Being well-travelled, I’ve tried a bunch of different cuisines and I have to say, Arabic cuisine is definitely one of my favourites. So much so, that I’ve become a bit snobbish of “Arabic” food here in Manila ever since I’ve tried the authentic stuff. It’s colourful, fragrant, and so incredibly delicious that I could eat it every day! Almost all Persian/Arabic restaurants that I’ve tried here have a bit of a Filipino touch to their food. All but one of the restaurants I’ve eaten at: Al Batra.
Al Batra is frequented by a lot of the Middle Eastern expats, usually for shisha. Its interiors remind me of the restaurants in the Middle East- a little stuck in the 80s with chunky chairs and patent leather upholstery. It has become my go-to place when I need to satisfy cravings for Arabic food. So far, everyone I’ve brought there has said only good things and some became repeat customers. Also, I’d take their empty plates as an indicator about how good the food is. So let’s get to the good stuff, shall we? I’m breaking down my fave dishes that you should definitely try!
When I visited Bahrain, I ate at a bakery called Sameeh and tried their cheese bread which was basically thick pita-like bread with halloumi cheese in the middle. It was so good, I found myself having it every night during my stay there. Upon my return to Manila, I could only dream of cheese bread until I discovered Al Batra’s cheese pie. It’s an open-faced pie that is full of stringy, chewy cheese. It’s heavy, filling, and only costs P50!! I have yet to visit Al Batra and NOT order the cheese pie but I highly doubt that’ll ever happen.
Biryani is a mixed rice dish and some of the best I’ve tasted was when I was invited to break-fast (it was Ramadan when I visited) in a traditional Arabic household. There was so much good food but I found myself getting repeat servings of their mutton Biryani. Al Batra packs a mean punch in their Biryani with fluffy and fragrant basmati rice cooked with all the right spices and flavourful chicken scattered amongst the rice. Their chicken biryani at P385 is truly a dish to try.
Sorry chickenjoy, now that I’ve found a place that serves great broasted chicken, you’ve been replaced! Broasting is an interesting method of cooking chicken where the skin is so incredibly crispy but the inside is super moist and tender. It’s a mystery to me, how exactly it’s cooked but the end result, which is well-seasoned crispy, juicy chicken, is yummy in my tummy. Also, you can get plain biryani rice to go with this dish in case pita and fries doesn’t cut it for you.
There you have it folks, an authentic piece of the Middle East in the heart of Makati. What are you waiting for? Head on over there and eat!
Al Batra is located at Makati Ave. corner Constellation Street, Makati.
Your friendly neighbourhood foodie