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Friday, 22 November 2019

Yemeni Restaurant a hit, both as an Authentic Surprise and price/value

Mirror, mirror on the wall, which is the most unique Yemeni restaurant of them all? Our Yemeni source tells us this one is the real deal, and you just can't beat the price or the flavor

Dahlia Ferrer, Wednesday 5 Jun 2013
The Yemeni Restaurant, outside
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With several choices in the Dokki/Mohandessin area, Ahram Online asked which was the most authentic Yemeni restaurant. When we arrived to the restaurant that our Yemeni connection recommended, my heart skipped a beat. I had eaten at this spot years ago, simply called "The Yemeni Restaurant" on 10 Iran Street a handful of times and had always walked away beyond delighted with the food – and the price.

"My aunt used to order from this place," reveals Yemeni partner-in-crime, Rasha Sadeq, a professional salsa instructor in Cairo. Growing up in Dubai with her family she was always surrounded with home-cooked Yemeni food.

Although the restaurant is not in a yuppie area and the average clientele isn't yuppie, but rather Yemeni (and we all know that's a good sign) the outside is bare and the inside is a simple, unimpressive one-roomed clean cafeteria with very average tables, this restaurant must be highlighted for a couple of reasons:

Firstly, the price-for-value does not get any better in Cairo. Yemeni food is heavily influenced by Indians, particularly in Aden, who were brought over by the British as labourers and managers in the mid-late 1800s.

So not only does it beat out even fast Egyptian food joints on pricing (a filling meal at The Yemeni Restaurant is as low as LE50 for two – gluttonously LE100), but secondly, it also is such a refreshing alternative to the everyday Arab food.

Sadeq tells me that Yemenis use curry, cilantro, cumin, chilies, bay leaves and cardamom and some of their bread is borrowed directly from India or is very similar, like paratha bread.

At The Yemeni Restaurant, the cooks don't rely heavily on tomato paste like in Egyptian cuisine, but rather use fresh tomatoes in select dishes. 

Their complimentary broth is such an appetizing, nice welcome to clients as soon as they sit down.

Next come a variety of dips (the lot of them are LE10); one of them fresh tomato-based with an added punch of cilantro, very reminiscent of a refined and inexplicably energetic version of the Mexican pico de gallo. Another large dollop of a bitter yet interesting paste called halba, from the halba (fenugreek) seed.

The Yemeni Restaurant, food
Chicken on rice with dips and bread (Photo: Ahram Online)

This is all served with one large naan bread – which clients are expected to use as an instrument to eat in place of a fork. Whereas most Egyptian restaurants for decades assume clients want cutlery and have a set ready at the table, at The Yemeni Restaurant, they assume clients want to eat in the (note: fun) Yemeni-style: sharing with your hands.

Now, only if you can order-in delivery or go to the restaurant before 3pm will you get the chance to delight in the slow-cooked veal, one of their most typical and famous dishes called zorbyan (LE38).

However, don't forsake the other dishes. They are just as tasty.

We had the grilled chicken mandi, which was just moist enough and never fatty. This was served on a generous bed of rice cooked with turmeric spice. Other than being particularly healthy, turmeric changes the long grain from white to a bright, exotic yellow.

The Yemeni Restaurant, fuul
Yemeni beans (Photo: Ahram Online)

Last, but definitely not least is their very inexpensive (LE5) and great version of fuul (beans). The Yemeni Restaurant uses pale kidney-shaped beans, spices it beautifully with salt, garlic and others that I couldn't pinpoint because I gobbled the beans down ravishingly. They also leave a great deal of the juice the beans were cooked in, making Egyptian fuul seem quite dry and yet too oily. Manageably spicy, it is far from the Indian, burn-your-intestines-for-life heat. Just spicy enough for a kick.

The Yemeni Restaurant, tea
Yemeni tea (Photo: Ahram Online)

Top this all off with tea like you've likely never had. The restaurant may look like a typical, yet clean ahwa (local tea shop), but the Yemenis take their cue from the Indians on tea, too, and don't robotically "Turn on kettle. Drop packet." The flavour of their tea is simple yet rich and organic – but not in the foofy California sense. Don't expect them to bring it to you immediately: they boil the milk with the tea, adding fresh cardamom seeds and sugar in the process.

Although there is always a table of adventurous yuppies or foreigners and the waiters and observant Yemeni clients are all politely friendly; the occasional yelling in the kitchen, rudimentary interior and the neighbourhood are not glamourous enough to beckon clients to physically go to the restaurant frequently.

If you like Arab food in general, and would like Indian food if you could stand the heat, this is a perfect cuisine and Sadeq assures this is the best of the restaurants for authentic Yemeni food in Cairo. Others may have nicer interiors, but they come in second-place on the food.

The memory of the Yemeni food lingers happily well after you've eaten and you gloat from satisfaction at the low price. The fact that this restaurant has managed to maintain their quality, food consistency and pricing is also a testament to why it deserves such attention.

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Address

10 Iran Street
Between Musadaq and Tahrir Street

District

Dokki

Hours

Open 24-7

Tel

0233388087

Internet

None

Smoking

No non-smoking areas

Price range

LE50 - LE100 for two people

 

Short link:

 

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