Out west of the city in Shima Village, near Zhejiang Gongshang University, is the new authentic Arab restaurant, Habibi. From the outside it didn’t seem like much, but venturing on in we were greeted by the friendly entirely Yemeni staff and a cozy decor with little homely touches all around. Inside had a great Middle-Eastern vibe, with an Arab music channel playing on the TV and the lovely aroma of spices and herbs wafting out from the kitchen. Though having just been open a few months, they have already gotten a steady flow of loyal customers, most of whom are nearby international students.
Habibi has a wide range of classic Arab dishes that are perfect either shared among friends or ordered individually. The menu has English and pictures of every dish, so don’t worry if, like us, you’re not too familiar with Arab cuisine. We started with Saltah (25RMB), a traditional Yemen meat stew mixed with rice, vegetable and chillies – we particularly recommend giving it a try. Next up was their Chicken Madfoon Rice (32RMB/Small), a tender cut of chicken prepared with various spices on a bed of fluffy rice; we really loved this dish, having munched our way through two plates. Various filling side dishes include the Feta Cheese Salad (15RMB) and Hummus served with flat bread (12RMB). We also enjoyed the Kebab (35RMB), which had a nice crispy coating on the beef and the Fattah Ma’asob (32RMB), a dessert-like dish made from bananas that’s great for finishing off the meal. After that meaty feast, we were sufficiently stuffed and at a steal, with it all coming in at around 50RMB a person. Everything was cooked without adjusting the taste for local customers, giving it an authentic and strong flavour that can be difficult to come by in Hangzhou.
As for drinks, they have imported Arab malt beverages, tea, coffee and fresh fruit juices. For those who are into a little Shisha (30RMB), they have a good selection of flavours and a comfortable seating area to enjoy it in. If you’ve been looking for a well-priced proper Arab food experience and are willing to make the trek out there, you won’t be disappointed. Street parking available. Smoking permitted.