Friday, September 25, 2015
Al Shabab Restaurant
Rating: Very good
Price: .550 BHD
Payment: Cash only
Dishes: Keema, chapati and yoghurt
English Menu: Yes
Smoking: Possibly (not when I was there)
After sleeping almost 12 hours last night I woke up at about 5:00am. I headed out around 6:00am to discover the lay of the land as far as breakfast goes. I'm staying at the Grand Juffair Hotel, which is far better located for food than the previous place I staid when I was here in Bahrain for work. Turning right out of the front door and will lead quickly to a T in the road. This is Shabab Avenue, which you can turn left on and walk about 8 minutes to the base entrance. All along this avenue are several very nice restaurants, western and otherwise. There are some big names here: Chilis, Johnny Rockets, etc.. Lots of fast food also. I found several places I won't mind coming back and trying out (Lebanese, Kuwaiti, Persian, Mexican!). But breakfast options were limited to the usual fast food joints and some of the nicer burger places (Johnny Rockets and Fuddruckers). However I don't really like western breakfast as much and was looking for something along the lines of Arabic or Indian. Plus I didn't want to spend 3 - 5 BHD on breakfast.
So I turned around and walked back towards the hotel and past the T in the road. I've been told that this area is "off limits" to base personnel, but I'm a private contractor so that couldn't possibly apply to me, right? Sure enough around the corner I spied my first good candidate, a place that delivers that I will probably order from in the future as I snagged a menu. Unfortunately, there was no seating and I was getting pretty hot and sweaty by this point (almost 7am). So I kept walking just a bit and found Al Shabab Restaurant.
Al Shabab is an arabic phrase that means "the youth" and it can have various shades of meaning. (I speak as a very ignorant foreigner here, this is just what I've come to understand so far) In Kuwait, people would refer to "idle young male troublemakers" as "al shebab" (i.e. young punks). It's not a particularly favorable phrase in that way. It's also the name of a scary terrorist group, but that came a few years after we were first introduced to the term. Kerri and I have a habit of incorporating foreign phrases into our lingo and giving them our own spin, so this one has become our code word for "young people doing dumb things" which is pretty much universal. Therefore we found it hilarious that almost everyone on base calls Shabab Avenue which is right outside the base "American Alley." How appropriate... It's also appropriate because young Bahrainis and Saudis will come here in their fancy cars, "cruising" and sometimes causing even more problems. It's actually quite amazing there can be this mixture of young sailors and arabs without crazy blow ups more often. But it seems to work most of the time.
Back to Al Shabab Restaurant, probably named after the nearby Avenue. It is an Indian restaurant, but not a fancy one. They serve more "home cooking" than some of the other fancy Indian places I've eaten here. This is actually my favorite style and one I look for everywhere. When I complain about lack of "authentic" Indian, this is what I mean. I asked for keema, chapati and yoghurt, and that's what I got. The keema was not the best I've ever had, but it had the big peas, the minced meat, and the spices. It wasn't spicy though. The chapati was warm and full by ghee. Oh heaven!
The rest of the menu looks great, and best of all I paid .550 BHD, about $1.50. Woohoo, I win! Oh, and they deliver, so there's a good chance I'll be getting more of what they have to offer later on.