Amica Sicilia got a taste of the Silk Road at the new BBQ Lunch which is taking place every Friday at Mosaic restaurant, Mandarin Oriental, Doha.

Some two millennia ago envoys of China’s powerful Han emperor ventured west until they reached the borders of the wealthy Parthian empire, which stretched from what is now Afghanistan right to the edge of the Mediterranean. The meeting unleashed an explosion of trade: in spices, porcelain, horses and camels, gold and, above all, silk. The Silk Roads spun their web of economic and cultural exchange from Shanghai and Osaka to Constantinople and Rome. Today a traveller could spend a lifetime retracing those silken threads – or you could do what we did, and let your taste buds make the journey through the flavours of the continents in the course of one wonderful afternoon.

This is the concept behind the newest dining offering from the masters of luxury hospitality at the Mandarin Oriental, Doha, with the Silk Road-inspired Friday BBQ lunch at Mosaic. The restaurant itself is simultaneously calmly elegant and quietly bustling with activity. To our right, floor to ceiling windows and a bright terrace offer views over the cream marble of central Msheireb. Our table is shaded by geometric screens in light wood and intricately worked metal, creating privacy while preserving the airy lightness, while furnishings in cream and sea blue recall woven palm leaves and the interlock of traditional pearling nets. To our left is a hive of energy, where delicious aromas plume from nine open kitchens manned by chefs who are experts in specialist cuisines from Yakitori to Rotisserie via the Tandoor.

We are welcomed by manager Suhrob Hojiev, with a cool ruby-red glass of pomegranate and hibiscus tea, sweetened with strawberry and playfully finished with baby mint leaves. We dip squares of crisp and fluffy focaccia, the dough fragrant with thyme and rosemary, into salty black olive tapenade as we prepare ourselves for our culinary voyage.

We decide that like the legendary silk itself, we should start in the east and move westwards. All of Mosaic’s sushi is freshly assembled on the spot. We are particularly impressed by the freshness and tenderness of the deep red tuna sashimi, which melts in the mouth. And their culinary creativity is on full display with a roll of Wagyu beef, crispy fried shitake mushroom and teriyaki – an umami explosion.

We move on. The steam issuing from fragrant dim sum baskets is too inviting to ignore. Inside, like treasure chests, they reveal puffy bao buns full of sweet char siu chicken, translucent green vegetable dumplings and seafood siu mai. Beside these, the noodle station boasts everything from thick satisfying udon to thin glass vermicelli. We admire the chef’s wok skills as he combines fresh greens, rice noodles and tiny red shrimp with aromatic tamarind and fish sauce. With each mouthful the flavours go from sweet, to sour, to salty, balanced with bright lime juice.

In front of the bakery are towers of fresh bread of every shape and size, flavoured with sesame, with gruyere cheese or dried fruit. Beside them, cheeses and cold cuts are as abundant as they are immaculately presented: rosettes of bresaola cradled with sprigs of rosemary and black olives; smoked mackerel framed by the complementary flavours of orange and dill. But as we’re sizing these up a showstopping surprise arrives at our table. “Anyone for caviar?” asks Chef de Cuisine Mervan Tekin, with a huge smile. How could we say no?

It’s a precision performance. Before our eyes the lightest, crispest melba toast is topped with a slice of Norwegian smoked salmon cured with orange juice, lime zest, salt and sugar. A small spoon of snowy sour cream is carefully positioned. Over that are sprinkled chopped shallots, salty sour capers, bright chives and finely diced egg. And all this is crowned by a spoon of tiny black pearls, the caviar of the white sturgeon, which burst against the roofs of our mouths. It’s a sensory explosion.

After cleansing our palates it’s time to face the fires of the grilling stations. Again, the choice is staggering. My companion opts for seafood, choosing beautiful fat king prawns and baby white squid, individually cleaned and prepared before hissing onto the grill. I’m seduced by miniature skewers of perfectly marbled Wagyu beef and – at the other end of the scale – a magnificent whole leg of veal, roasted with rosemary and garlic and expertly carved in front of my eyes, before being bathed in a mushroom jus and served with fresh leafy greens. We feel like the emperors of old at a feast. The final stop on our journey is the dessert station that glitters with jewel colours and gold leaf, surmounted by a towering chocolate fountain pouring liquid luxury between gold cups, one side white, one dark. The chef helps us to choose a few highlights: a fragrant lavender and orange blossom almond financier cake; a darkly indulgent whipped tiramisu; macarons stuffed with fresh raspberries, perfumed with rose; and miniature Umm Ali baked milk pudding, scented with orange blossom. Our strong black espressos, paired with handmade gianduja truffles, seal the deal. As each traveller knows, every voyage must end. But it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.

The BBQ Lunch is priced at QR425 per person. Children aged seven to 12 years pay half the price at QR213 and those aged six and under go free. ✤