© Anushka Bose. All rights reserved.*
This past week, I have been feeling ever so nostalgic about one particular aspect of Dhahran—its Tandoori House-Olive Garden Restaurant. Housed under one roof, the unique fusion restaurant boasted a menu of Indian, Chinese, and Italian food. Oh, how I miss the food there! Inside the perimeter of the Dhahran compound, there weren’t too many restaurant/dining potions. And this restaurant held a special place in my heart for as long as I lived there. Whether it was catching up with friends on the weekend, or going out to a weekday lunch with family, or ordering in and watching a movie, Tandoori House was always one call or drive away.
Interior of Tandoori House
My best friend and I used to frequent the restaurant so much that our predictable order was memorized by one of the waiters. One evening he saw us scavenging through the menu, probably laughing to himself—as if we’d dare try something new— and said “Sweet’n’Sour chicken again?” with a mischievous grin on his face. My friend and I looked at each other and started giggling at our own routine order. That day, we picked other menu items to diversify our orders.
The iconic table mat on all the tables at Tandoori House.
The iconic Saudi “Champagne”.
Graduation dinners, birthday dinners, farewell dinners—all of these celebratory and momentous occasions were held at this restaurant. Situated in the “Kings” Area next to the bowling alley to the left and movie theater to the right, and across Café Najjar, the Kings Area was, and probably still is, a bustling area of Dhahran’s youth. Many evenings were spent at the bowling alley/movie theater, followed by dinner at Tandoori House.
Chicken Fried Rice and Chicken Manchurian
My favorite orders from the menu included: Chicken Tikka Masala, Sweet ‘n’ Sour Chicken, Chicken in Garlic Sauce, Chicken Fried Rice, Chicken Sizzler, Sweet Corn Chicken Soup, Chicken Biryani, Chicken Jalfrezi, Banana Split Ice-cream with soft and iconic Saudi Cocktail/Champagne. To this day, I crave all these menu items. I have been to many Indian restaurants in America, but none have compared to the Chicken Tikka Masala and Chicken Jalfrezi at Tandoori House. And I’ve never encountered another similar drink to Saudi Champagne. It’s not just nostalgia, the chefs at Tandoori House were truly brilliant!
Chicken Tikka Masala, Rice, and Naan.
Extending beyond my nostalgia, I did a quick google search for the restaurant to read about its history. Tandoori House was founded in 1995 and has three locations in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. One in Dhahran, one in Al-Khobar, and one in Jubail. You can learn more about the restaurant and view its menu here.
When I look through the memories on my phone, I come across multiple photos taken at Tandoori House. The restaurant wasn’t just about delicious food, it was about the loving gathering of family and friends across the years and celebratory moments. In small towns, have the one “diner,” or that one “spot” everybody can rely on. Tandoori House is far from being classified as a diner—we are talking about a fine finishing experience here! But the sentimentality holds true: the restaurant was a symbol of routine and reliance for us Aramcons. No matter what was going on in our lives, we could rely on the restaurant’s delicious, sweet corn chicken soup to bring us back to spirits. Regardless of how many amazing restaurants I encounter, Tandoori House will always hold a big space in my heart, and it’ll continue to be my favorite restaurant in the whole wide world.
If you live in the Eastern Province and haven’t gone to one of the locations yet, I highly recommend you do so. You won’t regret it.
Anushka is a current PhD Student at American University in Washington, D.C. She spent her youth growing up in Dhahran, where she attended Dhahran Elementary, Dhahran Middle School, and Dhahran Academy High School. She loves learning about new cultures and is fascinated by the diversity that brings us all together, especially the expatriate community, where the only thing that is common is that we are all different, in culture, language, and the perspectives we hold. One day she hopes to publish a book on the Third Culture Kid experience. Dhahran continues to hold a big place in her heart.
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