Qatar will soon taste a slice of China as a Chinese Village is taking shape in Souq Waqif, further enhancing the Souq’s traditional ambience, according to Jilioni Cortbawi, Business Development Director of Al Khaleejiya and General Manager of Soy Asian Fusion Restaurant at Souq Waqif.
The village will add up to the opulence of places catering to the country’s ever-growing multicultural community. Presently, over a dozen food establishments whose menus teem with mouth-watering cuisine enjoyed in Malaysia, India, Iraq, Lebanon, and other countries line the Souq, which has become not just a popular rendezvous for residents but also a favourite destination of tourists.
Chinese shops, which would be completed in a month, will be located right below Soy Restaurant which occupies a vast space in the Souq.
Visitors in the Souq can purchase in the Chinese Village products sourced directly from China such as teas, spices, gift items and accessories. After an exhausting shopping spree, visitors can pamper their tired feet with a foot massage which will also be available in the Village.
Cortbawi emphasised to The Peninsula that the village would be a one-stop-shop.
“Whatever you see in a real Chinese village, you’ll find it here because our concept is based on traditional Chinatown which goes with Souq Waqif’s traditional theme,” he explained, adding “That’s why Souq Waqif is the perfect location for the village.” With approximately 700 seats (278 inside the restaurant, 180 in coffee shops, and over 200 inside 11 themed private rooms) and over 140 staff, Soy Asian Fusion Restaurant is probably the biggest restaurant in Qatar and is the main feature of the Chinese Village. The restaurant kicked off its operation in January this year, though it had a soft opening because the entire structure is yet to be complete. “We are more than a restaurant. This is the first fusion restaurant in Qatar with a three-in-one concept — Chinese, Japanese and Thai,” Cortbawi said. “Another unique feature of Soy is that it is not only selling food but also entertainment because it has a karaoke room where people can relax after dining,” he added. Catering to Doha’s culturally diverse population, there are thousands of songs in their list in different languages. About 80 percent of their customers are foreigners, he noted.
Besides there are 11 private rooms named towns in China, Japan or Thailand. They are ornately decorated with designs capturing the essence of the varying cultures of the three oriental countries making it possible for every visitor to be transported to another country once he steps into the room. The rooms have just enough lighting to set the mood for any celebration in addition to decorative objects such as lanterns and paper cuts hung on the walls and ceilings bringing in a festive atmosphere.
“We haven’t yet had our official opening but the response is overwhelming with more and more people frequenting our restaurant because of the decoration and the quality of food. Being a fusion restaurant, diners have a lot of options through a wide variety of in our menu,” Cortbawi explained.
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