With its multicultural population, Qatar consists of a various range of cuisines. And when it comes to Asian cuisine, it does not sell itself short. Asian food lovers are spoiled for taste.
The latest to join Qatar’s rich selection of Asian cuisine is Yugo. Located at The Gate Mall, Yugo is an Asian fusion restaurant that delivers a unique dining experience that’s influenced by the traditional and exotic flavours of East Asian cuisine and the contemporary culinary arts from around the world. The menu comprises a mixture of dishes originating from all over Asia, including Japan, Thailand, Korea, China, Laos and Vietnam to name a few, and provides a wide variety of unique offerings that are sure to excite the food lovers in Qatar.
The restaurant operations is led by Chef David Desenne, who also serves as the Executive Chef. Hailing from France, Desenne worked in various restaurants and hotels across Europe for more than a decade before travelling to Thailand and settling there after being entranced by Thai cuisine. Desenne continued to serve as the head chef in various restaurants in Thailand for more than six years, before moving to Yugo in Qatar.
Desenne is assisted by a team of multicultural team of diverse nationalities and culinary specialisations, led by Head Chef Kosai Tingsarat. He hails from Thailand, and has worked previously in various Asian restaurants across the Middle East and North African region for more than a decade.
Marhaba talks to Chefs Desenne and Tingsarat about the new restaurant and their journey to the culinary world.
Tell us about Yugo’s Asian fusion concept.
Desenne: Yugo is an Asian fusion restaurant. We’re doing an interesting mixture of dishes from all over East Asia – Japan, Korea, Thailand, Laos, Malaysia – with some unique addition to it. People seem to be enjoying it so far. Well I’d hoped they did – we’ve spent quite some time putting together the menu – quite a lot of time researching and testing the dishes.
Tingsarat: Yes, some of the dishes are new to me as well, and I’ve been doing Asian food for quite a long time. But I think it’s coming together really well. We’ve got a great team.
Qatar has seen a recent influx of Asian cuisine restaurants. How will Yugo stand out?
Desenne: See that’s the thing. We’re not positioning ourselves as an Asian restaurant. We’re an Asian fusion restaurant. I mean, yes we’re going to have popular dishes that people are more familiar with, like Tom Kha (soup) or Pad Thai (noodles). But we’re also going to have more interesting concepts, like Japanese Beef Carpaccio, or Brie-age.
Comment from bystander: Oh I thought it’s read as Brie-age [pronouncing like ‘age’ of a person]
Tingsarat: No, its pronounced ‘aa-gay’, as in Japanese.
Desenne: Yeah it’s Japanese for deep fried. So our dish is deep fried Brie, which is French, treated with Japanese condiments and apple chutney.
Tingsarat: Yes, and Foi Thong Tempura Ice Cream is like a fusion of items from four cuisines – Japanese tempura batter, Thai gold egg yolks thread, whipped cream which is European, and the core ice creams are Arabic.
Desenne: We’ve got more items like these that I believe will be a new and interesting experience to the food lovers in Qatar.
Tingsarat: Especially some of the desserts.
Chefs, where does your love for food stem from?
Tingsarat: It’s my culture. I mean, Thailand in itself is known for food and friendliness. My mother used to teach classes on how to make traditional Thai desserts at Wat Chulamanee. My father used to go to the temple on every Buddhist day – that occurs once every week – and cook for the monks and the students who came to study there. He had this motorbike with a sidecar where he would put all his cooking equipment and me. People’s faces would just light up with smiles when they saw him approaching. And I liked that. So I started to get involved as well. I think I started by cooking northern style Thai curries, which is very spicy. And I loved it.
Desenne: Travel. I didn’t have a lot of money when I was young, but I was fascinated with travelling around. I initially started working in restaurants to make some money to travel, but turns out knowing how to cook is like a passport to travel around the world because you’re very much in demand. And the more you travel, the more you come to know about other cultures and cuisines. So it’s a great self-sustaining combination.
When did you start cooking professionally?
Desenne: Two days ago [laughs]. For real, I’m not sure. I think I started cooking in 1996 but it was in a small restaurant and it was pretty much like an internship. I then travelled all over France in like two years. Then I moved to Switzerland, Madagascar, London, Madrid, Barcelona, and a bunch of other countries in Europe. I would stay in a place for like three to four months at a time, and then move to a new country. It was more to travel than to make money or be a ‘professional’ chef. A longer and more stable job position was I guess in 2003.
Tingsarat: Started in ’96 while I was in the Philippines. I was studying as well as working. I worked with my twin brother who had been working in an Asian restaurant there.
What are your thoughts on the current food industry? What are your thoughts on Asian restaurants?
Desenne: See, people will always want food. And they will always be loyal to good food. So as long as a restaurant consistently focuses on that, and on giving the customers a good experience, they will be successful. At least, that’s my belief.
Tingsarat: I agree.
What’s your secret to success?
Desenne: Work hard, be nice.
Tingsarat: Whatever you do, do it for yourself.
Desenne: [to Kosai] What, like be selfish?
Tingsarat: No! As in, don’t do it to prove or impress anyone, or just because it’s your job. Do it to improve yourself because you are the only person you can’t cheat.
During the holy month of Ramadan, Yugo is offering a Ramadan Special of a four-course Asian dinner at only QAR149.
Yugo is located at The Gate Mall (Ground floor, Tower 3). For more information or reservations, visit yugoqatar.com or call 4407 7118.
Author: Ola Diab
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