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In a state of hibernation. My backlog has long become unsustainable. Will probably tweet more and write less full-length stuff.

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Thursday
Feb092006

Almustafa

You don't find Lebanese food much here at home. Of course, there's Reef, but Reef is one of a kind. Not so in Sydney, where there is apparently a pretty big Lebanese immigrant population. The result is that Lebanese restaurants are actually quite common. I remember one block near Surry Hills that has about 6 in a row. Closer to where we stayed is Almustafa (sorry for the lack of photo) on Glebe Point Road. Almustafa is very different than Reef - it's much more of a restaurant, with proper sit-down service and an emphasis on ambiance. The atmosphere is dark and exotic, and they even have a belly dancer on some nights (not when I was there, unfortunately) and a hookah lounge in the back (also not my thing). Accordingly, they charge real restaurant prices. They offer banquet menus for groups at around A$30 per person, though we decided to order a la carte.

hommous - A$8 We started off with some hommous for the table, and it was pretty good. The bread, though looking a bit dry and lifeless in the photo, was actually warm and very delicious. A$8 is a bit much for hommous, but at least it was a pretty big plate. It had a nice bean/olive oil mix.

falafel - A$15 Falafel was just okay, and again, a bit pricey. More fried than the Reef version. Also, notice the pickled turnips that you also find at Reef - must be a Lebanese thing!

cauliflower, lightly fried and topped with tahini - A$11 To my surprise, this was a star. I'm glad the fine SED ladies wanted to get this, because there's no way I would have ordered it on my own. The cauliflower was fried just enough to have a nice tender texture, and an ample amount of butter made it lusciusly rich. We shoulda gotten 2.

chicken shawarma - A$16 We went the safe route with a couple of shawarmas. I was eager to see if they resembled Reef's shawarmas, which are different than the typical rotating-big-piece-of-oddly-geometric-meat that you find at kebab and non-Lebanese Middle-Eastern places. As it turns out, this preparation was almost exactly the same as Reef, complete with the dollop of white garlic sauce on the side. It was tasty, but overall I think Reef's version is better.

lamb shawarma - A$22 The lamb shawarma, also similar to Reef's version. This tasted great, though it was quite expensive.

shish barak - homemade pastry ravioli filled with lamb, pine nuts and onion served in a bowl of lightly herbed yoghurt sauce, with white rice on the side - A$22 Now this was something I'd never seen before. It's too bad you can't see the stuff under, but they were kinda like little lamb dumplings. Hard to describe - they looked like big gnocchis I guess. They were fairly doughy with a nice bite of ground lamb inside. The dish was quite good, but the yoghurt sauce was quite overpowering. It was almost soup-like actually, and made for an interesting congee-like concoction when mixed in with rice. Interesting dish.

baklava - A$8 We ordered a few baklava, which came in a variety of shapes and sizes. Nice, nutty, pistachio flavor, though still a tad sweet for me. It didn't have the overwhelming syrup that many versions do though. So I'm a little torn about the second Lebanese place I've ever tried. The atmosphere is cool for the right occasion, but not really my thing. The food is good, but I can't get over the fact that I can get just as good stuff at Reef for half the price (or less). So I guess that Almustafa would be a nice place to go to once in a while... but I'm glad I have Reef in my backyard to go to regularly.

Reader Comments (1)

Baklava at a Lebanese restaurant? I thought Baklava was Greek? I love them! Ok dude, I am jealous of all your dining experiences! I would give my first born for some fried cauliflower or some shawarma, never had it before. Now I have to locate a Lebanese place in Vancouver that serves them! Hey, great photos by the way *salivates*



Saturday, February 25, 2006 at 6:52PM | Unregistered CommenterPhilip

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