Monday, 21 February 2011

Sahara Tent at Alamanda, Putrajaya

It was Chinese New Year season as Ros and I were celebrating our wedding anniversary recently. We were pretty much sick of Chinese food so I gave Ros a choice of Western, Japanese or Middle Eastern. She chose the latter - but the 'Middle Eastern' places around Kajang are generally pretty basic and functional, not exactly conducive for a special celebration. So we decided to venture a little further to Putrajaya.
Located within the Alamanda shopping complex in Putrajaya is Sahara Tent, an award winning Middle Eastern restaurant which gained fame in Malaysia at its flagship outlet located at the Fortuna Hotel, off Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur. The entire area was later turned into Ain Arabia or Arab Quarter by DBKL. Sahara Tent's flagship outlet recently moved out to the main Jalan Sultan Ismail thoroughfare, near the old Finnegan's pub. In terms of d├ęcor, Sahara Tent @ Alamanda scores very high – fabrics and tapestries decorate the walls, Arabian carpets and artifacts are strewn around the outlet and even the lighting uses Arabian colored glass light fittings. Several group dining areas resemble a desert tent – very appropriate for a restaurant that takes its name from a desert tent. Service too was great – I think the wait staff were mainly Filipino and spoke pretty good English – a real plus point in this day and age of foreign workers.
We ordered the Meze Platter. Now I had ordered the same item at their flagship outlet in KL and the six items were served on several small platters – hummus, murtabel, chef's special eggplant, tabouleh, fattoush and waraq-enab. Here, the items were served on a single platter – but I should say, with sufficient portions to be shared by two. No complaints in that sense.
The hummus or mashed chickpea with olive oil was smooth and creamy with a tinge of bitterness. Scooped up with some bread, this is a dish synonymous with Middle eastern food for me. Murtabel on the other hand is mashed eggplant. I could not identify the seasoning but it was served with olive oil an olive on top. We liked the hummus better.
Tabbouleh is one of the 2 salads served on the platter and is a salad served with bulgur (a type of wheat). It has a slight bitter taste which may have come from parsley in the salad and sourness from lemon. Fattoush is the other salad on the platter. This had diced cucumber, tomato, onion and crispy bread pieces in a tangy salad dressing. Very appetizing.
Another inclusion on the platter was described as Chef's Special. From what I could make out, it was grilled eggplant with onion and chilli, tomato and capsicum. It had a tangy taste as well, and we both liked this. There were also two pieces of vine wrapped rice parcel (or waraq-enab). Vine leaves are a little bitter, so be warned.
For our main, we had the Chicken Briyani – nice long grained rice full of flavor topped with a moist and tender piece of chicken. Excellent in terms of taste. The accompanying tomato gravy was bland and tasteless – strictly for those who must moisten their rice with some gravy !
To complete the meal, we ordered some sweet dessert - baklava. This was supposed to be freshly made with crispy and crumbly pastry and sweet syrup. Here it was pre-made and refrigerated so the filo pastry had gone hard. My advice - avoid ordering this.

Overall, the food was pretty good (excluding the dessert), ambiance was great and prices were moderate. We'll return to explore the menu further.

Location : Sahara Tent Restaurant at the Ground Floor of Alamanda, Putrajaya located near the fountain area on the outside of the complex.

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