Updated Mar 17, 2017 01:38pm

Weekend Grub: Ridan House of Mandi is a delight for Saudi mandi lovers

When I first heard the news from a friend that Ridan House of Mandi was opening in Karachi, I was extremely excited. Ever since I moved to Karachi from Riyadh I had been craving the aromatic, flavourful Arabic rice.

Over the weekend I decided to go to Ridan House of Mandi with my family. Situated on Khalid Bin Waleed Road, the restaurant doesn’t have the most ideal location — we were stuck in traffic for nearly 45 minutes.

Walking down the narrow flight of stairs in the building, I was reminded of eateries in Islamabad that have the same concept of designing restaurants at the basement level.

The restaurant offered traditional Saudi gao takiyay and a dastar khuwan seating.
The restaurant offered traditional Saudi gao takiyay and a dastar khuwan seating.

I was surprised to find the restaurant overcrowded with families waiting in the lounge area of the entrance. I dreaded the long wait for a table and breathed a sigh of relief as the waitress seated us right away. Since we were a large group of 12 people, they gave us a bigger space with traditional Saudi gao takiyay and a dastar khuwan set on the floor.

There was seating at the back of the restaurant as well
There was seating at the back of the restaurant as well

As I sat there and observed my surroundings, I closed my eyes for a brief moment and felt a wave of familiarity hit me of being back home in Riyadh.

Where to go:

Ridan House of Mandi is located on Khalid Bin Waleed Road, opposite Danish Motors, White Palace Tower, P.E.C.H.S Block 3.

When to go:

The restaurant is open for lunch everyday from 12pm to 3pm and reopens for dinner at 7:30pm to 12am.

What to eat:

Since we were all famished, we decided to order an appetiser. The menu isn’t very extensive, so we opted for the Fattoush Salad, which is the safest option when it comes to Arabic salads. It is usually made with a combination of greens, tomatoes and radish topped off with crispy fried pieces of pita bread that are similar to croutons.

This is what homemade goodness tastes of.
This is what homemade goodness tastes of.

Before our salad even arrived, the waiter served us complimentary yakhni soup. I was expecting it to be piping hot but it was only slightly warm, so we had to ask the waiter to bring us another round. We all happily sipped on our yakhni that had the same taste of homemade goodness.

The salad was crunchy and loaded with pita bread on top.
The salad was crunchy and loaded with pita bread on top.

Once our salad arrived, it looked very inviting. We dug into it immediately, crunching on the fresh veggies and loads of crispy pita bread on top. I liked the dressing that had a light, yoghurty tinge to it, combined with the flavour of dill — definitely different than the original dressing that has olive oil and pomegranate powder.

For our main course, we ordered a four-person serving of Chicken Madhbee and four-person serving of Mutton Mandi. The manager was gracious enough to tell us how much we should actually order, since initially we had ordered two of each!

Since the restaurant was packed on a Saturday night, their service was very slow. We had to constantly ask them for more cutlery. I guess since there were 12 of us we were quite a handful or should I say mouthful!

The chicken had a desi touch to it since they had basted it in spices.
The chicken had a desi touch to it since they had basted it in spices.

Finally, the moment I had been waiting for had arrived. At first sight, the Mandi and Madhbee looked exactly like what I had had in Riyadh. I tried the Madhbee first, which has charcoal barbecued chicken on a bed of flavourful Arabic rice. The chicken had a desi touch to it since they had basted it in spices, with a reddish tint because of the paprika. I nervously took my first bite since my spice tolerance isn’t very high. Thankfully it wasn’t too spicy for my taste buds!

The rice was very light with a tinge of zeera.
The rice was very light with a tinge of zeera.

Next up was the Mutton Mandi, which looked more scrumptious than the Madhbee - and proved to be so too! The mutton was very tender and tasted exactly like the one I have had in Saudi Arabia. The rice was also very light with a tinge of zeera and more flavourful as compared to the Madhbee.

The Kunafa tasted like I was eating seviyan with cream cheese.
The Kunafa tasted like I was eating seviyan with cream cheese.

There is always room for dessert — if anyone tells you they’re full and can’t possibly digest more, they're lying! I was thrilled to see they had my favourite Arabic speciality, Kunafa, on the menu. I couldn’t wait to devour the cheesy, syrup soaked pastry. The waiter served it to us in a foil dish, which was unlike others I've seen before. It seemed as though I was eating seviyan with cream cheese on top, but it still hit all the right notes for me!

Damage on the pocket:

For the location, restaurant, and quality — the prices were quite steep. The Chicken Madhbee for 4 people was for 2200, and the Mutton Mandi was double the price! But it is justifiable in terms of their serving portions. We still had some food left over, although we were 12 people.

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dr.arshad Mar 17, 2017 12:55pm

Still vividly remember feasting at their outlets in Al khobar and Makkah for 16 long years. Simply mouth watering and splendid Mandi!

sooperchef.pk Mar 17, 2017 01:40pm

I think this is a best place for arabian food lovers. Prices is no problem if you get actual taste. Over all its a good startup of Arbian Food in Pakistan.

Jibboo Mar 17, 2017 02:14pm

Nicely written review, but sounds rather expensive for proles like us. BTW, are there any nice Veg/Vegan eataries?

Abid Mar 17, 2017 02:22pm

Excellent... I have been looking for such an option in Pakistan. I asked friends who lived in Saudia but no one knows where in Pakistan it is available. You have at least given a hope to taste it in Pakistan, alas! I am from Lahore which I always regret to born in due to no coastal air available and now due to no Mandhee dish available... Does anyone knows if it is available somewhere to taste in Lahore?

shaheryar nadeem Mar 17, 2017 03:43pm

Have been to this eatery a month ago. The environment, aroma & presentation were quite similar to the Original Mandi restaurants in middle east but the taste, ingredients & recipe was no way near the mark. Sincerely, they need to re-replicate the Mandi & Masbi recipe & include those arabic spices that are being used in Mandi restaurants such as Fakhir Al Mandi & Bait Al Mandi in Dubai.

Amer Mar 17, 2017 04:15pm

@Jibboo : why veg ? Are you coming over to have lunch from india?

anil sahu Mar 17, 2017 04:54pm

@Amer there are some hindus also presnt in pak

Umar Bacha Mar 17, 2017 07:01pm

Made me hungry, Good work Ayesha.

Ali S Mar 17, 2017 09:51pm

I hope it's as good as the author makes it out to be. "Authentic" Arabic food is hard to come by - I have yet to come across a single authentic Levantine-style shawarma in Pakistan despite a diaspora existing in Middle East for decades now. Any foreign food that's opened up in Pakistan inevitably gets desi-fied - if I wanted good desi food in Pakistan I'd go to an authentic desi restaurant, not some neither-this-neither-that corruption of a foreign menu.

Even original-recipe chicken (the flagship offering of KFC worldwide) isn't offered in Pakistan because everyone is too used to the 'crispy' one (which seems to have wood shavings as an ingredient).

ajay Mar 18, 2017 05:30am

wow... look so tempting and yummy....very nice. ...

Princess_of_DHUMP Mar 18, 2017 06:33am

@anil sahu What's with the Hindu/Muslim thing over a restaurant review? I am a Muslim and I am not fond of any kinda meat and I have hindu friends who eat beef

Mushtaq Talpur Mar 18, 2017 11:21am

Must arrange home delivery

SAM Mar 19, 2017 02:52am

@anil sahu Most of the Pakistani Hindus are not vegetarians . They just don't eat Beef.

MJ Mar 20, 2017 11:13pm

I visited house of Mandi off of Khalid Bin Walid Rd. last week. I was visiting Karachi from California and have had excellent Mandi in UAE, Saudi Arabia and in various cities in US before. The restaurant did not disappoint. Though Mandi was not exactly what Ridan in KSA tastes like but nevertheless it was very good, Madhbee was not bad either. Kunafa was below par and tasted like some other dessert. Prices are a bit high for this kind of food and expect to pay about Rs. 1000 or $10 per person for your food. Ambiance was really good and I loved how families were really enjoying their food while seated on the floor.

radha Mar 21, 2017 07:59am

@Princessofdhump and @Sam and @Amer

All @Jibboo was asking is if there are any veg/vegan eateries that the author of the well written article or esteemed readers could suggest.