Miss Arda

Jackie McMillan
20th Feb 2024

Spreading hummus rather than hate, Miss Arda in Kiama won me over immediately with a quirky collection of intersectional queer art in Arabic settings. In one piece by the artist known as Art Queer Habibi, a man approaches a smoking, male felafel shop owner holding a red rose behind his back; while in another, two ‘lipstick lesbians’ wearing hijabs drive in a car embossed with a rainbow and the words: “love wins”. It wasn’t what I expected from Kiama. 

The menu is as left-of-centre as the art. It’s separated into the curiously named ‘nosh’, smalls, mediums, larges and sides: all are designed to be shared. The dishes - like whipped feta ($18) with sumac and lamb - are broadly West Asian, but the kitchen is not afraid to step outside this brief. Scooped onto warmed flatbread ($10/2) drizzled with golden olive oil, the feta dip is tasty, just wanting for caramelisation on the lamb. Fried cauliflower ($12) with feta and seeds proved too oily. The frying on the tangled nest of enoki mushrooms ($16) was drier, but I’m not convinced the combination of tahini and wasabi quite got over the line. Potato latkas ($16/4) iced with squiggles of toum were well-executed and substantial. 

Chorizo and prawn dumplings ($24) didn’t look like much, arriving lost in a soupy black garlic and onion sauce, but proved smoky and plump with delicate skins. With onions making the sauce very sweet, a little balancing chilli wouldn’t have gone astray. Floor staff found us a jalapeño relish that was so good we ate it with everything. Sweetness carried through to a smoking barrels ($21) cocktail built on Bumbu rum, however the coconut daiquiri ($19), made on Dead Man’s Fingers coconut rum, was astutely balanced with lime.