house of mandi - oslo, norway
Rating: 6 / 10
Using a scale like 1-10 is problematic in exactly these circumstances. Whilst I would not score this a 7 by any means based on the overall quality and taste of the food, the soup that they gave us for free as a starter was delicious and therefore a 6 reflects a mediocre overall eating experience, and though the mains were rather standard, that soup was truly great. Let's call it a 6.5/10.
Along with my fellow members of the Neo Fork Collective, we met up in Grønland to sample the Yemeni food at House of Mandi after talking about it for a few weeks. My only experience prior to this with food from Yemen was at a sabbath lunch I was invited to in Tel Aviv with a family from Sana'a. That meal had left a deep imprint on my travel palate with flavours I had previously been unaware of sneaking into ordinary dishes and elevating them to something completely delicious.
A collection of lentil soups was sent out as starters to all and sundry. The small bowl packed one hell of a punch, waking up tired teeth and moving the tongue around to find those micro-specs of herbs. Unfortunately the main course (Zurbiyan Lamb) was a decided step down after that barrage of flavours, but you can't have everything in this life can you.
My lamb was on the dry side, but the portion was enough to appease a returning caveman after a weekend out hunting. The rice had a good "boiled in stock" flavour, and I always love seeing potato's with my lamb, however the flavours were all a bit muted and boring. Our vegetarian collegues had a host of dishes that, admittedly, tasted better than the meat offerings but since I am judging it based on my own main course, the scores reflect my experience.
The service was friendly and the restaurant is a definite step into a different realm, where you feel for one blissful hour that you are not in a street being pounded by snow but are instead somewhere in the middle east about to walk out into the balmy night air that comforts you more than any saviour ever could.
These recommendations are just personal opinions based on my palate, things change, chefs get fired or replaced, places open-close, relocate, so take it all with a pinch of MSG and discover your own gems too. But please do try a few of these, they have been researched exhaustively.
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"Tastes are subjective, so take everything with a pinch of salty tears"