Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
DonRocks

Saba, Yemeni (!) Cuisine In The Former Sheba (Ethiopian) Space, on Pickett Road in Fairfax

14 posts in this topic

Dulce's Bakery and Empanada Shop).

It offers cuisine from Yemen, and not only do I not know of any other Yemeni restaurant in the DC area, I'm not even familiar with the cuisine (North or South), so I'm kind of excited about trying it.

If someone has been here (it's been open for about a month), please chime in; otherwise, I'll get to it eventually - it's open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is a sizable Yemeni influence in Israel. One breakfast item is Jachnun, sort of a rolled thin, flakey, slightly sweet pastry, which is served with a variety of mezze style dips. The hot pepper condiment Zhug is also Yemeni.

Sitting at a beach bar in Tel Aviv, eating Jachnun and drinking coffee was a great way to start the day.

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is a sizable Yemeni influence in Israel. One breakfast item is Jachnun, sort of a rolled thin, flakey, slightly sweet pastry, which is served with a variety of mezze style dips. The hot pepper condiment Zhug is also Yemeni.

Sitting at a beach bar in Tel Aviv, eating Jachnun and drinking coffee was a great way to start the day.

Tyler Cowen really likes Saba.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When my daughter was in Beirut, she was craving spicy food, since Lebanese cuisine is savory but not hot spicy in the least, especially for a kid who grew up eating Mexican food. Her local friends took her out to a Yemeni restaurant to satisfy her spicy jones.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My wife and I ate here yesterday, and we rather enjoyed it.  We arrived just before 1PM, and were offered either breakfast or lunch.  Since both were on the same menu, I wasn't quite sure if that meant we were only allowed to choose one, or if we could get a mix of breakfast and lunch items.  But the breakfast items sounded more intriguing, so we opted for those.  I don't remember the names of the dishes we ordered, but the first one mixed pieces of flat bread with dates and honey.  It was essentially a cross between Ethiopian chechebsa and Indian halwa.  It was very good, but very sweet, so if that's not your thing, you may not enjoy it beyond a few bites.  The second dish (qualaba, maybe?) was diced lamb and vegetables stir-fried and served with a fair amount of oil, meant to be eaten with flat bread.  The flavors of this dish were very good.  The one knock is essentially the same complaint I have for most restaurants, and particularly Middle Eastern ones, in the area - the lamb was not particularly good quality.  This dish would have been a knock out with some better quality lamb, but is still very solid as is.  We both also had milk teas, which were essentially masala chais sweetened with condensed milk.  These were rich and heavy on the cardamom, which I love.

The prices here aren't cheap by any means, but moderate.  And the portions are rather large.  We have enough of the bread, dates, honey dish leftover to serve as breakfast for another 2-3 days.

The people working here were all very nice, but the service could be a bit more attentive.  Even for this type of "ethnic" restaurant in a suburban strip mall, the service lacked.  I would be weary of coming here if I was in a hurry.

Overall, we enjoyed our experience enough that we look forward to going back soon.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are fundamentally two categories of Israeli food in Israel, although this is somewhat simplistic. The Ashkenazi Jews brought with them the foods of their native countries throughout eastern Europe and Russia. I have enjoyed many delicious Romanian and Polish dishes all up and down the Dizengoff over the decades. The Sephardic Jews hail from throughout the Middle East, and the restaurants they opened when they arrived in Israel reflect the foods of Yemen or Morocco or Baghdad. All very delicious and all Kosher. If you're in Israel and you're looking for good kabobs, you'll probably end up at a Yemeni restaurant. If you're looking for a rice stuffed leg of lamb, head to a Moroccan restaurant.

I look forward to a visit to Saba soon. Saba is Arabic for Sheba.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I look forward to a visit to Saba soon. Saba is Arabic for Sheba.

It's very interesting that the restaurant in this space before Saba was Sheba.

I wonder if this was a rebranding by the same owners, but I ate at Sheba, and could swear that I saw native Ethiopians there (that doesn't mean the owner was, however). If it's just a name and concept change, it all gets merged into the same thread.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's very interesting that the restaurant in this space before Saba was Sheba.

I wonder if this was a rebranding by the same owners, but I ate at Sheba, and could swear that I saw native Ethiopians there (that doesn't mean the owner was, however). If it's just a name and concept change, it all gets merged into the same thread.

Yemen is directly across the narrowest part of the Red Sea from Ethiopia.

Actually, Djibouti is really close to Yemen, across the narrow strait. I'll bet you didn't know that the capital of Djibouti is Shake-Shake-Shake.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yemen is directly across the narrowest part of the Red Sea from Ethiopia.

Actually, Djibouti is really close to Yemen, across the narrow strait. I'll bet you didn't know that the capital of Djibouti is Shake-Shake-Shake.

The owner's name is Sheikh Djibouti.

Don't get me started on the Ouagadougou Film Festival (the largest in Africa).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But then you would be watch movies in Burkina, and that's not very close to Djibouti - which I once represented in high school for Model U.N.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some of the food here is quite good, but be prepared for the most ridiculously lackadaisical service here.

They were out of 2 of 4 entrees available, so we went with the highly recommended lamb dish (haneeth), which had great flavor that was nicely enhanced by the fried onions and rice.  Our waitress kindly steered us away from the 2 person portion and told us 1 person portion was enough - it was huge, we ate to fill and had plenty of rice to take home.

The Maraq soup was nice.

The sambousa was pretty good but we've definitely had better.  The Ma'soob (only available in a size suitable for 10 people) wasn't worth the calories.  The Shafout was again enormous and rather weird tasting.

But the most memorable thing was the lack of service, despite being nearly empty (no more than 6 diners at the most) and 4 people (all very nice when we were able to get them to interact with us) who seemed to be tasked to serve food, we were ignore for very long stretches and had trouble waiving someone down for a check.  We must have waited at least 30 minutes (maybe closer to an hour) after dessert, in an nearly empty restaurant, to get our check and pay.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Aw, man, I used to work at Skyline. I'm so jealous. I miss all the "ethnic" eats that surrounded my office and now I never get out that way (although I may need to plan an excursion one of these days).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

By the time my train to DC got in on Thursday night, it was already 10:00 and I was pretty hungry.  But rather than delay the trip out to Fairfax, I decided to order Seamless from the Metro so it would arrive at my destination shortly after I did.

I picked Saba somewhat randomly and placed an order for Lamb Mandi as soon as the train was out of the tunnels.  The plan worked perfectly, as did Seamless, so I had food less than five minutes after arrival.

At that point, I probably would have been happy with anything, but my $15.95 lamb dish was good.  Really good -- with tender braised meat and cardamom scented rice.  It was also a substantial portion, easily enough for two people.

Given this thread, I obviously can't say I discovered Saba. But I'm happy to know about the restaurant and would definitely recommend it. 

4 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0