It’s exceedingly rare that I am surprised by food these days. But Liang managed to pleasantly surprise me more than once during a lunchtime visit.
Liang, which means ‘the beam of light reflected by the moon’ in Chinese, brings a unique Chinese cuisine experience offering unparalleled authenticity to Doha. It is located adjacent to Mandarin Oriental, Doha in Barahat Msheireb.
This beautifully decorated restaurant has an established and calming atmosphere about it. I felt relaxed the moment I walked in. And my expectations for the food were raised immediately by the surroundings and the level of service received upon arrival. Not only were those high expectations met, they were also exceeded.
My fellow guests and myself settled at our table and opted for the recommend black tea to accompany food throughout our meal. This was served promptly and we began the process of scanning the menu which showcases authentic Cantonese recipes for both lunch and dinner.
I very much enjoy Chinese food, but I am not an expert on it. Thus, we collectively decided to be guided by our server. And two varieties of Dim Sum were quickly served: Xiao Long Bao steamed chicken dumplings, and Har Gau steamed crystal shrimp dumplings.
Not being a ninja with chopsticks I decided not to try and be clever with the Dim Sum, and opted to simply pick up a Xiao Long Bao and pop it straight into my mouth. This was surprise number one. Completely unexpected, the Dim Sum was filled with what appeared to be a delicious chicken soup. The moment I bit into it there was a flavour explosion inside my mouth. My eyes literally sprang open with astonishment. Firstly I was not expecting liquid inside a Dim Sum (how on earth do they get soup inside there anyway?), and secondly it tasted absolutely delicious. I then learned that the correct way of eating these is to place one on a spoon, spear it with a chopstick and then suck the liquid out. I observed others trying a more elegant technique, but decided I preferred simply popping the whole thing in my mouth in one go, and proceed to repeat the process. Dim Sum is great for sharing and talking at the same time, and our conversation was all about this delightful start to the meal.
Next up, and surprise number two was filled mushroom-shaped buns. We were told that these are exclusively available at Liang in Qatar. The buns literally and convincingly look like mushrooms. Executive Chef Lam and his team are clearly showcasing their extraordinary skills in producing a creation such as this. Inside there is a wonderful, chopped mushroom filling that while delicious still made me feel a little guilty for destroying something that must have taken so much effort to produce.
There then followed a succession of dishes that brought so much pleasure to my taste buds. Lotus leaf-wrapped glutinous rice with chicken, crispy wonton dumplings, deep-fried prawn dumplings with sweet and sour dip, and Hong Kong style pan-fried turnip cakes with fermented shrimps and shiitake mushrooms. All of which were simply wonderful, and led to surprise number three: Chilled Sichuan Spicy Chicken. This is poached chicken in chilli sauce with sesame seeds and spring onions. I cannot begin to tell you how good this is. Without doubt one of the tastiest things I have ever eaten. I had to share it with others, but I wanted to eat it all myself. This dish alone will mean I simply have to return to enjoy it again.
Hot and sour soup was next to appear on the table. A firm favourite of mine, and this one did not disappoint. I knew there was still more food to come, so I behaved myself and only had one serving. And I’m glad I did, because next to come out of the kitchen was a whole roasted Peking Duck. It looked, and indeed was, really good and crispy. I remember the first time I had Peking Duck back in a restaurant in China Town, Birmingham in the UK. I remember it so well because this was the moment,I discovered one of my favourite dishes in the world, ever. This Peking Duck took me back to that moment. But back then it was just served. This was being served as a spectacle. Presented to us whole, then right in front of us it was skilfully carved and placed into steamed pancakes along with cucumber, leeks and Hoisin sauce. Not by one, but by two members of staff meaning we got to eat while the duck was still at its best. Absolutely delicious.
What remained of the duck is then diced and cooked in XO sauce or sweet soy sauce and served with lettuce wraps. Yum!
Two more dishes arrived, Kung Pao Tiger Prawns in sweet chilli sauce and Sichuan-style Braised Seabass served with wood fungus and capsicum in chilli and broad bean sauce. Both of these were excellent and because my colleagues were getting a little full, I got to eat most of these two.
Then ta-dah! Out came the Signature Wagyu Beef Short Ribs – braised short ribs with Sichuan chilli sauce. This is another dish I would return to Liang for just to order again. The meat just melts in your mouth, accompanied by a sauce that takes it to another level.
This is when the resident and certified Tea Master arrived at our table. Tea Masters practice for years before being honoured with the coveted title. He gave us an impressive and entertaining performance with an exceedingly long-spouted teapot which he seemingly danced with. It’s one more of those little things that make a visit to Liang memorable. And if you are entertaining guests, it’s one more memory they will take away with them that will make dining with you something special. And they will probably talk about it for a long time after.
The finale, for those who still had room, was caramelised banana fritter with frosted sugar. Simple, yet with so little room left in my stomach, exactly what I wanted.
If you like Chinese cuisine, I can’t think of anywhere I would recommend more. Other restaurants I enjoy Chinese food in tend to be fusion restaurants, with menus comprising items from mixed countries of origin. Liang’s menu comprises traditional Cantonese recipes and innovative creations by Executive Chef Lam, and the handpicked team he has brought with him. I have never been to China, and now you and I don’t have to. China has come to us.
Designed by Hong Kong based agency LRF Designers Limited
Lunch: noon to 3 pm
Dinner: 6 pm to 11 pm
Open daily except Sunday
Tell me more about Mandarin Oriental, Doha
Author: Brian Candy
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