164 Isabel Street
Open 7 days a week - phone for hours
I’m thrilled to announce there’s a new Somali restaurant in Winnipeg. My once favourite restaurant, Madina, closed a few years ago, and I’ve been searching for the delicious chicken and rice dish ever since. The city’s second Somalian restaurant has opened just north of the downtown area in a little strip mall along Isabel. It’s taken the place of one of many Vietnamese restaurants in the city, and though it’s sparsely furnished and fairly cold inside the restaurant in the winter, the food is delicious and well worth the visit.
The menu is short, consisting of chicken, beef, and a few western dishes. My boyfriend ordered the beef wrap, which was chunks of seasoned beef wrapped in chapati with lettuce and tomatoes. Though that dish was good, the winner was definitely the chicken and rice that I ordered, which also came with some lettuce. I believe the chicken and rice dish is the suqar chicken I had at Madina, which is a type of “chicken stew” according to the Internet, though without any sort of liquid. It’s chunks of chicken cooked with spices, onions, peppers, and other vegetables, served over a bed of rice.
Somali food is very fragrant, but its flavours remain subtle while being complex. Anyone could try it without being immediately turned off. At $9.99 for a full meal, including a drink (soda, tea, or coffee), you can’t really go wrong. We also spent an extra $3 to order two pieces of chapati bread to scoop up the rice and chicken. The beef wrap ended up being left to take home, while we polished off the new old favourite.
Service was not very good, but it’s two young boys working for their family. I believe they forgot our order, as later tables were served before us. I’m sure, though, they’ll learn better customer service as time goes on. With a 4 star review from the Winnipeg Free Press, I expect (and hope!) business will be picking up!
On later occasions, I have also tried the samosas, beef, couscous, and fish offerings. The samosas are really fantastic. They are filled with seasoned beef, finely chopped onions and peppers, and come deep fried in a delicious pastry. The beef dish comes in large meatballs, seasoned well, and the fish tastes like it has been marinated with some spice before being cooked. I enjoyed both of them, but the chicken with a squeeze of lime juice remains my favourite dish. I’m not a fan of couscous, but Mell thought it was great.
A note about pick-up: they are notoriously bad for having food ready on time, in each case that I’ve ordered take-out. So, order well ahead and show up a little late, and the food seems to be ready then.