Friday, May 27, 2016

Reunion dinner at Sahara Tent

Last Saturday, 21st May 2016, I had a date with my former roommate when I was doing my diploma in UiTM Shah Alam. They were my buddies during that 4 years of student life. In fact, they were the one who introduced me to a big city social life, being a village girl as I was. So much so, our gang of about 10 ladies became closer than we thought and relied on each other much, having to live far from the family. We are all Kelantanese. Admittedly we are racist too as we only wanted to be around within our clan, speaking the same dialect, craving for the same food. Hubby used to call me that. After graduation in 1988, we rarely met but we are connected through social network, Facebook. Last month, I made a courtesy to reunite with 4 of them back in my hometown. The 2 ladies happened to have a seminar in KL and asked me to fetch them so that we all can visit another friend in Jalan Ampang. The 4 of us, after not meeting for 28 years, spent a great time in Grand Place, where she stayed and later she treated us to dinner at Sahara Tent. The restaurant is just a walking distance to her place. You may view their menu at the link, "Sahara Tent Menu" that I shared from their website. 

Arabian light hanging at the Reception counter

It was my first time dining at Sahara Tent although I’ve been at the location uncounted times. My foodie companions and I usually had our lunch or dinner at Victoria Station, Jalan Ampang and Sahara Tent is located right next to it. There's an ample parking space in between the 2 restaurants. To my surprised, Sahara Tent has its origins in New Zealand, not the Middle Eastern. The first outlet that opened in April 1993 was in Auckland. 3 years later, Sahara Tent set its foot in Hamilton. Qantas Airline has voted them as one of the best restaurants in town. Waikatu University also voted as the outlet with the best service and interns from polytechnics and hotel management schools earmarked Sahara Tent for industrial training. I remembered having a dinner with my brother, Choo Kai Loong long ago in Doha city right after we took a seat at Sahara Tent dining table. It has similar feeling and indeed this place has been furnished with a Bedouin interior style.   

Large main dining area with Bedouin dining table

A private room with curtains at 1 end of the restaurant
Sahara Tent came to Malaysia in 2001 by opening its first restaurant outlet in Jalan Berangan off Jalan Sulan Ismail. Soon after, in 2002, Tourism Malaysia has voted Sahara Tent the best Middle Eastern restaurant. In 2004, the same opinion was voiced by KL Halal Food Guide. Due to a remarkable response and encouragement by its clientele, the restaurant boards were up to the challenged of expanding. The second outlet, i.e. in 2009 was opened in Shah Alam and in 2011, Jalan Ampang with astounding decoration and a feeling to dine under the colourful Bedouin tents has become the restaurant’s most popular place.

Arabian Salad, most recommended

The founder, Mr Ala Salih is a food ambassador. He first came to Malaysia in 2000 for a holiday without any intention of opening up a restaurant chain. His 2 weeks break in this country has eventually ended up as a permanent arrangement when he took big courage and opened the doors of the first Arabian restaurant in Jalan Berangan, Kuala Lumpur. The main reason was due to the neutral atmosphere in Malaysia that to him most suitable. It was brought to Ala’s attention that there was no Arabian diner in Kuala Lumpur to cater to the influx of tourists from the said region, i.e. middle eastern way back in year 2000. Now, look at what happened along the area! It was turn into an Arab's world. The place used to be an area where I love to hang out during university time. Sungai Wang and Bukit Bintang are the 2 attractions to the locals as well as to the tourist. Pavillion is just around the corner.

BBQ platter, "Mix Grill" with Arabian bread

A must have menu, BBQ lamb "Riyash" that has closer taste to Afghan tandoori that I had in Islamabad, long ago in 2009 

Jalan Berangan, back in the old days is known for its high crime rate. Sahara Tent played an important role to help regain a new fresh and clean with much help and assistant from the community and authorities. In 2005, Jalan Berangan has play a vital role in promoting Malaysian tourism when it was given a new nickname, i.e. Ain Arabia or the Arab Street. Other business offering services such as barber shop, grocery store and a perfume oils boutique. The enclave has become a home away from home for the Arab tourist. Another sister restaurant, Hay-Al- Arab, was also opened to meet dining demands from the crowds. Today, Ain Arabia is a prominent tourist spot in travel brochures and it is a new badge that the area wears with pride. I shall bring my family to dine at Jalan Berangan once Nazhif is back for his holiday.

Arabian tea, it comes in large pot suffice for the 4 of us

Best buddies, before and now

My friend Linda and her son are a regular customer to the place. They made friends with the waiter earned when being regular. According to her, she used to have iftar buffet frequently last year. The buffet is charged at RM58/pax for 2016 iftar, coming in less than 2 weeks time. You may called their number at the given link above for booking. Our group of 4 + a teenage boy had our fun dining there and I wish you of the same. 

Last photo with a Wood Camel
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