Every week, ILQ features a different Qatari startup in our ‘Startup of the Week’ segment. Qatar has some of the most creative, unique, and impactful startups in the region, and we cover them all across a variety of industries in Doha, from fashion and beauty, to food and dining, health, education, and more!
This week, we're lucky to be given the chance to sample some of the best-tasting Indonesian food available in Qatar through The Sizzlers -- a Southeast Asian-themed restaurant located in Al Khor which specializes in Indonesian cuisine!
Speaking to one of its owner Zaki Armen, ILQ was able to unearth the very reason why foodies from Doha don't mind driving for more than 50 kilometers to Al Khor just to dine in the tiny corner that The Sizzlers occupies at Logic Food Center.
"The Sizzlers serves food made out from fresh herbs and spices the same exact way that we do back home," shared Zaki who also mentioned that they even serve home-made yellow noodles -- something that you can rarely spot in a Middle Eastern country like Qatar!
What makes The Sizzlers even more distinct is the fact that they serve food to their customers the 'Bancakan' way -- their own version of the Philippines' 'Boodle Fight' or the tradition of eating altogether in one big dining table where food is served and spread on top of banana leaves with no option to use a spoon or fork, meaning you have to eat with your bare hands!
When our team arrived, the table -- adorned with giant banana and cabbage leaves with flower-cut tomatos poured at the center -- is already set. While his staff is still busy bringing in the endless parade of food, Zaki reminisced their humble beginnings and how The Sizzlers was able to establish its brand: "Our family came here in 1996 and at that time, we couldn't find any vegetables or ingredients to make our native food -- urging us to breathe The Sizzlers into life."
His sister, Febreska, added that they want a restaurant that can bring back the authentic taste of home. "Besides good food, The Sizzlers also aims to introduce what our culture back in Indonesia is about to the rest of the world, knowing that Qatar is a country made up of multicultural people."
After the short chat, Zaki and Febreska didn't forget to give all the accolade on their mom, who they call the 'mastermind' behind The Sizzlers. "During our first 2 years in the food and beverage (F&B) industry, it's been our mom who was with us from the very start. Together with our father, she used to run a big restaurant back home before moving to Doha. But since there's no legit Indonesian food here when we came in 1996, she started making Indonesian/Malaysian food and all of our neighbors would request for it."
Since then, the Armen family already knew that there's a huge demand to their cooking. Rozalina -- the Armen family's matriarch -- started in community bazaars until she ended up with the decision to open her own small restaurant.
By the time the dining table is at last topped with all kinds of Indonesian food which looks extremely colorful with all the spices sprinkled on them, that's when we came to the realization that the Armen family indeed prepared a feast for the ILQ team. While distributing white rice to everyone, Febreska revealed that the set they prepared for us also includes some Malaysian and Filipino delicacies which she pointed out one by one.
Ayam Penyet with Sambal, Mie Bakso, and Ikan Taucho among others are just some of the typical Indonesian food that you can only get in Indonesia -- but The Sizzlers proudly serves for Qatar's foodies. Their Malaysian counterparts are Nasi Lemak, Mie Goreng, and Koay Teow. They also serve Filipino favorites including Bulalo, Daing na Bangus and Bicol Express.
The lunch experience we had with The Sizzlers is easily top-notch. Not to mention their relatively reasonable prices especially on Bancakan sets and the extremely-warm Indonesian hospitality that transpires throughout the venue, travelling from Doha all the way to Al Khor is worth every minute!
Regarding the advice that they can give to their business-minded fellows, Zaki and Febreska has this to say: "Get to know the government requirements and learn them well. Study Baladiya's Do's and Don'ts! And most importantly, just do it and have fun!"
"We wanted to make our customers see The Sizzlers as their second home where they can come to eat to on a daily basis," the siblings added.
The Sizzlers is not incubated in either the Qatar Business Incubation Center (QBIC) or Digital Incubation Center (DIC). Instead, the Armen family found a Qatari sponsor who helped them during the business' formative stages.
Just in time before we end the interview, Febreska hinted that they are planning to open a new sister company in Doha within the next couple of months.
For the meager price of as low as QR 100, you can order an all-chicken Bancakan feast which is already good for up to 6 people. If you're the adventurous kind of eater, The Sizzlers also have an all-seafood option which is one of their topsellers as it's colossal, colorful, and more on the spicy side. We couldn't recommend it more!
To know more about The Sizzlers, check out their timings and contact details below:
Timings: Daily from 9:00 AM - 9:30 PM
Contact number/s: (+974) 5591 5981, 7705 2731
Email address: [email protected]
Have you tried dining with The Sizzlers yet? How was it for you? Also, what are some of your favorite startups around Doha? Comment below! And don’t forget to give us a like and share -- it keeps us going!
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