Sep 30, 2011

Osan – Al Ghubra

Osan is a Yemeni restaurant located in Al Ghubra (Telephone: 9239 7557 – Map). If you are coming down from the Ghubra/Lulu Roundabout and going towards the 18th November Street, you take a left at the second traffic lights then turn left again to find Osan.

Osan is very similar to many of the Yemeni restaurants in town, and I thought that it had a much nicer seating area and could be a great introduction to someone who has never been to a traditional Yemeni restaurant. Osan has a few proper dining tables in the center of the restaurant, but nobody ever uses them as everyone coming to dine in Osan would prefer getting a cubicle to sit on the ground and eat using bare hands without cutlery.

The concept of most Yemeni restaurants is that each group of diners get a private room or a cubicle to sit on the floor and eat a Mandi dish with their bare hands. You usually do not get seated and instead must walk around to look for an empty cubicle for yourself, take your sandals off before you walk on the cubicle carpet, sit down, and wait for the waiter to come take your order.

Like the majority of Yemeni restaurants, Osan does not have a paper menu to hand to its customers, the cashier has a menu attached to his desk, but really when you go to such a restaurant you should not be asking for anything other than “Mandi”. Mandi is a special rice dish that you have with lamb meat or chicken prepared with a variety of Yemeni spices in an oven. As an alternative, the lamb meat or the chicken could be grilled on its own instead of being baked – this method of preparation is called “Madhbi”. Many Yemeni restaurants like Osan also serve chicken and meat Biryani.

Once the waiter arrives at your cubicle, you are expected to tell him what kind of Mandi you want and whether you want to have your meat or chicken prepared along with the Mandi or grilled on its own (AKA Madhbi). Depending on the number of people in your party, you could have separate plates for each on of you or they could have the dishes added together in one huge plate for everyone to eat from together.

We thought we’ll have a half Mandi rice with Madhbi chicken and a half chicken Biryani in a single plate for two people. It took them a few seconds to get our plate which came with a small plate for salad and a bowl of hot tomato sauce (chutney).

Expats not exposed to the culture of eating with your bare hands might find it daunting to try to eat such a dish without cutlery at Osan, but it is really easy as what you have to do is basically tear a piece of the chicken and then scoop some rice with your hand and have them together.

I thought that the Mandi at Osan was excellent and the Madhbi chicken was much more delicious than the chicken Biryani we had on the same dish.

In total we ordered two halves of a mandhi and one large bottle of water. Our bill came to RO 3.800.

There isn’t really an expectation of a customer service at a Mandi restaurant, but Osan seemed clean, tidy, and the food came really fast and was cooked well. I highly recommend it for someone looking for a quick Mandi dish in Al Ghubra.

What do you guys think of Yemeni mandi restaurants, do you have a favorite in town?