Arth Aljanatain (Bronx Yemeni)
- Jim Leff Dec 8, 2013 04:56 PM
Arth Aljanatain (700 Rhinelander Ave; 718-918-9191) is a super barebones, super friendly, super bustling little joint in the Yemeni section of the Bronx (near Parkchester). I was the only gringo.
I got chicken and rice. The rice was a sheened fluffy miracle of moistness, with actual saffron!! Chicken was excellent, but couldn't touch the superlative rice, quality-wise, which was the best takeout rice I've had within memory.
Despite the super raw decor (they don't seem to have heat, for one thing), it's not real cheap, nor should it be ($15-ish for a not-large portion of meat with lots of rice, the usual Yemeni soup, and a micro-salad that actually wasn't bad). Don't expect finesse (more of that at Yemen Cafe in Brooklyn), but there's a lot of love in the food.
The tandoor bread, alas, looks way better than it tastes. And once it cools, forget it (per Leff's Law of Baked Goods http://jimleff.blogspot.com/2013/03/l... )
My Yelp strategy these days is to ignore the reviews and ratings, and just look at the photos. Take a look at the ones for this place; I think you'll find them as convincing as I did: http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/arth-a...
Here's the best rice shot:
Across the street, Oasis Meditarranean Restaurant 1907 White Plains Rd is the opposite extreme - a dauntingly fancy and intimidating place that seems like a catering hall, but they apparently serve restaurant meals and takeout. http://oasis-1907.com
an intriguing read, Jim, as always. but, to be honest, reading your praise and caveats, and weighing them against each other, I come away thinking this isn't a place worth going out of the way for. I like rice as much as the next person, but 15 bucks for a boatload of transcendent rice, a bit of chicken and mediocre accoutrements doesn't really entice me. and, yes, I know you're not trying to entice, simply report.
My feeling on Yemeni tandoor bread is that it's their equivalent of barbecue. Great restaurants may make it lousy, and otherwise great restaurants can make it poorly. It's a specialty item, untethered to the quality of the rest of the restaurant. Really, for it to be best, there needs to be one specialist dude doing nothing but that. But this place isn't regal like that. It's down-home, and best-of-type on that score.
re: Jim Leff
I guess the pita had similarities to naan baked in a tandoor oven, at Yemenite Cafe. I'm not sure if it is actually tandoor bread, I'm no expert on that stuff. They called it pita, it was large and it was hot and delicious. I don't think the oven was a clay oven though, but they did have one guy who was in charge of making the bread. Yemenite Cafe is a very simple place, very reasonable prices too. Again, I will try your Bronx recommendation and look forward to it.