Three of us tried Dyafa in Oakland last night for our first visit. I liked it a lot, and in fact, there is almost nothing I would have changed about the restaurant or the food.
I started with a Palestinian white wine available by the glass. There were several interesting wines available by the glass and even more by the bottle. They also have cocktails, which we didn't try.
We shared the following:
Kabees: Simple pickles -- cauliflower and radish. Both were good. $6 seemed a little steep for this though.
Chickpea pancake: A nice gluten-free bread option. We dipped this in the cold mezze. Sort of a cross between a dosa and an American breakfast pancake (without sugar).
Fresh baked pita: One large pita for $3. Excellent.
Mana'eesh: One large bread with za'atar. Served very hot from the oven. Also excellent.
Muhammara: Roasted red peppers, walnut and pomegranate mezze. Not overly sweet, which I appreciated. Refreshing and not overly salty either. Very good.
Mutabbal: Charred eggplant meze. Similar to babaganoush. Very good.
Hibaar Mahshi: Stuffed squid with freekah, za'atar and zhoug. Zhoug is a cilantro based sauce, and this was the highlight of this dish. It was a bit spicy. Calamari were tender.
Shakriyah: One of the four large plates. Braised lamb shank with garlic yogurt and rice. Intense lamb flavor, and the meat fell off the bone easily. Large portion and very good.
Maklouba: The only vegetarian large plate, this was also excellent. Layered rice with eggplant, cauliflower, carrots, tomato and crispy fried potatoes on top. Everything sort of blended together and it also had a tomato sauce. Big portion and very good.
The two large plates in particular had a very homey/comforting feel to them. It felt like Palestinian comfort food.
For dessert we saved room for an order of kenafe, since I had read on HungryOnion that it's really good. This was true...it was maybe my favorite thing of the whole evening. Took a while to arrive because it's baked in the oven. Not overly sweet, not too much orange blossom water...just really perfect.
Service was attentive and friendly, both still and sparkling water were complimentary and served in glass bottles. The space is really nice and right on the waterfront. It felt lighter and airier than we remembered Haven being.
Total cost was about $170 for tons of food for 3 people, plus two glasses of wine. Highly recommended.