Every week I hope to bring you a culinary hidden treasure. Those places that foodie’s long to discover and locals want to keep as their little secret. These aren’t flashy, fine dining, celebrity chef establishments but serve the most traditional, exquisite food. There’s really nothing more satisfying than finding one of these gems.
This week we ventured to Manama Souk, primarily to have a look at the wonderful Gold City and all the beautiful diamonds, pearls and gold. We found ourselves feeling peckish as none of us had eaten breakfast. One of us is an experienced Bahrain expat and suggested Haji’s. ‘Its not flash. Don’t expect a menu but the Bahrainis eat there and the food is fab’ she said. I was sold.
Hajis is an institution. This street side café has been feeding Bahrain very well for over 70 years. it is tucked away in a walkway in the middle of the Souk and the atmosphere more than makes up for its lack of finery. It was mid week and 10.30am and Hajis was packed, queuing out of the door. Whilst waiting I mooched around and had a nose in the kitchen where the breads are made. A huge wood fired bread oven was being worked expertly by several bakers, kneading and shaping the dough before slapping the bread onto the sides of the oven. It was like a well oiled, fascinating machine as bread after bread emerged puffy and hot. I was expecting big things and I wasn’t disappointed…….
We were seated inside and a very friendly waiter placed a plastic sheet on our table. He proceeded to tell us what was for breakfast. We opted for the Bahraini spicy tomato and cheese eggs, beef curry, lentil dahl, home made cheese, yoghurt and jam, breads are complimentary. Our food arrived on a huge silver platter and OMG it was stunning. A huge pile of breads were also presented to us. The eggs were just delicious, I opted for extra chillies in mine and they were perfect. The beef curry was actually our favourite dish, really tender meat with soft fluffy potato, just perfect for being scooped up by that delicious bread. The homemade cheese was lovely and soft and the yoghurt was so very good it reminded me of the yoghurt my Father makes every day back home. We ate til we could eat no more. The bill came and we honestly thought they had made a mistake – 6 BD (approx. $16) for 3 people. Such good value for money. I vowed to return for lunch where biryanis are the stars of the show and for dinner service when grills are served so watch this space as I try out everything Hajis has to offer!
For my first hidden treasure I think I’ve set myself a high bar with Hajis. My advice would be patient with finding a parking spot, expect queues (especially if you rock up on a weekend) and try what is recommended. Just go and you wont be disappointed!