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.
|Part of Dining Area|
We started this exotic food adventure with Cold Mezza Platter ($35) and Hot Mezza Platter ($32). Cold Mezza platter consist of 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.
|Cold Mezza Platter Top: Fattoush (Middle Eastern salad dish)|
Middle: Moutabbal (eggplant dip), Hummus (chickpea dip)
Fattoush (Middle Eastern salad dish) and Warak Areesh (Stuffed Vine Leaves)
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.
Hot Mezza Platter consist of Falafel (chickpea balls), Sambousik (Middle Eastern Curry Puff), Spinach Fatayer (Spinach Pie), Lahem Bil Ajine (Lebanese Meat Pie), Kibbey Mekli / Kibbeh (Oval shaped meatball) and Cheese Reqaq (Cheese Spring Roll). Felafel was densely packed, well seasoned with earthy flavours coming from the chickpeas and broad beans. The Sambousik, which looks like our curry puff has quite a thick pastry making it a challenge to chew.
Meanwhile the Spinach Fatayer and Lahem Bil Ajine have a crisp and thin dough, that cover the moist spinach fillings and meat fillings respectively. Meat lovers will enjoy the Kibbey Mekli, however I must warn you that the meat flavour is very gamey. My favourite dish from this platter is Cheese Reqaq. The feta cheese wrapped in same style of spring roll, it was crispy and filled with the flavours of feta.
|Hot Mezza Platter - Up Closed|
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.
|Zatar Bread with Cheese|
Proceeding to our main meals, we stared with Chicken Shawarma ($25). Sliced chicken marinated with vinegar, sesame paste, spices and served in boat shaped Lebanese pita bread. Best eaten by hand, the fully pita bread wrapped the tender and succulent chicken. Tasted like a chicken kebab except without any vegetables. It can do with a bit more charred flavour in the chicken and a thicker bread. However, definitely a finger licking moment with this dish as the chicken spill over to your fingers.
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.
|Lamb Cous Cous|
|Arabic Rice with Dry Fruits and Nuts|
Of course Lebanese / Middle Eastern cuisine will not be complete unless you tried the Al Hamra Mixed Grill ($35). It consist of grilled lamb cubes, mince lamb kebab and grilled chicken cubes. The grilling of the protein was nicely executed, as all the meat retain in moisture and succulent. The seasoning on the lamb cubes a bit on the heavy side, so watch out if you feel your palate being over-seasoned.
|Al Hamra Mixed Grill|
For the sweet endings, we sample Umali ($7.50), Beklawa ($7.50 for 6 pcs) and Muhallabia ($6.50). 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. Meanwhile Beklawa can also be known as Baklava in Greek. A rich traditional Arabic pastry filled with dried nuts and pistachio and honey. The amount of honey used to coat beklawa will make you teeth tingle, however I find the version here is a bit too dense. I was expecting the pastry to rise, more air and fluffy.
Muhallabia is Arabic Almond Cream Pudding. Smooth and velvety, the almond flavours is actually very subtle. I personally find the rose water was a bit too empowering almost covering the almond flavours.
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. My personal favourite for the food here will be Zatar Bread with Cheese, Pita Bread, Chicken Shawarma, Lamb Cous Cous and Umali. They are similar with Greek cuisine, but with its own characteristic spices to distinguish itself. So if you are looking for try Lebanese and Middle Eastern cuisine, give this place a try. Cheers!!
Thank you very much to Hungry Go Where and Al-Hamra Team for the tasting invitation
Food & Drink: 7/10
Service: N/A (Tasting Invitation)
Budget per Person: $26 - $50
Al-Hamra Lebanese & Middle Eastern Cuisine
23 Lorong Mambong
T: +65 6464 8488
Sun – Thu: 11.30 – 14.30; 18.00 – 22.30
Fri – Sat: 11.30 – 14.30; 18.00 – 22.30