When you’re a local, there’s nothing better than walking into your local café, having them know your name and how you like your coffee. As a Mullumbimby local, I also like the Middle Eastern/North African music, the upbeat vibe and the authentic food at Yaman – with the owners and their children always around for a chat, you also feel like you’re part of the community, well a nice part of it anyway.
For the two couples who run Yaman Mullumbimby, this is what it’s all about; making a meeting place for people because they believe that their food connects people and builds lifelong friendships. Eliran (or Eli as he’s known in the cafe) and his wife Tina had joked for a while with their friends Yaron and Zohar about one day leaving Melbourne for Byron Bay. With his background as a chef, Eli had what he calls ‘this crazy idea of opening a restaurant’. Yaron with his Yemenite roots connected to the concept of Yaman and the restaurant has been under their management since June 2018.
They are quite high energy people, and they need to be, because not only have they been making constant little improvements to the restaurant and adding new dishes, they’re also there 364 days a year.
‘If you want a business to run really well you have to be here yourself’, says Eli. ‘We’re open 7 days a week to provide a meeting place for locals to enjoy good music, coffee and food’. They only shut one day a year – for Yom Kippur (the 10th of Tishrei, 9 days after the start of Rosh Hashanah, in case you’re worried that you might miss out on your traditional Yemenite shakshuka with green paste zhug that day).
They’ve made up a few surprising dishes. For example, they have taken the traditional Yemenite pastry the malawach and added a crispy chicken schnitzel along with green tahini, salsa, Israeli salad, pickles, sauerkraut and zaatar to make a Schnitzel Roll. Another innovation is the ‘Fawaffle’, a traditional falafel baked as a waffle served with hummus dip, Israeli salad, eggplant, pickles, tahini and amba (a spicy mango condiment).
The fawaffle is one of my favourites, along with the shakshuka of course, and the ‘VIP hummus plate’, served only on Wednesdays, that has a particularly wonderful eggplant accompaniment. Whilst I was there I also got the word that new grilled Yemenite chicken skewers are coming out, along with a refreshing and traditional new dessert for summer.
Middle Eastern food is healthy enough that you could eat it every day, and if you’d like to make it at home, Yaman Mullumbimby have quite a range of traditional spices, breads and condiments that you can buy to make your home cooking that bit easier.
Malawach is vegan, as is a lot of the menu, and they also have some great sugar-free drinks along with their homemade lemonade, but of course if you want beef and lamb kebabs you can have them, along with super sweets like baklava as a treat. And the restaurant is BYO!
Funnily enough, although they talked about moving to Byron, it was ‘always Mullumbimby’ that was going to be their home, they say (the Byron Yaman is run by different owners). It’s nice when people like the vibe of their hometown.
Yaman Mullumbimby (breakfast, lunch, dinner, BYO), 62 Stuart St Mullumbimby.
Open 364 days a year.