Samar Cafe

Samar is a laid-back Egyptian restaurant tucked away in Baghdad Street , in the spirited Kampong Glam conservation vicinity. The area’s rich history adds to the mysterious aura that the restaurant exudes, a representation of the Arabic culture right in the heart of the area, and fully appropriate as Bugis, as not many would know, is where the first Arabs who came to Singapore , settled. Opened four years ago, the cuisine and experience served here is a mixture of Arabic and Middle-Eastern influences that will prove to be an eye-opening experience for the uninitiated.

 

  • The Vibe 
    Upon stepping in, one is greeted by wooden tables and chairs, unfinished walls and steel lanterns emanating dim, romantically dusky lighting. Various pictures of Middle-Eastern people in various poses adorn the walls. The assorted fruity scents of shisha linger in the air throughout the premises, while the second floor has drapes suspended from the ceiling, and similarly dim mood lighting. 

    Arabic carpets clothe the second floor, and there are no chairs, just small cushions and low tables for diners. Middle-Eastern music plays in the background, suggesting a vibe is one that is foreign and somewhat disconcerting, yet paradoxically, strangely alluring.

  • The Food 
    The salta soup does a wonderful job of tantalizing the tastebuds. Light and yet deliciously flavourful, it is an intriguing mixture of chopped vegetables in a spice-filled clear soup, and will serve to whet your appetite for the other items on the menu. If you are in the mood for fish, try the Samak Ma’li($9), which is a dish of pan-fried fish served covered with a delectable piquant tomato sauce, with potatoes and carrots on the side. All this served on top of Arabian flat bread, which goes pleasantly well with the sweet-sour tomato sauce. 

    For something more substantial, order the Bitingan Ma’li. This is a divine combination of fried eggplant stuffed with rice, mixed vegetables, and minced beef. The scrumptious aroma of the eggplant simply seeps into the rice, giving it an exquisitely divine taste. Dessert-wise, be sure to order the Khulfi ‘Irfa($5.50), which is frozen cinnamon milk, honey, mixed nuts and sliced dates, served in poached green apple. The ice cream-like frozen cinnamon is simply, out of this world, and a refreshing change from the usual dessert fare.

  • The Service 
    Samar staffs are all dressed in long dark cloaks, adding to the mystical atmosphere. They were adequately friendly and helpful, but requests had to be made for basics like cutlery and side plates. Perhaps a more pro-active approach would enhance any visitor’s dining experience. However, do not be afraid to ask any of the staff about the food, though. They will be more than happy to advise and recommend specialties.

The SD Food Advisor’s take on Samar 
Ideal for night owls, this restaurant is open 24 hours and serves shisha throughout. Thus, the exotic food as well as the chill-out ambience of the restaurant is reason enough to make it attractive both as a lunch/dinner venue as well as an after-dinner hangout, and is worth a try just for a taste of Egyptian atmosphere.

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