The South African concept brings good food, drinks and vibes.
There are few restaurants in Riyadh that have queues around the block. The South African concept Nooa in Laysen Valley is one of the most popular cafés in the capital, and it even had back-to-back bookings indoors and outdoors during the summer. So, we were lucky to grab a table and found that it was worth the wait.
Nooa stands for Naturally Out Of Africa, and draws its inspiration from South Africa. Charlene Grobler, Restaurant Manager and South African native, explained: “It’s about bringing something natural and different. The rooibos was behind the concept, and we incorporated it into our menu. Even if you extract caffeine out of a product, there’s always 0.01% of caffeine. The thing with our rooibos is it never contains caffeine and is organic. America and China tried to grow it and they failed. It can only grow in the Western Cape.”
When we entered Nooa in Riyadh, it felt like a breath of fresh air. Bishop Design is behind the development, which won a LIV Hospitality Design Award. The dreamy design is contemporary, clean and classy. The décor is all about neutral, earthy tones, and sees beige, cream and white punctuated by brown, brass, and gold. The materials include shiny marble tables, soft colourful cushions and dark wooden floors. Plus, the artwork ranges from black and white wildlife photography to a rooibos-inspired feature wall.
On our afternoon visit, the venue was filled with locals and expats. We spotted ladies lunching, business meetings and remote workers. If you are coming with children, you’ll be pleased to hear that there is a dedicated family section.
Nooa prides itself on using ingredients and influences from South Africa, which have bursts of rooibos and honeybush. The menu will surprise you with its savoury and sweet selection. Breakfast is served from 8.30am to 4pm and includes bakes, eggs benedict, bowls, omelettes, pastries and more. The all-day dining menu includes buns, breads, earth bowls, finger food, sharing dishes, signature plates and sides.
Each dish was artfully presented on a plate with Noaa’s logo. We started with the bright and beautiful Watermelon and Cucumber Salad, which had chunky portions sat on a spread of feta cheese. The Signature Honeybush Brioche Bun was filled with chilli lamb ragout and topped with a poached egg. It was texture-tastic, from the hard casing to the soft shredded meat and runny egg.
Don’t leave Nooa in Riyadh without trying the desserts, which include Date Malva Pudding, Honeybush Crème Brulee and Orange and Chocolate Cake. The Caramelised Banana Pancakes came with three puffy pancakes, caramel sauce and Chantilly cream. Piled high and decorated with a flower, it is a return-worthy dish.
Nooa in Riyadh’s beverage list spans hot and cold options, which include speciality coffee, single origin, rooibos and botanic mixology. The Grade A rooibos speciality drinks had us hooked. We loved the Siphon, which is served on a wooden tray with a biscuit and pot of honey. If you’re a coffee connoisseur, talk to the team about the freshly roasted coffee on site and gift shop with pretty packages.
The staff are welcoming and enthusiastically explain the menu. Everything feels generous, from the drinks created to our tastes to the portions big enough for two. If you are looking for somewhere to sip the day away, make it Nooa in Riyadh.
GO: Follow @nooasaudi on Instagram for more information.