Restaurant of the Month: Rahmo Restaurant.

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By PAULA M. COHEN THE SOMALI LINK
As you’ve probably guessed by my name, I am not an expert in Somali cuisine. But as a former award-winning restaurant owner and reviewer, I do know something about food preparation, service, and décor. My delightful dining partner is Zahra Mire, who has agreed to accompany me to provide valuable input on traditional cuisine, and together we will visit the Somali restaurants of Columbus. Although the list continues to grow, we wanted begin our journey at the city’s best known restaurant—Bandari Restaurant.
Established in 1999 to serve Columbus’ growing African population, the restaurant offers a large selection of traditional dishes and reflects the in-fluence of Middle Eastern and American cooking, too. From the outside, you would never guess what lies beneath a nondescript exterior in a strip mall storefront just east of the old Bandari Mall. Recently remodelled and under new management, the restaurant is colourful, comfortable, and charming.
On this visit, Zahra’s teenage daughters, Hawa and Habiba joined us. They are big fans of the restaurant. Hawa had a very astute comment about Bandari Restaurant. She said that one of the things she liked about the restaurant was that on every visit, the food consistently tasted the same. This is no surprise—the head chef has been there for almost for years! A chef that has been at the same place for over many years is almost unheard of in the restaurant business.
We started with Bandari soup—a hearty potato and vegetable soup spiced with fresh cilantro that really warmed us on a cold day. For the main course we tried the grilled fish, grilled chicken strips, and roasted lamb. All arrived hot with lettuce and tomato on the side. The fish was flaky, moist, and lightly seasoned. The roasted lamb was a real treat; the chunks of tender meat, some pieces still on the bone (bones add depth to flavor), were excellent and my favorite dish of our lunch.
Zahra’s favorite of the day was the grilled chicken strips. Strips of white meat, piled high on the plate, had a lovely rosy colour on the outside from the delicate spices. Lunch comes with a choice of sides—spaghetti tossed with a light tomato sauce or a fantastically fragrant curried rice, made even more colourful with the addition of peas. The curried rice could be a meal by itself. I had the hot, black, sweetened, spiced tea to wash my lunch down. Delicious!
According to the new man-ager, Mohamed, there are some new dishes on the menu: ugali, mufo Banadir with beef, and chicken ka-bobs. The service was pleasant and efficient. Prices are very reasonable, espe-cially considering the generous portion sizes. Lunch with three main courses and drinks for four came to $36.00. This is a place to recommend to family, friends, and acquaintances. If you have not been to Bandari restaurant in a while, re-visit, you won’t be disappointed! •