'Nafoura' means fountain in Arabic, & this casual restaurant is certainly an oasis for cooking that takes inspiration from the Arabian Peninsula, specifically Yemen. It's a labour of love that intimately showcases the passions of Eritrean-Malaysian couple Ibrahim & Izana; Ibrahim was raised in Saudi Arabia, & the menu here represents the nourishment that sustained him for much of his formative years. Izana too has long cultivated a fascination for Middle Eastern food & culture - on the walls of Al-Nafoura, you'll find her beautifully captured photographs of landscapes & life throughout Oman & the United Arab Emirates.
Feasts here may start with Al-Nafoura's tapas-style small plates, which illustrate how Yemeni cuisine has expertly embraced foreign influences & ingredients from Ottoman, Mughlai Indian & African counterparts. Yemen's national dish of saltah is a should-try, featuring gravied lamb partnered with potatoes, tomatoes, egg, chilli & salsa for pure, pleasurable comfort food (RM20), a testament to how Ibrahim & his team personally scour the markets for top-flight produce. Other tasty temptations include kebda, beef liver stir-fried with spices & onions (RM16), & oqda, made of stewed chicken & carrots (RM17), served with complimentary malawah, the well-known giant-sized layered bread that's addictively flavoursome & admirably textured.
Al-Nafoura's pride is madghout, harnessing the skills of the kitchen's all-Yemeni cooks - expect fleshy chunks of achingly succulent lamb, freshly & fragrantly prepared to order in a pressure cooker with basmati rice moistly simmered in a mellow, sweet-savoury tomato-based sauce; lamb lovers will like this a lot (RM39 for a portion with a half-kilogram of lamb). To boost your lamb satisfaction, pair with the lamb soup, brimming with thick lamb cuts in a clear, compellingly aromatic broth (RM18).
The restaurant's repertoire extends from the familiar - chicken mandi, comprising a full leg grilled in slow heat & served with traditional rice (RM16) is a safe crowd-pleaser - to a unique Malaysian-Mideast fusion creation of Maggi Goreng Kabsa (RM18, punchy with lamb). For balance, order an enlivening house salad of crunchy Japanese cucumbers with olives & feta (RM10).
Save space for sweets: Al-Nafoura serves excellent kanafeh (RM15; the Mideast cheesecake - irresistibly crisp pastry stuffed with melt-in-the-mouth mild white cheese, crowned with cream) & creme caramel (RM10; smooth chilled custard, artfully adorned with cookie crumbs), A pitcher of cooling lemon-mint juice is the ideal companion for the meal, & hot, stove-brewed adani milk tea, with undercurrents of cloves & cardamom, makes for a fitting finale. Many thanks to Al-Nafoura for having us.
9-G, Plaza Wangsa Maju, Hedgeford Galleria, Jalan Maju Ria 2, Wangsa Maju, Section 10, Kuala Lumpur.
Tues-Thurs, Sat, Sun, 1130am-10pm; Fri, 1130am-1pm, 215pm-10pm. Tel: 03-4131-4886
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