Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Al Qasr Cyberjaya

Located speck in the centre of Cyberjaya, along Persiaran Multimedia is The Street Mall. It was built on the concept of a mall within a garden and is apparently very popularly for office workers during lunch time. And there were many restaurants there to cater for this need.

There were Italian, Japanese, Thai, Indian, Chinese, Malay, etc.

On the Saturday evening that we were there, the place was largely empty. There was nary a soul. We strolled through deserted walkways and peered into empty restaurants. It was kind of eerie. But then, Cyberjaya is not exactly a hustle bustle type of place. If I had a restaurant and can have it filled with day time (office worker) guests, Monday to Friday, I would perhaps be quite happy. At least there would not be late nights and weekends are all mine. But don't listen to me. I am a lousy businessman.

We eventually arrived at the objective of our being there - an Arabic restaurant named Al Qasr. I believe Qasr is pronounced Kaser.

It was a charming place. It had a typical middle-eastern decor. It was bright and vibrant. My wife took this panoramic shot with my iPhone. The effect was spectacular.

This place was not as empty as the other eateries in the mall. They had a few Muslim guests that evening.

The place was operated by a team of Middle-eastern men. Our waiter said he was from Yemen. They spoke to each other in a lingo I recognised as Arabic. Even the cashier who was an old man looked foreign. But he spoke to me in perfect Malay; so I knew he was local. He said the restaurant was newly opened and was jointly owned by Arabian and Malaysian businessmen.

The menu presented us did not look new. It was worn and tattered. My wife suggested that they might had moved there from another location. Perhaps.

We started our meal with some juices. I opted for water melon. It was concentrated and sweet, and unadulterated - very refreshing.

The pita bread they served was hot from the oven. They made their own breads and are offered without charge to all guests. It was superb. I would drive 40 kilometres to this place again just for this bread. I love fresh bread. This freshly baked Arabic pita was near the pinnacle.

We shared a lentil soup. Again, the word to describe it was superb. The soup was thick and smooth. The flavour was delicious - much like a good dahl, but unspoilt by spices. The soup was served with a slice of lime. I didn't know whatever for - the soup did not need additional flavour. The crisps that accompanied the soup was also very nice. I forgot to ask the waiter what they were.

The Greek salad we ordered was just so-so. It had various diced vegetables in a sourish dressing and overwhelmed with shredded feta cheese.

The lamb kebab was delicious. It was served with french fries, some shredded salad and a cup of sour cream. They all sat on a large piece of flat bread that looked and tasted very much like our roti canai. The kebab was outstanding. One of the best kebab I ever had. The meat was tender and aromatic. Very well done indeed. My wife is no fan of mutton and beef. She does not like the gamey taste. This kebab was a little gamey. Yet my wife tolerated it and enjoyed the dish. The underlying "roti canai" was also very nice. I was tearing out the bread to wrap the meat. There were 2 wonderful types of bread and it was kind of hard to decide which to go for.

Our second entree was this "madfoon chicken". It was a quarter of grilled chicken served with a most wonderful rice. The chicken was served wrapped in a metal foil. I had to unwrap it to have this picture taken. The chicken was OK, not a wow. But the rice was fantastic. It was obviously long-grain basmati rice, cooked much like the biryani; only the flavour was much better. The rice was fluffy and had a kind of savoury sweetness. Like the fresh bread, I enjoyed the rice thoroughly.

After a hearty and most satisfying meal, I decided on some Arabic tea. I had read that the Arabs make very good tea. I was eager to try some, given that the meal so far had been very authentically Arabic.

But I was somewhat disappointed to see the Lipton label on the pot. I didn't think Lipton was in any way Arabic.

Sugar was separately served. I also read that the Arabs take their tea very sweet. To be authentic, I guessed I had to follow suit, and helped myself generously to it. The tea turned out to be very nice. There was a very pleasant strong flavour of mint in the tea. Strange. I didn't think Lipton made mint tea. I opened the lid of the pot. In it were fresh mint leaves.

The Al Qasr was a very enjoyable Arabic experience. I must return to this place. And when I do, I have to get a bigger crowd. The two of us did not get to taste much of the variety they offered. A bigger group will allow us to order more. And when I do, I may just write about it again.

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