Posts Tagged ‘lebanese’

Al Aseel, Greenacre

Having sampled the Lebanese Charcoal Chicken at El Jannah, I had wanted to try Al Aseel to compare. Booked one month in advance, and the placed was buzzing at 6pm on a Saturday night.

On recommendation, we got the Mixed plate, chicken lemon garlic, Lamb shawarma and lamb kibbeh. Lamb Shararma was delicious – crispy lemony bits, and although served on a bed of onion, it was cooked onion.

Lam Kibbeh, a photo by A Sydney Foodie on Flickr.

The kibbeh. This is raw (lamb) mince, spiced up and mixed with burgul, chilli and some lemon juice. Kind of like a meat tabbouli. A colleague told me about it ages ago, just before he told me about El Jannah.

It tasted just like creamy grease! It was a little spicy from pepper or chilli, came dressed up like a raw meat bread roll, with burghul all throughout, a half a spanish onion, mint, and a small pot of olive oil. Glad I tried it, but I probably wouldn’t get it again. The remains ended up getting fried on the BBQ, and the men of the house said that it was more delicious BBQ’d.

The pickles – we have hot pink turnip strips, but also fresh tomato slices, green olives, chunky gherkin slices and three pickled chillies. And just enough flat lebanese bread, cut into quarters for four.

Al Aseel, Greenacre, a photo by A Sydney Foodie on Flickr.

The chicken platter came with chicken ex-skewered, covered in lemon and garlic yoghurt; baba ganouj, hummus, tabbouli and one felafel. Baba Ganouj was nice and smokey, hummus with a few chickpeas scattered on top, olive oil on both. Tabbouli yummo and lemony. I had to ask the staff for a small tub of garlic – the mixed platters came with it, so we think that the table that our dish was accidentally delivered to first had stolen it. I liked the garlic, but I liked the one at El Jannah better – it wasn’t as bleached white, it had a more creamy colour to it. Felafel was delicious, crispy on on the outside, moisdt on the inside. I wish there was more than one.

I tried a strawberry Holstein fizzy malt drink. It tastes like fake strawberry and is very sweet. Hey, I tried something new!

Lots of fun as had rolling up mixtures in the lebanese bread, and eating our homemade rolls. $52 for four, including drinks.

We asked about the rice pudding not on the menu, but both staff members say that there is no dessert offered at Al Aseel (unlike this article), so we head next door to Saggbagh Patissiery.

I eyespy a family here whom I had seen in Al Aseel a little earlier, so perhaps only the Surry Hills Al Aseel restaurant offers the rice pudding dessert. I don’t know the names of the sweets, but we tried the deep fried springroll with sweet cheese inside, the cashew roll in a pastry that looks like noodles, a cashew slice in between semolina topped with white marshmallow topping – similar to what I had at El Sweetie in Granville. The one with the noodle pastry is very crispy and fresh – so much so, that even thought I am normally not a fan of this sweet, I hop up and order another one. It’s so cheap here – approximately $1 per sweet. You can even grab a platter full of sweets, have decorated with sweet cheese and pistachio, and wrapped up in cellophane as a gift.

I then pop over the road and visit Five Star Chocolate and Pastry, which is a lot more glittery and swish looking than Saggbagh. I pick up a handful of what looks like nougat in apricot “roll up” style sheets, some other medicinal tasting jelly rolled in rose petals – $20/kg, and two pieces of pistachio nut presented as a sugared biscuit.

I ask about the “astfa”, which looks like a deep fried crepe or pastry with filling. It comes filled with either walnut or sweet cheese. The outside tastes a bit like gulab jamon Indian sweet filled with walnut pieces. After my earlier feasting, I could only eat a small corner before I had to pack it away again. Oh well, all the better for breakfast!

Al Aseel Lebanese Restaurant
Shop 4
173 Waterloo Road
Greenacre NSW 2190
(02) 9758 6744
11am – 10pm, 7 days a week. Bookings highly recommended.

Sabbagh Patissery
5/173 Waterloo Road, Greenacre, Sydney
(02) 9758 5020

Five Star Chocolates and Patisserie
168 Waterloo Road, Greenacre Sydney
(02) 9740 7440

Fatima’s, Surry Hills

I had high hopes for Fatima’s. Some friends had recommended it as the best vegetarian fare around. I have been here once before many years ago and tried the vegetarian banquet. So after a play had finished at Belvoir are we filed in from around the corner.

The banquet here was about $35 a head, so we decided to order the mixed plate instead: two meat and one vegetarian. We also tried a jug of the Lebanese lemon drink ($10.50).

It took awhile for the plates to arrive – I think they were cooking the falafel. The meat plate included some hummus and babaganoush, falafel, tabouli, onion/lettuce salad, chicken kebab, sausage and lamb shish kebab. The babaganoush was smoky, the hummus was watery, both were sprinkled with paprika and olive oil.

The tabouli was really sharp and quite coarsely chopped. The felafel were larger than at Jasmin, but still quite tasty – crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. No little green bits inside (for which I still haven’t worked out what they are).

The sausage I didn’t really care for, the lamb shish kebab was good without too much fat. I found the chicken a bit dry.

The vegetarian plate came with a vine leaf, and two other vego dishes from the menu. The first vego selection was a marinated capsicum, tomato and button mushroom dish. I’m always a fan of mushrooms, so I liked this one. The second dish was called ‘black lentil salad’ on the menu. This was a salad of rice and brown lentils. The rice had been cooked with a stock and was tasty and also very moreish.
You know, several years ago, I would’ve found the food here quite acceptable. I remember really enjoying the vegetarian banquet last time I was here, and the place did come highly recommended. Of the two I much prefer the vegetarian plate.

All in all, the bill was $76.50 for three, almost twice as expensive as Jasmin. Next time – I will try Al Aseel, which has opened up a branch around the corner.

Fatima’s Lebanese Restaurant
294-296 Cleveland Street, Surry Hills 2010
Ph (02) 9698-4895
Open daily till late.

Jasmin Restaurant, Lakemba

A colleague had told me about El Jannah, and the tip had paid off. He had also told me about Jasmin Restaurant Lakemba as being one of his favourite places to go. The kids were about to visit, and more mouths means you can try more dishes, so I made a booking.
Except in a brain freeze moment, I had Jasmin Bankstown in my head.
After a shuffling of bookings, we fronted up at Jasmin restaurant Lakemba at 830pm and worked out why we didn’t need to book: there were three tables free and we were in the last stages of service!
So we got a mixed plate which contained hummus, babaganoush, two felafel, one thing like a felafel but with meat inside. There was the complimentary plate of pickles and basket of bread including chilli pickles which were quite bitter, and segments of raw onion. Whoa. A plate of felafel went down very well, and very quickly! They were football shaped, crispy on the outside, delicate on the inside with little flecks of green from the split peas I think. This and the tabouli were favourites around the table. During our initial order, when we also asked the waiter if he thought we had enough food for four; he recommended that we also try the plate of lamb shish kebab. The meat itself was quite fatty, but provided a nice change from the other flavours.
It was a lot of fun assembling your own little wrap with lashings of toum, tabouli and chilli sauce. I was surprised how filling felafel can be! With a bottle of Pampa tamarind drink each, and one coconut pudding (Muhallibia) to go, the bill was approximately $12.50 per person. The Muhallibia looked quite solid, but was very light in texture.
Afterwards, we wanted to try the sweets at Patisserie Arja but they were already shut for the night!
I worked out later how I had confused restaurants. I had overheard a radio station doing an outside broadcast from Lakemba Mosque. As part of this OB, the chef of Jasmin Bankstown had done a bit if a promo and cooked up some dishes live on air. The secret behind the light and fluffy interior, and crunchy exterior of each felafel us to cook it fresh everyday! Talk about subliminal messaging.

Jasmin Restaurant
30b Haldon Street, Lakemba
Telephone 02 9740 3589
Open 0830-2130, every day.

Review: El Jannah, Granville


El Jannah – the food

Originally uploaded by A Sydney Foodie

Weekday lunchtime, I head off for a long lunch at El Jannah. The place is buzzing, with the majority of trade for takeaway.

A colleague told me about this place, and I had been wanting to try it for ages. He recommended to get the chicken eat-in, for although it was a bit more expensive to do so, you got pickles, bread and a dish of garlic as well.

It is at least ten minutes wait to order, and after dithering between trying the hommus and the baba ganouj, I decide upon the latter. My colleague is right – a whole chicken is twice the price eat-in ($19.50 versus $10), but you get as much garlic dip (toum) as is required for the number of people eating (instead of a small sauce tub), same for the amount of bread. I also decide to try the tabbouli.

Oh boy, have I over-ordered or what? The extras of tabbouli and baba ganouj turn up within two minutes of ordering, followed by the pickles and bread, and finally chicken, divvied up by the number of people eating. Strangely, each person’s serve of bread is shrink wrapped in plastic.

The baba ganouj was lightly smokey, finished with a swirl of olive oil on top. Tabbouli was very fresh and lemony. The toum was oh-so-moreish, with either the bread or smeared onto the chicken. I couldn’t stop eating it! The chicken was charcoaly with a slight hint of lemon.

The pickles were a pink radish or turnip and a cucumber, cut into chunky strips. Very salty, but refreshing. Other tables were hardly making a dent in their pickles, oftening leaving most of the dish behind when they got up to leave.

I couldn’t stop eating! I made up my own chicken roll in the flat bread, all I was missing was the chilli sauce.

The final tally was $31 for two, with takeaway leftovers, and it would definitely serve 3-4 people for the price.

Wandering around Granville afterwards (or should that be waddling?), I was craving a concentrated turkish coffee, and popped into El Sweetie*, which looked like a contender to examine the wares. I ended up with a slice and 4 biscuits for $10. The slice had white “like marshmallow” topping,sprinkled with pistachios and a semolina crunchy base. The biscuits had pureed dates rolled in a shortbread like outer. Yummo!

El Jannah Charcoal Chicken
4-6 South Street (corner Railway Parade), Granville
10am – 11pm, daily.
(02)9637-0977

El Sweetie
73-75 South Street, Granville
Sun-Thu 7am – midnight. Fri-Sat 7am – 1am.
(02)9760 2299

* I only found this review of El Sweetie when going through my stash of unread Good Livings, after I had already visited.

Review: Kemal’s Kebabs, North Sydney (closed)

Now who, looking at this vegetarian plate, can say that salad is boring. How colourful is this? What kid would turn up their nose to this riot of colours?

This is the lunchtime ‘Vegetarian plate’ ($10.50), available from Kemal’s Kebabs. Carrot salad, salsa, red cabbage salad, tabouleh, vine roll, cabbage roll and felafel , plus a splash of garlic sauce. My only complaint is that the two main salads seemed to have a lemony base, and an additional felafel would not have gone astray in varying the tastes available on the plate.

Kemal’s Kebabs
Shop FC08 (Plaza Level in Food Court)
Greenwood Plaza
Pacific Highway, North Sydney (above North Sydney Train Station)
Lunchtimes, Monday – Friday.
Located on the Pacific Highway at North Sydney
(02) 9956 6216

Post post note: Not sure when Kemal’s Kebabs shut its doors, but as of March 2016 they are no longer in the Greenwood Plaza food court.