Rowda-Ya Habibi, Newtown

It was a chilly Saturday night and Slinky, the Vintage Queen and I had arranged to enjoy some happy hour cocktails at Kuletos. We agreed that the dinner venue would be left to fate - after all, who knows what one will feel like eating after drinkies?

The first lot of cocktails for just me and Slinky
My favourite Red Corvette - melon liqueur, frangelico, fresh strawberries and grenadine ($14.50)
and Lotus Chill - lychee liqueur, peach liqueur, apple schapps with cranberry ($14)

Remember in happy hour, two for the price of one!

After downing several more cocktails, Slinky decided that she felt like greasy, generous food - a notion that the Vintage Queen and I readily agreed with.

So we headed up King St to Rowda-Ya Habibi, a place from which I have previously purchased turkish delight but have never eaten in. I was quite excited actually.

There was a small queue of people inside but we didn't have to wait very long. One of the staff ushered us into the back room which resembled formal dining but we asked if we could sit upstairs instead. She warned us that there were a lot of kids upstairs. This didn't deter us as we wanted to sit in the Cushion Room!

We headed up the very steep staircase and entered a dark, lowly lit room.

The cushion room ceiling

Some rugs hung up on the walls

I took some photos without flash before realising that no one really gave a damn whether there were camera flashes. The only other people in the room was a long table of about twelve people, about six of whom were kids, so then I happily flashed away (unfortunately, my photos still turned out poorly).

More rugs

As implied by the name, the Cushion Room has low cushion seating.

The low tables

Menu - sorry, it doesn't get clearer if you enlarge it :(

Given that we wanted generous food, it was a no-brainer what we would order.

Rowda-Ya offers four banquet types that are all modestly priced between $23 - $30 pp. I think one of them is vegetarian. We chose one with meat....I can't remember what it was called but it was either $23 or $25 pp (min two people).

We also ordered some tea to go with our banquet. When questioned as to the type of tea, the server replied 'English tea'.

The tea arrived and I was quite amused to see it was actually two Dilmah teabags in the pot!

Tea ($3.00)

Comes with sugar

I didn't mind. I quite like Dilmah's tea and prefer it to Lipton (and then I prefer Lipton to Nerada Organics. Though I do like Nerada Organic's chai tea :)

Then the dishes began to arrive! Feast your eyes on the lavish food that you too can have for the princely sum of approximately $25.

Lebanese bread

Baba ghanoush

Ohmygod, this was soooooooooooo delicious! It had a wonderful smoky flavour and I slathered this over pretty much everything in the banquet. Good thing it was a generous serving!



The tabouli was also good,I was pleased to note that there wasn't too much lemon juice in it.


The falafels were piping hot and a bit dry on the inside, but a good slather of the baba ghanoush fixed that.

Ladies Fingers

Ladies Fingers? Or ladyfingers? Google seems to confirm that they are Ladies Fingers. I don't know, this was the first time that I had heard of them!

They are wrapped in filo pastry with minced meat, pine nuts, chopped onion and various spices on the inside. Served piping hot and with a wedge of lemon to drizzle over the top.

They were nice, but not my favourite dish of the banquet.

Green beans

From the photo, these beans do not look very appetising. To be honest, they don't look that appetising in person either. But boy, they are yummy! They were served warm and rested in a light tomato soup - reminded me of minestrone soup!

Lebanese rice

This was the first time that I had tried Lebanese rice. It had an interesting texture, the small brown bits are vermicelli noodles and the rice clung together, similar to sticky rice.

Lamb skewers and chicken skewers

Ah. The pièce de résistance.

The chicken skewers were absolutely divine. Soft and tender, slightly chargrilled on the outside.

In comparison, the lamb kebabs fell short of the mark. They were tough to chew and I found myself fiercely working my jaw.

The garlic sauce that was served with the skewers was slightly weak in taste, lacking the strong garlic punch that I prefer.

Halfway during our meal, we heard a belly dancer perform in the next room - and then she made her way to our room! She performed twice, the second time with a large sword resting on her head. Great entertainment! Our server informed us that she only performs on weekends and only then if they have a sufficient number of bookings.

I wish that dessert was included in the banquet even though I was feeling stuffed at the end!

Rowda Ya Habibi on Urbanspoon


We have been writing about food in Sydney since 2009. No place is too far or too wide for us to travel to visit. We always give an honest opinion and love to hear your comments too. Here's to an ever-growing society of foodies!


  1. do you get 4 kebab sticks each?

  2. Hi Anonymous: No, you only get one stick of lamb and one of chicken each.

  3. Red Corvette- how original lol.
    I think Different Drummer wins in the presentation of the drink though.

  4. i know no one will agree with me, but i actually really liked the lamb skewers. they are not AS bad as you make them sound, but in comparison they were tougher.
    yeah...ONE piece of dessert each included in the banquet would've been perfect!

  5. Hi Slinky: Thanks for your input, I do recall that you enjoyed the lamb skewers.

    I think it would be nice if each person received a choice of baklava or turkish delight. Then you could chop and share.

    Of course you could just go downstairs and get some to takeaway. But it's not the same.