We originally wrote about Yemeni’s in February of last year, but only to announce that they had moved into the old Jenny’s restaurant space. And despite the fact we don’t make it down to this Middle Eastern eatery at Sutter & Larkin as much as we’d like, it’s one of our favorite places nearby and we even featured one of their dishes (Salteh, the stew pictured above which is the Yemeni national dish) in our list of Top 10 dishes under $10 in Tenderloin Heights.
We like them because they offer great food that’s a great deal different from the awesome Indian, Vietnamese, and Thai restaurants that are so abundant in this neighborhood. We also like them because they have always been friendly and welcoming, so we decided it was time to do a proper write-up about them here.
On this latest visit, we decided to go all out and try a few more things beyond the Salteh such as the lamb Kufta Plate and chicken Kasbah dishes. They both came with a side of fragrant spicy rice that had me craving for more the next day. We had wanted to start out with the Sahawig Cheese but it was unfortunately out so they comped us a nice, spicy Yemeni soup to start with, which got us happily sweating at the beginning of the meal.
We also tried their special flatbreads (Tanour & Yemeni), both as a side and one of them as a dessert as well. It came dipped in milk and honey, folded and cut in little delicious pieces. Although we were stuffed, we couldn’t help finishing it all up with the complimentary Yemeni tea they brought. I also always love the fact that the water they serve usually has cucumber and lemon in it, quite a nice touch.
At Yemeni’s everything is quite solid and damningly filling. I couldn’t even finish what was basically half a fat chicken in my dish and had to take it home (made some pretty awesome fajitas with it the next day). And that’s really the beauty of Yemeni’s in that it’s a great value and it’s a different experience with a lot of great spices. At first you might just think it’s Mediterranean and then maybe you’ll think it’s Indian, but it’s not either. It’s something in between and a welcome change.
By the way, this is the owner Ali who was extremely happy to have us in the restaurant and went out of his way to make us feel at home. Although this is an inexpensive restaurant, he’s put some effort into the decor to make it a bit more cozy than most budget eateries. He told us that he had briefly lived in San Francisco in the early 1980s, but then moved to NYC where he opened a clothing store. After all those years in the East coast, one day he felt like coming back to the Bay Area and opening up his own restaurant here, as he loves to introduce people to the cuisine of his country. He also told us, in case anyone is interested, the reason the old Jenny’s restaurant was vacant for so long–nine years in fact: the previous tenant wanted not just to rent, but sell everything that was part of the old restaurant and was inflexible as to any other arrangement.
In any case, we’re very happy Yemeni’s took it over as it’s a great addition to the neighborhood. Check it out if you’re around.