Welcome (back) to mmm-yoso!!! the blog of food. Sharing meals with you is what we do. Today, Kirk and ed(from Yuma) are lurking while Cathy is sharing.
Hi. The Mister and I have noticed signs for Nahrain and Shakira while on Main Street, whenever we are going to Valley Foods Mediterranean Market, where we shop (and eat in the store) fairly regularly and finally decided to stop one day. This is the view from the parking lot, but from the street, while stopped at the signal light at Ballard, you may only notice "Shakira", the top sign for the mall right next to the parking lot flower stand. Shakira is a bakery.
Over there, to the right, on Main Street is Nahrain- the blue sign.
When you walk in, the fresh fish are in the counter next to the cash register. Those on the far end, next to the catfish, under the tray of shrimp are yellow pompano, which are only served fried with rice according to the menu. All the other fish are sold by the pound.
To the far left are the very large Grass Carp fish.
On the side of the dining room is...a fountain.
It's filled with even fresher fish.
Just so you know, the live catfish are $8.99/lb, the ones in the counter are $5.99/lb. The live tilapia are also $8.99/lb and the ones in the counter are $6.99/lb. Strip bass are $8.99/lb, Grass Carp are $5.99/lb and the red snapper are $7.99/lb.
On our first visit, we weren't certain what to order, asked about the tandoori chicken (because we noticed a Halal certification for the restaurant) and were told it would take 40 minutes to prepare, so we ordered this side of hummus ($3.99) was very good, fresh and not too large.
My Chicken Cream Chop sandwich ($4.99) was freshly fried and crispy. Cream chop is a chicken breast (or beef ) marinated in a seasoned cream sauce and 'chop' means then rolled in bread crumbs and fried (I've seen potato chop on menus). The rest of this sandwich was onions and tomatoes. All the flavors melded perfectly.
The Mister ordered a beef tikka kabob sandwich ($4.99). Finely ground beef mixed with onion and parsley and seasonings and grilled. This was very moist and flavorful. This sandwich was served with all those pickles, tomatoes as well as onions and flat leaf parsley.
When we were leaving, the owner came over and told us we can always call in and order a tandoori chicken, masgoof chicken or masgoof fish and it would be prepared and ready by the time we got there.
Masgoof. We had to research. Masgouf. The national dish of Iraq. The fish(or chicken) is split down the middle, leaving the back intact, sort of a large circle. Then the animal is coated in olive oil, salt, turmeric and tamarind then cooked over fire. (Masgouf was the downfall of Saddam Hussein)
We called in that Friday, telling them we were driving in and would like a tilapia, around 2-3 pounds; that there would be two of us sharing a meal inside the restaurant. We arrived pretty quickly and the food wasn't quite ready and so we decided to order a salad. We could not decide on fatoosh or Arabic salad, and since both are $3.99, we were offered half of each.
The Arabic salad, on the left, is mainly lettuce, cucumber, green pepper and tomatoes and a delightful dressing that has fresh mint. The Fatoosh salad has fried pita bread croutons and an equally delightful, fresh and different dressing. This is a large plate.
Soon, a giant flat folded wheat bread as well as plates and sides and hot tea (which was brought out early because we asked, but it is included in the meal and usually brought out at the end)
The condiments (in that cute fish shaped platter) are tomatoes, onions and pickled mango...mango chutney..salty and not too sweet and it is complimentary to the fish:
The tilapia was proudly presented to us by the chef. Beautifully cut, seasoned and cooked, this meal was wonderful, fresh, filling and..less than $20. Yes. Everything is included and the fish ($6.99/lb) was less than three pounds.
Here is (the now) obligatory photo of The Mister's fancy fish carcass cleaning work. The skin of the fish was not as tasty as other fish skin I've had, but the fins were crispy good. Also, this was tilapia, a fish with a double skeleton going on...so not as easy to eat as other fish.
So. We walked next door, to Shakira and were overwhelmed with choices. We were not hungry after that awesome meal-but knew at some point we would be hungry again.
We decided to take home one of the cheesy flatbreads. This is not as large as the bread that accompanied our meal, but more the size of a very large pita bread. It is $1. It was a fresh and soft bread topped with a soft mild cheese. There were several differently topped flatbreads, all vegetarian and all $1 each. I will be returning.
Then we exercised restraint and each of us chose one sweet piece of dessert. The top/square piece is filled with chopped pistachios and topped with shredded filo. The bottom round one has whole pistachios. Sold by weight ($8/lb) the price for these two pieces was $1.08. These were not too sweet and made with a light syrup rather than honey. The filo dough remained crispy until the next morning.
All in all, this is yet another great place to eat in El Cajon.
Nahrain Fish and Chicken Grill 1183 E. Main Street #A El Cajon, CA 92021 (619) 334-3222
Shakira Pastry 1183 E. Main Street #B El Cajon 92021 (619)440-6068