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Hamdi Restaurant

Posted by Guest Contributor / Reviewed on October 3, 2012 / review policy

hamdi restaurant torontoHamdi Restaurant is a perfect example of Toronto's culinary multiculturalism. Specializing in Somali and East African cuisine, the restaurant chain serves as a much-loved East African food Mecca. It offers a little taste of home for those who are abroad and craving a taste of their mother's cooking, as well as a delicious departure from the everyday for the adventurous.

hamdi restaurant torontoHamdi has two locations in Toronto: the first is tucked away on a street corner in Cabbagetown, and the second its original flagship in Rexdale, surrounded by South Asian and East African clothing and grocery stores. We arrive on the last day of Ramadan, so the place is packed - and while this restaurant is regularly busy, we were in for a twenty-five minute wait. But trust me when I say it's well worth it.

We begin with mango juice, which for $1 is not only refreshing after our wait, but easy on the wallet. Connoisseurs of mango juices will appreciate Hamdi's, as it's rich and textured, rather than watery.

hamdi restaurant torontoStarters include meat sans carbs, fish, and bread, all priced between $5 and $10. However, with Hamdi's generous portion sizes, you generally don't have enough room to stomach both an appetizer and an entrée.

My favorite thing about Hamdi is the Bisbas. A hot sauce made of green chili, garlic, lemon and spices, which is definitely not for the faint of heart, but full of some tantalizing flavors.
Hamdi is all about the meat and rice, and occasionally spaghetti--it's definitely suitable for carnivores. The entrées are all priced between $10 and $15, and the plates are huge. They arrive stacked with goat, beef, chicken, and fish, and paired with rice or spaghetti and some salad.

hamdi restaurant torontoI order the goat stew for $12. Picture this: five huge chunks of goat meat on the bone, cooked to perfection, with steamed golden rice and veggies, and just enough salad to constitute a tad of healthy eating. Spiced and sizzling, the goat is tender, and when paired with bisbas, it creates a rich, layered combination of flavours.

My companions order a variation on the theme. Big chunks of chicken steak with rice, chicken stew with rice, and beef stew with spaghetti - which is a tasty and well-paired alternative to rice. You can also order chapatti with your meat, which is a soft round flatbread. As well, I have it on good authority that Somali food must be eaten with a banana. It adds sweetness to the spicy and tangy meal, and enriches the texture.

hamdi restaurant torontoHamdi doesn't overwhelm you with flashy décor, but rather puts its bang where it belongs: in the dishes. Hamdi's one downside is how difficult it is to get your server's attention--it almost necessitates a ten-foot high flame and smoke signal--but you can't get portions this huge for this price in very many places in Toronto, and the flavour is worth it.

Writing and photos by Rehaana Manek



Mikey / October 3, 2012 at 09:26 am
Looks like a violent trip to le toilette waiting to happen. Speaking from experience, of course.
Fa-Mine / October 3, 2012 at 09:38 am
Somalian food, sounds like an oxymoron.
Ha-Moody replying to a comment from Fa-Mine / October 3, 2012 at 10:42 am
Much like Canadian food is non-existent planetary sphere. / October 3, 2012 at 11:27 am
Somali food is tasty and served in generous portions - hamdi is by far one of the best and longest running Somali restaurants. Love that blogto is covering the rich and diverse food in Toronto not just the usual places or types of food most publications cover.
norm / October 3, 2012 at 12:02 pm
What is the Cabbagetown address for this place??
Bobby / October 3, 2012 at 12:11 pm
I'm ALWAYS craving Somalian
Ace McNugget / October 3, 2012 at 04:14 pm
This looks terrible. If the photos are an accurate indication the food looks nearly as bad before eating as it would look coming out shorthly thereafetr.
James / October 3, 2012 at 06:53 pm
Well Hamdi restaurant is a decent spot for east african food not the best but good on the wallet and stomach....there are other spots were you can get better BUT hamdi is definitely worth 10-15 $ (+ for those wondering its SOMALI not SOMALIAN)
Benedict replying to a comment from Fa-Mine / October 3, 2012 at 11:00 pm
Awful: comment, person (you)
Benedict / October 3, 2012 at 11:01 pm
Chris Edwards replying to a comment from norm / October 3, 2012 at 11:50 pm
The Cabbagetown location is on Carlton St, at Ontario St. The southwest corner. Street parking.
SMH / October 4, 2012 at 10:42 pm
I hate white people.
Mack replying to a comment from James / November 3, 2012 at 03:49 pm
@James, where else can one get some delicious Somali food? I had a Somali roommate in Uni and he introduced me to the delicious food. Now I haven't had any since those days...
Anna / November 21, 2012 at 10:18 am
This place is amazing. Food is really tasty and the staff are really sweet. The photos DEFINITELY do it justice at all
Anonnymous / February 15, 2013 at 07:53 pm
I went to this resteraunt and the food is tasteless and theservice is so fuckung slow! I do not reccomend this resteraunt i give it 0 stars!
jayda / August 2, 2013 at 09:15 am
Been going here for years this place. So much food. I always take some extra dishes to go
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