On my way home from the office one afternoon, I find myself deep in discussion with my cab driver around food.
He’s originally from Lebanon and it’s not long until I beg him to tell me where to find the best lebanese food in Sydney. I insisted I wanted the real deal, the stuff that you would find back at home and throughout the Middle East. As my most vivid memories of the Middle East were of how spellbinding the food was.
So… with pen in hand, note pad on my lap. I furiously took notes and made a list.
Al Aseel was one of the restaurants that came out on top.
We are greeted with a traditional serving of pickled vegetables, olives and lebanese breads. I didn’t have the gumption to manhandle the pickled chilli’s but enjoyed the pickled turnip and olives. I was however, disappointed to find that the bread wasn’t served warm. A few moments on the grill wouldn’t have hurt.
In the mixed entree platter you will find:
I’m not wild about kibbe, so I kindly ask if I could swap it for the spinach triangle and I am glad that I did. The ladies fingers, falafel and spinach triangle were the highlight.
No surprises here. Love them or hate them. These vine leaves taste exactly like any other vine leaves you have tasted before. I am, more of a lover. Especially when double dipped and smothered in that crazy-good baba ghanouj.
Fatoush salad is a common staple among Lebanese restaurants and this salad is as authentic as it gets. With the right amount of freshness, acidity I’m disappointed to find that only thing missing though is the crunch of the deep fried pita bread that is usually smattered across the top. Every mouthful should be full of that crackling crunch rather it had more of a soft touch. It is normally the textural highlight and tastes of everything that has been deep fried in that dirty dirty oil. Delicious.
The smokiness of the eggplants hits with impact and rounds off with the stinky creaminess of the garlic and tahini sauce. It’s so good, I find myself lathering it on anything I can find. Meat, bread, falafel,vine leaves. You name it. It had it. Anything and everything and whatever it was, it deserved a slab of that glorious gloop.
The mixed plate contains a mixture of skewers of marinated bbq chicken breast, lamb & kafta served with sides of tabouli, baba ghanouj, hommos, garlic dip & falafel.
This sizeable platter is already a meal in itself and my dress could probably do with some unzipping. The BBQ chicken showcased a nice charcoal flavour tasting tender and moist. The lamb tasted overcooked and was hard to the bite. The kafta was fatty and full of spice, it just wasn’t for me. And then I’m left torn between the baba ghanouj and garlic dip.
Hmm… can’t I have both?
Overall, I enjoyed my meal. If it weren’t for the chewy lamb and cold bread I probably would have enjoyed it even more. Whilst on the whole, it was a tasty meal, portions a plenty and service friendly. Only elements of this meal came close to what I would have found in the Middle East. But perhaps I am asking too much? I would love to hear from you. Do you know of any great Lebanese places?
Welcome to AL Aseel, for some decent Lebanese.
529 Elizabeth St
Surry Hills, NSW2010