Kazbah: The Taste of Arabia

Last week, my family and I wined and dined at the infamous Kazbah restaurant. With cuisine influenced from a variety of cultures ranging from Moroccan to Spanish to African to Phoenician, Kazbah’s food is the ‘Taste of Arabia’.

Let’s start with the entrees, foodies. First we had fresh Lebanese bread and which came three glorious looking dips.

See below:

The beautiful dip selection (Beetroot, Taramasalata and Carrot).

Behold Beetroot, Taramasalata and Carrot dip. Look at those colours – they just popped on the plate. I must say, not such a big fan of the Taramasalata dip. This concoction of fish roe, bread crumbs, olive oil and mashed potato did not tickle my fancy. It had an undertone of fishiness which I didn’t like.

In addition to our entrée we had a mixed mezze plate which consisted of tabouli salad, chermoula marinated bonito, char-grilled quail with pomegranate sauce, feta and fennel seeds stuffed crumbed olives and green beans with feta.

Mixed Mezze Plate

For mains, since there were a few of us, we wanted to order something from all sections so we could all pick from each other’s plates to get a taste of everything.

My dad ordered Beef cheeks served with sweet potatoes, caramalised onions and almonds ($31).

Beef cheeks with sweet potato, caramelised onions and almonds ($31)

Mother got roast duck, falafel, honey-baked quince, sweet potato chips at a hefty price of $35.

Roast Duck, Falafel, Honey Baked Quince, Sweet Potato Chips ($35)

Sis got the Fish of the Day special: Barramundi served with tomato couscous, baby spinach, harissa yoghurt.

Fish of the Day (Barramundi), Tomato Couscous, Baby Spinach, Harissa Yoghurt ($36)

Future brother in-law got the Moroccan barbeque plate ($38); an assortment of barbequed beef, lamb, chicken, camel and a corn cob.

Moroccan BBQ Plate ($38)

And yes, foodies, that was not a typo. There was camel meat on the plate. I was kicking myself at the end of our meal when I realised I didn’t even ask to try it. Well, the whole plate was clean before I could look across the table so I guess it was good.

And finally moi. The best left til last. The piece de resistance. I had the char-grilled grain fed scotch fillet, Sumac spiced chips, asparagus, Moroccan butter ($36).

Char-Grilled Grain Fed Scotch Fillet, Sumac Spiced Chips, Asparagus, Moroccan Butter ($36)

This dish, by my standards, was just OK. The steak was cooked to medium perfection – just enough pink and tenderness of meat. One thing I didn’t like was the overriding charred flavour. My taste buds couldn’t enjoy the wonderful flavours in which the meat was marinated and the Moroccan butter, all sadly marred by the bitter charcoal flavour. The two sticks of asparagus were alright. They didn’t add that much to the plate other than the colour green.

The thing that I like about this place was the fact that they made their chips from scratch. Now if there’s anybody that loves hot chips, it’s me. There would be no way a bowl of chips will be left uneaten when sitting in front of me. There’s only one place those chips are going, and that’s in my hot, salivating, throbbing taste-budded mouth. And these chips were great considering they were made from scratch and not the pre-packaged chips.

All in all, I still enjoyed the meal and just by tasting the other dishes, it seemed like Kazbah had something very special going on.

All things considered, I still love Arabic food (as you probably would have picked up on my last post). Kazbah did nothing but prove the versatility and unique flavours Arabic cuisine has to offer.

One of their awesome water pitchers. I want one!

Kazbah on Urbanspoon

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Fully sick food, bro!

The thing that I love about Middle Eastern food is that it’s never too complicated. I love the unpretentious vibe the food has. The food is laid out in front of you in mass proportions, and while lacking the finesse in presentation as, say, a 5-star restaurant would, the food tastes good. And that’s the important thing.

My friends and I had dinner at Café Mint in Surry Hills on the weekend. The food was beautiful, however, there are some criticisms I have to make note of.

But we’ll start off with the positives: the food.

Because we were all starving, we all decided to have all of our food taken out in one go. We ordered the vegetarian tasting plate. Now this was beautiful. The plate had 3 different types of dips, 2 skewers of grilled haloumi, chick peas, flafels (a Middle Eastern equivalent to a croquette except this is made with ground chickpeas), stuffed vine leaves (a popular Arabic vegetarian dish of rice and vegetables parcels wrapped in grape vine leaves), eggplant and Lebanese bread.

The vegetarian tasting plate

We also had the meat tasting plate. Like its vegetarian counterpart, this was equally delicious. The platter consisted of: lamb meatballs, Lebanese sausages, slices of lamb steak and chicken strips. All oozing with that classic Middle Eastern herb and spice flavour.

The meat tasting plate

We also ordered one of the main dishes: lamb shoulder with shredded radish and sweet potato. This was delicious. The lamb shoulder was so tender. You could just poke your fork at it and the meat would come apart at an instant. The sweet potato and radish were nice compliments.

Lamb Shoulder with Shredded Radish and Sweet Potato

The Fattoush Salad was beautiful. This is the second time I’ve had it and I absolutely love it. I need to learn how to make this salad. This is probably one of the best salads I’ve ever had. There’s something about the crunchiness of the Lebanese bread combined with the sourness of the salad that make this so perfect.

Now for the negatives.

I wouldn’t recommend coming with a large group of friends. The restaurant was tiny. It’s a small narrow restaurant tucked away in the restaurant/café studded Crown Street in Surry Hills. When we arrive, the joint was packed to the rafters. Luckily there was a table available for 5 people. But let me tell you, foodies, I felt cramped and a little claustrophobic with all my friends seated at the table.

The service. The service was great for the most part – there were a couple of waiters who were very attentive and helpful – but there was a particular waiter that gave us attitude. We simply wanted to have a cake stored in their fridge during the dinner but she rejected our request stating they were “to busy”. Mind you, the aforementioned waiters were trying their best to help us but Miss Bitchy was not having it.

Sigh. The restaurant would have been better if it wasn’t for the bitchy service and the lack of space. But do try the food here, foodies. It was fully sick.

View Café Mint’s website here.

Cafe Mint on Urbanspoon