Restaurant Review: Takya, Riyadh

Restaurant Review: Takya, Riyadh

Saudi’s culinary past meets the present at these two ambitious destination restaurants in the capital's Diriyah neighbourhood
13 April 23
Restaurant Review: Takya

Here is a restaurant where the interiors tell a story as much as the food.

Takya first opened in 2019 with a mission to rediscover Saudi’s regional cuisine and take it to a new audience.

Situated in historic Diriyah, it has been designed to reflect the mix of traditional and contemporary, fusing Saudi architecture – particularly from the Najd region – with wooden and wicker furniture and a warm colour scheme of browns and reds. It’s very relaxed – in keeping with the meaning of its Arabic name – and sitting here feels like being in the home of an upscale friend, with a few coffee-table books on Saudi design to leaf through before perusing the menu.

Takya: Interior design fuses Saudi architecture with wooden furniture

Co-founders Hadeel and Hissah Almutawa went to great lengths to research the recipes, consulting with grandmothers up and down the kingdom on the best way to cook jareesh, mento and sleeg among other dishes – and the result is a menu that takes guests on a culinary journey from the Eastern Province to Medina, while stirring in modern techniques.

According to Hissah, their food ‘maintains authentic flavours while using molecular gastronomy to play with the texture and presentation’. With a Delicate Rose mocktail (rose, pomegranate and cardamom) in hand, I opted for Takya’s bestseller: lamb hasawi, a wonderfully wholesome, slow-cooked dish served with rare red-grain rice. My starters included molokhia, served with seasoned chicken breast, dehydrated yoghurt sauce and crispy gorsan bread, and cheese motabaq – filo pastry stuffed with three cheeses and sun-dried tomatoes and topped with citrusy tomato marmalade.

For dessert, the artfully presented kleeja tart, a signature dish and a real hit of Saudi nostalgia, came with sweet-and-sour black lime custard, lemon curd and vanilla ice cream.

Hadeel left a government career in tech behind to pursue her passion for food, and the risk has paid off: Takya is a restaurant that’s really pushing Saudi cuisine forward, and should be a go-to address for anyone wishing to know more about the kingdom through its food culture.