First Look: Bab al Yemen, Where the Devout Can Enter Through a Backdoor

It’s Ramadan, and a short walk from Bay Ridge’s main mosque, Muslims have a brand-new restaurant where they can break fast. Waleed al Jahmi has opened Bab al Yemen with his brother Abdulghani, a chef who came up in his family’s gourmet deli Tudor Café. Waleed, the restaurant’s affable young host, tells us he wants to cater to families and couples rather than cultivating the raucous social-club atmosphere you’ll sometimes find at, say, Yemen Cuisine (one of the city’s few other Yemeni joints along with Yemen Café). So he’s installed a separate entrance for families and women who care to use it (something he says is typical in Yemen and Saudi Arabia) — it leads to an unmarked door that opens onto the back of the restaurant, a few discreet steps away from booths that can be curtained off for privacy. This week it’s been used by more than one premarital couple (a no-no in a culture of arranged marriages) to sneak meals at unholy hours. (It’s uncertain whether they also snuck booze in; the restaurant is dry and doesn’t allow you to bring your own). Waleed says the booths serve mainly to keep women from being disturbed by rowdy men, like the party of 25 he had the other night.

Until the end of Ramadan, Bab al Yemen is open from 4 p.m. till 4 a.m., and offering a 10 percent discount as well as a $10 package for those who want to break the fast in the traditional manner: with a dish of dates followed by small plates of samboosa (similar to a samosa), yogurt with pita bread, barley oatmeal, vegetable-and-lamb soup, and a traditional custard dessert. As you can see from the menu below, you can supplement with any number of Yemeni dishes (perhaps the most popular of them, haneez, is a lamb that’s roasted for over two hours), as well as less orthodox (but still halal) chef’s specials such as shrimp scampi, grilled steak, and kibda (a traditional dish of cubed lamb liver) with pasta.

House Salad - 3
Fresh lettuce, tomatoes, feta cheese, olives, homemade dressing

Soup of the day - 3

Cous cous salad - 5
Cous cous, tomatoes, scallions, parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, hummus

Marag - 2
Rich homemade soup with country seasoning

Hummus - 7
Pureed chick peas, sesame paste, olive oil, served with clay oven bread

Babaghanouj - 7
Pureed roasted eggplant, sesame paste, olive oil, with clay oven bread

Meat samboosa - 8
Triangle phyllo shells stuffed with mixed root vegetables and spices served with fresh tomato chutney

Dijaj sayfee - 8
Grilled spice-rubbed chicken cutlet over mixed salad, onions and tomatoes, tossed with an olive oil vinaigrette

Rashoosh - 8
Layered flat bread drizzled with clarified butter and topped with honey

Fattah b’tamr - 7
Yemeni croutons, mixed with dates and clarified butter

Yemeni omelette - 8
Eggs, ground meat, sautéed diced tomato, scallions, vegetables and spices se4rved with clary oven bread

Lite Yemeni Omelette - 7
Egg whites, kidney beans, sautéed onions, tomatoes, scallions dressed with fresh herbs

Fool mudamas - 7
Fava beans, sautéed onions, tomatoes, served with clay oven bread

Fassolia - 7
White kidney beans, sautéed with onions, tomatoes, scallions, dressed with scrambled eggs

Hummus and lamb segar - 10
Minced lamb, sautéed with onions, tomatoes, Yemeni spices, dressed with hummus

Curry yamaani
Sauteed cubed chicken, tomatoes, and onions, curry sauce, dressed with hummus

Kibda - 7
Sauteed cubes of lamb liver, with onions, tomatoes, served with clay oven bread

Kilawi - 7
Sauteed cubes of lamb kidney, with onions, tomatoes, served with clay oven bread

Lamb segar - 10
Minced tender lamb, sautéed onions, tomatoes, served with rice

Shish kabob - 9
Two skewers of lamb served with rice or salad

Radaee burger - 9
Ground meat mixed with herbs and Yemeni spices, lettuce and tomatoes. Served with thin slices of sautéed potatoes

Haneez - 18
Seasoned lamb, slow roasted to perfection. Served with mixed vegetables and rice.

Saltah - 17
Root vegetables in a rich lamb soup, served bubbling hot. Comes with a tender chunk of lamb or chicken. Topped with whipped tangy fenugreek and a side of fresh tomato chutney.

Berma (lamb masloog) - 17
A very tender chunk of lamb sautéed then boiled in seasoned mirepoix for hours. Served with its stock, mixed vegetables and rice.

Glabah lamb - 17
Minced lamb mixed with root vegetables, sautéed and served over rice.

Glabah chicken - 12
Minced chicken mixed with root vegetables, sautéed and served over rice

Chicken mashwee - 14
Grilled chicken served with rice and vegetables

Samak mashwee - 18
Char-grilled fish served with rice mixed vegetables

Fattah b’lahm - 17
Yemeni croutons soaked in lamb sauce and topped with minced lamb.

Curry Yamaani - 13
Sauteed minced chicken breast, onions, tomatoes, and curry, served over rice

Lamb Chops - 17
Five pieces seasoned lamb chops, grilled to perfection, served over vegetables and rice

Aseed - 13
Yemen’s national dish of porridge served with soup, fenugreek, chutney, salad and chunk of lamb.

Chicken masloog - 14
Half chicken boiled and seasoned mirpoix, served with rice and vegetables

Agda chicken - 14
Boneless chicken with sautéed onions and vegetables, served with clay oven bread

Agda lamb - 17
Boneless lamb with sautéed onions and vegetables, served with clay oven bread

Combination #1 - 22
Half chicken, fish, lamb chops, served with rice, vegetables and clay oven bread

Combination #2 - 18
Skewers of lamb, skewers of chicken, served with hummus, baba ghanouje, and cous cous, salad or rice

Bab al Yemen, 413 Bay Ridge Ave., nr. Fourth Ave., Bay Ridge; 718-943-6961

First Look: Bab al Yemen, Where the Devout Can Enter Through a Backdoor