One year after closing her restaurant in the Rainier Valley, Marian Achmed has quietly reopened Mama Sambusa in Burien.
While the storefront is as-yet unmarked, and opening hours are still in development, "quiet" might not be the word a passerby would use to describe the tiny cafe. When I ambled by it--looking for the Turkish restaurant which claimed the address before its move up the street--Achmed exuberantly squired me inside for tamarind soup and milk tea. She served the same to my equally confused dining companion when he arrived minutes later.
Achmed told us she spent a year doing janitorial work before reviving the Mama Sambusa brand. This time, Achmed has partnered with a friend from Dubai, who's handling most of the cooking duties. "What do you want to eat?," Achmed asked while we thought we were still waiting for menus.
When we explained we'd never before eaten at her restaurant (and were still getting over the shock of not eating Turkish food), she dragged over a bright yellow vinyl banner measuring about one of me tall by two of me long. Unfurling the banner, she pointed to pictures of lamb, chicken, rice, injera and penne with cheese, which sounds like an outlier in a Somali-Saudi restaurant, but Achmed wants to add more Italian dishes to her menu. She was out of penne that night. There didn't appear to be any sambusas either.
On Achmed's recommendation, we ordered the KK Combo (a stew of chicken and injera) and roasted lamb with onions, peppers and oiled, garlicky rice. Both dishes were served with a carrot slaw slathered with what tasted like ranch dressing. When another customer ordered an off-banner gyro, it was served with an enormous plastic squeeze bottle of Heinz ketchup. Since Mama Sambusa is Muslim-run, there isn't any liquor, but Achmed offers juices and soda.
Unless you've spent the last year missing Mama Sambusa, the restaurant probably isn't yet worth the drive from Seattle. But the $12 entrees were filling, and the tea was hot, making it a fine café in which to be dragged out of the cold on a dark rainy night.
Mama Sambusa is located at 15217 6th Ave. SW in Burien.