Where: 4th Avenue, Ambedkar Road, Ashok Nagar, Chennai
I just nodded my head without much thought when I got the invite. A small place but the idea behind each artifact seemed unique; the dining setup resembles a pavement or park with elegant chandeliers. Even their utensils carried the touch of Arab. As each plate of food made their way to the table my expectations amplified.
Ofcourse the soup and appetizers were the first to meet us; rich and creamy with subtle fragrance and pieces of mushroom came the Cream of Mushroom Soup, there was a strong burnt flavor without which the soup would have been perfect. As I was sipping the last spoon of soup, the Mix Mezza platter with four dips (hummus, baba ganoush, mutabal and garlic dip) and Garlic Cheese Bread made their way. The garlic bread was good but I would prefer extra cheese and the Mezza platter was mind-blowing good in taste; baba ganoush and mutabal were my favorite.
The Arabian version of South Indian Masala Vadai is Falafel but the Indian version is better and my preference; stuffed between the khubus along with the dip I managed to complete a Falafel. No complaints in taste just that I don’t like them.
The Lebanese meat stuffed pitas is Arayes; the Chicken Arayes with grounded chicken stuff tasted nice with the dip but I loved the veg version ‘Cheese Arayes’.
And there were hardly any veg grill dishes for a while; with just fries and garlic dip comforting the vegetarians I took a bite of Chicken Shish Tawook. Perfectly cooked, juicy, spicy and delicious chicken chunks; the right blend of flavors used in the marination uplifted the taste.
Personally I dislike minced lamb so going by majority votes; the Lamb Kebab was a hit. Though they didn’t wow us enough, both Grananta Shrimps and Charcoal Chicken tasted good.
Automatically the mouths popped open, when this King of dishes arrived, “Special Farooj Chicken”. That full grilled chicken shining as gold, which was perfectly charred yet moist and stuck to the bones. As you bite them the juicy flavors of the meat would surprise you; but eating them as hot as possible is the best else meat gets tougher. All the grills were served with French Fries and two dips.
They excelled in their biriyani by mastering each element; the masala, meat, rice (mix of saffron and white coloured basmati rice) and the crunchy nuts. Both the Arabic Chicken Biriyani and Arabic Lamb Biriyani were irresistible that I forced myself into extra portion beyond my limit. The cook on the lamb is phenomenal that the meat tender and falls apart. If you ever visit this place then don’t miss their biriyani. With such droolicious non-veg biriyani the Arabic Veg Biriyani got sidelined and they seemed more like a capsicum fried rice.
Though I was not ready to let go the biriyani, the desserts were put before me. Similar to the wobbly panna cotta texture, the Mugalabiya with crunchiness from pistachios and the essence of cardamom, the Arabic milk pudding was great. The Arabian Lassi was good but overly sweet for my liking. The hot dessert Ummu Ali with subtle sweetness and crunchy bread and pistachio layers tasted yum.
After the royal meal I had to rest to bring back my senses that were high on Arabian food.
Breaking Down Points
Location & Parking: Positive. Pretty easy to find and parking space is good.
Ambience: Positive. It is unique and mesmerizing, with Arabic music ringing through your ears.
Food Variety: Positive. Dishes you wouldn’t have heard in this cuisine as well good number of veg dishes.
Taste: Positive. Few dishes didn’t suit my palate but taste-wise they manage to hit the right note.
Quality: Good. Presentation can be improved but quality of food had no complaints.
Quantity: Positive. Ideal combos and quantity that is good for sharing.
Service: Good. Though friendly they seem a little lost and laid back.
Price: NA. Glimpsing through the menu, they are costly but the food would justify value for money. Approximate cost for two, Rs.1100-1300 INR.
So my Verdict!
Arab Street! This definitely isn’t just an addition to the zillion Arabic food place in Chennai they shall truly impress you in taste. The taste shall force you back for another visit, which I am about to do. An extravagant Arabian food mela!
P.S. This write-up is based my food palate and dining experience during my restaurant visit. On-the-house invite for tasting session. Remember, no two person’s palate can be same.
Royal Arab Food Encounter - Arab Street, Chennai - Restaurant Review Reviewed by Divya Srinivasan on 13:24 Rating: