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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Aldhiaffah Al-Iraqi, Fairfield

Al Dhiaffah Al Iraqi restaurant sign

For a country which figures so prominently in international headlines, it's strange to realise that so little is known about the Iraqi people and their cuisine.

I'd first heard about Sydney's only Iraqi restaurant about a year ago. It had immediately intrigued me. I had to go but it wasn't until late last year (yes, this is a long-overdue post) that I finally managed to get there.

Al Dhiaffah Al Iraqi menu

The menu is short and sweet. Disappointingly, we arrive to discover they have run out of fish. It is 7pm on a Friday night and the place is deserted but for a lone diner. Iraqis must eat at 5.30pm.

We order blindly, wondering what "fill in lamb" and "bread/curry stew" will bring. The food comes out quickly and in rapid succession.

Lamb with rice
Roasted fill in lamb with rice $10.90

Baked beans
Beans in tomato sauce

Lamb kebab, chicken tikka and lamb tikka
Combination of kebab, tika and chicken tika $13.00

Lamb curry with bread stew
Bread / curry stew $10.90

Iraqi bread
Traditional Iraqi bread

Tomato and cucumber salad
Complimentary tomato and cucumber salad

Hoummus $4.50

Complimentary pickles and lemon wedges

The food is resonant with simplicty and humbleness. The food arrives unadorned and unstyled. It is sustenance and flavour without fancy pretensions.

The lambs shanks hiding under the rice are beautifully tender. Lamb bones in the bread/curry stew are full of meat and tantalising tendons. Beneath the lake of burnt sienna are layers of Iraqi bread, which have been patiently soaking up the flavours of curry and lamb fat.

Portions are generous and our host is ever-smiling. The cuisine seems to have nuances of Lebanese and Indian which meld surpisingly well.

The bill is a pittance and we have enough leftovers for another dinner it seems. It is packaged up for us neatly in a tower of takeaway containers encased in plastic bags. Peeking at the top is a mound of seven more loaves of complimentary Iraqi bread. Our quiet host nods at us with a shy and thoughtful smile and we nod back with happy grateful faces.

Aldhiaffah Al-Iraqi Restaurant
13 The Crescent, Fairfield, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9755 0870
Aldhiaffah Al-Iraqi on Urbanspoon
14 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (AugustusGloop) on 4/05/2006 11:51:00 pm


  • At 4/06/2006 9:40 am, Blogger Kelly said…

    How interesting to try out Iraqi food! This restaurant sounds really cosy and friendly.

    I take it that the $280.00 on the menu is a typo... :)

  • At 4/06/2006 8:55 pm, Blogger FooDcrazEE said…

    interestng food..much similar to most middle eastern dish

  • At 4/07/2006 9:05 am, Blogger food addict said…

    Tea is nicely served in some funky shaped little glasses, and its tastes fantastic. how about the lamb shanks hidden in the rice that stuff is so tender it melts once chewed. great stuff, if only there was no war in baghdad woulhd've gone there for dining.

  • At 4/07/2006 9:34 am, Blogger Kelly said…

    Ohh, a whole lamb! I see! Maybe that's why they run out of fish so regularly, because there are whole lambs taking up space in the coldroom!

  • At 4/09/2006 7:54 pm, Blogger Rachel said…

    That was pretty adventurous of you AG ! But it would have definitely piqued my curiosity too!

  • At 4/10/2006 8:18 pm, Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said…

    Hi Kelly - lol. I wonder how many people order a whole lamb off the menu. Maybe that's just for advertising purposes =)

    Hi foodcrazee - The meal was great, and I agree, it did remind me a little of Lebanese food.

    Hi food addict - We didn't get any tea =( The lamb shanks were very tender indeed.

    Hi Rachel - I'm always up for trying something new. There could be some fantastic foodstuff just waiting to be discovered!

  • At 4/11/2006 8:59 pm, Blogger Me said…

    Last weekend I went on a cookery class at Nilgiri's in St. Leonards (good by the way). The theme was Parsi, the food of the people originally from Iraq/Iran that migrated to India 1300 years ago.

    Given this, it's perhaps no suprise that there are Indian overtones in the food?

  • At 4/11/2006 11:26 pm, Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said…

    Hi Simon - Thanks for the info. That certainly makes sense.

    The cookery class sounded interesting and I have heard good things about Nilgiri's. I remember seeing their cooking demo at the SMH Good Food Month Spring Picnic at Centennial Park.

  • At 1/01/2007 5:46 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    As a local, we always order their food. The fish is called "Masgoof", and despite it being a whole Carp, it actually tastes pretty good!

    The $280 isnt a typo, thats lamb fill in (called "qoozi") for a whole sheep :)

    Hospitality runs through the Iraqi culture (Al-Dhiaffah Al-Iraqi translates to "Iraqi Hospitality") and they do it well. I urge all non-Iraqi's to come and grab a meal!!!!


    The Assyrian

  • At 1/13/2007 11:33 pm, Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said…

    Hi The Assyrian - I'll have to head back here for the fish. I was really disappointed they had run out!

    Thanks for all your tips and info. Fairfield is filled with great eats :)

  • At 8/22/2007 2:54 pm, Blogger Sydneyguy said…

    The food was ok, not as tasty as i thought it would be and the lamb had a lot of big bones but the portion sizes are HUGE, i think one portion can feed your whole family!!

  • At 8/24/2007 10:55 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Sydneyguy - The portion sizes are very large and the generosity of the staff are even more so :)

  • At 8/03/2009 7:50 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Their portions are really good and yes enough to feed for two meals !!
    Best to get in early they often run out of the popular dishes rice, fish etc
    Otherwise food is always good, wholesome and hearty.

  • At 8/04/2009 1:02 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Anon - Agreed. I think the trick is to definitely get in early. And nothing better than the chance to take home leftovers!


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