This street in Seeb is popular for its row of mishkak stalls which cater to varied palates, providing robust, smoky bites every evening
It is evening, and unlike other parts of the city, there is a rapid transition towards Seeb…and you wonder why? I friend dropped a hint but refused to spill the beans, so we decided to drive to this ‘popular’ locale that goes up in smoke every evening!
After the sun sheds its final rays and neon street lights add a warm ambience, the evening suddenly gets into a celebratory mood here and you seem to forget the stress of work/pending assignments and shift into a realm of leisure where there’s a feast for the senses.
With evening prayers done sincerely, it’s time to settle down for a treat and what better way to do it than indulge in steaming hot barbecue delights, prepared right in front of you. When you drive past this area, even if you are on an urgent errand, your appetite seems to pitch tent, so you have to stop by for a bite or a takeaway.
Located along the street immediately after Al Mouj Muscat (formerly The Wave) and stretching towards Al Hail, the area is known for its mouth-watering street food, ranging from a wide variety of original grilled items to fusion delights.
Colourful food trucks and stalls, decked with flashy LED lights and lantern seen from a distance will guide you to the right spot. And after you park your car, be prepared to be swept off your feet – for the aromas around the place have an overpowering effect and they can make you gain a few pounds in an instant.
Abdul Rehman, a student of marketing who helps his friend Ali al Hashmi with his truck ‘Cholo Burger’, said, “We started the truck in 2018 and this is the second branch after the one in Al Amerat. With 10 staff, we prepare various dishes, including chicken/meat burgers grilled squid and prawns. Ali started this as a passion – something which he discovered from our camping trips when he always played ‘chef’.”
A wooden brush generously coats the hot iron grills with oil and vapours rise in a maze as he places spiced-up, thick patties of meat and chicken on the grills and fans the red hot coals with a cardboard, and sparks of fire rise up, heralding that your order is in the making. That is sight to behold, then the aromas of tasted meat enthrall your olfactory cells, and finally the treats lands on your platter to send your taste buds in a tizzy – a feast for the senses, indeed!
Most of the trucks open by 6:30pm and go on until past midnight. Often screening football matches and afterward celebrations, they are open beyond to enable diners treat themselves. The menu and items served are almost the same in most food trucks, but there’s fun in trying out how each one does it best.
There is a mixture of Omani, Indian, African and Turkish tastes in the offering as per spices and condiments used by each stall. Swahili food is also another hot favourite, especially with Potato Urojo. The mishkak sticks costs 200 baizas while burgers range from RO1 onward. You can also enjoy grilled chicken, quail, beef liver, and seafood like squid, baby octopus, shrimps and tuna at some stalls.
Ibrahim Abaid from Asoom Burger said, “People in Oman have always loved street food – indeed it is very difficulty to find authentic street food in the country though most hotels claim to be providing it.
Interestingly, mishkak has been a festive food in Oman for decades. As explained by some stall owners, this item was prepared mainly during during Eid al Adha. It was a long process and needed equipment that was difficult to find earlier, unlike the present times.
Majid al Amri, staying at Mabelah and one of the regular visitors in the area said, “It was not so easy to make this dish when I was a small boy. I remember, my uncles used to take lot of time preparing the charcoal and we used to have lots of fun. Now, mishkak has gone very popular, thanks to the modern cooking machines.”
While the stretch of this street remains synonymous with mishkak and is busy all throughout the year, winter is the best time of the year when people throng in huge numbers to dine by the street as well as take parcels home. Many people buy stuff in large quantities for parties/picnics and other celebrations from this street.
And if you think driving up to Seeb for a mishkak treat is a far cry, you only have to come here once. After that, it will become a regular haunt for you when you want to ‘feel’ the food and the ambience that goes with it, not just savour the delicacies on display.
People drive long distances from both ends, even from as far as Ruwi and Amerat to enjoy this street food under the skies. There is also seating arrangement for women/families, especially for senior citizens who come along with big groups for some chit chat and a few sumptuous bites when they want to skip dinner at home.
Actions speak louder
To complement the spicy mishkaks, if you are not tuned towards having chilled aerated waters, how about some hot karak tea flavoured with cardamom, cinnamon, lemon grass, and ginger?
Two young friends run a popular tea stall here, selling a variety of flavoured teas silently. You read that right – silently! Both guys have impaired hearing and speech but you cannot miss their winning smiles that entice you into trying out their flavoured teas.
Mater Ahmed al Rashdi and Mutaz Bader al Amri have been selling their brews every evening to go with the grilled snacks on sale all around. But the demand for their tea goes right up to midnight when some people drive in only for a cup of tea.
Customer can be seen conversing with the duo in sign language – one can use words in any language as long as you correctly convey your order with appropriate signs. And, if you are not able to express your choice of brew or the ingredients in signs, simply read the notes pasted along their flasks to indicate your choice or show them a picture on your mobile phone and you would be served in a minute.
Most people pay them more than the price indicated – after all, actions speak louder!