Frank and I celebrated our 2 years anniversary just over the weekend. You know one thing about being a Libra? It takes a long time for me to decide where to go for dinner. And that’s not all. Frank is also a Libra. Our conversation went like this:
Frank: “What do you feel like eating?”
Me: “Don’t know, something nice I guess. How about you?”
Frank: “I have a few places in mind…..”
After looking through menus, both of us decided none of the places tickle our fancy so we spent the next hour or so discussing where to go.
Me: “Why don’t we just go to Al-Amar?” (By no means the last resort, only because it takes us WAY too long to go through the list)
Frank: “Yeah why not…..”
Me: *Takes out phone and whatsapp Ralph for reservation*….. confirmed. End. Of. Discussion.
Phew… Tiring process, isn’t it? No wonder we eat at home most of the time. Even though deciding what to cook could also take time.
Having dined at Al-Amar Express several weeks ago, courtesy of management team, we’ve promised ourselves to visit the Pavilion outlet. Because Ralph’s a nice man and
will perform belly dance we enjoyed the Lebanese delights last time.
It was a late dinner slot on Sunday evening. The whole shopping centre was a little quiet. But all the better for us. We were seated inside (if the weather wasn’t so hot I would have chosen the terrace) and the ordering process went relatively quickly, having studied the menu at home countless time. Yes, I can be slightly obsessive at times.
First to arrive were the cold Mezze dishes: Hommos – a dip made with chickpeas, tahini paste, olive oil and lemon juice and the Shanklich – Assorted Lebanese cheeses fused with Labneh and spices, served with thyme and finely chopped tomatoes, onions, parsley and capsicum.
Everyone has their own preferences of this middle-eastern classic dip, and Al-Amar’s version is exceptionally smooth and creamy, almost a bit ‘cheesy’. At home, I would have added some garlic and perhaps not blend it so fine to enjoy a bit of texture.
Shanklich came highly recommended and I could certainly see why. All the beige-brown bits were the cheeses. The flavours were robust and almost like a punch to your face. The vegetables (and fruit, technically) helped to cut through the otherwise overwhelming richness. Frank fell in love instantly with this and promptly devoured nearly half the bowl.
Of course, all these Mezze dishes were to be enjoyed with the freshly made bread. Whether you prefer to just tear small pieces to scoop the dips/fillings up, or just fill the pita pocket and munch like a sandwich, up to you. They will also replenish the empty basket.
And how could we not order the Haloumi salad? Pan-fried pieces of Haloumi cheese, bed of green with grapes and pomegranate. Make sure you take each ingredient and combine for the perfect harmony of flavours. Dressing was a lemon and olive oil one, just how I like it. Simplicity at its best.
Well, the next dish is slightly unusual. I have had plenty of raw fish in my life and I do enjoy raw beef in forms of Gyu Tataki, Yukke or the classic Steak Tartare. But I have never come across raw lamb.
Even though I know that Frank would not touch this with a 10-foot-pole (he eats steaks WELL DONE and does not touch any animal proteins other than the cows), I couldn’t resist ordering it. I suppose I could have asked for a half portion as this was huge! In terms of taste, I think it met my expectations. There was obviously a strong gamey taste, enhanced by spices like cumin (the prominent one anyway), and the oh-so-amazing garlic sauce (not pictured). It was an interesting culinary discovery. Tastes even better when paired with the lebanese ‘arak’, a milky concoction reminiscence of white sambuca because of the licorice taste.
I couldn’t finish the raw lamb though so I’ve asked to pack it home and transformed it into lamb kofta the next day. Wouldn’t recommend having it raw the next day if you want to be nice to your digestive tract. It was still fabulous!
My favourite was the Lamb Sambousik, fried dough with minced lamb and spices. Obviously Frank would go for the Cheese rolls. I felt that the Spinach Fatayer had too little fillings (albeit nice) and perhaps the pastry was a little thick, and the Kebbeh Kras (Fried Ground Beef and Bulghur shell with minced meat and spices) was decent enough. The next time I’d stick to perhaps the first two.
By this time we were both waving the white flags. I was planning to order from the grill but alas we were defeated. Plus we needed some space for desserts too.
Before we had time to breathe and look at the desserts menu these appeared on our table.
“Compliments from the manager,” the lovely waitress cooed. Ahh. That makes up for NOT doing the belly dance, Ralph.
The Chocolate Moelleux was actually a Chocolate Molten Cake (or Lava Cake, if you prefer) with a melting centre. Although it didn’t really ooze out like I expected, the flavour was still spot on thanks to the use of Belgian chocolate (my favourite), I also enjoyed the Vanilla Ice cream that came with the cake.
But the White Chocolate Cheesecake? Star of the night! Dressed with a strawberry marmalade, it was light, not overly sweet (which is what I usually worry about with white chocolate) and the tartness of strawberry was a perfect match. We fought for the last piece and Frank won. No fair!
If you feel like messing up your sleep for the next 2 days, try the Lebanese coffee. Don’t judge the seemingly small cup, the brown liquid (almost a sludge, although I think this term doesn’t sound very flattering) packs a whole lot of Oomph! Frank was reluctant to be the hand model so mine jumped in instead.
I didn’t record the individual pricing but the bill came to just over RM300. That’s because we’ve ordered wine, arak as well as sparkling water. The service was prompt and attentive and ambience was lovely. I feel that we need to dine as a bigger group to be able to sample more dishes though.
Oh, all pictures taken by Samsung Galaxy S2, which can be a little lacking in dimmer places. I tried. 🙂
Al Amar Lebanese Cuisine Sdn Bhd
+6 03-2166 1011