هبة اليوسف

Heba Al-Youssef


Saudi Arabia chef offers own sushi

Saudi businesswoman Khulood Olaqi is the first Saudi woman to open a Japanese restaurant in Riyadh with a fully trained Saudi team. Olaqi received specialized courses at Tokyo Academy in Singapore where she became the first Saudi chef specialized in sushi.

In spite of challenges great effort was expended to make her dream come true.

At first she failed in her preliminary trials but cleaved to her original vision that Saudi women were equal to any task or calling, feeling there was lots to prove about the superiority of Saudi females.

Olaqi’s  academic specialty is in Health Education. In fact she was preparing for a Master’s degree when she began to think about her other great passion:  cooking.

She confided to Women 2030 that her desire to prepare food gradually became irresistible; that she had been so fond of cooking it began to invade her academic thinking.

Khulood's mother was exceptional. She wanted her daughter to be distinguished and not to be submerged in the imitation of others. So she suggested Sushi, blazing a trail where no one had ever been before. Something entirely different in KSA cuisine.                   

Following her mother’s advice and encouragement Olaqi started preparing Sushi at home , using the kit her mother had bought while in China.  

In the beginning Olaqi experienced the usual tremors of possible failure, but her friends encouraged her to continue. Resorting to YouTube she gradually improved her skills in Sushi preparation, with her friends as her first enthusiastic customers.

“I made the mistake of buying large quantities of fish in a limited market. Of course fish became rotten before I could complete the dishes, in spite of waking up very early to work at preparation and deliver to colleagues and customers at University.  I felt I’d failed and decided to terminate the project.”

Challenging obstacles

Mercifully, family and friends rallied to support Olaqi with words of encouragement.

Starting again with smaller amounts, meanwhile getting married to a man who loves cooking. Together they travelled to the Academy of Singapore where they plunged into the intricacies and art of Sushi preparation and display.

On their return the wife and husband team restarted her project, launching via Instagram to measure acceptance and enthusiasm for this new culinary specialty.  

To their surprise Olaqi received many orders via Instagram after people viewed pictures of their sushi meals. Even more surprising was receiving offers from investors who wanted to invest in her idea and open a restaurant. But with proper caution she preferred to stay on her own.

Expanding the venture they brought in several workers and went on to a most visible success.

With the help of her husband’s Uncle they inaugurated their restaurant, Oishi Sushi, in 2016. They are currently expanding the training to young exclusively Saudi workers.

Olaqi wanted  a highly professional and creative team, and took care not to open prematurely. Her goal was excellence. Today, Oishi Sushi has more than 41,000 followers on Instagram.  

Although the meal Khulood is providing is unusual and not widespread in Arabian society, she has scored initial success in creating a novel Arabian culinary taste.

Olaqi has invented an interesting variation, even to the Academy, in a Cooked Sushi to suit Arab tastes, alongside naturally, with original raw Sushi for Japanese Sushi lovers.

Women in this article

A Saudi woman opened the first Japanese sushi restaurant in Riyadh.

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شيء جميل نشاهد النساء السعوديات يخترقن مجالات جديدة وغير مطروقة مسبقاً
I’m from Japan. What a emotional story is it!! I wanna try her Sush!!!
خلود مبدعة جدا في تقديم الجديد
😍😍😍😍😍😍 جميل ما شاء الله
شي عظيم وحاجه كويسه ويجب علينا تقدير الايدي العامله لدينا لان مهما كان سيصبح ابناء الوطن خيراً له من العماله الخارجيه وبتوفق للأخت خلود العوده ❤️❤️❤️
Zhiyuan Wu
Look gorgeous!
منيرة المقرن
أعجبني تمسكها بالفكرة و حرصها على أن تنهض بنفسها دون الاستعانة بمستثمرين .تتميز من خلال تعاملي معها بخصلة قل مانجدها في أصحاب الأعمال و هي الأمانة ثم الأمانة في عملها و حرصها الشديد على الجودة . الله يحرمك و والديك عن النار .تحية من القلب لك و لزوجك فريد و الذي أعده من الرجال المحترمين القلائل.
ايمي الهادي
الله يوفقك ياخلود أنا مادقت السوشي بس ان شالله ادوقو لم اجي الرياض حبيبت قلبي بلتوفيق والنجاح يارب ومعاكي امك ايمي اعتبرك بنتي والله انتي وخالد اخوكي وإلا امام ان شالله
ام ديالا
اذا زرت الرياض اول مطعم ازوره ان شاءالله مطعمك.
انا من متابعينك بالسناب فخورييين فيك الله يوفقك
مبدعه ومتألقه دائماً الشيف خلود ، الله يوفقگ ونشوفگ بأعلى المراكز وفروعگ تصير على دول العالم مو بس الخليج ...
فخورين فيك
من اعلى لاعلى يارب 💕
ماشاء الله رغم الصعاب الا انها تحدت الظروف بنجاح وفقها الله وييسر لها خطاها
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