A day of exploring the new phase of the Circle Line brought us to Holland Village where we practically pranced up and down and everywhere because we were just unable to decide on a good place to settle down for a quiet and cosy dinner. After probably walking past Al-Hamra for the third time, we decided this was it. Because we hadn’t been here. And we wanted something non-conventional.
We chose the indoor seating which was good as it wasn’t too crowded since we were quite early. The interior decor was pretty neat. It really felt like one of those Middle Eastern restaurants that I had visited when I was in that part of the world on business trips.
Assorted appetizers of olives and pickled gherkins, carrots and cucumbers (FOC)
Hommos Bil Awarma ($12.50)
This is hummus topped with minced lamb meat, served with pine nuts and extra virgin olive oil. For those who are new to hummus, it is actually mashed chickpeas or chickpea paste that is often used as a dip or spread in Middle Eastern cuisine. This is actually one of the best that I have ever tried. The use of spices is very subtle and the lamb meat doesn’t taste gamey too. The hummus spread is smooth and tasty, definitely not dry and feels very palatable with a good consistency. This is good on its own and even better with bread which I shall recommend next.
Zatar Bread ($6)
This comes in huge triangular pieces, approx. 8-10 pieces per portion which is more than sufficient for 2 persons. This is similar to pita bread except that it is sprinkled with a Lebanese mixture of various spices and herbs. Eat this with the hummus, the combination is beyond words. I normally don’t take so much carbo when I eat out but I couldn’t stop helping myself to these bread and the hummus spread. Simply hooked onto it!
Grilled Halloumi ($15.00)
This is a white cheese made with sheep’s milk and then grilled with butter. Has a firm and slightly springy texture which is quite chewy. As this cheese is preserved in brine, it tastes extremely salty. It’s very very tasty but be warned, it’s really salty – almost like putting salt on your tongue! Thank goodness, the tomato slices and lettuce strips help to ease the saltiness.
Saffron Rice ($5.00)
Of course we all know how precious and expensive saffron is so how can we miss this exquisite dish? The rice is fragrant and goes so well with the dishes that are to follow.
Ryash Ghanam ($22.00)
This is marinated grilled lamb chops served with special Lebanese BBQ sauce. The lamb chops are nicely cooked. The meat is tender with a nice smoky taste. Just wish there are more meat as the bone parts are huge. We just can’t have enough of this!
Mixed Seafood Grill ($35.00)
We ordered the Al-Hamra Mixed Grill that was supposed to be grilled lamb cubes, lamb kebabs and chicken cubes but we got this seafood one instead. We didn’t request the restaurant to change the dish even though our order was wrong but since this looked pretty good too, we really didn’t mind. This is a combination of prawns and fish fillet served with hara sauce. The fish and prawns are so juicy and succulent. Surprisingly meaty and fresh. I love the sauce that these are grilled in. Taste of vegetable stew that brought out the freshness and sweetness of the seafood. Lovely combination indeed and very home-cooked style which I like a lot.
Even though it wasn’t a cheap meal ($112.40 for 2 persons after taxes), it was definitely one of the best Middle Eastern cuisines I have ever tried in Singapore. Very authentic cooking. Very satisfying indeed.
Al-Hamra Lebanese & Middle Eastern Cuisine
23 Lorong Mambong
Tel: 6464 8488
Opens: 11.30am to 2.30pm, 6.00pm to 10.30pm (Mon to Thu)
11.30am to 2.30pm, 6.00pm to 11.00pm (Fri to Sun & PH)