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The Journey of Two Gourmands

Choosing where and what to eat is one of life’s big questions. Get it wrong and you risk disappointing taste buds, wasted money, and unfulfilled cravings. But get it right and your palate opens to a world of flavours you didn’t know existed. The love of food is not a new story but taking that love and turning it into an obsession is an art perfected by Sami al Salmi & Bosky Dutia. Two notorious gourmands who have been eating their way through the restaurants in the Sultanate for seven long years and telling their readers the nitty-gritty of each restaurant, the must-try and the must-avoids and at the same time advising restaurants on what needs to improve. Their brainchild Oman Restaurant Review- a group on Facebook that had humble beginnings, a few friends and family and them, this then imploded into a group of over 24,000 members, spread into other social media platforms. What do they do you ask? Their bio states that they work their way through meals offering up critiques on the best of what any restaurant has to offer - with integrity and utmost passion.

So, who are these two epicureans?

Sami al Salmi, an Omani who was born and raised outside the sultanate has had the chance to discover a variety of cuisines during that period. He loves experimenting in the kitchen just to replicate many meals that appeal to his tastebuds. Though his career doesn’t involve food, it is something that he is deeply passionate about. He describes himself as an experimentalist who would try any food once, just to broaden his horizons.

Bosky Dutia, an Indian with an Omani heart, born and raised in the nation has been in the F&B industry for over 15 years, if she’s not cooking then she is eating out or writing about food. Her ardour stems from the love of good food. Unafraid to get personal, she says she is not a fan of places that cater to “Instagram, not the mouth”. She describes her passion for fine dining akin to following a football team and has admitted to spending hundreds on some of her favourite meals.

Since August 2014, Oman Restaurant Review — the first Omani food group on social media has continued to share experiences with other members. Learning and growing from experiences online, the group now runs with rules and policies to ensure fair, and real reviews from everyone, including our gourmands. Sami and Bosky have one unbreakable policy, they do not write paid reviews in their quest to maintain honesty and professionalism, which in turn allows them a lot more space to be open.

They say that the journey has not been an easy one, reviews were not something easily accepted in the local market earlier, working with not only group members but also restaurant owners for a well-rounded experience for everyone. They strongly believe any food and beverage business can thrive based on word of mouth alone. Sami and Bosky also affirm the concept of critiquing and blogging are two different worlds. The world of a food critique is oriented towards the food, flavours, ambience, and the experience in totality. Their aim, right from the start was to change perceptions in the local market. For restaurateurs, it was to make the customer’s voice and suggestions heard and to improve their offerings to suit the market needs. For consumers, to let them know what’s new in town and what to not miss out on.

Most recently, the duo is being published in the features section of our paper every Tuesday. Each week, our readers get an insight into customs and traditions from countries across the globe while they go on to describe various dishes from a particular restaurant in a column aptly named; He said, she said. Their aim remains as clear as it was in the beginning, to not only have a defined purpose but to also add value to the local dining scene.

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