Restaurant 'a new experience' for Dunedin

Al Sultan restaurant owner Mohammad Saad Aldeen holds some baklava while standing alongside his...
Al Sultan restaurant owner Mohammad Saad Aldeen holds some baklava while standing alongside his general manager, Rabia Talal. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN
Do not be too alarmed if you see plumes of smoke coming out of the top deck of a new restaurant in Hanover St, Dunedin.

That is likely going to be a customer smoking a shisha at Middle Eastern restaurant Al Sultan, which opened at the beginning of July.

General manager Rabia Talal said the restaurant offered people an experience with touches of Middle Eastern culture from countries such as Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine and his and owner Mohammad Saad Aldeen’s home country Syria.

"We are not serving food only.

"We are bringing a new experience to Dunedin.

"Similar to what we have back home in Dubai or in Beirut ... this is the type of restaurant there. Open late, serving food, serving shisha upstairs."

People can buy a shisha or a hooka and sit upstairs and smoke together.

It was already popular with Arab students from the University of Otago.

"They always tell me this place reminds them of their restaurants in their countries," Mr Talal said.

Mr Saad Aldeen also owns two barber shops in Dunedin; in Mosgiel and in Princes St.

The new restaurant was able to host an Eid celebration last Saturday.

"During Eid the usual thing to do is visiting friends, visiting relatives, sharing food, buying toys for the children [and] donating money," Mr Talal said.

"Most of the [Arab] students around Dunedin, they live far away from their families. People were having their Eid meal here. I was able to hear it all the time ... people saying ‘Eid Mubarak,’ ‘Eid Mubarak,’ ... where Eid means the celebration, Mubarak means blessed."

Al Sultan gave Arab customers the comforts a restaurant from their home countries would give them, Mr Talal said.

Alternatively, many local customers had been on holiday to Middle Eastern countries and they liked the chance try some of the exotic food again.

"They still remember the name of the dish, they come here [and] open the menu and they will find it.

"It’s authentic original food. We are not trying to change it at all. All the hummus here, they made it inside in the kitchen."

Mr Talal and Mr Saad Aldeen had begun decorating the premises before the lockdown and had hoped to open much earlier in the year.

The lockdown delayed their opening until July 10.



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One of the great things that defines Dunedin, is the incredible diversity of cultures offered up on a plate. Our out of town visitors always comment on the sheer choice and quality of the resturants here in Dunedin.
I wish these boys every success in their new venture. We'll be making a booking!

Yep, good on them. Ignore the naysayers!

I don't know if i've tried Middle Eastern food before, but after looking at some photos of their menu, i think we'll be going along to try it one day. :)

Smokers in resturants is not a "new" experience. It is an old one we have only just managed to get rid of. Why is this "new" form of smoking being glamorized as New Zealand moves towards being smoke free... maybe put a Quitline Ad at the bottom of this article?

1. Smoking will be in the outdoor section upstairs.
2. It is offered, because it adds to the experience of a Middle Eastern theme.
3. Please read articles in full before commenting, as you would have found this all out yourself had you done so. :)

And it's not a 'new' form of smoking either by the way, shisha/hookah smoking has been around since the 15th century...

Thanks, Mehavesnoame,

I did read the article in full (try not to be too patronising). It describes a restaurant which encourages people to smoke. Whether it is a "new" way to smoke or not, it will still cause lung cancer and get people addicted to poisons. I am sure the midde eastern method of smoking kills as many people as the New Zealand way always has.

In a country trying to eradicate smoking, especially among young people, painting this "experience" in a positive light is irresponsible.

people smoking in the restaurant does not appeal to me.

Congratulations Gentlemen and well done, if I still lived in Dunedin I'd be there for the food, but not for the shisha or a hooka, having travelled a lot I'd never ever tried it and never will. each to there own though. Wishing you well.

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