Al-Suri, Crater, Aden

As is often the case with family-run holes in the wall, the menu is simple and, I was told, hasn’t really changed for decades. It’s made up of three items. On the first hand, is the halwa itself: expertly spiced, oddly gelatinous yet counterintuitively delicious and best served warm (though perfectly acceptable at room temperature). Second is a lowzia, white and packed with almond flavor, yet still surprisingly airy. Finally, there’s the harissa. Rather than a spicy red sauce, Yemeni harissa is a red-orange hued, heavily spiced dessert; like al-Suri itself, it’s a legacy of Aden’s more cosmopolitan days, roughly analogous to somewhat similar Indian classics like mysore pak and barfi. At the risk of overselling it, al-Suri’s harissa is life-affirming. Packed with chunks of peanuts and packing a simultaneously spicy and saccharine flavor punch, it’s arguably the best I’ve ever had in Yemen. That being said, I’d be the first to admit that the search for perfection on any epicurean front never truly comes to an end.

            Beyond the food itself, patronizing al-Suri is key opportunity to pay tribute to an Aden institution. Despite more than half-century of political shifts and economic upheavals and the devastation of the ongoing conflict, al-Suri has remained there to provide Adenis with a sugar fix. Long may it continue to do so.