If you think that Hi Weekly is all about fancy places, expensive food, and classy ambience, then you are mistaken. As a team, we are as passionate about street food as we are about steak and lobster, which is especially true in my case. See, I lived on extremely humble pocket money all my life, up until about a year ago, so if there is anybody who understands the value of an Omani Rial and how to stay happy and satisfied on a budget, I do.
And, to be honest, with all the fancy reviewing we get to do, I have started to really miss the singular pleasure of going to a good, inexpensive restaurant, and stuffing my face like there is no tomorrow without a second thought about the bill or the judgemental stares of those who might not approve of my table etiquette or an unladylike portions.
All that is to say, I was pretty excited when I was sent to investigate a small, ramshackle fish grill shop, aptly called Fishers Grilled, which sits sandwiched between the beautiful Bait Al Luban restaurant and the Marina Hotel, across the street from the Muttrah fish market.
I had called ahead, and when I arrived, I found a humble storefront, whose small window allowed me a glimpse of chef Abu Adham who was inside cheerfully marinating fish and motioning at people to enter through the main door. I followed the other patrons inside where we queued in front of a large glass case packed with ice where fish of different types and sizes were displayed.
At Fishers Grilled, there is no menu. Whatever is trapped in the fishermen’s nets and sold at the market across the road, will be purchased fresh each morning, placed on the bed of ice, and cooked to order for customers. In addition to fish, there were also jumbo prawns, and occasionally he will even have small crabs too.
The location across from the fish market comes with a rather, well, fishy aroma, and unsurprisingly, a whole lot of cats milling about, but when it comes to the freshness of the seafood, short of catching it yourself, there is no where fresher than here.
The warm gentleman greeted me and led me back outside to sit at one of the plastic tables arranged on the sidewalk where I sat, waiting for my food to arrive, while shooing away the cat, the housefly, and the honey bee that kept me company during my 20-minute wait.
A smiling waiter arrived with a salad plate and hummus, which didn’t make me or the cat too happy (team carnivore). But, while the cat rejected it on face value, I decided to try the fresh lettuce, tomatoes, and onion rings with some pita bread and hummus. The hummus was so smooth and creamy that after a while I gave up on the bread, and just started eating it with the veggies acting as my spoon.
Then, the fish arrived. My huge sheri fish had been split in half and coated with rich Egyptian spices (which I licked off my fingers after every bite) and was garnished with grilled squash and onions.
I usually have fish with rice and curry, so this was a new fish-eating experience. The flavourful spices and tender flesh needed nothing to go with it, and the process of eating a whole grilled fish required picking around the bones and tear away the sweet meat in a beastly and delightful way. I enjoyed everything about it, from the taste to the way of eating, to the humming purr of the cat at my feet, desperately trying to get my attention. I looked up from my pile of bones and noticed the familiar, judgmental stare of a passerby. I shrugged. Let them stare. My feast was totally worth it.