It all started with The Burger Hub for celebrated local chef, foodie and restaurateur Ahmed Al Bader. A collaboration and several dining concepts later, Chef Ahmed stepped out of the kitchen to focus more on consulting endeavors. In doing so, he formed an alliance with MMC Catering’s founder Mr. Mishari Al Roudhan and consulting agency Group Six was born. About two years and six months later, we find ourselves waiting for his culinary concoctions to make their way to our table at his latest concept: Habra Beef Canteen. Naturally, we were eager to find out more about Habra, his long absence from the kitchen, and the bigger projects that are yet to come.
After his switch to consulting for a couple of years, Chef Ahmed and Group Six set to work on a new culinary directive: To co-create Habra, while co-managing The Burger Hub, in a new light. Chef Ahmed’s first step towards Habra was to create a wish list of meats. From there, he went on a hunt to source the meats that would work best for the menu he envisioned. While The Burger Hub was conceived with everyone in mind, Habra is purely the chef’s concept, catering to our inner food-snob.
Without revealing too many details, we were told that if we love Habra, then we’ll absolutely adore the new restaurant that Chef Ahmed is brewing up. An all-day brunch concept, the eatery will feature a creative Kitchen Lab, complete with a show kitchen for demonstrations. Chef Ahmed’s partnership with Group Six has a stellar plan in motion: To raise the benchmark and mature their offerings further. Because ultimately, Chef Ahmed aspires to turn Group Six into leaders in the food and beverage industry both on a regional and global scale. With Chef Ahmed’s presence in the kitchen at all times and personally training the staff, we all know it’s only a matter of time! But back to Habra, and all the delicious delights we’re about to sample.
If you want to enjoy the dishes offered, make sure you’re there early because service is usually full within the first fifteen minutes of them opening up their doors. Utilizing every space available, everything from cutlery to the kitchen’s pantry is on display! And if you peek through to the kitchen, you can see the Josper charcoal oven used. Designed by LINES, with beautifully handcrafted leather detailing and a communal table for family-style dining, the place exudes rustic chic and warmth. Still, what is Habra? Colloquially, Habra is the essentially the best cut of meat with flawless marbling — a truly fitting name.
The short menu consists of: Sharing Plates, Veggie Sharing Plates, Habra Plates, Beef from the Josper, as well as Sauces and Condiments, Sides, Dessert and Drinks. Focusing solely on the best cuts of meat and freshest ingredients available, you’re guaranteed a gourmet experience. We started our dining journey with a Bone Marrow plate served with a house-made chimichurri and sour dough bread. Warm and delicious, the marrow was expertly prepared and went perfectly with the sauce. Next were some Beef Tostadas and a Shredded Rib and Manchego Fries. The Beef Tostadas were delicious, and cleverly reimagined with a beetroot salsa. As for Habra’s take on the much-loved chili cheese fries, the Shredded Rib and Manchego Fries packed beautiful flavors and a sizzling kick.
From the veggie options, we got the Charred Baby Gem Salad, Josper-baked Beetroot, and Roasted Baby Carrots. The salad came with a sweet and tangy miso-salted caramel dressing, while the beetroot dish boasted a flavorful miso-mustard sauce and crumbled feta cheese. As for the baby carrots, the maple citrus vinaigrette brought out the sweetness of the carrots and exemplified their freshness with a citrusy punch. And of course, when it came to the sides, we went for the Baked Sweet Potatoes: with a cinnamon-brown sugar butter, and the Togarashi Fries with Ponzu mayo. Making sure we don’t fill up too much on sharing plates and sides, we went on to try some of the Habra Plates and try our the 350g Rib-eye from the Josper.
The Rib-eye was juicy and tenderly prepared as per the chef’s recommendation – never well-done, and it was glorious. Our second rib-eye dish came from the Habra Plates in the form of a Sliced Rib-eye served with a palate cleansing herb salad and apricot sauce. The Three-Way Kalbi came with a deliciously complimenting teriyaki sauce and the Beef Back Ribs with the honey-cumin Sriracha was superbly flavorful. Still, there were two dishes that stood tall and kept us reaching for more: The Pulled Brisket Bun and the Four and a half hour Braised Rib.
Deliciously prepared, the pulled brisket was topped with a roasted jalapeno-pasilla salsa and a mild cheddar in a fluffy, light bun. With every bite, a new and more complex flavor profile surfaced making the dish an absolute hit. Yet, the favorite at our table was clearly the braised rib. Finished with a palatable Korean Sweet Chili, the braised beef was so tender and moist we didn’t even need a knife! Coming apart under the slightest amount of pressure, the meat fell off the bone in beautiful bite-sized chunks.
While we tucked into the rib, we noticed the week’s special, the Grilled Avocado. Reminiscent of a deconstructed guacamole, the avocado was delightfully grilled, served with a drizzle of black olive oil [yes, oil extracted from black olives] and coriander. For those wondering, black olive oil tastes just like black olives and it was delicious.
Thinking we had enough, two desserts made their way to our table and we gladly dug in. As tricky as brownies can be, Habra got this one right. Their Pomegranate and Pecan Brownie was equally sweet and tangy at the same time. But the spectacle came in the form of their second dessert: The Charred Cantaloupe. Half a cantaloupe made its way to our table, charred gloriously and filled with ice-cream, then topped with bits of meringue, and finished with honey. While the ice-cream was vanilla flavored, you got hints of cantaloupe and sweet honey mixed in there with every bite. As for the meringue, it was beautifully prepared lending a crunch to the dish and slight chew once you get past the shell. All in all, we had a fantastic time at Habra and cannot wait to see what else Chef Ahmed has up his sleeves for us!
Habra is located in Kuwait City, off of SoMu in the Aqarat Building. For more information, call them at 2206 1321 or follow them on Instagram @HabraKW. Open from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., make sure you’re there early to get a table and enjoy their offerings! Starting in early Feb, the lunch hours are planned to be from 12PM-2PM!