Yemeni friends all have the consensus that Yemen Cafe (Matam Al Yemen Al Saeed) on Atlantic Avenue is the best and most authentic in NYC. Maybe if you are Yemeni? After trying Yemen Cafe many times now, I just got fed up with the rude service and high prices. Time for a change.
I was very pleasantly surprised with Hadramout Restaurant (Hadramout is a region in Yemen). Honestly, the food tasted the same as Yemen Cafe but the atmosphere and Yemeni staff were so kind and it was a perfect lunch experience. So far in the US I haven't found Yemeni food tasting like in the Middle East except for in Detroit which has the largest Yemeni community. Thus Hadramout Restaurant was pretty good and I think a much better experience than Yemen Cafe.
The maraq soup was good and came at the beginning of the meal as it should. I also particularly liked the salad at this restaurant and it had a really simple and delicious tomato sauce on top. The sahawiq (Yemeni salsa) was sufficiently spicy. The khobz bread was freshly baked and soft and fluffy. Still haven't found my favorite Yemeni pastry bread, called malawah, outside of the Middle East. I'll keep searching!
We had mandi lamb and chicken ogda. Both were good, but the chicken ogda had bones in it and was a little less soupy than it should be. The rice was particularly perfect and fluffy.
The Yemeni tea was good and seems to be popular in NYC.
However, really what made this such a nice experience was the really kind staff. It was so nice to finally see the famous Yemeni hospitality. We were having trouble cutting the lamb so our kind waiter helped us cut it.
This leads me to probably the best part of the meal which was the Yemeni dessert, masoob. If you haven't tried masoob, you definitely should. It's something to be split with the group since one or two spoon fulls is plenty and really heavy. There are a few types but pretty much it is bread, dates, banana, cheese, cream, and Yemeni honey. Wow, it's amazing. So when we were ordering this, the Yemeni guy asked us if we really wanted it hesitantly, and we said "oh yeah!!" as we've had it so many times in Qatar and love it. He said okay and then I saw him run out the door and come back a few minutes later with a container of honey! He was so sweet and went and got the honey for us! Yemeni honey is so good and the masoob was perfect.
Of course I'll be checking out all the other Yemeni restaurants in NYC but for now, Hadramout Restaurant is at the top of my list in NYC. $60 for 5 people, including tip & tax.
172 Atlantic Ave
New York, NY 11230
Neighborhood: Cobble Hill