So my second visit to Sanaa was for Jim’s birthday. We don’t often get to celebrate our birthdays without children, seeing as how we have a whole bunch of them, but Jim’s birthday happened to fall the same weekend as the Expedition Everest 5K, and we had a sitter back in Jersey with the girls. Jim loves to try new and different things, especially foods, and I thought he’d really enjoy Sanaa.
We checked in at the podium, and our table was ready right away. It would have been nice to sit near the windows to watch the animals, but our table was in a quiet location, which was good too. Jim has on his birthday button, and the waitress wishes him a happy birthday before taking a drink order.
In browsing the menu, we decide our best bet is to just order sampler platters, so we can try some of everything Sanaa has to offer. We start with the bread service, and then order the appetizer Sampler for Two; the Salad Sampler; and finally, we opted for the beef braised short ribs and chicken curry for our entree.
If you have never dined with my husband, you may be unfamiliar with his penchant for spice. He loves food that has some heat – and the hotter the better. With the bread service, you choose three different types of bread and three of the dipping sauces. We asked our waitress for recommendations, and she explained each dip to us, and we ended up choosing the red chile sambal; a mango chutney; and the roasted red bell pepper hummus. I am not a fan of spicy food, and we figured this would give Jim a little bit of the spice with the red chile, but I would still have a nice selection to choose from.
As we were enjoying the bread service, the waitress came over to ask how we were enjoying the dipping sauces. Jim made the comment that they were all very tasty, but definitely not “hot”. She told us to hang on, and she would bring him something he found more to his liking, and she quickly returned with some garlic pickle. That was a really interesting flavor, but not quite spicy enough for Jim. We thanked her for the extra sauce, and she went about her merry way, but before we knew it, she was back. In the ramekin this time was a red sauce that was singing the hairs inside my nose before she ever put it down on the table. She told Jim that the chef had created this dip especially for him, and was anxious to see what he thought of it. Jim slathered a good bit of it on some of the bread, and declared it amazing. He really and truly enjoyed the sauce, and finished it himself, as I neglected to wear my asbestos gloves to move the ramekin close enough to me to take a taste, if I was so inclined, which I was not.
A few minutes later, Chef Bob came tableside to check for himself how the dip was. He had truly created it just for Jim and he was very excited to see that Jim really enjoyed the dip. He talked a little about what was in it (brimstone; lava; and some other really hot ingredients), and they had a very animated culinary conversation for a few minutes. After shaking hands, the Chef returned to his kitchen, and Jim proceeded to enjoy the remaining bread and personalized dipping sauce – which he declared the best food of the night.
The salad sampler is a course we would not repeat. We opted for the roasted potato salad; watermelon, lime and radish salad; and the roasted beets. I love watermelon, but for me, the combination of flavors was too severe. The lime overwhelmed the sweetness of the watermelon, and it tasted like bad melon to me – the kind you should have tossed days before. I am not a fan of beets, but Jim loves them. I did try the salad, but my relationship with beets being what it is, I wouldn’t order that again.
The best of the salads we sampled was the roasted potato, but I could easily pass on that and not miss it. It was lightly dressed and contained corn and spinach, and not my favorite bite of the night.
The entrees we chose were incredible. The ribs were fall of the bone delectable, and I could have easily eaten a plate of them. The chicken curry was delicious, and has quickly become one of my favorite dishes here at Sanaa. I also really enjoyed the five grain rice pilaf.
We were way too full for dessert, but I thought just as a way to have a taste of something, we would split a chai cream. That’s when our waitress came back with a piece of the chocolate cake with a candle in it to celebrate Jim’s birthday – with birthday wishes written on the plate. It was very good, but we were way too full to appreciate it.
Overall, I have enjoyed both meals at Sanaa. I will give tons of credit to our waitress this trip for making the meal, as she really was helpful and much quicker than our waiter the first time I ate here. It’s amazing how much better a dining experience could be with a competent server.