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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.
Wanting to try something new and different we ended up in Al Hamra, Holland Village, entering a little bit skeptical, but was pleasantly surprised.
We ordered the *set for 2* dinner for SGD 60. The starter set was falafel/pitas, hommous, marinated salad and some fried thing I don't remember the name of. Everything tasted nice, especially the hommous and the salat (worth coming back for). The main was a mixed grill platter with lamb, chicken, fish, schwarma and some sort of meatball I think. All was perfectly cooked except the lamb was a little overdone. Schwarma was our favourite, followed by the chicken and the fish. Everything was nicely flavoured, and I foresee that we will come back for the same meal within the next two weeks.
Service staff was attentive until we got the main dish, after that we had to struggle a little bit to get attention.
All in all wine and food was good enough for us to return, unfortunately the very loud live singer at the neighbouring restaurant made us decide to leave fairly quick after our mint tea and turkish coffe.
Paying with a citibank card we got vouchers for 90SGD, same amount as the bill.
Full Al-Hamra review here: http://ivanteh-runningman.blogspot.sg/2015/10/al-hamra-tasting-session.html
Established by the same owners behind Chutney Mary, Al-Hamra is a Lebanese, Middle Eastern / Mediterranean restaurant that has been in operation within Holland Village for over 10 years. Having outlasted many of the other restaurants in the area, Al-Hamra is still quietly plodding along, serving up tasty, authentic Lebanese cuisine.
Ambience at Al-Hamra is elegant, with a primarily Middle Eastern / Mediterranean theme. Paintings of buildings with Islamic architecture, the use of ornate framed mirrors, comfortable dark coloured furniture with plush embroidered cushions, earth coloured mosiac floor tiles, and the faux flame torch lighting overhead all contribute to the magical feeling of being whisked away on a magic carpet, to a setting straight out of Arabian nights. Really traditional!
Service at Al-Hamra is attentive and professional. Staff are polite and courteous, attending quickly to guests. I also commend their menu product knowledge, they're able to make astute recommendations, as well as introduce and describe each dish. Thumbs up for their proactiveness in clearing empty / dirty plates, and offering to change plates as well.
Food at Al-Hamra is distinctly Middle Eastern / Mediterranean, with a focus on Lebanese cuisine, which is very similar to Turkish cuisine, just with different names for dishes. Generally, I find their food to be of acceptable standard in taste, though it's much better when eaten immediately upon serving, when it's hot and fresh. Portions are designed for communal dining, and I recommend a minimum of at least 3 - 4 diners for it to be value for money. Prices are typical of most other lower-end fine dining Middle Eastern / Mediterranean restaurants, budget about SGD $32 ++ per person for a meal here.
The Manakish Bi Zaatar / Zatar Bread (SGD $6.50) is an aromatic bread, fragrant with earthy, floral, spice notes, with a taste that is fresh and savoury sweet. Texture is chewy and crunchy, rather appealing. Closely resembles a pizza, good!
The Chicken Shawarma (SGD $25) is best eaten immediately upon serving, when it's hot and fresh, as it tastes much better. Loses some of the smoky, savoury flavour when it cools off. The stuffing of sliced grilled chicken, marinated with vinegar, sesame paste, powdered cardamom, salt, garlic, lemon juice, nutmeg, cumin, coriander, all-spice, and pepper, is served in a Lebanese pita bread, presented like a boat. The thin texture of the pita bread here means the savoury gravy tends to seep through quickly, making this messy to eat with hands. Taste is decent, and this makes for a value for money, filling meal. Good!
Al Hamra is an award-winning Lebanese and Middle Eastern restaurant in existence for around a decade, situated at none other than Holland Village - chillout and food haven.
The ambience is dim and intimate, with authentic decor that thrusts one into an exotic, Middle-Eastern realm. Faux-flaming lamps hang from the ceiling, and the walls are adorned with exquisite Middle Eastern antiques and artifacts (ancient Shisha pipes and compasses, etc), and there's a mural depicting a beautiful city wall set in the earlier eras. This place is set to enchant.
I enjoyed the Chicken Shawarma (SGD$25.00) - sliced chicken marinated with vinegar, sesame paste, cardamom powder and Lebanese spices served in a boat-shaped Lebanese bread. This was another flavourful dish that tasted best when served piping hot - chicken tender and redolent of the spices that it was cooked with.
Lamb Cous Cous (SGD$29.00) was up next, comprising boneless lamb chunks cooked with vegetables and tomato stew, served in a pretty Tajine. The stew was thick and tasty, luscious with the slightest hint of tartiness - appetite whetting for sure.
Al Hamza Mixed Grill (SGD$35.00) made its way to our table, consisting of grilled lamb cubes, minced lamb kebab and grilled chicken cubes. The meat was smokey but tender; the lamb cubes held a gamey whiff but meat was sufficiently moistened.
Umali (SGD$7.50), also spelt as "Oum Ali" in some instances - a soft puff pastry dessert served warm (more commonly bread pudding), with milk, cream and nuts. I enjoyed the subtle aroma and creaminess of this dessert; feeling the fluffiness of the puff pastry gradually melting lusciously upon the tongue.
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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.