WE WERE WALKING AROUND The Atmosphere with gnawing stomachs when this inviting little bistro offering out-of-the-ordinary lunch possibilities caught our eye: Arabic food.
“Kebabs,” said my companion, “Why not?”
Plus, it was hot out being noon and Just Shawanma Kitchen was offering air-conditioned respite.
We hadn’t eaten Arabic food in a while, at least not since the imitation ones sold at the roadside gerai. We dashed in and oh, what a surprise we met.
The décor was cosy, warmed by wood and red brick with just the right amount of low hanging lights to cast an inviting glow in the cool room. And the menu looked enticing. Especially the prices.
We scanned our options hungrily.
“We’ll go for the sets,” said my companion, after discovering the Humus was not available. What a pity. We really wanted all things Arabic or Turkish or Mediterranean that day.
After some deliberation, she jabbed a finger at Combo 1. Original Shawanma that comes with fries and a soft drink.
“I’ll have that,” said my companion.
“And I’ll have Nasi Arab Kabsa, Combo 3,” I added. Normally not a fan of rice or red meat or meat for that matter, I thought I’d make an exception to the rule on this occassion.
The man taking our orders (his name was Hamza I was to find out later), nodded and went into the kitchen.
MediterraneanI took some photos while waiting. Nice place, I thought to myself. We were the only people in the restaurant that day. It was a Saturday, no office crowd obviously; plus, The Atmosphere was still quite devoid of tenants. It’s a new shopping mall and tenants were taking their time renting up.
There was some noisy clanking and clonking in the kitchen ─ sounds of food preparation, but in not too long a while, our orders appeared.
My companion dug into the fries first. She’s a fan of fries, loves them.
“Oh wow!”, she exclaimed. “These fries are really, really good!”
“Try some,” she urged, pushing the basket to me.
I eyed the round cut chips quizzically. Unlike her, I am not a fan of fries but I picked up a piece because I was curious.
After taking a bite, “Oh my goodness,” I said out loud, ”Wow, they really are good!”
How did he do them? I mean these were just ordinary fried potato chips.
My companion pointed out they were made from freshly cut potatoes, fried golden crisp on the outside but Ooolala….buttery soft on the inside and there was something else to it, another taste that was beyond the ordinary. What was it? Perhaps it was the oil. Perhaps they used ghee or something. Don’t know but they were damn good. The dip of mayonnaise (I think) enhanced it further.
“Mmmm,” mumbled my companion with her mouth full, “This shawanma is really good too.”
The wrap was toasted to perfection and the filler, which was chicken I believe, was well…good too! Hard to describe, but the combination of the chicken breast and I don’t know what else ─ perhaps veges ─ just melded together in a non-oily, wholesome but awesome combination.
And then my Nasi Arab Kabsa came along. What a colourful meal it was. Three generous chunks of stewed spicy lamb came wrapped in foil next to a bed of red, spice-flavoured long grain rice surrounded by salad and dips. Ah!
It was a sizable lunch for RM15.90 . I tucked in with gusto.
Again, nothing was oily even though my order was lamb. The rice was fluffy and flavourful with each grain separating from each other with just the right amount of moisture.
The lamb melted in my mouth. Oh my, it was good alright like a Mediterranean stew but wasn’t heavy or stodgy on the stomach. It was like a Nasi Biryani you could say but with none of the heaviness. This was light. And what an aroma! The simple salad on the side refreshed the palate and gave the spiced ensemble a cool and crunchy contrast.
I offered my companion a bite.
“Woh. They cooked this for a long time,” she opined of the lamb which was tender yet firm and full of flavour.
“Hey, let’s order one more, “ I suggested to my companion, “just a Shawanma.” We were getting full already but couldn’t get enough you see.
We settled for Combo 2 ─ another Shawanma of course and chose Turkish. We had a choice. You
could choose from three styles ─ American, Mexican or Turkish. We chose Turkish because we wanted to stay authentically Middle Eastern.
Combo 2 didn’t disappoint us. In fact, said my companion, this one was even better than the first!
And oh yes, we ordered another round of fries too.
Hamza served us using a box, thinking we wanted to take away so he was surprised that we dived into it and ate it there and then.
“I thought you wanted to take away,” he said explaining that if he had known, he wouldn’t have served us using a take away box.
He must have also thought, “My goodness, these people can eat”. Hahaha
He doesnt know how right he is! We surely can eat and what a fine meal we had.
All of that came to just RM42.20. Considering the amount we ate, that was reasonable indeed. Hamza even threw in the drinks for free! “Because you ordered extra Combos” he said.
Thanks Just Shawanma Kitchen! Our afternoon ended on a pleasant and memorable note and yes, we will be coming back for more.