40, Glen Aber Place, Colombo 04
This place has closed down
Sama Restaurant is a new Arabian street food spot on Marine Drive. The value for money is undeniable, and the food is pretty authentic but it may not suit local palates too well.
RIP: Sama Restaurant is now closed down.
Sama Restaurant is a new Arabian street food spot on Marine Drive. The value for money is undeniable, and the food is pretty authentic but it may not suit the local palates.
Arabian and middle eastern cuisine, while present in the local food scene, is still something of a rarity. I'm no expert on Arabian cuisine so think of this as my two cents based on a local palate. The menu is basically just a card with about eight different options, but it feels like people most drop in for the hummus. While it may not be to everyone's liking, we think Sama will be ahit, purely based on the value for money. It's also quite authentic for the most part and that's to be expected since it's run by two Jordanians. Everything on the menu is pretty cheap, with the most expensive item on the menu priced at Rs. 600. Oh and shout out to @drac on Medium (Life In Colombo), from whom we found out about Sama.
We ordered the hummus (Rs. 300) along with the falafel (Rs. 50 for 5). For those of you unfamiliar with Arabian cuisine, hummus is a chickpea puree of sorts served with oilve oil, while a falafel is a deep fried patty usually made with ground chickpeas, diced spring onions and fava beans. This was only my second time eating hummus, and it was actually pretty good. Sama's version, which has a smooth paste like consistency comes with a generous amount of olive oil, boiled chickpeas and diced pickled gherkin which adds a slight acidity to the otherwise creamy hummus.
The falafel came to the table piping hot, straight from the fryer so it was nice and crisp with a soft center. While it tasted fine on it's own, dipping the falafel in the hummus really elevates the flavour of both the dishes adding a nice contrast of textures with the smoothness of the hummus and the crunch of the falafel.
The 1/2 chicken shawaya or shahwiya (Rs. 600) was the main we tried out. Now usually when an eatery says "1/2 chicken" it's at least slightly exaggerated, but in this case, it was not. This was straight up half a chicken, which is easily enough for two people. Chicken shawaya is basically a marinated, spit roasted chicken cooked for over an hour. It's served with a flat bread and chilli fries. The flat bread is very much like our local godamba roti, only less oily. The fries were what didn't really make much sense to us since it didn't fit their theme.
This dish is really all about the chicken, which was cooked beautifully all around. The only issue I had was that it didn't really have enough spice and seasoning to appeal to my taste buds. But one thing I'd definitely suggest is picking this dish to go and modifying it at home.
Sama Restaurant is a pretty small joint, with just a few tables. They've got framed pictures of the dishes they offer so we saw a few customers walk in, glance at the wall, and just order without even looking at the menu. From what we could see Sama seems to be pretty popular for a place that's only been in business for a bit over a month.
The service is also generally very fast and the folks who run the place are friendly and attentive. They also speak good English, so communication wasn't really an issue.
Sama Restaurant is an unassuming little street side restaurant on Marine Drive that offers some pretty authentic Arabian cuisine. It may not suit every palate but we'd say they're good enough to drop in again.