I’ll admit that I was skeptical about Mandi Afandi. The spot they’re in formerly housed a Popeyes Chicken; since it closed down in 2013, that location has been home to a revolving door of failed restaurants. The last one — Mandilicious — also specialized in mandi. I didn’t have high hopes for what I assumed would be the latest in a string of shuttered eateries.
But then Suresh Doss highlighted the place in his column for CBC, and of course, I had to sit up and take notice. If Doss writes about a restaurant, you can be reasonably assured that the food will be tasty.
They have a handful of things on the menu, but of course, mandi — a traditional Yemini dish which features slow-cooked meat and rice — is right there in the name. They serve it with either lamb, chicken, or both.
I tried the lamb. Even with the Doss seal of approval, I was still fairly skeptical about the place, and I could not have been more wrong. It was shockingly delicious.
The lamb is delightfully tender and absolutely crammed with flavour from the spices they cook it with and the meat itself. I love lamb, and this is some of the best I’ve had in a long time.
You’d think that the rice would take a backseat to the meat, but surprisingly enough, it’s just as good. You can tell its been cooked with the meat because its infused with that flavour, and it’s fragrant with the same delightful spices that make the lamb so tasty.
The crispy fried onions only amp up the flavour, and add a nice textural counterpoint to the tender lamb and fluffy rice. You also get little containers of yogurt sauce and hot sauce on the side, and while neither are particularly necessary (it’s already so damn good on its own), they both compliment the dish quite well.