A Xinhua feature by Hamada Hattab, Osama Radi
GAZA: A newly established restaurant began recently, for the first time ever in the Gaza Strip, to serve meals of Chinese food to customers and help them to learn how to use chopsticks in a bid to encourage the new business and attract more customers in the densely populated coastal enclave.
The idea was very much successful at Kaza Miza restaurant, which was inaugurated opposite the monument of the Unknown Soldier in Gaza city downtown three months ago.
The restaurant’s chef, Ahmed Iqtifan, has never been to China and has never worked at any Chinese restaurant to learn how to cook Chinese food; however, with his good experience in making food, he searched for Chinese recipes on the Internet and learned how to make various kinds of Chinese food.
Iqtifan, in his mid-30s, told Xinhua that after he learned how to cook Chinese food, he decided to change the regular food menu of the restaurant and made a new one that includes the new meals to present it to the restaurant’s customers who have been always eager to taste food they never tasted before.
The Gaza-based chef had worked before at various restaurants all over the impoverished coastal enclave, which specialised in serving traditional eastern recipes of foods and deserts.
“I don’t find any difficulty in preparing and cooking Chinese meals, especially the ones mixed with vegetables and rice as well as the meals made with meat, fish, noodles and spaghetti,” said Iqtifan, adding that “our customers, especially those who tasted Chinese food before, liked very much the taste.”
The menu of Kaza Miza restaurant includes seven new kinds of Chinese meals; all these meals are eaten with chopsticks. Gazans have been always using spoons and sometimes their hands in eating their food, but this time they have to use chopsticks to taste and feel the atmosphere of eating Chinese food.
Abdulla Saqallah, one of the customers at the restaurant, found it very difficult in the beginning to use chopsticks when he came to the restaurant for the first time, but he said, “although it is difficult to learn how to use those sticks, I really like the idea and I enjoy the good and tasty food here.”
“The way how the dish looks and the taste as well are all perfect,” he told Xinhua with a wide smile, adding that “next time I come to the restaurant, I will bring my friends to try Chinese food, and see how they will be able to learn how to eat using the chopsticks.”
Mohamed al-Masri, in charge of marketing at the restaurant, told Xinhua that including Chinese recipes into the restaurant’s menu is a brand new idea, which is aimed at helping the newly established restaurant attract customers.
“Having Chinese meals for the first time in Gaza makes our restaurant a special one,” said al-Masri, who has been to the United Arab Emirates in a trip two years ago, where he visited one of the Chinese restaurants in Dubai.
While the customers are eating their Chinese meals, the restaurant plays several Chinese songs and music. Meanwhile, the restaurant is thinking of adding more Chinese decorations to make the customers feel the “real Chinese flavour.”
Over the past few years, more restaurants have been inaugurated in the Gaza strip. Gaza municipality said in a statement that 195 restaurants were opened in there in 2015.
The reason for the increase of restaurants was due to the growth of the populations of the enclave which climbed up to more than 1.9 million.
“Due to the shortage of business investments in other fields, many investors found out that the business of opening restaurants was a good idea to attract customers.
“Everywhere in the world, people always need to eat and enjoy good food,” said Salah Abu Hasseira, chairman of the union of restaurants.
He said that the endless Israeli blockade, which had been imposed on the Gaza Strip for more than eight years, had badly damaged the external tourism in the enclave, adding that “at the same time, the local and internal tourism had flourished despite the ongoing deterioration in economy.”
Abu Hasseira said the tourism sector contributed with 15 per cent of the general economy of Gaza although the situation and the daily living condition in the Gaza Strip are difficult due to the endless Israeli blockade.–BERNAMA