Monday, October 25, 2010

When Fat Tush Meets 'Fattoush'

The front facade with its beautiful stained windows..

Eye-catching designs on the ceiling...

The jumbo-sized bread eat six, with some to spare..

Digging into lamb madghout.. somewhat like briyani kambing..

Kebabs of every shade...

For those familiar with Arab cuisine, you would know that fattoush is a salad dish made of toasted pita bread mixed with herbs and vegetables, and flavoured with lemon juice and olive oil.

Contrary to its provocative (even salacious) name, fattoush is not likely to make any tush fat.

(My tush, incidentally, is out of this equation; whatever I eat seem to inevitably find their way down there, thus I can definitely identify with Queen's "Fat Bottomed Girls").

The last time we feasted on Arab food was in April this year, at a well-known Yemeni restaurant (the name of which escaped me) on the outskirts of Makkah Al-Mukarramah, when the family went for umrah.

That dinner was hosted by Pak Payne, that amicable, generous-hearted Malaysian expatriate based in Jeddah, whom I came to know through his blog Diary Sebelum Bersara.

Memories of that scrumptious Yemeni feast, where we ate lamb mandee (a rice dish with chunks of succulent lamb embedded in it) four to a tray, lingered on long after we returned home.

Perhaps that was why the mind went Arabia when Pak Abu asked about my preference for a birthday dinner Monday. Time to depart from the usual Mediterranean fare, I thought.

A quick check led us to Wadi Hadramawt in Jalan Ampang, just a few metres away from the residential enclave of Nomad Su Casa and across the road from that well-known steakhouse, Victoria Station.

A bit of background details about Hadhramaut (occasionally spelt Hadhramout, Hadhramawt or Hadramut): it's a historical region occupying the southeastern part of Yemen. The chief port and city of the region is Mukalla.

The Hadhramaut extends 640 km from east to west. It consists of a narrow, arid coastal plain, a broad plateau averaging 1,370 m high, a region of deeply sunk wadis (watercourses), and an escarpment fronting the desert.

The sedentary population, the Hadramis, live in towns built along the wadis and harvest crops of wheat, corn, millet, dates, coconuts, and coffee. On the plateau the Bedouins raise sheep and goats.

It was against this backdrop we made our way to Wadi Hadramawt, our imagination already running wild with visions of tabouleh and hummus, kebab and falafel, the rices of kabsa and madghout, the sweet sensations of baklava and basbousa...

With the exception of Nawwar and her cousin Nabilah, this was our first visit to Wadi Hadramawt, which opened its doors early this year and has since staked a claim in the popularity department among the few Arab restaurants in town.

Wadi Hadramawt is housed in an old two-storey colonial bungalow tastefully done up with glass-stained windows, attractive decorative lightings, framed pictures and interesting bric-a-brac reflective of its Yemeni heritage.

Although the menu was quite varied, the family chose to go with lots of lamb dishes; we had generous servings of lamb mandee, lamb kebab, lamb hummus, lamb madghout and lamb kashkash, washed down with piquant Arab tea.

A good night out that didn't burn a hole in Pak Abu's pocket, for the prices were very reasonable. I know I would be a repeat customer; the food was well worth it...


Wan Sharif said...

A belated happy birthday to you..
a lot of my foreigner friends have been recommending this Wadi Hardramawt eating place to me...
now dah tak ada reason for me not going there soon

Faten Rafie said...

We passed Wadi Hadhramawt but chose to go to Ali Baba instead last week. A decision very much regreted. Iranian food are bland!

Did you know that most of Arab descendants here in Malaysia, especially those with Syed/Sharifah prefixes are Hadrami - originating from Yemen?

Anonymous said...

Hi May,

Happy belated birthday....May Allah bless u with good health and keimanan.


Kama At-Tarawis said...

wan - you should try this place wan. not only sedap, reasonable pricing too.. we ate 6 pax (tambah tapau lagi) and the bill tak sampai rm200.

faten - so now you know lah where to go for arab food.. hehehe.. indeed ramai among us yg keturunan dari hadramaut. one of my aunties too, a sharifah. recently she and her husband pi ziarah hadramaut, the land of her grandfather, di yemen.

det - tq so much for your kind wishes det. entah bila lah agaknya nak jumpa nih..