We embarked on a journey through cultural gastronomic delicacies upon entering the beautifully constructed modern Kuwaiti cuisine fine dining destination called Dar Hamad. This two-story villa-esque restaurant is built in a way that embodies the artisanal qualities of the Sandooq Mubayat – the traditional dowry box – and is decorated in a way reminiscent of old Kuwait. Natural light floods the restaurant as you dine amidst flurries of the past. Keeping up with tradition, the tiles are akin to those found in the older structures of Kuwait with a hint of modernity in some parts of the restaurant in the form of black and white tiling. Culture, tradition and minimalism marry gloriously in the form of this structure and its edible assortments – we were absolutely enchanted.
Reimagining the country’s identity, Dar Hamad caters to all your Kuwaiti inspired food cravings. As you walk in, you’re greeted with the knowledgeable staff that’s ready to usher you to your table – granted, you must have a reservation before hand – and beautiful art. The wait-staff and hosts are all dressed in uniforms loosely inspired by the bisht in varying design aspects adding to the authenticity of the experience. As part of the lunch time wonders and the modern antiquities around you, you’re given a traditional diafa – a welcome – as you browse through the menu. The diafa consists of dates, a tahini – harda – and molasses concoction, rgag bread and diced Feta cheese, is considered in a way as a palate cleanser and appetite starter. The beauty of this meze of sorts is in its simplicity; you take the dates and dip them in the harda mix and enjoy the savory-sweet combination. To round off the genuineness of our experience, we ordered the Sharbat Baithan – sweet almond drink – made with milk and Laban with mint – a yogurt drink – made with sparkling water, salt and pepper as we decided on our feast.
To start us off, we went for their signature Dar Hamad Salad: consisting of a beautifully spiced crunchy matai mix and crisp vegetable mix with cool mangos and a light yoghurt lemon dressing. Matai – usually a stand-alone snack mix – is a combination of dehydrated lentils, peanuts and a short noodle of sorts with spicy notes and a wonderful crunch. Reinvented in salad form, the matai mix was a delightful addition to this absolutely wonderful take on a modern salad. For our Small Eats, we decided on the Dolma, green pea Sambousa and the Shrimp Kubbah. The Dolma were delicately stuffed vine leaves with spiced rice and vegetables, drizzled with a tangy tamarind sauce. The Shrimp Kubbah on the other hand consisted of golden, crispy minced Basmati rice patties stuffed with a flavorful herbed shrimp mix. A truly wonderful and delicious way to start off our meal – not to mention the perfectly fresh-baked traditional bread circulating throughout.
As our mains made it to the table, we were pleasantly surprised by the wafting aromas that proved fitting of any traditional Kuwaiti home. We went for two dishes to share from the Grills and the ‘From Tradition’ sections. Please note that the dishes in ‘From Tradition’ are meant to be shared, they really are huge. Brought out in a traditional jidr, or pot, we went for the Murabian. This shrimp based rice dish was so charmingly fragrant and evocative of home-cooked meals. Warming and comforting, this dish was prepared with love and tenderness. Consisting of the traditional Kuwaiti spices, the rice and shrimp are prepared with onions and dill in a large pot that is then brought out steaming, ready to be devoured and enjoyed. We also got the Salmon Fillet from the Grills to go with it. Beautifully pink, this grilled salmon was encrusted with a mix of fragrant thyme, tangy sumac and crunchy almonds with a side of fluffy quinoa.
Fully satisfied with our savory experience, we decided to take a short break and enjoy a cup of traditional Cardamom Tea with milk as we browsed the dessert menu. Full of intriguing options, such as the Gurs Ogaily, Elbah and Mini Rangeena Basket, we opted for their delicious Date Pudding with Caramel Sauce and Lavender Mahalabiya and decided to leave the others for our next visit. Our taste buds were tickled with the interesting combination of lavender and the traditional milk pudding topped with a fresh mango puree. The Lavender Mahalabiya was a light and enjoyable dessert option – but our personal favorite was the Date Pudding. Consisting of a perfectly spiced, warm, superbly moist date cake, the pudding was finished with generous drizzle of salted caramel sauce – perfection. With our culinary journey through traditional cooking having come to an end, we’re determined to keep returning to Dar Hamad till we’ve gone through the entire menu!
Look out for the beautiful structure that is Dar Hamad, located on the Gulf Road in Salmiya before Marina Mall. Open for lunch between 12 PM to 5 PM and for dinner between 7 PM to 11 PM. For reservations, call them at 2227 5555. Follow them on Instagram @DarHamadKW for stunning images and visit their website www.darhamad.com for more information.