It’s Ramadan in Jeddah, and we have no car.  What this means is that we don’t have the option of heading out for iftar when everything is said to come to life.  In Saudi Arabia, Ramadan sees the closure of all the food shops during the day, til about 4 or 5pm when they open and ready themselves for the throngs of people who want to break their fast just after 7pm.  It’s at this point that all the shops and all the eating establishments remain open through most of the night until it’s time for the last meal before sunrise, and people head home to fast for the rest of the daylight hours and presumably to sleep.  It is in the night that bazaars, and markets and events are held, and the day sees a very sleepy town instead.  Having said that, the embassies still function, albeit for shorter hours, which doesn’t leave us much leeway in terms of exploration since we are awake for most of the day, as are the office drivers, who also fast.  So to request for the driver to bring us out to get dinner for iftar strikes me as unkind as they would be breaking their fast in the car, without their family, or on the road.  My point is, this is a bit of a shame because this is a city filled with burger joints from the US, burgers that we can actually eat! but we can’t because there are still two weeks left of Ramadan.  That’s right, we’ve got all out priorities sorted.

Since arriving in Jeddah, I’ve been dying to go back to The Counter burger joint at Stars Avenue in the north end of Jeddah.  But, and I wail, we have no car!  Right now, they’re closed in the day, only open at night, I refuse to overwork the driver, we have no car to drive ourselves, and getting an Uber at iftar time may not be guaranteed, so what do we do?  Attempt a recreation in the kitchen.Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

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One half of us would eat nasi padang any chance he gets, while the other half, would rather a bowl of noodles if faced with the choice (and if it isn’t Rumah Makan Minang that we’re faced with).  So, even whilst hungry because we skipped breakfast in our haste, and having trekked through unfamiliar Chinatown, in the drizzle, pushing the stroller through puddly, narrow lanes with one hand, and trying to keep the six-year-old next to me from slipping or getting lost, we came upon Nur’Ilham June and Family Nasi Padang Stall in Manhattan House (151 Chin Swee road), and I admit I was less than thrilled.  I don’t know, everytime I see a nasi padang stall, I think generic flavours, no punch, lots of blind chilli, under seasoning, and not a whole lot of love or care for detail.  It’s just the token Malay guy in the HDB block.  Yay.

the stall, at first glance

the stall, at first glance

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I am not in Singapore.  I was but am not currently.  And the eatery’s name is I Am.  Say it carefully and you might say Ayam (chicken).

Located in the now-hip area of the Arab street vicinity, it sits on the corner of cool Haji Lane and busy as heck North Bridge road.  It has the usual industrial hipster boxes all ticked, dark and broody, ceiling fans, no air conditioning, and tables spilling out on to the little road that it sits alongside.  The real draw to this place is the promise of tasty Western style halal food that has not been doused in cheap chilli sauce.  I’d read about it on various blogs and it honestly looked good, and bonus! we can eat anything on the menu.

The Bear Burger (background, hot wings)

The Big Bear Burger
(background, hot wings)

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hidangan

hidangan

O Rumah Makan Minang.  If only you weren’t so far from my flat in Sengkang, I would have lunch with you every week.

I’d like to state for the record that I was the first to really discover this little outfit and one of the people responsible for propelling it into the popularity stratosphere.  This was before the area became this cool place to hang out, with grafitti on the walls, and industrial hipster styled eateries popping up.   Read More →