Al-Wahda: Yemen food in Cobble Hill
Three different Yemenite places are clustered about Atlantic and Court, the most famous and user friendly being Yemen Cafe, which has rightfully gotten a good deal of positive talk on this site.
Yesterday I finally went into what I had though to be the least user friendly (no english signs, always crowded etc). I went with my friend who had lived in Yemen for a year and had been told it was the best of the three.
Since we, and many others, had just left Firdays Jumu'ah prayer, the place was packed. My friend ordered the traditional lunch of Saltah, a spicy stew of Okra, Potatoes, Lamb and Fenugreek. The dish comes in a personal cast iron pot foaming and steaming. The Fenugreek makes a bubbling white top that looks like cheese, but is anything but; its a tad bitter and needs to be mixed into the stew. A huge platter sized flat pita comes with the dish, for scooping up the food.
I also got the roast lamb leg, a spicy fall off the bone meal. I am officially now a sucker for roast lamb, so its hard for me to judge it. I just like all roast lamb.
My favorite part of the meal was the simple lamb based broth that is given as a starter; its just bullion with a few tiny bit of carrots and celery and a wedge of lemon. I could just eat/drink a tub of that.
The food was good and pretty much the same as Yemen Cafe. If you you are eating Yemen food for the first time Yemen Çafe is much easier to deal with and on the outside cleaner. I enjoyed Al-Wahda because of the atmosphere, by the end we were sharing the table with three guys and having a fun time (it helped that my friend spoke Arabic). The less friendly part is only cosmetic, everyone was more than happy to teach me.
Oh, and the tea. Drink it; Like at Yemen Cafe its a spiced sweet tea that you pour for yourself into tiny styrofoam cups; with condensed milk added (traditional) its damn good, especially in these wintery times.
Here is the waiter, Abudl-Qawi, who helped navigate us around the place.
Thanks. I guess I failed to mention it is the one across from Trader Joes at 145 Court st.
Yemen Cafe is on 176 Atlantic between Clinton and Court. Its got a fair share of write ups on this board.
The third, and one I never have been to, is called Hadramout and is two doors down from Yemen Cafe. I believe the Village voice did a review of it.
172 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Just a quick update: Went here Friday night to give the waiter a copy of his picture.
Spent the next hour talking to the guys about politics in Yemen and of course food.
By the end the had given me a free meal, again the roast lamb leg.
What a nice experience and some decent food.
Man, I should have paid attention to this thread a long time ago! For some reason, whenever I've heard people talking about "Yemen Cuisine", I incorrectly assumed they were talking about Yemen Cafe on Atlantic Avenue. I didn't realize that Yemen Cuisine was a different place, around the corner on Court Street. So I FINALLY tried Yemen Cuisine for lunch today. Fantastic! Hounds should definitely not be turned off by the beat-down look of the place. The food is fresh and delicious and generous. Even on a hot day like today, I just gobbled down the lamb broth and roast lamb and hot tea.
So, to Pan and other Yemen Cafe fans out there, I would definitely recommend your trying Yemen Cuisine too, if you haven't already.
145 Court St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
I had forgotten I had written this.
All three of the places mentioned are super friendly, and once asked, are very happy to help and explain the food/culture.
I have been coming over the last few months more often to Al-Wahda to learn about whats going on now in Yemen; I have found this place is the easiest to talk to people, almost like a cafe or bar.
The food in all three is similar, but this is now my favorite one because of the atmosphere.