Alas Not Lawrence of Arabia…

Arabic Salad with Feta. Photo by Doris Lim
We traipsed out of our hotel into the full heat of noon day sun as we side step the broken pavement. This girl nearly fell into the arms of Sherif Ali ibn el Kharish (remember Omar Sharif in Lawrence of Arabia, aww… you’re all too young!).

There was felt a sharp tug at my elbow; it was Geok steading this girl. Sigh…

No Omar Sharif around, eh? In his place two young men with boyish grins greeted us warmly.

“Guess our nationalities,” the older boy with dancing eyes flirted. “You must be Englishmen, as you’re both so charming” this girl bantered back. More laughter.
With a wave of their eloquent hands they began to entice us with a colourful picture menu. They rattled off exotic names of dishes and how the food is prepared.

Mixed Grill. Photo by Doris Lim

Baba ghanoush ~ eggplant mashed and mixed with virgin olive oil and various seasonings.
Batata harra  ~ avegetable dish consists of potatoes, red peppers, coriander, chili, and garlic which are all fried together in olive oil.
Znood Es-sett ~ filo pastry cigars with various fillings
Shourabit' Ads ~ Red Lentil Soup with Lamb
Shawarma ~ marinated meat (either chicken or lamb) that is skewered on big rods and cooked slowly, then shaved and placed in a 10 inch pita roll with pickles, tomatoes, and other tangy condiments
Tabbouleh ~ diced parsley salad with burghul, tomato and mint.
Ruz bil-loz wa bil-tamar ~ Rice with Almonds and Dates

This girl smiled and looked back with a squint. Geok was already smitten; this girl could recognize that glazed over look. Geok’s drooling over lamb kebabs; her steady gaze was burning a hole through the menu.

The two young men gamely volunteered that lunch’s free if it’s not good. A deal’s cinched.

With that we entered the carpeted tent, the heavy fold of the tent opened to reveal a cave like dining room with throw cushions on the carpet. Nah… that was in Turkey, wrong country.

This was a tiled modern restaurant with low back chairs, blue tile on the walls (reminiscence of the Blue Mosque) hanging lamp with colour glass.

The traditional Arabic music was mesmerising.

Geok smiled and looked knowingly. Nice. We were totally overwhelmed in Istanbul. The Grand Bazaar had so many colourful pottery and lamps that in the end we didn’t buy any. But that’s another story.

Arabic Coffee. Photo by Doris Lim

We settled on a shared starter of a salad with Feta cheese and pita bread. Mains Mixed Grill of Lamb (but of course), Beef and insipid Chicken. Finally Arabian coffee.

The salad’s refreshingly light. This girl complained loudly, two small cubes of Feta? Come on. More apologies and boyish grins.

The Kebabs were succulent, moist and fragrant. The Naan bread was soft with crispy bits. And as we downed the last of our Arabian coffee, we both agreed that it was a good decision.


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