Sahara Tent, ‘Ain ‘Arabeyya – The other day I had the best break fast treat for Ramadhaan. It has been quite a while since I have been yearning to savour juicy arabian lamb delicacy for buka puasa.
Alhamdulillah, Ala the owner of the famous Sahara Tent arabian restaurant was kind enough to host us at his exclusive eatery.
As we all ate and talked over politics and culture, ‘Ala kept cracking Arab jokes every now and then. I was the only one who laughed because the rest were too busy discussing about the office or did not even understood what his jokes were about. Luckily, I am slightly familiar with the Arab culture since I used to have uncles and cousins who graduated from the Middle east. Those days, when they came back for the holidays, they’d share cultural jokes that were a little alien to our Malay-Arab worldview. Of course, they had to explain to me the true culture of the Arabs before I could really succumb to their jokes.
I looked around and reminisced the first time I discovered the restaurant back when I was a student. It was in the year 2000 and after 9 years, the place was still around and in fact the business has prospered very well. The survival of Ala’s enterprise among the mushrooming Arabian restaurants in KL was due to the fact it had its own niche as compared to the rest of its competitors. It involves the location, concept, food quality, service and the owner himself.
The Sahara Tent is situated in Bukit Bintang which is within the Golden Triangle in Kuala Lumpur. The area is a shopping hot spot for the Arab tourists in this country. The establishment of the Ain Arabia strip by the Ministry of Tourism was a perfect move that it had further boosted the restaurant’s popularity. With the operation of trains like the LRT and the Monorail, potential customers have the convenience of going to the Sahara Tent at any time of the day despite of heavy traffic jams.
As compared to Tarbush and al-Rawsha, Sahara Tent is built on the concept of the Arabian canopy used by the nomads or also known as bedouins (Badwi). The colorful interior design is made of bright colours red, orange, gold and also black. Typical Arabian embellishments such as tassled curtains, shisha pipes and musical instruments such as the ‘oud complements the exotic ambience of the restaurant. It definitely makes an Arab feel like home or perhaps remind them of their hometown in the middle-east.
Food and Services
Did you know that there are certain delicacies that would take hours or even half a day to prepare? ‘Ala prioritises quality in terms of taste, presentation and services. Looking at the way the staff work and respond to their boss, it indicates that good cooperation amongst them and their undivided respect for the employer also contributes to the splendid performance of the Sahara Tent as the Best Arabic Food Restaurant in 2004.
I must say that Ala has very good PR skills. His sense of humour always works for ice-breaking measures with unfamiliar customers. From the testing questions that I asked him, I find that this Iraqi entrepreneur has planned out his life and business very well over the years. He knows what to chose, where and who to affiliate with. Just look at the picture frames hung around the restraunt and you’ll know what I mean.
Till then, start moving and go get that succulent lamb at Sahara Tent! Walla marra lazeez. (Or in Azib’s words, hatta la tatakallam! LOL!)