Arab News
May 29, 2012 Tuesday
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

It all started in the town of Jabal Moussa, Armenia, when Manouchag,
an Armenian grandmother, who though was not rich or famous, had one
particular talent that set her aside from any other grandmother in
the town; Manouchag was a fantastic cook.

Manouchag, Armenian for violet eyes, was a little girl when a big war
broke out in her native country forcing her to set sail to Cyprus. She
grew up in a children's home, where she stayed until she graduated
from high school. She then moved to Lebanon where she met her future
husband. They both lived in a beautiful mansion overlooking the sea
in Ayn Mreisseh, where she raised her six children.

Manouchag used her cooking skills to quiet down her grandchildren,
asking them to help her in the kitchen; her mission was to create
wonderful Armenian dishes for her family. She was extra careful in
guarding her secret recipes. However, she made one important exception:
her children and grandchildren.

Manouchag inspired her grandchildren to start a business to celebrate
her talent. They opened a restaurant that serves traditional Armenian
cuisine and named it Mayrig. The restaurant was born in Beirut with
an army of professional mothers working as chefs and using only
Manouchag's ancient recipes.

In February 2011, Mayrig opened its second branch in Jeddah. The
restaurant is located in a small villa overlooking King Road and the
Andalus Street. The exterior of the villa is done in Armenian style -
with wood, stones and marble. Inside is a two-story restaurant: The
ground floor serves only men while the second floor is for families.

The interior of the restaurant is colorful with walls made of beige
rocks and wood and Syrian-designed marble floors. Mayrig can seat
250 diners at once and 50 diners in the terrace area.

The menu comprises a range of authentic Armenian dishes. Among their
fresh salads is Itch, an Armenian tabouleh made with buckwheat, onion,
tomatoes and parsley. The dish is eaten with cabbage leaves as serving
spoons. Sempougov salad is a cold eggplant salad with onion, tomatoes,
parsley and lemon and olive oil dressing. Vospi salad is a lentil
salad with chopped onions, tomatoes and pomegranate vinegar sauce,
eaten with crispy bread, and it is highly recommended here.

For cold entrees, Derevov Sarma is a dish made with zesty vine
leaves wrapped around juicy rice mix. The Mayrig Selection is highly
recommended, which is a dish of kebbe with lentils served with chopped
white onion and olive oil. Kebbe with potatoes is served with chopped
tomatoes, onion and parsley while the raw meat kebbe is served with
minced meat, onions and pine nuts.

In the category of hot entrees, on offer are different appetizing
dishes such as Gdzou Patates, consisting of diced, spicy fried
potatoes. Sou Beureg is a layered pastry made with three kinds of
cheeses. Soujok Fekhara that is made with Armenian beef sausage with
tomato sauce is cooked and served in pottery.

As for the main course, Mayrig serves authentic Armenian dishes cooked
with Armenian spices and baked in pottery. Mante is a minced meat
dumpling cooked in a stone oven. Tomato sauce and yogurt is added
when serving the dish. Fishnah Kebab is another popular dish here
and consists of a grilled kebab dish topped with wild sour cherries
and french bread.

Tika Kebab is a diced beef grilled in skewers and served with diced
fried potatoes and salad. Missov Frikeh is another recommended dish
made with Frikeh pilaf, beef and topped with wild sour cherries.

Every good meal has to have a sweet ending. For dessert, diners should
try the Armenian style walnut pakhlava or Achtalieh, which is a milk
pudding topped with pistachios and served in a pottery jar. Anouch ser,
a sweet rolled pastry filled with cream, is a smart choice too.

The restaurant offers Shisha indoors and outdoors for its diners.

Expect to pay: SR150 to SR200 per person.

Opening hours: From 1 p.m. to 1 a.m. on weekends and from 1 p.m. to
12 a.m. on weekdays.