It’s no secret that around the Middle East fast food is big business! If you have ever been to the gulf states of UAE, Qatar or Kuwait you will have seen the usual American culprits lining the food court malls. Wendy’s, Burger King and of course McDonalds are everywhere, but we think it’s important to eat local. This brings me to Al Baik.
If you haven’t heard of Al Baik then you probably haven’t been to Saudi Arabia. In Saudi, Al Baik has a huge cult following, particularly in their home city Jeddah. They offer what is called “broasted” chicken (this is just deep-fried in a pressure cooker). People all across Saudi Arabia go crazy for Al Baik! And why wouldn’t you? Crispy, spicy and simple.
Now, I’m not going to tell you that Al Baik is a gourmet food experience. It’s not. It’s served in cheap foil containers and stores are often a chaotic mess, but wow is it good. This is Saudi Arabia’s answer to KFC and since the 80s has been wildly successful in the Kingdom and now also in Bahrain and the UAE. They even have 10 stores in Mecca itself, so I guess that would indeed make it Mecca’s Mecca of fried chicken.
Saudi’s say that anyone who comes to Jeddah must try Al Baik (trying it in Riyadh or elsewhere is not considered “authentic”). A Saudi friend, and resident of Jeddah once said to me “Al Baik is Jeddah, Jeddah is Al Baik” and he is not wrong. A visit to one of these many restaurants in Jeddah is the equivalent of a hot dog in New York, a croissant in Paris or Sushi in Tokyo.
If you would like to experience the culinary journey that is a visit to Al Baik, then join us in Saudi !