Amani is located on Michigan Avenue in Dearborn just west of the ciy hall. It sits on the corner and looks like a typical Dearborn restaurant on the outside. When you step inside, you will experience a very European
feeling establishment. The entire restaurant is laid in tile and there are large murals painted on all of the walls. A large juice bar is the first thing you will see, and one of the things they offer a lot of is a broad selection of fruits and vegetables in their dishes.
My first experience there was an incredible one. I went in with a group of friends during the month of Ramadan. It was early in the evening and the restaurant was pretty empty, but nearly all of the tables were full of all kinds of middle-eastern appetizers. These tables had all been reserved by families or individuals who would be having their dinner after sunset. We were not there long until people started pouring in.
We had a good host who ordered us all kinds of delectable treats. Some of which I had seen before, others I had not. Kibbeh would be one of those things that I had never experienced before, and the description really did not help. Kibbeh is fresh uncooked ground lamb mixed with cracked wheat and mid-eastern spices, and when it comes to the table it is really not much to look. My trouble is much like that of many Americans. Any time we see the words raw, or un-cooked something in our brains freaks out. I hear the voice of my mother saying, "that will give you worms". I'm not even sure my mother knew what she meant when she said that, but the words echo in my ears. While you should proceed with caution any time you are eating raw meats such as kibbeh, sushi, or carpaccio of any sort, the real caution should be in choosing the places that you will consume these items. When handle correctly, they can be wonderful.
The first time I had Kibbeh, I had to constantly keep telling my brain to be quiet so that I could enjoy the experience. I have to admit that I still have mental trouble with this dish, but the flavors in it are wonderful. Every time that it has been on the table with a group of friends I always end up having some and enjoying it. If your really squeamish, then you can order a fried version which is also really good. One of my friends has also told me that leftover raw Kibbeh is wonderful made into a burger and grilled. He took home the left overs one day and made some experiments.
|Clockwise Start a 12. Chicken/veg Kabbob|
Chicken Shawarma, Beef Kafta, Beef Shawarma,
Rice in the middle, yogurt sauce on top.
Our meal included the meat platter that I mentioned above as well as two plates of hoummos. We could have baba ghannoug which is smoked egg plant, garlic, and spices mixed in to a paste. It is not a dish that most of us are fond of so we went with the two hoummos. We also had a Fattoush salad, which is a familiar looking salad to westerners. It is a green salad with fresh herbs and topped with toasted pita and a lemon/oil dressing. The second salad is a little less familiar and has very intense flavors. Tabbouli is its name, and it is a mix of chopped parsley, onion, tomatoe, and mint mixed together with cracked wheat and a dressing much like the Fattoush. Many times I find that this one over powers everything with its intense flavors, although it does pair well with other dishes on the table. Hoummos and Tabbouli for example pair together very well with an additional drizzle of olive oil. Everything on the table is served with piles of fresh pita. You will love it.
I mentioned the olive oil a moment ago. If you are a food lover at all, you have probably begun to sample various olive oils from around the world. Most Americans only experience olive oil when they are at some Italian restaurant and the server does some fancy wrist twist and pours an herby, garlic infused concoction on to a plate. While we enjoy sopping up oil with bread, you are really missing a whole other world of flavors in clean pure olive oil. Olive oil in the east is the butter of the west, and olive oils from around the world range in flavor from light and buttery to green and peppery. When you are at Amani ask for the olive oil and try it mixed with with a variety of your dishes. You will experience a whole other world of flavors with this addition.
Amani is a family owed and operated restaurant. Servers are friendly and willing to answer your questions. Do remember if you go, it is very European feeling. Meaning that the tables are closer together than in your average American restaurant. Once your food starts coming, you will be looking for a place to put it all, but they manage very well to accommodate your needs. Browse their web site and menu before you go, and enjoy the experience.
One other thing to note. There is more than one restaurant called, "Amani" in Dearborn, but they are not all owned by this family, and they do not compare. If you not on Michigan Ave just west of Shaffer, you are not at Amani.