The Yemeni Mandi Challenge

Enter the Yemeni battle arena!

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.

The challenger!

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?

Serving portion

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!

Value-for-money

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.

Taste

The Husband did not taste any significant difference in taste between the two Mandi places. BUT the clincher was the soup.

The soup we couldn't get enough of

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!

Hellz Yea!

Which Mandi joint do you think is the best in Dubai?

Al Tawasol Restaurant

Yay for Parking!

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,

Didi

Comments

  1. says

    YAY FOR AL TAWASOL! But darn it, I’m like your hubs like that, can’t betray Tawasol and try any other place…I have to expand my mandi horizons, there are so MANY mandi places in Deira alone it’s insane.
    And I love the soup too. Not sure about unlimited portions, I’ll check when I go to try their meat mandi next ;)

    • says

      Yes try the Meat mandi. Though I still find the Bait Al Mandi’s Meat mandi juicier because of the fattiness of the lamb. Maybe we just got a leaner cut when I ordered from Al Tawasol.

  2. says

    Loved reading this post! My husband and I are HUGE mandi fans, and like your husband, we’re Bait al Mandi fans (and always end up ordering the mutton/lamb one). But after reading this post, I would definitely want to try Al Tawasol. 

  3. Holly says

    I love going out for mandi with my family or with friends–especially if we get to sit on the floor. It’s always a little adventure. I can’t name any specific places, but the last time I ate mandi was at a place overlooking the Creek on the Diera side. I discovered that I love the grilled fish–whole! Thanks for the mandi reminder. :)

  4. FooDiva says

    In Dubai I’ve only tried mandi at Al Tawasol and it certainly beat Sana’a's :) Need to get down to the other joint pronto. Thanks for sharing. x

    • says

      Yes you should and see how it compares :) The Husband and I are planning another Mandi outing soon. We’ve seen another new Mandi joint here in Barsha

  5. Aziz Lim says

    You need to check turath al mandi in Jumeirah or the fish served in the Red Sea in Sharjah. These two are the best Yemeni restaurant that I have been to. I’ll bet you and your hubby will definitely enjoy the delicious food being served.

    • says

      Unfortunately we’d not be able to try that anymore because we don’t live in the UAE anymore :( But I’m sure others out there who still are there would try :)

    • says

      Hi Layla! This resto is in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Have not seen any Yemeni restos here in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex either.

  6. says

    Yum yummers…. I havent tried BAit Al Mandi, but i sure have tried Al Tawasol and the way their meat is so succulent beats ANY Mandi joint in the UAE.
    Also, that yemeni salsa mix you were wondering about is called Sahoog (which is derived from the word Sahg in Arabic) and that means grinded/paste.
    Need a mandi fix right about now.

    • says

      Thanks for clarifying about”Sahoog”! That’s an interesting tidbit! Did you know that in Filipino the word “sahog” means ingredient?

      P.S. We also miss our Mandi so bad. Not found any here in DFW

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