It's almost three years on, and the prices still haven't changed at Rowda Ya Habibi.
And just like the prices, the decor hasn't changed at all either. There's still the takeaway style servery out the front, the granite-style tables out the back, and the steep staircase--that has everyone hanging onto the bannister--leading you precariously to the cushion rooms upstairs.
Nothing has changed upstairs in the cushion room. It still has the same tapestries on the walls, the same faded cushions on the floor, and the same low-lying tables covered with tapestries and protected by glass. It's not glamorous by any stretch of the imagination, but it's a welcome quiet escape from the hustle and bustle of King Street below.
Thankfully the quality hasn't changed either. Our group of twelve ordered the Extra Special Banquet: ten dishes including hommos, tabbouleh, baba ganouj, falafel, ladies fingers, fried eggplant, shish kebab, lamb kebab, chicken kebab, green beans and rice...all for the 2004 price of $25.00 (and who knows how long it's been $25 anyway?).
Lebanese bread (hoummos and baba ghanoush dips not pictured)
Kofte and ladies finger
Lamb kebab with beans (on my plate)
Green beans cooked in tomato sauce
Rice (cooked in stock with noodle pieces)
Highlights were definitely the baba ghanoush, all thick and smokey; the light and tangy tabbouleh; the comfort of rice, almost sweet with the taste of stock; and the squeaky freshness of the green beans cooked in a thick tomato sauce.
Chicken was surprisingly dry this time round (usually it's perfectly moist and juicy), and the eggplants were also unusually oily (usually it's my favourite dish). The lamb was as intensely flavoured, almost gamey, as I'd remembered.
It was an undeniable feast though, hungry men included. For $25 in Newtown, this is value that is hard to beat.
And even though we were all fit to burst, downstairs on our way out there was still some careful scrutiny of the other options in the servery.
Turkish delight (the best in Sydney!)
80c per piece or $5.00 for a box of eight
I love the Turkish delight here. It's homemade stuff, soft and stretchy cubes of bliss. I love to cut off bite-size pieces and then watch in delight as the glistening sugar strands stretch out like honey mozzarella.
The pink squares are plain rosewater, the yellow ones have added vanilla. I've almost finished one box. I'll be back soon for another.
Vanilla turkish delight
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Rowda Ya Habibi
101 King Street Newtown, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9557 5368
Open 7 days 10.30am - 12 midnight
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3/29/2007 12:46:00 am