies from Arabia and perhaps the scintillating performance of a belly dancer.

Anatolia, off Budaiya Highway, has authentic Turkish specialities in a bistro-like atmosphere in a spot called Cyprus Gardens where other good restaurants are also located.

Going from oriental to the Orient, Far Eastern restaurants proliferate in Bahrain with a fusion of cuisines from that region. Thai dining is on the menu at the Gulf Hotel’s Royal Thai while Chinese cuisine is served up at scores of restaurants including Adliya’s First Chinese Restaurant which has been making spring rolls for over 30 years.

The most popular spot for Chinese cooking is doubtless Hong Kong in Um Al Hassam while Fol Li in the same precinct gets an appreciative crowd. For sushi and teppanyaki fans, Sato (Gulf Hotel) and Kei (Hilton Hotel) are worth a visit while Mrai also has an enthusiastic following. For a less formal Japanese bistro-like spot, try Sushi-ko.