>> Grab & Go Food | Eat the World NYC

06 August 2018

Grab & Go Food

YEMEN 🇾🇪

This all happened by accident, but sometimes this is the best way to experience the city. When a nearby Senegalese restaurant had its gate down and a "closed for renovation" sign out front, a little canvassing was necessary for a meal. Without much time before a job in the neighborhood, a quick look around did not find anything new so I retreated into a deli to grab a quick sandwich.

As New Yorkers, we take our corner groceries and delis and bodegas for granted, knowing they will always be there for us whenever we need them, early in the morning and late at night. After the recent "bodega strike" last year when the current administration tried to impose a ban on Muslims entering the United States, most of us now know our beloved corner stores' owners are in many cases from Yemen, if we did not know already.

Some of these shops might have a shawarma spit spinning next to the grill that turns out egg sandwiches and turkey clubs all day, but what happened at Grab & Go Food in Harlem was new to me: A menu with the famous Yemeni saltah right at the top of the page. They have some standard Middle Eastern fare here as well as the entire line of Boar's Head deli meats, but the $10 saltah (below) was what was destined to be eaten.


The man taking orders could not at first understand my likely very bad pronunciation of the word, but also may not be accustomed to a non-Yemeni or Middle Eastern customer ordering the dish. His surprise likely matched mine when it arrived at my table in a traditional stone stew pot still boiling. This pot came on a wooden base for transport and my meal became the center of attention for the other customers who were seated at the shops four or five tables.

They do not have a proper oven here to make Yemeni flatbread, but some warmed up pitas are brought out with an order. I was asked if I wanted it spicy, and this translated into a jalapeño being chopped up inside the stew, which had a stronger than usual fenugreek taste. Shredded lamb marakh, the base of the stew, was joined with scrambled egg, potatoes, and a small amount of vegetables. For the price, it is an incredible amount of food and enough that could not be finished. Luckily a neighborhood teen took me up on the offer to taste it when I saw his interest, and came back for more after enjoying it so much.

We already love our Yemeni bodega owners and their wonderful stores that keep New York City running, but if they all plan to add Yemeni cuisine to their daily offerings, the ceiling is about to get moved skyward.

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Grab & Go Food Inc. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato