In a nutshell:
Much above the average Arab food in Delhi NCR –however, almost nothing except one item in our dinner cud be termed ‘outstanding’.
Address & other details: FOA (Flavors of Arabia)
Meal for 2: Rs. 1000 onwards
Cuisine Type: Vegetarian & Nonvegetarian
Short Description – In case u r in a hurry:
I was overwhelmed by Arab Food at Persian Room, Arizona , USA & was looking out for a good Arab meal in Delhi NCR. My friend mentioned this new Restaurant that has come up in Gurgaon & so we set out for it.
The restaurant is situated in Ninex Mall that still has serious footfall issues. As we walked into the mall, we noticed a welcome desk of FOA. The Guy had the menu card (that we had browsed on the net already) & walked us up to the lift.
The Restaurant had nice interiors, a bit too dark though but not bad. There were lamps on each table that not only illuminated the food but also gave a mystic feel. In fact, a great place to have a candlelight dinner. Seeing the darkness I was thinking that maybe I wud not b able to take good photographs – but nothing of that sort happened. Came up with quite good pics.
Beautiful plush sofas with abundant cushions contributed to the cozy setting of the dining tables. I noticed a uniform design of grill on all windows & separators – Typical Arab look. Also saw interesting decorative items on table tops.
There is an open air section as well – shud be great during Autumn & Spring. There are two party rooms as well that can be booked- a small one & a large one. We went to take a look & found those to be quite interesting.
In the background they played peppy Arab music as well.
The people were quite warm & knowledgeable. One thing was very irritating though – One guy is placed in the middle of the Dining room (see picture above) with the intent of attending to needs of guests. However, what he ends up doing is staring at the guests constantly. So every time u happen to look there, u might have an eye contact. I was getting the irritating feeling that I was being watched all the time – as if I was under house arrest. The intent is good but the training has been bad.
The Menu card is huge & has more than 10 pages. Lots of known & unknown food on offer. Good place for veggies as there are many options in all sections. There is seafood & fish on the menu as well. Fusion dishes are marked with a ‘*’ on the menu card. Authentic ones do not have ‘*’. I was told that the Restaurant is open since about 3 months ¤tly has no alcohol license – though expected soon.
Detailed Description – In case u have the time to njoy reading:
Fresh lime soda sweet & salt had absolutely no character or taste – neither sweet, nor salty, not sour – predominantly low-fizz soda with very little salt, lemon & sweetness – a complete waste of time, money & mood. Our Cook maid at home wud surely make much better.
Virgin mojito however turned out to be having good taste & flavors. When we asked for it, the Gentleman said ‘ We do not have the Mojito syrup but we can try to serve us a good Mojito from scratch’. We agreed & were happy with our decision to go with his offer. The ones made at professional bars are a tad stronger & ‘potent’ than this one but no regrets.
We were served complimentary pita bread with cocktail sauce??????????????? Why cocktail sauce? Why not a sauce from the region? The pita was super thin & tasted good. Wud have been great with hummus or something else.
A general observation about the sauces in the restaurant – They are too smooth & too ‘Europized’ to the extent that they taste good but tend to lose the original texture. E.g. A Rustic Tahini is no match for a super smooth & creamy Tahini served here.
For starters we had Kibbeh Hamis – A Syrian preparation of deep fried ground Lamb & cracked wheat shells filled with meat & chilgoza (pine nuts). It tasted good but not great. The taste was subtle, we cud enjoy the flavours of the meat, the pine nuts were whole & the outer layer was crispy. However, as we bit into it & chewed on, we figured that it was too dry. A dip into sauce solved the issue of dryness but killed the flavours of the meat. A little tweaking / experimenting can dramatically improve this dish – it is almost there.
We were deliberating between Sheesh Kabab & Zaa’tar Chicken. The Gentleman from FOA heavily recommended the Zaa’tar chicken. Sadly we cud not find out any special Zaa’tar flavour or any special ‘Arab’ taste. In fact we cud not find any special flavour / taste than the usual roasted chicken dishes that u find in Delhi. The chicken was not soft, not juicy not hard or bad either. The texture was similar to a Malaysian satay. Zattar Chicken came with a ‘feta mint dip’. The Chicken tasted good with the dip but it failed to impress me much. I wudnt again come to an Arab speciality restaurant to eat something that tastes so common.
For main course we ordered an Open mutton Shawarma .It had a round pancake-like base that was approx 0.75 cm thick,soft, slightly sweet &really nice. The meat was heavily marinated& turned out to be good soft & tasty.
So, the shawarma was served separately – pancakes, chunks of meat, veggies &sauce unlike the shawarma wraps that we r used to having in Delhi. Since the condiments r served separately, u can have all in a bite or a permutation & combination of all. I quite liked this dish but this was somewhere short of a wow.
Post the main course, we were served a complimentary ‘Suleman tea’. Refreshing & a tad sweeter than optimum. It reminded us of Kahwa – though different.
For dessert we were shown & insisted upon to choose from European desserts that were showcased in a revolving glass display. We counter-insisted on having Arab dessert & then we were offered Baklava. This one was made inhouse & was one of the the best Baklava I have had so far. Wow. It was perfect in all sense. There were two kinds – a roll & a flat one. Both were too good. Very strongly recommended.
We will surely revisit this place to try out the Sheesh kabab & other dishes. Will keep u all updated.