Thursday, October 28, 2010

Rowda Ya Habibi, Newtown

Another appointment with the Optometrist has me racing down King Street at lunchtime. 

This eye infection is pesky, rendering my eyes so bad I’ve had to stop driving for the time being, but it also has its benefits. Firstly, so many power walking trips down King Street has to count as exercise. And secondly, I get to try somewhere new to eat after each visit to the eyeball lady.  Thanks eyeballs – you’re a real friend!

Unfortunately I get my Optometrist chatting about eyeball related stuff that is way over my head and my time for eating lunch slowly runs out.  Now, I’ve really only got enough time to grab something to hurriedly eat on my way back to the office.  Not what I had planned…

As I’m hauling butt back up King Street I’m totally stumped about what to get for lunch.  I spot Sababba, but I’ve already been there and it’s too messy to eat on the run anyway.  There’s a girl out the front pimping their falafel so I grab one and keep on motoring.   It’s tasty, and crunchy on the outside…a little dry, but still nice.

This is when my plan falls into place. I’m going to do a falafel comparison between Sababba and Rowda Ya Habibi – genius idea! 

I’ve been walking past Rowda Ya Habibi for years and years but I’ve never ever eaten there.  It looks a little dodgy if I’m honest, harsh lighting and your standard laminate tables and big clunky chairs from your nanna's house.  The food is all displayed in bain-maries.  But as we all now know, dodginess is not necessarily a bad thing.


When I walk in a couple has just put in a big order and the lady behind the counter (Ms Rowda Ya Habibi perhaps) is busy chatting away to them as she scoops all the yumminess into take away containers.  

I spend some time drooling over the wall of Turkish Delight and Lebanese sweeties whilst I wait for my turn.
So hard to resist
Ms Rowda Ya Habibi is so friendly…and so happy. You can tell straight away that she loves her customers, she loves her shop and she loves the food that she serves. She makes the couple taste a vine leaf … for free … just so they can experience how good it is.

We all engage in a chat about how many pieces of Lebanese bread the couple will need for 7 people. The couple think a piece each is enough – I look at them like they’re crazy and advise that this would be not only disastrous, but cruel…get two bags of bread. At least!

I get offered a falafel with a dollop of babaganoush plopped on top.  It is THE BEST FALEFAL I’VE NEVER HAD!  It’s so moist and fresh and is really far superior to the one I just tried from Sabbaba (sorry Sabbaba).

Now that I’ve done my falafel comparison, I can try something non-falafel related for my lunch. I opt for a meat roll with shish ($6.50), although I’ll be going back soon to try the kibbeh roll.

Kibbeh and/or shish - tough decision
The roll is filled with shish, hommous, red cabbage,  lettuce, tabbouli and onion. We decide that it’s probably not a good idea to have garlic sauce – seeing as I’m going back to work and may have to breathe near my colleagues. 

Ms Rowda Ya Habibi brings the roll out from behind the counter so I can take a happy snap before it’s rolled away for my eating pleasure. 

I eat the roll on my way back to the office. It’s so full of flavour, but a bit messy.  I end up with juice on my scarf, top and some running down the back of my calf???  

Action shot
Rowda Ya Habibi is at 101 King St, Newtown.  They have a "cushion room" upstairs if you want a more fancy and fun eating experience.

Rowda Ya Habibi on Urbanspoon


  1. Looks and sounds so much better than what I had for lunch!!!

  2. It was pretty good Cate! I really want to go back tomorrow to try the Kibbeh roll, but we've got a work lunch on that I'm going!

  3. I'm always in there buying the $5 tubs of Turkush Delight. I've never eaten there! Though I think that will change hearing your reaction on the felafels

  4. Hi John, this place is surprisingly good - I'd love to know if you think the felafel is good as I thought it was.

    I bought my sister some of the Turkish Delight to take back to WA when she goes home...I was so tempted to try some myself but refrained.

  5. I was in King Street today too! Ate at a place just across the road, with a stencilled landscape and trains on the wall (any idea what it's called??). Lovely freshly baked raspberry muffins and pancakes with ricotta and maple syrup...mmmm. No photos though - my place today is a clothes shop you'll probably recognise (posting in about 15 minutes...)

    Thanks for compliments on my photos. Still learning how to use the camera, but getting better at it.

  6. I started as soon as you mentioned the felafel with the dollop of babaganoush. I mean that's just genius! :o

  7. Hi LottieP...I cannot think of the cafe you're talking about. I'll keep my eyes peeled next time I'm down that way. I love Elvis & Cleo by the way.

  8. hehe im a messy eater and can never eat and walk at the same time lol last time i managed to get lettuce in my shoe -_-'

  9. I've been walking past this place for years and never been inside - after reading your fine post I stopped in for that delicious looking date slice in the window - dangnabbit it's good - and the lady is so nice! Thanks so much for alerting us to a possible new favourite :-)

  10. Mr Shawn - so glad you were tempted! I wish Ms Ya Habbibi was my mum, she's just SO nice!

  11. Back for more sweeties tonight - sooo goood! The lady told us the shop has been open for 33 years and she hasn't had a night off in 11 years. "Do you mind if I whinge a little?" she asked... Love this place!

  12. Mr Shawn - it's fabulous isn't it! I knew they'd be opened for 33 years, but not that she's worked every night for 11 years! OMG...I'm going to stop complaining about my 5 day weeks I think.

  13. omg you can't compare this dirty hole compared to sabbaba. im a student down the road and tried these falafel. they aren't even made to order and taste like fried bread. sabbaba is far better. wayyyyyyy better

  14. Na-uh Tammy, Rowda Ya has the best falafel on the planet. ainec


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