The Husband and I don’t agree on many things, unlike some couples, who are completely on the same page on practically everything in life. (But being clones of each other doesn’t make it any fun, right?)
Hence, we argue quite often about food, including which restaurants serve the “best (insert dish here)” And unlike me, who is more open to trying out restaurants (maybe because I am still on googly-eyed curious Dubai newbie mode) , he’s the type of customer that is fiercely loyal to his favorite restaurants, which he has tried and tested through the years he’s been here, and is highly critical of the competition. Good thing about The Husband that he’s open to try at least once, but if the competition doesn’t pass his critical palate’s standards, then bye-bye to the restaurant forever and back to sticking to the tried and tested.
I can be a person, who likes a bit of a challenge, most especially when it comes to convincing people of the best dish or the best restaurant. So I was brave enough to have thrown the gauntlet down on The Husband’s favorite Arabic meat and rice dish: the Yemeni Mandi.
UPDATE (04/23/12): I realized not everybody knows what the heck Yemeni Mandi is. As I’ve read from various sources, it’s meat (chicken or lamb) is rubbed with special Arabic spices and cooked in a hole in the ground. Yes, you’ve read it right: a hole. Think of it as a sandy oven. I’m not sure how they do it in present day Arabia. I’m guessing they don’t have those sand holes inside the buildings noh? Then it is topped on a cheerful bed of saffron rice, served with a bowl of soup, some greens usually arugula, cucumber, onions, carrots and a lemon quarter, a special Yemeni “salsa” made with coriander, tomatoes and unidentified chili (Help on this? Anyone?), and yoghurt.
Let’s get ready to Arabic meat ruuuuuuummmmmmmbleeeeeeeeee!
On the blue corner, the incumbent champion in The Husband’s palate and stomach, winning back-to-back-to-back on serving portion, value-for-money and taste is Bait Al Mandi a.k.a. The Tony Bourdain Mandi joint.
And on the red corner, the Mandi challenger, with stalwart recommendations by the Dubai queen of ethnic eats and one of the Dubai digital gods and myself, is Al Tawasol from Deira. I ordered 1-Meat Mandi and 1-Chicken Mandi from Al Tawasol for this head-to-head battle.
So how did the challenger fair against the classic tried and tested?
Though Al Tawasol’s half chicken portion was slightly smaller, perhaps by 1/8 inch on all sides, the Al Tawason Meat Mandi had 4-meat pieces versus Bait Al Mandi’s 3-meat piece Meat Mandi.
Score for Al Tawasol!
On value-for-money, Bait al Mandi takes this round knocking down Al Tawasol with lower prices.
- Bait Al Mandi’s Chicken Mandi at 20AED vs Al Tawasol’s Chicken Mandi at 23 AED
- Bait Al Mandi’s Meat Mandi at 40AED vs Al Tawasol’s Meat Mandi at 45AED.
Bait Al Mandi also gives their yoghurt, an essential element to the spicy Yemeni Mandi, for free. Unfortunately, you have to order a personal sized tub of yoghurt at 2 AED from Al Tawasol. Oh, and Bait al Mandi offers unlimited rice and they even refill your rice to full serving portion when you take away your leftovers.
Now that Bait al Mandi and Al Tawasol have a point each, one needs to win on Taste to be declared the winner of this battle.
The Husband did not taste any significant difference in taste between the two Mandi places. BUT the clincher was the soup.
Bait al Mandi provides a clear, meaty soup along with every order of Mandi, while Al Tawasol provides a hearty and spicy perfect-for-clogged-noses-and-other-under-the-weather-feelings soup. I thought that The Husband would not enjoy the soup as I did because it was spicy, even for me, who is used to taking the heat. But he loved it!
The Husband’s winning comments:
- “Pwede na palitan yung KFC gravy! (This could definitely replace KFC’s gravy!) – Fact; Filipinos love KFC gravy so much that it comes in PITCHERS in all KFC outlets. Some, including The Husband, drown their rice with KFC Gravy!
- “I’d go all the way to Deira just for this lentil soup!” – Fact: Deira is a good 27-kilometers from where we live.
- “Unlimited ba yung lentil soup kapag kumain tayo dun? (Would we enjoy unlimited bowls of lentil soup if we eat at Al Tawasol?) Errrrmm…I’m not sure. But could somebody confirm if he could do this?
- “When is your next meeting in Deira? Papabili ako ng Mandi ulit. (Please do buy another order of Mandi for me.)”
And so I smugly watched The Husband literally lick his bowl of Al Tawasol Mandi clean, picking up every Al Tawasol Mandi molecule on his tongue, as I have proven that the classic tried and tested may not necessarily be the best best. Mwahahahaha! This violator on Al Tawasol’s menu says so!
Which Mandi joint do you think is the best in Dubai?
Al Tawasol Restaurant
Abo Baker Sddiq Street, Deira Dubai UAE
+9714-2959797 or +9714-2945375
Parking is available behind the building, but for those who like to commute like me,
it is a pleasant 200M walk (as long as weather is good – i.e. definitely not summer) from the Al Rigga station.
Delirious about delicious,