Over a month ago, I scored a free voucher from Al Ajami Restaurant from one of the events that I attended. The envelope contained a card with the only English words that read: “Special Invitation for Four Persons.” I would have loved to use it immediately but I had no idea where the restaurant was since the rest of the text on the invite was in Arabic. Hence, I referred to trusty ol’ Foursquare (aka Swarm) to show me the way. However, the first Al Ajami that I saw (and the one nearest to where I live) turned out to not have a family section so I had to put off the initial excitement until the next time, which was after I learned that they had a branch in Olaya Thalateen, just across CityMax there.
My friends and I crossed the road and went inside. At first, we thought it was not operational because there was no one in the family section. As in nada. Not even a waiter to greet us. It wasn’t really a fancy restaurant to begin with but at the very least, it shouldn’t have looked as abandoned as it did. Seeing that made us think twice about whether or not we should still eat there that night, but hey, we have a voucher for free food…so we thought, there’s nothing to lose.
I eventually had to wave and fish out the attention of one of the people in the Male Section to alert them that there were hungry humans sitting on the other side of their store. Maybe they weren’t used to expecting customers in the Family Section that’s why they didn’t care enough to station at least person there. Anyway, when we finally got one of the waiters, he wasn’t bad at all. He was swift, attentive and was able to bring all of our orders in a timely fashion.
Their menu is basically mostly Arabic/Turkish food with Cold Starters of Hummus, Babaganoosh, Tabouleh and the like. The standard grill items are there too like the Shish Tawouk, Kebabs and Lamb Chops. They also had their own shawarma plate, broasted chicken and fried shrimp. We ended up ordering all of them! Kidding! Haha. Well, here’s what we ordered:
For the appetizers, I was really surprised how good their hummus with garlic was. It was basically hummus and garlic sauce whipped together. I was kicking myself for now having ever thought of that considering I’ve lived here for a long time and have had hummus and garlic sauce (separately) on a perpetual basis. The rest tasted as expected and I suppose one of the points for comparison in terms of other Arabic/Turkish restaurants is that here, their free bread comes in a plastic and aren’t freshly baked like in other restos, albeit still decent in taste. The upside: you can probably take home a few of them because they are packaged and use them for a future snack. Their Saudi champagne was also delightful.
Unto their main courses, we ordered the following:
Their shawarma plate was pretty good even though the presentation could have been more “open” perhaps? It just seemed like they were hiding the shawarma chicken or something. 😛 The chicken was really well-seasoned and the garlic sauce was above average too. Both of my friends ordered one of each.
The Mixed Grill platter had chicken kebab, kofta, pieces of grilled lamb chunks and grilled chicken. We ordered two plates of these as one serving was only meant for one. All of the grilled items were actually delicious and the spices were distinct in each one. The meat was also soft and tender and overall, the flavor was on point. I liked everything on the plate. By this time, I was already thinking, “Wait, their food is actually good. How come there aren’t so many people up in here?”
My friend ended up ordering the Fried Shrimp Combo. Out of all the the items we’ve ordered, this was our least favorite. The shrimp was a bit dry unless we dunked it in the garlic sauce or ketchup. It was the most well-plated of all the dishes though…it even had a tomato cut in the shape of a flower bud with a mint stalk acting like its stem.
As we left, I figured this place deserved more credit and they actually deserve more attention. Granted that the ambiance in the Family Section is not much to brag about, but there is privacy, the service is reasonable and most of the food items were actually delicious. Price range was also reasonable with our bill reaching only under 200SR for the lot (though we didn’t have to pay because I had the voucher). I wasn’t able to note the prices down here in the entry because they had to keep the invoice but when I signed for it, that’s what I saw.
If you do happen to chance upon the area and find Al Ajami within your options of places to dine it, I’d say it’s fair to give it a shot.