Summer is officially upon us and sometimes, we crave a little culinary adventure. Rather than booking travel tickets, simply transport your senses to Greece and feast on freshly prepared dishes, right here in Kuwait. Located in the heart of Shuwaikh Market, ZOI is Kuwait’s hottest new eatery. Reminiscent of a cozy Greek taverna, ZOI serves up colorful Mediterranean cuisine in the most spectacular way.
Full of natural light, their chaise lounge seating, garden and salon chairs mixed with wonderfully mismatched pillows give the place a homey feel. A single olive tree takes center stage in the middle of the restaurant surrounded by tables and diners, while Greek music blares in the background. All around, the walls and the ceiling are decorated with hanging floral cups and bird mobiles as well as plants, giving the space a kitschy-chic vibe. Still in their soft opening phase, ZOI’s menu is small but mighty and superbly delicious. We took our seats, sipped on our Rose Iced Tea and enjoyed the freshly baked bread and olives as we waited for our meal.
Two options of soup start off the menu – a Soupa Kounoupidi, pureed cauliflower soup and Fassolatha, white bean and vegetable soup – will kick start the appetite and leave you craving more. The salad options were quintessentially Mediterranean and perfectly in theme. Their Roasted Cauliflower Salad was palatable and came over a bed of baby spinach, chickpeas and a wonderful pomegranate and sumac spiced tahini dressing and fresh herbs. The refreshing Watermelon Salad came with Kalamata olives, mint and feta cheese finished off with a honey vinaigrette. The star of the show was Saganaki Salad, which is a beautifully crispy, melted Kashkawan cheese over rocca, mint leaves and pomegranate seeds.
Then came the meals to share, and we were giddy. The fresh Fried Calamari served up with a side of lemon caper mayo had the perfect crunch. The Beef Baklava on the other hand was superb and surprising! Imagine the typically sweet baklava pastry in a savory format, filled with spiced meat and topped with a cinnamon syrup and some roasted pine nuts. The Sesame Saganaki dish upped the cheese’s flavor profile with a golden sesame crust and appetizing fig compote. But the Kolokithokeftedes, or Zucchini Fritters, were perfect! Brilliant flavors meet and mingle in the fritters themselves and the tzatziki and slivered pistachios elevate the taste further. As for the main dishes, we were smitten.
Boasting four options to please every palate, ZOI’s main dishes are superb. A chicken option came to us in the form of a juicy Chicken Souvlaki with pilaf rice and tzatziki. The beef was a beautifully marinated Koufta, and it was presented with a cumin-heavy lemon tahini sauce and finished with pomegranate seeds. Pro tip: dip some of their freshly baked bread into the sauce, it’s glorious match! For all the fish lovers out there, you’re not forgotten. ZOI makes a killer fish-of-the-day dish called Psari Plaki. Enough for two to three people, the fish is fresh from the market and baked whole with fresh herbs and a tantalizingly fragrant sauce. The lamb dish of choice was none other than the expertly prepared Moussaka – with a twist. The roasted eggplant is stuffed with potatoes and lamb spiced and simmered in a tomato-based cinnamon and clove sauce, then topped off with a ricotta, parmesan béchamel sauce that is then baked to perfection.
Comfortably full from all the food, we ordered some dessert. With a side of hot tea, the desserts were brilliant. The Chocolate Truffle Loukoumades – a twist on the traditional crispy dumplings – had a beautiful molten chocolate center and drizzled with honey cinnamon and roasted walnuts. ZOI’s Mistikha Kataifi were a palatably crispy phyllo cake stuffed with mistikha crème anglaise, strawberry compote and topped with pistachio slivers. If you’re craving something summery, go for the Zezenia. This trifle like dessert is refreshing in the heat and satiated our craving perfectly. Topped with candy-floss, this dessert has mistikha ice-cream in the middle and a rose and pistachio reduction at the bottom. Take a spoonful of all three together and enjoy the burst of flavors with every bite.
So let your taste-buds travel to Greece’s scenic seaside taverns and visit ZOI for a truly delicious journey through their vibrant take on Greek cuisine. ZOI is in Shuwaikh Market in Shuwaikh Industrial Area-1. Opening hours are 3PM to 10PM daily. Call them on 2221 6935 for enquiries and follow them on Instagram @ZoiKw for more.