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.
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.
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
173 Waterloo Road
Greenacre NSW 2190
(02) 9758 6744
11am – 10pm, 7 days a week. Bookings highly recommended.
5/173 Waterloo Road, Greenacre, Sydney
(02) 9758 5020
Five Star Chocolates and Patisserie
168 Waterloo Road, Greenacre Sydney
(02) 9740 7440