East meets West in a theatrical fine-dining experience as Amica Sicilia visits the new home of Twiga Doha.

If any city can claim to be at the centre of the world, Doha has as good a claim as any. It’s at the heart of Arabia, an oasis and stopping-off place on journeys linking six continents. For evidence, look no further than what’s on your plate. This is a city where you can sample the flavours of practically any cuisine, at practically any hour of the day or night and where the flavours of those cultures meet, embrace and blend into brand-new delights before your very eyes. For a taste of this magic in action, look no further than the new Doha home of Twiga.

The restaurant and club made its name with elite locations in Monte Carlo, at Forte dei Marmi in Tuscany and in collaboration with Sumosan in London’s Knightsbridge. Now Twiga has opened its elegant doors at the heart of a new jewel in Doha’s crown, Printemps, the largest luxury department store in the Middle East. You could spend days wandering its swooping elliptical floors stacked with all that glitters. But we are here on serious business. We’re here to eat.

The corridor opens into a gently curving avenue of silk flowers, beckoning us towards our destination. Wisteria hangs garlanded from the ceiling, white and pink. Climbing wild roses curl above banks of lavender and hydrangea. Pouting tulips and delicate columbine blossom before our eyes. Inside, the restaurant is gently lit from concealed lights behind blue glass, with smoked mirrors and a ceiling in chestnut wood and pink copper. The owning company, Majestas, Luxury Hospitality Global Company led by Flavio Briatore, entrepreneur and F1 legend, was inspired by the colours and welcome of Malindi, a cosmopolitan tropical paradise on the Kenyan coast. But the menu looks even further afield, drawing from the best of both East and West in a novel and intriguing combination of the heritage of his native Italy with the nuances of New Asian cuisine.

We’re welcomed warmly by manager Johann Greef with two of Twiga’s signature mocktails. My Volare!, named for the 1958 smash-hit song by Puglian crooner Domenico Modugno, is a twist on a classic kir with sour cherry cordial blushing through the bubbles of zero-percent champagne. Sorrento meanwhile is a citrusy summer night in a glass, blending lemon, pineapple and vanilla alongside aromatic dry sage, spritzed with soda water.

To show off Twiga’s strengths, head chef Murat Yilmaz has selected a trio of starters for us to sample. First up are their own handmade bao buns, the dough light and pale, sliced down the middle to be filled with a sliver of Wagyu short rib. The meat has been cooked low and slow for 24 hours in a sweet chilli soy marinade which turns it tender as caramel. Next to these are their complement, delicately pleated gyoza dumplings, filled with prawn and miso black cod, garnished with threads of red chilli. The flavours unfold in the mouth to reveal the taste of the sea.

A love of seafood is something shared by the culinary traditions which inspire Twiga’s chefs, particularly Japan and Italy with their long coastlines, and the third dish drives this connection home. Octopus, gaspingly fresh, is blanched to ensure tenderness, marinated with citrus and peppers and then roasted over the hot coals of the robata or robatayaki, a Japanese barbecue developed over centuries by the fishermen of Hokkaido. The white and lilac flesh melts like butter in the mouth. I can honestly say it was the best I have ever tasted (even better than my mother-in-law’s back in Italy, though I won’t be telling her that).

Turning back to Italy, we choose Tagliolini All’astice – a pasta cooked with cherry tomatoes, garlic, basil and the sweet indulgence of a half lobster tail. Twiga can make the rare boast in Doha of making all their pasta in-house, and their tagliolini are a square-edged ribbon pasta, vanishingly thin at less than 2mm per strand. Like angel hair, such fine noodles, especially when fresh, are fiendishly difficult to cook well, but these retain just the perfect amount of al dente bite. Funnily enough, the history of pasta is itself the ultimate fusion-food story, as most food historians agree it can trace its roots back to ancient China.

Our attention is caught by a steaming, sizzling plate. Wagyu beef entrecote, generously marbled with flavourful fat and grilled to precision on the Josper, a high-tech grill which the chefs play like a piano. It’s accompanied by a contrasting duo from East and West: creamy, pungent truffle mayonnaise, next to the bright citrus and salt of Japanese ponzu sauce.

But the pièce de resistance is dessert. A wide tray arrives beside our table with a theatrical flourish. On it are a stack of savoiardi biscuits, a pillowy cloud of whipped mascarpone and two steaming moka pots. These iconic Bialetti stove-top coffee machines are found in practically every Italian kitchen and take their name from the city of Mokha on Yemen’s Red Sea coast, from where, until the 18th century, most of the world got most of its coffee. Before our eyes, layer by layer, the delicate biscuits are rolled and soaked in espresso and placed between generous cushions of mascarpone, powdered with dark cocoa. It’s a perfect tiramisù, and the perfect end to a meeting of distant culinary worlds that perhaps only makes full sense in the cultural crossroads of Doha but here has found a natural home. ✤