Written by @joehairie (Photos by curiostraveller.com)
Thought of the day-“Growing up, I learned life’s important lessons at the dinner table.”-Chef John Besh
Blink and you might be missing something in regard to some amazing dining opportunities. As Kota Kinabalu’s and its surrounding area fickle with new restaurants opening, one might not ably to see the best of the best. Connoisseur included. Hidden somewhere in a newly-developed commercial and housing area near Kinarut town, is one contender in the burgeoning concept of Middle Eastern cuisine. Introducing, Al Hamra Restaurant & Bistro at The Palm Square Kinarut. Though located about 18 KM from Kota Kinabalu city, getting here is not a hassle.
The Al Hamra name is unique for me. It was because of this name that I made thorough research before coming here. From their Facebook’s page, I learned that this eatery serves amazing Middle Eastern cuisine. It gets more interesting when learning about the availability of some great selections of Western dishes. It was at the opportune moment that the owner, Mr Iqbal Nassim was at Al Hamra. We had the opportunity to see how he went miles in serving his customers.
There’s steady flow of customers, a sign that this brand is frequented by many of its loyal fans. Though just into its 5th month, it seems that many have fallen for Al Hamra delish dishes. For that, we both need to try some of its well-known dishes.
We both managed to meet Mr.Iqbal. He’s on tight schedule but he didn’t mind at all answering questions from two curious and curios travellers. In between, he answered several calls from customers wishing to reserve some tables and at the same time had his eyes on his staffs movements.
From our table, we were able to view the outside area of the restaurant as it has floor to ceiling glass panel. It’s extremely hot outside but we’re comfortably inside, thanks to the cool air from the air-conditioner units. “No need to dine with sweat all over.” said @Lan.
The outlet is of medium size and it has adequate dining tables. Larger group may have the tables combined by the helpful staffs. The front of the restaurant is the main dining area with the cashier/beverage counter in the center, followed by the kitchen at the back.
There’s another dining area to the left of the Cashier Counter. According to Mr. Iqbal, there will be another dining area on the 1st floor in the near future. ‘At times we need a separate area to host a particular function without having the need to shut down the restaurant’s operation, that’s why we need the 1st floor” he said. Our food and drinks soon were on the table, brought by the diligent staff.
Priced at RM8.50 per glass, this Avocado Special of Al Hamra was indeed refreshing, delicious and creamy. There’s that taste of real avocado being blended beforehand and generous chocolate syrup topped with that white cream. It’s not that sweet as one may think of by looking at the picture. This particular beverage is their Signature Drink and we both recommend it if you come to Al Hamra.
This Spaghetti Beef Bolognese that is priced at RM11.90 per serving is one unique dish. It might be a common dish for most of us but Al Hamra’s is quite exceptional as it tasted great with the pasta being cooked well. The sauce, amazingly tasty and its important to note that it did not overpowered the dish. The owner told us that there’s a secret way in making the dish a great one that differ from the other common same dish. There’s generous meat all over the pasta.
Chicken Mandy is our most favorite dish at Al Hamra. It is priced at RM15.90 per dish and the Chicken itself is the star of the dish with the Mandy rice as the co-star. The Chicken was cooked perfectly, with the skin that had crispy texture. Inside, the meat, tender and the ingredients being marinated onto it went right through that made the bone itself, tasty! Dipping the meat into the Chakni (as in Chutney) gave that moderate spicy taste. Soury taste was playing on the tongue as we ate that Fattoush.
We had Fettuccine somewhere else but each time we consumed one, we stopped halfway. We prefer Fettuccine with less creamy texture. Give us the creamiest Fettuccine and we will reject it. Some outlets tend to apply more butter (than needed) into the dish. Surprisingly, the Fettuccine at Al Hamra was indeed the right one for us. We emptied the plate. For commercial reason, the owner renamed this dish to Fatuchini Mussle Carbonara. The Mussell origin? New Zealand. The pasta, cooked perfectly!
We had Lamb Shank as well and at Al Hamra they named the dish as Al Hamra Lamb Shank Mandy. Same as Chicken Mandy, the dish comes with the Mandy rice, Fattoush and Chakni. Most eateries will have some heavy gravy coated on the Lamb Shank. At times, it felt like eating the gravy instead of the Lamb Shank’s meat. At Al Hamra, the Lamb Shank is presented in dry state. Well, it might look dry in the picture but inside the meat, moist and tender with all that spices playing in the mouth, that’s how I describe my experience. It’s priced at RM24.90, large portion I say
Another dish that worth trying is Lamb Honeeth that is priced at RM15.90. The Mandy Rice, Fattoush and Chakni are the same as in the other two dishes. The Lamb was delicious when we tasted it, it’s not that difficult to rip apart the meat from the bone and that fat really really tasty. I had pieces of the meat dip into the Chakni and it was absolutely delish. Had some with the rice as well, they are of perfect combination, as if made in Heaven.
From the Special Snack options, we dived our fingers into this delicious Potato Wedges. Served on a cutting board instead of a normal plate, it’s priced at RM12.00 per serving. On top, the generous creamy Bolognese Sauce mixed with cheese and it truly complemented that piping hot wedges. It’s a snack that we recommend to you if you feel like eating something lighter but trust me, you will crave for more!
We enjoyed the dining experience at Al Hamra and we have no doubt that this place is going to be one famous eatery in the near future. All their dishes are well presented and it’s instagrammable. The dishes do looks nice and the pictures looks great too…but it taste even greater if you try em’, one by one if you want to. Get some friends to come along so that each of you may have different dishes, take some pictures and your followers will be amazed with the beauty of the images produced while you get to enjoy the tasty dish of your choice.
Fancy coming here? Head to:
Al Hamra Restaurant & Bistro
Lot E2, 70 & 1st Floor
The Palm Square Kinarut
For further enquiries and reservation, contact Mr. Iqbal Nassim at + 60 12 823 7808
Facebook: Al Hamra Kota Kinabalu
Getting here is easy, watch the video in Youtube that shows the exact route from Petronas Sabindo to Al Hamra Restaurant & Bistro. Click HERE.