Walking along the buzzing street of Lorong Mambong, it will be hard to not to notice people outside the restaurant smoking Sisha. Although it will be a common sight if you are in Bussorah Street or Arab Street neighbourhood, you will least expect this in at Holland Village.
Al- Hamra is one of the restaurants under the umbrella of Ambassador Hotel Services Pte Ltd, the group in charge of transit hotel and transit lounge in Changi Airport T2 and T3. The cuisine served here originated from Lebanese and Middle Eastern. Though the food produced are sourced from Halal products, the restaurant is not Halal Certified as it served alcoholic beverages.
My pick for the food here are Cold Mezza Platter ($35): Hummus (chickpea dip); Moutabbal (eggplant dip); Tabbouleh (Arabic Salad – tomatoes, onion and parsley); Fattoush (Middle Eastern salad dish) and Warak Areesh (Stuffed Vine Leaves). Both the dips are smooth and creamy. The Moutabbal has a smokey flavour as the eggplant was grilled before being transformed to a dip.
The Arabic salad has a refreshing flavours from the parsley compare to Middle Easter Salad. Both the salads and dips goes well with the pillow shaped pita bread. For me, I personally preferred the Warak Areesh, which is the Lebanese version of a Peranakan dish called Lemper. The stuffed rice really absorbed the flavour of the grape leaves.
Zatar Bread with Cheese ($7.50). The Middle Eastern version of pizza, topped with feta cheese. The dough is chewy and pack with olive flavour and feta cheese. It is good enough to be eaten on its own or you can spread some hummus or moutabbal on it.
Lamb Cous Cous ($26), combination of stew lamb cooked in tajine and served with flavoured cous cous. The lamb was tender and absorbs the tomato flavours from the stew. The cous cous was light and moist, together with the nuts and raisin provided a gorgeous partner to the lamb stew. If you are more a rice person, try their Arabic Rice with Dry Fruits and Nuts ($7.50). The rice is tasty and flavourful, the dry fruits provide a touch of sweetness to the rice while the texture provide a crunchy texture to rice.
For the sweet endings, Umali ($7.50) got my pick. Umali is Arabic version of bread and butter pudding. Instead of using stale bread, it uses puff pastry. The combo of milk, cream and nuts are rich and delicious.
The décor of the place will transport you to a middle eastern settings. The seating area is a combination of semi-circle couch with pillows and traditional chairs. On one side of the walls you can see the drawings of houses in Lebanon or Middle Eastern, while on the other you can actually see the traditional Sisha pipe hanging on the wall as decoration.
Overall, it was indeed an unique experience to sample Lebanese and Middle Eastern cuisine. Thanks to HungryGoWhere and Al-Hamra for the tasting invitation.
I have been to Holland Village many times, but have never been into this restaurant. I visited this restaurant for dinner recently.
- Lebanese Pita Bread: Soft fluffy bread that resemble round fluffy pillows. Break into it and scoop the hummos or moutabba. Lovely!
- Hot Mezza Platter: -- Cheese Reqaq: This is like a mini spring roll with cheese within. Not bad. -- Spinach Fatayer: Spinach filled samosa. -- Lahem Bil Ajine: Minced lamb with Lebanese spices in open top pastry. -- Kibbey Mekli: Minced lamb ball. I liked this. -- Sambousik: Looks and taste like a local curry puff. It has minced lamb in soft dough and deep fried.
- Al Hamra Mixed Grill – This platter allowed us to try their various grilled items. It had grilled lamb cubes, minced lamb kebab and grilled chicken cubes. I liked the lamb kebab most. I found the lamb cubes a tad salty, but the manager assured me that this is the authentic and appropriate saltiness for the meat.
- Lamb cous cous: Boneless lamb chunks cooked with vegetable and tomato stew. It’s served with a bowl of cous cous. The tomato stew was good, perfect with the cous cous, which soaked up the stew well. Its good!
- Chicken Sharwarma: Sliced chicken marinated with vinegar, sesame pâté, cardamom powder and Lebanese spices served in halved Lebanese pita bread. Best to eat while its hot.
For Dessert, we shared the following: - Almond cream pudding: This was my favorite for the evening. The almond was mild and the pudding was soft and tasty.
- Beklawa: A rich and sweet traditional Arabic pastry filled with dried nuts and pistachio, flavored with honey. I wished the pastry was crispy.
- Umali: This was like bread pudding. A popular Arabic dessert made with of pastry, milk, cream and nuts.
A nice meal and good to come with a larger group, so you can order more items and share.
You can also sit alfresco outside where you can watch the world go by and also enjoy a shisha.