I wasn't even looking for it, much less expecting to find such a restaurant.
Wandering around Doha's Souq Waqif on my last day in Qatar, I was looking for lunch. One of the city's main attractions, the early 19th-century Souq is a maze of communal courtyards, winding streets and narrow alleyways set within sun-drenched Middle Eastern architecture.
While the market retains its traditional status, with shops selling everything from scents and spices to falcons and fishing nets, out on the street enormous divans lure customers with space to stretch - and a fragrant shisha pipe, if they are so inclined. Among the camels and cardamom, world cuisines call.
Someone whom I had just met in Doha for the first time told me to look out for Sana's Restaurant. A grotty and grimy hideaway serving great Yemeni food, she said, "where you can get your fingers really dirty!"
Yet it was by accident that I stumbled upon it while navigating the alleys, as other restaurants on my initial list were either closed that day or only open for dinner.
In this dark, cavernous eatery I was led upstairs into a large room and invited to sit on apparently none-too-clean cushions. These were arranged around the floor. The waiter, also apparently unscrubbed, spoke no English. So it was with sign language, picture-pointing and a shy smile that he recommended dishes.
As I sat cross-legged on the floor, alone, with bright sunlight streaming into the room, an eating experience unfolded. A savoury, flavour-full Middle Eastern meal was laid out on a plastic sheet while I looked out at a view of distant turrets.
This is one of the reasons I like what I do. When writing, in this case about food, I have no choice but to have meals on my own. Accompanied, I would not end up talking and interacting with such a variety of people.
I had no expectations that afternoon. So my first encounter with Yemeni food in a traditional, no-frills restaurant was exceptional. The way only "first" experiences are.