Against the backdrop of Sharjah’s state-of-the-art hotels and restaurants, a 40-year-old fish restaurant in Al Nabba still does it big.
Fry 400 kilograms of fish a day to meet the demands of 200 weekday visitors – which swell to over 500 on weekends – this old-style but cozy fish restaurant continues to attract its old customers and hundreds more. new. The huge sign for “Samra Restaurant” is visible from afar, but this decades-old dining venue is known to its regular patrons as Mama Mache Restaurant.
Mama, an Indian national known for his prowess and secret recipe for frying fish, started this restaurant as a small restaurant at the back of the Rotana Hotel and continued like this until ten years ago, when he returned to India for good.
Now owned by an Emirati, Ahmad Khayal, Mama Mache has continued to attract hundreds of satisfied guests, including Japanese and Westerners who make the restaurant a must-see when visiting Sharjah, especially in winter.
Hassan Abdul Khader, Indian manager of Mama Mache, says he worked with the original owner for ten years and after mastering the craft and specially prepared herbal seasoning led the restaurant to more success, including a rapidly growing clientele of tourists and residents from all emirates and abroad. He says tourists also ask them to pack fried hamour, sherry, king fish and pomfret and send the packages to their country for their friends.
“Sixty percent of our daily fried fish orders are taken home because these customers cannot eat in restaurants due to a lack of tables and chairs. These “take-out orders” also include those that are carried by hand to (people’s) homes, ”he adds. A numbering system has been used to ensure that the queue is smooth, and customers have to wait 45 minutes after receiving the number on weekdays and even longer on weekends.
Mama Mache opens at 3 p.m. for her seven Indian workers to clean and prepare the fish, putting in their specially prepared herbal and spice powder to marinate the fish. Frying won’t start until 6 p.m. when customers start arriving. But, the number grows more and more from 8 p.m. to midnight when the Mama Mache restaurant closes.
Mohammed, a chef at the restaurant, says customers choose from the different types of fish available in season and the chef will start frying them in Hayat cooking oil. “When it’s done, we put our special secret spices and herbs on the fried fish and fry them again for a few minutes. Then we deliver the fried fish to the customer. It takes 15 to 20 minutes to cook the fish.
Emirati Ali Hassan, one of the restaurant’s regular customers, says he comes from Dubai to have a Dh 30 dinner that includes a large fried pomfret, roti curry dhal (pulses) or a specialty of green sauce. made from fresh coriander leaves. “I have been a regular customer for ten years. Like many Emiratis, I come to this restaurant two or three times a week. While I have dinner, I also order packed lunches for my family.
Jordanian national Issam says the restaurant is an extension of his home. “I come here every day for my dinner because I really like its fried fish. Since I arrived in UAE seven years ago, I was driving Ajman night to the store.
Mama Mache caters to various nationalities working and residing in the United Arab Emirates, from the lowest paid workers to prominent Emiratis and expatriates. Regular expats who visit the restaurant are Sudanese, Indians, Bangladeshis, Jordanians and other Arabs. But, most of the clients are Pakistanis.
Mama Mache restaurant is a proverb in Sharjah, especially for workers, who cannot afford to go to expensive restaurants. Its fried fish is sold between Dh5 and Dh30 depending on the size of the fish.
Khairullah, a Pakistani school bus driver who has been here for 26 years, says he cannot afford to eat in large modern restaurants. He spends 20 Dh for fried fish and a dish of roti with dhal curry. “I like the fried fish here. They fry it to cook the inside and fry it from the outside to make it crisp. It is so delicious.
The Samra restaurant has a second floor for families who come to dine together. He puts in his coffers between 5,000 and 7,000 Dh per day in winter, when tourists to Sharjah like to dine out. In summer, it brings in 4,000 to 6,000 Dh, of which 4,000 Dh of fried fish are intended for families who wish to stay inside and enjoy their dinner at home.