SeaSalt review: big flavours in small Omani town

The restaurant, in Alila Hinu Bay in Mirbat, deserves mention for its elaborate menu, quantity and quality

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One of two restaurants in the alluringly rustic-chic Alila Hinu Bay property in the charming Omani town of Mirbat, Sea Salt is run by Italian chef Alessandro Sandrolini, who leads a team of chefs from India, Sri Lanka and Oman.

The diversity of its cooks is apparent in the elaborate menu, which held my dining partner and I in good stead for our four-day stay at the hotel. Fellow residents aside, the restaurant welcomed a number of guests not staying at the property, confirmation of its appeal.

What to expect and where to sit

An outdoor table comes with views of the infinity pool, bay and mountains beyond. Photo: Alila Hinu Bay

The restaurant overlooks one of two swimming pools at the property, and offers indoor and outdoor seating. The airy indoor space has half a dozen ceiling fans, well-spaced-out solid wood tables, an open kitchen and beach-inspired decor, including “curtains” artfully created from shells.

If the weather permits, opt for a terrace table, and you’ll be rewarded with views of the sparkling bay flanked by mountains.

The menu

If, like us, you intend to spend the major portion of your stay at the luxurious property, this menu has plenty to keep you satiated.

Chef Sandrolini goes big with his flavours in even the smallest of dishes. Case in point: the spiced tom yum and coconutty sayur lodeh soups are mini meals in themselves, filled to bursting with meat and veggies. Pair one with the tangy papaya-prawn-peanut salad, and it will suffice as a light lunch.

More filling appetisers include the Vietnamese banh bao, steamed and fried dim sum, and chicken and lamb satay. While the creamy, home-made peanut sauce is served only with that last dish, we found ourselves ordering it with nearly every appetiser save for the prawns, which come with their own soy-chilli dressing.

When it comes to the main course, follow this cardinal culinary tip: you can’t go wrong with roti canai. The flaky flatbread, popular in South-East Asia, goes well with nearly every curry. At Sea Salt, it’s served as an accompaniment to the Thai and Indonesian-style fish dishes as well as the beef rendang and lamb shank kurma.

Again, the flavour profiles are finger-licking good. Artfully combining pepesan-sambal olek with tamarind, and kafir leaves with cilantro, Sandrolini offers generous chunks of meat without skimping on the quantity of curry, either.

If you’re steering clear of dough, all mains come with an option of plain steamed rice, although the nasi goreng, mee goreng and pad Thai noodles are worthy second dishes. The pad Thai, in particular, is a delicious melding of tamarind, fish sauce and palm sugar, and you can ask the chefs to dial the sweetness up or down for you.

Standout dishes

The lamb shank is a must-have for meat-eaters.

We ordered the tender, falling-off-the-bone lamb shank — marinated in ground whole spices and served with potatoes — for dinner every night for three nights straight. Enough said.

The chef

Sandrolini has been with Alila since December 2020, before which he worked at various Hyatt properties, in Venice, Delhi, Jeddah, Muscat and Belgrade. He prides himself on using only fresh and high-quality ingredients (so be prepared to wait for up to 20 minutes for some of the more elaborate dishes at Sea Salt), and says a kitchen is only as good as its team.

The South-East Asian focus of the menu aside, Sandrolini recommends trying simpler off-the-grill dishes served in their own jus, including the Wagyu striploin and black Angus rib-eye, and John Stone lamb rack.

Price point and contact information

In addition to the catch of the day sold at market price, the menu is divided into soups and starters, which range from 4 Omani rials ($10) to OMR7; a wok selection (OMR5-OMR16); a grill selection (OMR14-OMR30); and desserts (OMR4-OMR7).

Sea Salt is in Alila Hinu Bay in Mirbat, Oman, and can be contacted on 00968 2337 3300.

This review was conducted at the invitation of the restaurant

Updated: July 01, 2022, 5:01 AM
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