Sunday, April 20, 2008

Samira's Country Market

Don’t be fooled by the name “country market.” Samira’s is a gourmet secret hideaway. I expected to find a little mom-and-pop market that had simple take-out foods; but I was surprised to find a two small tables and quite a gourmet spread. Here, a man named Norman, and his wife Samira, have an interesting “country market/gourmet restaurant” where they serve you themselves with a smile and extra TLC.

Not expecting to spend as much, I ordered the crab cake appetizer. This was the best crab cake that came out of a syrofoam container--let alone the best crab cake--that I have ever tasted! The crab cake is made up of chunks of real crab meat with some goodies (perhaps bell peppers, onions, nuts) all encrusted with a golden breadcrumb crust. There are no breadcrumb fillers in this one! All of this is topped with a spicy sauce and sits on a bed of arugula tossed with a balsamic dressing. Let me tell you, when you take a bite of it, there are so many layers of flavors and textures, you will not know what hit you! I’m usually pretty good about being able to pick out the flavors, but this one is just plain old yummy… I can’t tell you what I taste! The slightly bitter and crunchy arugula, the sweet crab meat, the spicy and creamy sauce, the light golden crispy crust…mmm! You can imagine it… but you should try it for yourself! It was surely worth the $12.50 that I paid (for the appetizer portion). You could order the entrée that is served with rice, pasta salad and fruit salad for $18. The crab cake is also available in a sandwich for $15.

I’m raving about the crab cake, but I can almost guarantee you that they have other dishes that are just as good. If you want to dine there for lunch or dinner, be sure to make a reservation because the seating is very limited. The tiny restaurant has three tables, making it a warm and home-like atmosphere. The husband and wife team wait, serve and cook for you while you sip on wine. In addition to the usual dine-in/take-out menu (which boasts the “best tabouli,” fresh seafood, bouillabaisse and several other delicacies), there is also a “special menu” which requires 24 hours notice for orders. This menu includes dishes that take a lot of TLC to make, and ingredients flown in from Alaska and New York. This special menu could set you back $100 per person!

In addition to the restaurant and take-out service, Samira displays and sells artwork that she hand-paints. She also bakes up fresh batches of mango and banana bread daily. And last but not least, you can get an awesome shave ice, made with homemade syrup. Norman and his wife make their own syrup using fresh fruits such as lychee, lilikoi, coconut, mango and strawberries. I didn’t have a chance to try it yet, but I watched as a man and his son enjoyed their gigantic strawberry mango shave ice, and it looked delicious!

So whether you’re in the mood for a gourmet meal, take-out lunch, or some homemade baked snacks and shave ice, Samira’s has something wonderful to offer you. Samira's has the charm of a mom-and-pop country market, and the taste of a gourmet restaurant.

Samira’s Country Market
1423 10th Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96816

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