MELBOURNE | I recently had the pleasure of trying Yemeni food for the first time at a restaurant that’s been on my list for a while, Mandina Kitchen. The restaurant was opened by Mohammed Alhamed and his wife Aisha in April last year, with the aim of showcasing Aisha’s traditional home-style Yemeni cooking with expats looking for a taste of home, and Melburnians keen to try something new.
Yemeni food shares elements with wider Middle Eastern cuisine, and also has Indian and Ottoman influences. Browsing the menu and sampling the food as it arrives on the table evoked memories enjoying meals in Iran, Morocco, Kenya, and Turkey. Unique dishes and regional variations, however, new that Yemeni cuisine has evolved to be its own thing.
The signature dish at Mandina Kitchen, and arguably Yemen’s signature dish, is mandi. Originating in the Hadhramaut region of the country, the consists of smoky slow- cooked meat (goat, chicken or lamb at Mandina), atop a bed of fluffy, fragrant spiced basmati rice. A similar dish, haneeth, features a differently spiced and slow cooked meat atop the rice. Ordering both, one goat and one lamb, is a great option.
Beyond the must order meat and rice duo, there’s a whole lot of stews, sides, dips, and breads to enjoy. The kibdah, lamb liver fried with onion and capsicum, is great. Also try the foul gulaba. It’s a tasty stew/paste like dish with mashed broad beans, sauteed onion, tomato, and olive oil.
Come hungry with a big group, and order lots. The homely space, like the food itself, is designed to bring people together.
143 Lygon Street
Telephone: (03) 7046 5599
Wed – Thu: 3:00pm to 12:00am
Fri: 3:00pm to 1:00am
Sat: 9:00pm to 1:00am
Sun – Mon: 9:00pm to 12:00am