Bahrain has long been a melting pot of multiculturalism and diversity, with a history as old as immigration itself
Time Out Bahrain staff
It might be the most populous country in the world, but there are far fewer Chinese in Bahrain than one might expect. While the Chinese have set up shop in all four corners of the globe and have a strong influence in much of the rest of the GCC, Manama is so far bereft of a China Town. That’s not to say that Chinese food, products and culture have not had a relatively wide influence in Bahrain. We take you through the best of it.
Chinese chow Ken Lo’s Memories of China This place was founded in 1981 in London, and has since become a British institution. Indeed, Ken Lo is the man credited with making crispy seaweed popular. Although the founder sadly died in 2001, his legacy lives on and is still expanding throughout the world. The Bahrain branch might well be the most expensive Chinese restaurant that you’re going to find on the island, but it is also one of the best. Adliya, 17 717 080
Hong Kong For most communities around the world, the local Chinese takeaway is as important as the newsagent and the pub but the very notion of Chinese takeaways seems yet to take off here. Hong Kong is set to change all this, with great Cantonese fare at reasonable prices, where you can either eat in or take it home. Umm Al Hassan 17 728 700
Chinese medicine The Chinese Medical Clinic, Bahrain Wellness Resort The Bahrain Wellness Resort is home to a whole range of East Asian-inspired treatments, but it is the Chinese Medical Clinic that puts this place on the map. With a range of holistic therapies from acupuncture and Chinese medical massage, fire cupping, gua sha (scraping therapy), and the famous foot massage, this is the place to head for alternative therapies. Janabiya, 17 795 961
Chinese Healthy Man Massage If you are looking for a relatively cheap and utterly authentic massage, be it back, neck, head or feet, check out the popular Chinese massage centre just off American Alley in Juffair. With a selection of therapists waiting to hammer out your knots, this place should not be overlooked. Juffair 17 365 018
Liuzhen Xu, managing director, Chinese Medical Clinic at the Bahrain Wellness Resort • The place I like to eat at is Beijing Restaurant (17 717 969) in Adliya, because the taste of the food here is the best, just like China, and they cook healthy food without any MSG.
• I shop for food in Central Market, because this is where the vegetables are most fresh, and in Chinese cooking you need fresh produce. I come from the South of China, near Guangzhou, and in Lulu Supermarket in Dana Mall you can get some soya sauce and noodle brands that are from my region, Guangzhou.
• We are not a big community in this country, so for all the special occasions such as Chinese New Year and the Spring Festival we go to the Chinese Embassy in Manama or get invited to the ambassador’s residence.
• Bahrain is a fantastic place because I like the weather, though I run away during the summer time. It is also very quiet and people are very friendly.
• I don’t see much Chinese culture in Bahrain right now, but everybody talks about China’s position in the future, so maybe this will change.
The real thing! If you enjoy the Chinese culture in Bahrain, then why not visit China itself, for which there is no substitute. We give you all the details you need to get there.
If there’s one country in the world that defines the beauty, hospitality and the cultural integrity of East Asia, then it is Thailand. One of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, while Thailand plays host to around 15 million tourists each year, Thai nationals can be found living across the world, introducing foreigners to Thai cuisine, Thai massage and the famed Thai smile. And while the country might be politically divided, the Thai community in Bahrain is united in their attempt to present the best of what Thailand has to offer.
A taste of Thai Honeys While there are more Thai restaurants in Bahrain than you can shake a stick at, ranging from top notch to the extremely cheap, Honeys in our opinion is the most authentic. With decor that wouldn’t look out of place on Bangkok’s main artery Sukhumvit, the food here is piping hot, full of coconut milk, and absolutely delicious. Manama 17 223 962
Saffron The Banyan Tree might be based in Singapore, but its soul is in Thailand. Saffron at the up-market hotel transports the romance of Thai cuisine to the deserts of Arabia. Superb service and exquisite food, it has to be said this is not so much how Thai people would eat it, but it is definitely the style that foreigners love. Banyan Tree Al Areen 17 845 000
Rachanee supermarket If you want to try your hand at Thai cuisine, you’ll need to stock up at Rachanee’s, which is a cold store full to the brim of green curry paste, coconut milk and fresh herbs. Adliya, 17 749 162
Thai spa secrets Banyan Tree Al Areen Spa If you want the upmarket Thai spa experience, which has been exported to innumerable five star hotels across the world, then you’ll need to check out the second biggest spa on earth at the Banyan Tree Al Areen. From the traditional Thai massage (think passive yoga), to more aromatic treatments, this is the place to indulge. Al Areen 17 845 000
Exhibition Road You don’t have to be rich to have regular massages (most Thai people visit a massage place on average once a week), and there are a number of small massage joints on Exhibition Road, most of which offer great foot massages.
American Alley Juffair is an unlikely hub of holistic therapies but the Thai massage place on American Alley offers great massages at rock bottom prices. 17 728 787
Chanakan Promsontmi, general manager, Honeys restaurant • There are four corner stores in Bahrain that sell Thai produce: Rachanee in Adliya, Oriental Supermarket next to Central Market, Asian House, which is next to Oriental Supermarket and Soba Supermarket in Gudaibiya.
• There are lots of Thai restaurants in Bahrain, but the thing is each restaurant is good for one or two dishes. For example, Wong Thai in Adliya is good for noodles whereas C-squared in Hoora, is good for som tam.
• When there is a celebration for Songkran, and to celebrate the King’s birthday or the Queen’s birthday, we have parties at the Marina Club, the Thai Embassy or the Thai Ambassador’s residence.
• I have lived in Bahrain for more than 22 years. I have been in Bahrain longer than I was in Thailand. If you like to work, then it is a good place.
• If people want to know more about Thai culture, then you need to come to the events that we have – the parties for Thai New Year and the flower festival. We are celebrating Songkran, Thai New Year, at the Marina Club between April 8 and 9. Come and join us!
The real thing! If you think Thai cuisine and massage are alluring, you should try out Thailand itself. Vibrant, colourful, healthy and with the best hospitality in the world, there is a reason that the country welcomes millions of visitors every year.
Other than the expat population from the Indian Subcontinent, the greatest Asian influence in the Gulf region comes from the Filipinos. With an estimated 18,000 Filipinos resident in Bahrain alone, the community forms the backbone of the service industry in the country, and its influence is widespread.
Filipino fodder OK, as much as we love eating our way across the world, even we have to admit that Filipino food is an acquired taste. The Asian staples of rice and noodles is supplemented by meat stews and other carnivorous dishes. The best place to first get acquainted with the national dishes are Lulu Supermarket in Dana Mall and Geant in Bahrain Mall. Here you can find cheap and cheerful food stalls selling a range of national dishes. For a more sit down, but still very reasonable, affair, head to Flamingo, which has a buffet and karaoke most nights. Alzainal Plaza, Manama Souq, 17 224 357
Cristalyn Pastrana, communications and brand manager, Movenpick Hotel Bahrain • The best Filipino food can be found in Gudaibiya, in front of Ashraf. The best dish they serve is beef sinigang or beef stew.
• The Al Jazeera Supermarkets have the best selection of Filipino items, especially their branches in Zinj.
• Filipinos love to parties and gather together – mostly in their home. A typical night out for most Filipinos would be a bar like Harvester in the Crowne Plaza or Twister in the Ramada Palace Hotel. But I prefer the beach, window shopping and then a movie.
• The Filipinos get on well in Bahrain because of the opportunities the Bahrain government has opened for us. Bahrain is a very homely place and here you don’t get bored or homesick.
• The thing that defines Filipino culture in Bahrain would be the ‘Filipino hospitality’. As you may know most of the Filipinos you will see work in hospitals, hotels and restaurants, because they do care about hospitality. Philippine culture is rich with true hospitality – try to visit the Philippines and I’m sure you will agree that, although it’s far, it is definitely worth travelling for!
The real thing! If you think the Filipinos are fun, you should see the Philippines. With some of the best beaches in the world, and some of the most beautiful natural landscapes, if you go to one place in Asia, it should be to this archipelago of more 7,100 islands.
A century ago, Japan was a closed society. Today, it is an economic and cultural powerhouse and the world is eating their food, playing on their gadgets and wondering how in the space of 40 years the country went from nuclear wasteland to Asian superpower. And the small country has even made its mark on Bahrain.
Juicy sushi It might have been slow to take off (and the fact it has might be one of the reasons that there is hardly any sea life left in our oceans) but sushi is now a worldwide craze with other Japanese dining options catching up fast.
Bushido If there is one restaurant that defines great Japanese cuisine in Bahrain, it’s Bushido, the Bahrain arm of the Buddha Bar. Classy, inspiring decor and some of the best sushi in town attract large crowds day and night. It’s not cheap, but then food this good never is. Seef 17 583 555
Mirai Not quite at the level of Bushido, and with a dash of the ‘international’ which takes the edge of the quality of the Japanese selection, Mirai is nevertheless one of the best restaurants in Bahrain and serves some scrumptious sashimi. Adliya 17 713 113
Sato This Japanese sushi bar in the Gulf Hotel was one of the first, and still ranks in the top three. Take a private room and indulge in sushi and teppanyaki. Adliya 17 726 619
The real thing! You might have missed cherry blossom season, but that’s no reason to ditch Japan. While Tokyo is neon light central, the best nightlife is in Osaka, and the most interesting city is Nagasaki.
Visas Japanese Embassy, Manama, 17 716 565
Flights Getting to Japan from Bahrain is lengthy and expensive. Qatar Airways fly between Doha and Osaka daily. For more information, visit www.qatarairways.com More information Visit www.jnto.go.jp.
Indonesia and its culture is frequently underrated. Sure, the Indonesians might not be as numerous in Bahrain as Filipinos, and fewer tourists might visit Indoneisa than Thailand, but with a wealth of islands and distinctive ethnic groups, the country is as vast as a continent as its sphere of influence is wide. With some of the most dramatic natrual scenery in the world both above and below the water, a national and colonial history that makes most country’s past look tame, and some of the most welcoming people on the planet, Indonesia rules!
Mohammed Iqbal, sales and PR Executive, Marriott Executive Apartments, Bahrain • You can find the best Indonesian food at Captain Cove in Gudaibiya.
• Right now there is no specific Indonesian venue to hang out in, or even a place that offers an Indonesian atmosphere. So I tend to spend my time fishing, go-karting and horse riding. I am a paragliding pilot, but I can’t do it in Bahrain because there is no proper cliff or mountain from which to launch off.
• In Bali, where I come from, most people spend their time on the beach, trekking in a forest, hiking a mountain or cycling amidst rice field. You can’t do that here.
• Indonesians get on well in Bahrain because there are only a few of us compared with other Far East nationals, this make us bond with each other pretty strongly. There is an Indonesian community named Perkibar and they have regular events and meetings.
• Indonesians are quite different from the rest of Far East: we are more conservative, more into tradition and have a strong interest in learning from the locals and adapting to the local society. Which is why you’ll find that Indonesians here speak Arabic, some very well.
The real thing! Indonesia is one of Asia’s best kept secrets. Sure, there’s beautiful Bali, but with over 18,000 other islands to choose from, you have a wealth of options along with some of the best diving in the world. Best of all, in the summer when it is sweltering in the Gulf, and rainy across the rest of Southeast Asia, Indonesia has its best weather of the year.
Visas Indonesian Consulate, Seef, 17 564 121
Flights Malaysia Airlines flies several times a week from Bahrain to Denpasar, the capital of Bali, via Kuala Lumpur from which there is a wealth of domestic carriers to ferry you around the huge archipelago. For more information, visit www.malaysiaairlines.com More information Visit www.indonesia-tourism.com.
Martial arts! The influence of East Asia in Bahrain is not all about piling on the pounds, gorging through the array of cuisine on offer. There are also a few options for those looking to get fit. Karate It might be a Japanese martial art, but its impact is now thoroughly global. Thanks to Karate Kid generations of karate enthusiasts have passed through the hands of masters. In Bahrain, there are plenty of options, whether you are black belt or no belt at all. The Bahrain Karate Centre (39 247 769) at the World Beat Fitness Centre, off Junaibiya Highway, Goju Karate Club (39 659 510) in Um Al Hassam near the British Club and the Japan Karate Association (17 591 237) in Garden City are all good options.
Thai kick boxing If you thought all Thais were all sweet and rather soft, go watch Thai kickboxing. With the aim to strike your opponent as hard as you possibly can using both your hands and your feet, people head to Thailand from all over the world. Zen-Do Bahrain (17 611 909) offers Western-style Thai kick boxing, while EZ Fit Sportsplex (17 692 378) offer classes. Tae kwon do The Korean influence in Bahrain is small at best, but Tae kwon do, the national martial art, is flying the flag. Learn the moves at the Marina Club (17 291 527).
Kingdom of Bahrain on the occasion of the celebration of National Day and I will like to invite the Filipino people to enjoy us in 16 December at Bahrain national stadium at 8 P,M, for "" march cars ad motorcycles with flags ""