people, i am a ‘mandi rice’ addict, and i don’t want a cure. haha.
i know mandi rice is an arab dish originated from yemen, and i can easily get it at my favorite place al-tawasol in deira. however, a new arabian restaurant in town ‘turath al-mandi’ claim to offer other YEMENI dishes as well.
mandi rice? mazby rice? makboos? bukhari? zorbian? other than these ‘rice’ dishes, what other yemeni dishes could there be? we went for a first try.
my yummilicious plate of mandi rice. yumness!
‘turath al-mandi’ is situated on jumeirah beach road, jumeirah 3. it’s right next to the also-newly-opened ‘dixie lee’ chicken fast-food joint. dixie lee’s building is very red and yellow, so you won’t miss it. turath al-mandi is right next door.
parking spaces are available right in front of these restaurants, but on a weekend it’d probably be full, so you either have to park a little further up or down.
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as soon as we walked inside, we knew this is gonna be the ferrari of mandi rice restaurant! the posh lightings, the wall decor, the plush seats and carved windows – it was a really beautiful setting, though a little more posh for the humble mandi rice that we’re used to.
the place was really breath-taking.
ye lah, all this while we’ve enjoyed our mandi rice while sitting down cross-legged on turkish carpets while the kids rolled around in the privacy of the ‘tent’. the plates were just stainless steel platter, and cups were just plastic; so we won’t worry if the kids accidentally drop them.
at turath al-mandi however, it certainly brings the dining experience a little higher than we used to – huge square ceramic plate, heavy silver cutleries, spotless white napkin folded into shapes plus a very fragile-looking tall glass which has absolutely no business being around kids!
i immediately pushed all these fragile items OUT OF THE WAY from kazim!
i immediately told mr. khairul – if you wanna entertain clients, or guests, or really special guests, who are all ADULTS…haha – this is the place. it’s posh, it’s stylish, it’s got that rich yemeni culture in its gorgeous, very expensive-looking interior.
but us, with kids? THREE kids? and one of them is kahfi? na-ah. don’t risk it again, syigim! you got away this time! you got lucky! haha.
since we want to ‘hide’ our kids’ hooligan-ism haha, we picked this rather charming little closed-up space that looks like a half-cut egg. really gorgeous. cantik sangat. the walls inside our ‘egg’ was padded and the place was just comfy.
as you can see from the pictures, there are many other ‘types’ of seating – by the window, or around the walls if you’re a couple – your choice.
AND as you can see from the picture right above, mr. khairul was taking away all the fragile stuff from kazim. itchy itchy hands!
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at first glance, i was kind off disappointed with the selection in the menu, especially considering my first impression on the posh place.
i expected it to be filled with exotic yemeni delicacies that i’ve never even heard off, with delightfully inviting pictures and colorful description – like the menu in the emirati restaurant al-fanar – really comprehensive with pictures and description both in english and arabic.
however, despite the cover of the menu being super-classy and hard-cover plak tu, the inside is just a short list of dishes printed in one a4 paper. talk about anti-climax, huh. gamba pun takde.
no pictures no description. how are we non-arabs or even arabs who are non-yemenis gonna know what those yemeni dishes are? i hope these menus are just prototype before the real one, turath al-mandi!
oh also, the food price here doubles that of al-tawasol. hey, somebody’s got to pay for the ambiance…
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anyway, we started off with ‘fattoush’ (in the menu it’s listed as ‘traditional salad’) – a type of arabic salad made from toasted or fried pieces of pita bread (the crunchy square-shaped brown ones – usually they make use of stale bread – ala, kalau macam salad omputeh bubuh crouton, salad arab bubuh baked-pita bread) combined with diced-up mixed veggies like tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce and capsicum.
sumac (some sort of powder/spice) is usually used to give fattoush its sour taste. i don’t like too much of ‘sumac’, but when it’s done right, this is easily my favorite salad dish ever.
this is a complimentary appetizer which looked and tasted like our roti canai or parotha. mr. khairul said, when he ate at restaurants in yemen, this was also served before the main meal. i googled and found out that there were many types of yemeni bread – but this one is cooked using a tandoor – a big heated clay pot like nan bread.
it’s really delicious – thin and crispy, served with a dipping made from some herbs and olive oil. tapi kalau la ade kari, sedap ni!
ah, my precious plate of delight – the mandi chicken. the moment it arrived on my table, i knew this was going to be delicious, but NOT my favorite. why? i don’t like my mandi rice to be laden with unnecessary cashew nuts and raisins! i know they’re trying to be fancy and all, but spare me the extra taste – i just want the rice!
it was served along with the usual chilli-tomato gravy, plus oddly enough – a bowl of yoghurt.
my verdict : the chicken was delicious – juicy, tender, easily shredded, just like a good mandi chicken should taste like. but the rice, like i said, was not to my liking. it was not just about the cashew nuts and raisins, the beads of rice were not as soft as the ones you’ll get at al-tawasol, and the herb not as tasty as the ones from bait al-mandi.
delicious, but certainly not the best.
of course, mr. khairul the lamb-fan would order the mandi meat. rice – the same – filled with raisins and cashew nuts. the lamb meat was at its usual best – juicy, the flesh falls off easily from the bones and the taste – delicious. considering what we pay for, this was just a normal, good plate of mandi meat. nothing more special than that.
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here’s my eldest boy khaleef at quite an interesting corner of the restaurant – buckets filled with herbs, spices and powder – filled to the brim. from all types, all sorts of colors and texture. a very nice addition to an already beautiful place.
there’s also a jambiya on the counter – jambiya is a traditional yemeni dagger which is shaped like a ‘J’, now used mainly worn for decoration around the waist with a belt, or used in entertainment.
interesting to note that :
- the prices of the dishes double the dishes you pay for at al-tawasol. mandi chicken there is just aed21 if i’m not mistaken. here it’s aed45.
- of all the mandi rice restaurants i’ve ever been to, this is the by far the ONLY mandi rice restaurant in which i have to pay for the accompanying salad. the rest would give the plate of salad complimentary together with the mandi rice dishes. tsk tsk.
- the yemeni bread they gave out before the main meal comes is just so delicious. it’s made FRESH using the tandoor, and i saw it myself (through a glass window looking over the kitchen) when i asked for another one to my table. well done turath al-mandi!
- camel burger is sold here. might wanna try that one out next!
- there are a few interesting yemeni dishes here, including the ‘tharid’ which is a traditional arabic dish made of pieces of bread in vegetable or meat broth. the dish is notable in that it has been mentioned in a number hadith attributed to our prophet Muhammad SAW.
~narrated Abu Musa Al-Ash'ari: Allah's apostle said, "many amongst men attained perfection but amongst women none attained the perfection except Mary, the daughter of Imran and Asiya, the wife of Pharaoh. And the superiority of 'Aisha to other women is like the superiority of Tharid (i.e. an Arabic dish) to other meals."
~narrated Ikrash ibn Dhu’ayb RadhiAllahu anhu, we were brought a platter with a large amount of tharid and slices of boneless meat and i plunged in my hand in all directions, but Allah’s Messenger SallAllahu alaihi wasallam ate what was in front of him. he seized my right hand with his left and said, "eat from one place, Ikrash RadhiAllahu anhu, for it is all one kind of food." afterwards we were brought a plate containing various kinds of dates and i began to eat what was in front of me while the hand of Allah’s Messenger SallAllahu alaihi wasallam went round on the plate. he then said, "eat where you wish, Ikrash RadhiAllahu anhu, for it is not all one kind."
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ok – to me, the mandi rice dishes at turath al-mandi were delicious, but not delicious enough for me to come again for their mandi rice. but hey, i might come again to try the camel burger or the tharid. there are a few more rare yemeni delicacies that you might not find anywhere else in dubai, so that’s a plus.
also it’s very pricey, so i’d rather stick to my favorite al-tawasol to get my beloved mandi chicken which is much cheaper, with bigger portion, and none of the cashew nuts and raisins nonsense! haha.
the place is really beautiful (i think i’ve been repeating this! it really is beautiful!) so for a special occasion, or to treat a special guest, you might wanna give the posh turath al-mandi a try.
the pictures of the interior of ‘turath al-mandi’ are from its facebook page. thanks.