Disclaimer/Note: It’s been a while now since we visited Mashawi Grill. The restaurant moved to a new outlet, not far from the previous place. We have yet to run a full review of the new restaurant. This review is about the previous restaurant. Therefore, for now, we can’t really say anything about the overall quality of the newer restaurant, not until we do a thorough visit for new review.
“There is a jewel that recently transformed into a ‘culinary oasis’ with such an unbelievably delicious middle east cuisine selections that is fit for a king but made affordable for all. It might be the only edible ‘jewel’ in Kota Kinabalu city”-curiostraveller.com
(Photos by @joehairie)
Proloque-Good or Great Restaurant?
What makes a great restaurant? The best answer is the ability of a Restaurateur to see and combine all possible aspects (food/beverages, atmosphere, service and expectations) into one big result- customers satisfaction. The difference between a great restaurant and a good restaurant depends much on how consistent the Restaurateur is and how much attention being put into details. For us, it does not matter if the Restaurateurs offers one single page menu or one thick file of complicated menu(s). What counts is, the ability of the Restaurateurs to honor their own menu, be fair to their own creation and deliver what have been promised as suggested by the menu itself. The smallest details such as color, portion, cleanliness and decorations must be looked into by the Chef before letting the plate to be taken out of the kitchen.
The quality of service by staffs is important as well. Both owners and staffs must be able to show that they do welcome customers into the eatery as sincere as they can be. Smile genuinely and make sure the eyes are smiling as well. Staffs must be able to appear almost immediately when ‘being summoned‘ by the customers. Promised time is one thing that cannot be compromised. Tell customers that you will get the food ready in 20 minutes (for example) and make sure it does arrive at the table in 20 minutes or less. Interior and exterior factors does count as well. Customers, at times look into the details of furniture layout, decorations, colors and many more. Cleanliness and tidiness are 2 important things that must not be left out by Restaurateurs. Location and location…does the location enable customers to navigate the area easily and park their vehicles nearby to the eatery that they want to visit?
It is difficult to please everyone but that is the main task for Restaurateurs , to please customers with the food and beverages, while at the same time provide conducive atmosphere with exceptional service and long lasting ‘relationship’ with customers. Engage with customers in a way that really make them happy and when they walk out of the door, they will say “I will come back for more“. That is an indication of a great restaurant and smart Restaurateur. We at curiostraveller.com, recently visited Mashawi Grill @ Kota Kinabalu. Is this a good or a great restaurant? Read further to know more about our findings.
About Mashawi Grill-As we see it
Mashawi (pronounced as Maa-sha-wee) means roasted, grilled or barbecued meat or vegetables on an open fire. Mashawi is an Arabic word and thus the restaurant offers ‘A taste of the Middle East Cuisine” with concentration to only Halal Food. Mashawi open its door, daily from 11 a.m to 10.30 p.m. Catering services are available and can be suited for all types of functions, events and occasions. Located on the ground floor of Tang Dynasty Bay, Jalan Sepanggar-Manggatal, it is a themed restaurant with Middle East influences to the food and beverages in both presentation and taste.
Although the interior and exterior are not heavily showing the Middle East influence, the music being played will makes you feel that you are dining in a place that is pretty much associate with the land of 1001 nights. Several decorations are featuring the Middle East influence such as the Tanjine being displayed as well as Camels motive and light settings/chandeliers. Walls are mostly painted white with some geometrical shapes and frames which actually speaks for the history of Arab/Islam Civilization great contribution towards the Mathematical works.
Currently, Mashawi offers customers a straight forward menu and printed in 2 pages as shown below. The menu is brilliantly designed to enable customers to choose their meals easily. Simply look into the categories and choose accordingly. Do note that, items and prices may changes from time to time, so if you read this review a year after being published, the menu might have been adjusted.
The curiostraveller.com culinary journey @ Mashawi
To be able to write this lengthy and informative review, we actually visited Mashawi, twice. Overall, we actually managed to consume at least one choice from each category available in the menu. The first visit was done by the 2 of us, @curiostraveller (Lan) and @joehairie. On the second visit, we both brought along @curiostraveller parents. The reason to take them along with us was to see whether they’re satisfied with the quality of products and services offered by Mashawi to them. They are both neither writers nor bloggers but they are very consistent in delivering their opinion on food and beverages quality.
First visit-May 14, 2016 (Saturday)
For the first visit, we ordered 2 types of meals from the Arab Mandhi Rice Set,. The 2 selections were Chicken Mashawi and Lamb Kefta. The aromatic Arab Mandhi Rice Set is served along-side customers choice of Chicken or Lamb, a bowl of Arab Salad/Coleslaw and homemade dipping sauce. We also ordered Half Chicken from the Mashawi (Roasted ) Chicken category. For drinks, we ordered Iced Lemon Tea and Iced Arabic Mint Tea. Our selections are shown in the images below.
Generous portion of delicious rice with 2 Lamb Skewers that tasted amazingly heaven. Kefta is a term for food which is made by grinding meat and mixing it with an assortment of spices. The resulting seasoned are often shaped into meatballs or cylinders of meat which can be cooked in a wide variety of ways. Variations on kefta are common street foods in the Middle East, and they may also be served as appetizers or as a more central part of a meal. It is easy to make kefta at home, and many cooks enjoy making this simple dish at home since it allows them to adjust the spices as desired. Spices such as garlic, onions, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, turmeric, and harissa may be added to kefta to make them savory, spicy, or even slightly sweet, depending on the region and the taste of the cook. Some cooks also make their kefta lighter by blending the meat with rice, vegetables, or bulgur wheat.
Look at that Chicken! Roasted to perfection and tasted heavenly delicious! We like that slight burnt on the skin as it gave distinct taste to the chicken. The yummy taste can be detected right to the bone and we kind of trying to the bite the bone (literally!) as we felt that we wanted more. Beware! You might order for a 2nd as this is the ultimate dish to die for…
We told you that one piece of chicken ain’t enough! So we ordered the Half Chicken set. The price for Half Chicken set is only RM 12.90 while the Whole Chicken set will only cost you RM 16.90. For solo diner, opt for the Quarter Chicken that cost only RM 6.90. Amazingly cheap and you can’t find the same in terms of quality and price, outside Mashawi!
Tasted so delicious especially the Iced Arabic Mint Tea. @joehairie had this beverage and I tried some. We both love the distinct taste of this tea. It’s so refreshing and suited with our foods.
Second Visit-May 22, 2016 (Sunday)
As we came in 4, we got the opportunity to order more selections from different categories. This time around we chose to have something different than what we had during the first visit. These were our selections:
@curiostraveller opted for this dish. There were to many things on the plate but he love it so much! The Coleslaw tasted so good and again the Chicken is his all time favorite. He ate that bread by dipping em’ to the gravy and he kind of became speechless as it tasted so good, according to him. He also tore apart the bread and put some chicken meat and ate it just like eating sandwich. Superb dish!
@joehairie opted for this dish and there’s no left over on the plate. Clean. He ate everything (except for the skewers of course). If he finish his food, it means only one thing, there’s no flaw to that particular dish. He is a good critic and if he did not finish any food, it means something is not right. Simple as that.
@msikor had this dish. He is a big fan of Lamb meat. He love this dish so much. The meat, according to him, was tender and tasted so delicious. The gravy definitely the best for him. He’s fallen in love with the rice too!
So, we became speechless when the Pizza being served to us. It’s way too big than what we have expected. The taste, ohhh…you must get yourself here and try it…it feels like being in Heaven. One can also opt for the Chicken Pizza. Refer to the menu for the price.
Honestly, we made a mistake. We should have cut this Pita into 2 pieces so that you guys can see the amazing fillings of this Pita. It went well with the dipping sauce. This is another recommended side dish if you want to skip the heavy meals.
@marylansing enjoyed this dish so much. She finished everything on the plate (well, not the chicken bone of course). She love that Salad too. She said the greens were fresh and tasted amazingly delicious.
All of our drinks tasted great and refreshing especially after consuming those superb heavy meals. We suggest the owner to introduce original coffee from Middle East region as we are coffee lovers!
Our Thoughts About Mashawi
Food & Beverages
We were extremely satisfied with the presentation and taste of all the food and beverages that we ordered in both visits. The Arab Mandhi Rice set selections were our most favorite food. The portion/size of each set, generous and made us really full. The dipping sauce for some sets tasted really delicious and suited the dishes well. In the second visit, @msikor was really satisfied with his order, Lamb Shank Stew (Arab Mandhi Rice Set). He is a big fan of Lamb Meat. He said that the meat was tender enough and tasted extremely delicious. He will normally exclude himself from coleslaw but we were actually surprised to hear him saying that the coleslaw here tasted different and he actually finished the side serving.
@marylansing was extremely satisfied with her choice of Chicken Mashawi (Arab Mandhi Rice Set). The unique taste of the recipe can be tasted right to the bone itself. Meat was tender and she is planning to come back here again soon to taste more of Mashawi’s great menus. @joehairie is one great food critic. In most restaurants, he seldom finish his food because there is always something not right with the presentation and taste. However, in both visits to Mashawi, he finished eating everything on the plate. The plate was totally clean, not even one edible left over can be seen. That is an indication that the restaurant is great in terms of preparing the right and consistent meals to customers. @curiostraveller thinks that.
We became speechless with this particular menu, Turkish Pide Pizza. Below is the image of that Pizza. Not only it’s way much bigger than we thought, it actually tasted extremely delicious. We will be visiting Mashawi again on the first day of Ramadhan for breaking fast in the early evening, that is for sure. This is the ultimate pizza, the best that we have ever consumed. The overall quality of this Turkish Pide Pizza put aside the pizza that we had in one 5 star restaurant, recently. We are actually still thinking the ingredients being used to mixed up the chicken and lamb, we can’t really jump to a conclusion. Whatever they are doing in the Mashawi Kitchen for this Pide Pizza, they are doing it correctly and from their heart. The pizza really fit for a King.
Middle East beverages especially the Tea are often served a little bit sweeter. We do often visit the Arab/Middle Eastern Restaurants in different locations so we were expecting the same sweetness taste in Mashawi’s beverages. Overall, we enjoyed the beverages. Ingredients being used to mix up the beverages were fresh. For example, @curiostraveller ordered for Lime Sour Plum and he actually had one good bite of the lime in the beverage. It was a good lime, he said, simply put, fresh. There were few times that he did the same for his choice of beverage at other restaurants and most of the lime tasted a bit ‘old’. @marylansing enjoyed her Honey Lemon drink. Though a little bit sweet, as she claimed (Mom, there’s honey inside!!), she actually finished drinking it.
We love and prefer the approach by Mashawi to have minimalist concept inside the restaurant. We’ve been to other Middle Eastern Restaurants in Kuala Lumpur that have all the possible decorations, arts and features that they can think of. There was one restaurant that was too colorful and another one with too much red color inside it. The carpets and even the smallest jars were all over the restaurant and to add more to it, the owner decided to had the belly dancing performed by more than 5 people. We were already suffocating even before we start eating.
At Mashawi, the owner decided to applied white color as the main color of the wall. That’s a clever decision as not only it will make customers feel tranquil, they will also not be experiencing too much ‘culture shock’ as what we have experienced in one middle east themed restaurant at Damansara. The reason customers comes to a restaurant is actually to dine and not shopping for decorations or things like that. Mashawi owner understood the needs of diners. We prefer dining at a restaurant that have minimalist concept. There is nothing wrong with dining at a restaurant that have fancy decorations. We at times like it too but make sure it fits with the overall concept and does not make customers engage with viewing decorations rather than enjoying the meals.
Balance is the key word. The ability to balance all aspects is the most important skill in being a restaurateur. Mashawi owner managed to balance the importance of having both, food/beverages quality and awesome atmosphere. There are 2 seating/dining areas at Mashawi, indoor and outdoor. Both seating areas are kept clean all the time by the staffs. The floor-extremely clean with not even small pieces of bits can be seen. Simply put, immaculate or spotless. @marylansing said that the washroom was clean when she entered it.
@curiostraveller and @joehairie thinks that the price range in the menu is actually affordable for all type of customers. The portion of each meal actually speaks for the price(s). The quality of food and beverages in both presentation and taste actually worth more than the price. We were actually surprised (during our first visit) to know that the big portion of selections in Arab Mandhi Rice Set, are priced the highest at only RM16.90. We both know that this kind of meal, with the same portion at another restaurant will cost us more than RM20.
All staffs were very friendly, polite, helpful, informative and smiled genuinely. They were also very attentive and have the eyes of an eagle as they managed to spot even the smallest flaw and corrected it in record time. They kept checking on customers satisfaction. The owner was here during our visit and he actually did some chores to help around. He went to see all customers and checked their satisfactions. We don’t always see this scenario in another restaurants.It is a privilege actually to be able to meet and talk in person with the owner. Not all restaurateurs are willing to do this.
Other Customers thoughts about Mashawi
@curiostraveller went around the restaurant during the second visit and he finally managed to run a brief interview with 3 awesome customers, dining at a table not far from our table. @curiostraveller intention was to find out if other customers were actually satisfied with the food and beverages that they consumed. Those 3 customers (shown in the image below) are UMS (University Malaysia Sabah) students. This was their first visit to Mashawi and they regard the food as the best they have ever consumed. We noticed that their plate(s) were ‘clean’ and that’s again another good indication of how excellent the food were. They told us that they will be coming again to Mashawi for another great meals.
They became aware of this restaurant existence through google search and without hesitation they proceeded with their intention to have good meals at Mashawi. Allow us to introduce these 3 awesome young students of UMS. Shikin is from Johor Darul Ta’Zim, Nurfatimah is from Selangor Darul Ehsan and Fathohah hails from Pahang Darul Makmur. They are all final year students and currently in their final semester. We, the curiostraveller.com team members wish them the best in their final semester and we hope to see them again soon. Graduate with 4.00 if you can and best of luck in your future venture. Thank you for the interview!!
Whats our verdict? (Cafe/Restaurant: Stand-Alone Category)
We are happy to announce that the Mashawi Grill is the first restaurant in Kota Kinabalu to achieve perfect score of 10 out of 10. We visited this outlet twice and we re consider the rating for both visits. We came to a conclusion that this particular restaurant deserved the perfect score : 10/10
“Mashawi ain’t a good restaurant because it is actually a GREAT restaurant”-@joehairie
“The Mashawi Restaurateur managed to balance all the essentials in making the restaurant into a Great Restaurant”-@curiostraveller
(Overall Score: 10/10 )
Ambiance & Overall Concept: 10/10
Food-Menu, Presentation and Taste: 10/10
Beverages-Menu, Presentation and Taste: 10/10
Service/All other ‘Extras’: 10/10