Arab Street of late has taken quite a revival, with it being a hit amongst the yuppies, the students and the tourists. While once it was largely patronised by the Arab community due to its strong religious and racial relations, this demographic has seen a large upheaval, thanks to the change in positions of most cafes there and also the springing up of other niche cafes within the vicinity. In the day, most will be treated to a lot of textile shops and little corners filled with kooky and unique products. However, once the sun sets, the area becomes a crawl for night creatures looking for a different evening.

One of the main attractions there is Café Le Caire, also affectionately known as Al-Majlis. Having been around for a while, the laid-back atmosphere is complemented with the usual wear-and-tear. With folding chairs and tables sprawled way beyond its shop, this well-known joint comes with a lot of seating areas. From the al-fresco areas outside to the sofas inside the shop, you even have the choice of just rolling out a mat across the street, for a more-than-relaxed feel. Before you start conjuring fantasies of Aladdin, there is an explanation for this which will come later on. For now, let’s concentrate on the food.

Made up of both Eastern and Western cuisines, the eclectic offerings are priced reasonably from $6 onwards. Not surprisingly, the food here is predominantly Middle Eastern in its roots. They include Sharwama (Lamb rolled in Arabic Bread), Mandi Kharouf (Lamb shoulder on a plate of rice) and Bagalawa (Arabic pastries). They sure love their meat here and so will you. If there’s one thing that the Arabs can take pride in, besides their vast richness in oil and knowledge of camels, is their strong appreciation for good food. Good food to them seems to equate to good meat. And their meats are rich, succulent and tender. To make your meal an even more Arabian experience, the drinks offered there also base themselves in this rich culture. Some worth trying are Turkish coffee (complete with a rich scent of cardamom) and also the Iced Mint Tea (made refreshing with the spearmint used). Yeah, the names sounded more like the words off the Turkish pledge but rest assured, the effort you take to actually pronounce them is worth it.

Now, back to the mats. The reason for them is that Al-Majlis offers Sheeshah for their guests. Priced from $10 onwards, Sheeshah has been part of the Arab culture for decades. It’s something like smoking cigarettes, only without the harmful road composition that comes in those nasty sticks. Usually flavoured with different fruits, Sheeshah comes with sugar content, which can leave a heavy feeling in the throat if inhaled too much. Ideally, one bong can be shared by a group of friends, since you can take hours to finish one (trust us, we tried). This is an activity that is highly popular there and you can witness groups of people hookah-ing away till the wee hours of the morning. Yes, they’re opened that late. Rumour has it; some have even stayed till 6 am before.

So the next time you’re feeling the craves in the early mornings, and you are up for a whole different experience (or you have never ever tried smoking and is itching to), this is your one-stop solution.

Written by:
Aslinda Khanafi