08 July 2012

Malika Saba - Yemeni and Arabian Cuisine

Continuing with my family's adventurous taste-buds, we ventured to try some middle eastern cuisine this weekend.

While Chinese food, Malay and Indian cuisine can be found in abundance in Ipoh, I do miss the international variety of cuisine that Ipoh lacks, such as steak houses, higher-end Japanese food, even Italian or Western.

So when hubs said he read about a middle eastern restaurant here, I said let's go try!

Malika Saba is located in a rather nondescript place. I'm not even sure how to describe the restaurant's building - it is a stand alone structure that's not quite a shop, not quite a kiosk. A smallish structure that is close to the MBI building and gardens, and also Syuen Hotel. Unfortunately, the patch of garden that borders the restaurant is not well maintained at all, and has an abandoned little building that could have been a toilet or rest area before? I don't know.

When you enter the restaurant, the place feels rather small and narrow. Bright enough, but its furnishings are a bit dated and in need of some refreshing. Motormouth from Ipoh's photos of the place look nice, but the real "feel' of the place isn't as nice.

Physical appearances aside, we were happy with the food. My children were rather apprehensive about tonight's dinner, never having had middle eastern food before. My son asked if it was a bit like Indian food! But true to their good nature, they tried everything and enjoyed themselves.

I have always liked the middle eastern breads and dips, and Maika's mullawah (RM3 for large) was wonderfully crispy and huge. Like a tremendous roti canai, my girl said. It went well with the hummus (chickpea - RM6) and muttabel (eggplant - RM6) dips, with the latter being tastier than the hummus. The hummus that Malika serves is very rich and robust, maybe a little too rich. I like the slightly thinner version with hints of lemon juice, but perhaps different regions make the hummus in their own distinct style.

The stuffed grape leaves (RM6) as a cold appetizer were surprisingly tasty and refreshing. So we learned something new too - that grape leaves are edible!

For our mains we ordered the mixed grill (RM25), oqda chicken (RM10) and lamb haneeth (RM15) to share, which was more than enough! The lamb was excellently tender while the accompanying mandy rice was fragrant and moist, punctuated with the flavours of spices. I must order that for myself next time, although my little girl turned her nose up at it. She was happy with her mullawah and oqda chicken, which is chicken meat fried with shredded potatoes. The chicken  dish is not chilly hot so it's suitable for children and those who are chillyhot-challenged.

I should also note that their fruit juices are very substantial, with no stinging on the ingredients used. Yummy and reasonably priced.

It was a delicious meal of a different kind and we look forward to returning to sample the other items on the menu.

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