What a delight! I’ve been hearing about Najd Palace for as long as I’ve been in Abu Dhabi. It’s no hidden gem, it’s really no secret. It just took a really long time for Foodie Farah to make it out here. My family is a huge fan of devouring rice and meat (read lots meat; more meat) the traditional way – on a shared plate, using your hands, sitting on the floor. As a result, we’ve tried MANY mandi places around, mostly Dubai and also in the northern emirates. I can already tell Najd Palace will soon be a family favorite. Judging by how busy the restaurant was at odd time to lunch (4 PM!), I’m clearly not the only one who feels this way.
Hosting a guest from out of town, we wanted to check out the private on-the-floor seating area as opposed to chairs and tables (who does that anyway?!) for a more authentic experience. At first we were told, all the private space (can I call them cubicles?) were busy, but luckily we had a Najd Palace frequent goer with us who guided us to a different side of the restaurant where there were more cubicles! The cubicles were carpeted, relatively clean, and had cushions to make us feel comfy and cozy. We ordered – 1 rocca salad, 1 mandi meat (lamb), 1 madfoon meat (lamb) and 1 madghoot chicken… wait, that’s probably a little confusing. We were basically served 3 kinds of rice, with mandi (the more white one in the picture) being the most flavorful, especially with some spicy tomato chutney or the yogurt sauce they serve with it. While all meats were types of slow cooked meat, the madfoon is cooked in a different way – wrapped in aluminum and placed in a pit undergroud and then covered with coal. This makes for the most tender meat you may have ever had. Personally, madfoon is my go-to dish at any ‘mandi’ restaurant. We were all served a yummy broth before our meals, that was tastier with lemon, and were given individual servings of the chutney. You could always order more of this for free.
Overall, service was not too bad considering Najd is not the fanciest place to dine at. Maybe a few more smiles would’ve helped. The ambience is cozy and traditional. I would recommend eating on the floor and without separate plates to make your experience more memorable. Next time I’m craving some meat and deliciously cooked, mild spicy mandi rice, I won’t have to think twice about where to go!