Happy Halloween everyone and it was also my birthday yesterday evening! Thank you very much for all the messages on twitter, facebook wall messages, SMS's, phone-calls, emails, fax, letters etc.
Every now and then, I love a good old adventure enjoying cuisines that I normally would not eat on a regular basis. I was excited to recieve a press invitation by the ladies behind Marouche Grill for a lunch tasting session. Lebanese Cuisine is also known to be a slightly healthier cuisine due to the amount of vegetables, pickled vegetables, olive oils, herbs, spices & fresh fruits used. Now, let me make this straight & precise and I want to let you guys know just because it is a press invitation, Geoff's Twitchen will always remain true to its roots with brutal honesty on the quality of food in our restaurant reviews. No Bullshit will be allowed on the twitchen!
When I stepped into the restaurant, I was worried that Marouche Grill's business will not last until Christmas as there were 2 table of customers including us on a Monday lunchhour. Very worrying sign and it was exactly like a scene of Ramsay's Kitchen's Nightmare
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED DISHES
a) Hommus Beiruty - Chickpea Puree with Hot Pepper, Parsley Tahine & Lemon Juice
b) Hommus - Chickpea Puree with Tahine & Lemon Juice
Above Cold Mezze has made Lebanese cuisine reknowned world-wide and at Marouche Grill, they were the perfect starters to your meal going. To be honest, I could carry on eating this until the end of the meal and have totally lost count on how many slices of Pita bread I had with the Hommus. If you clearly do not care about your health & waistline, you will have the same thinking as myself. The Pita bread was fresh & warm and paired perfect with the hommus and both hommus starters were excellent and were my personal favourites for the meal. I couldnt stop eating this from start to the end of the meal! THUMBS UP!
a) Grilled Halloumi Cheese served with Fresh Water Melon
Halloumi Cheese is a traditional Cypriot Cheese that is made from a mixture of goat & sheep's milk and due to its high boiling point, most Halloumi cheeses are eaten either grilled or fried. It has a similar texture to Mozzarella but slightly saltier due to the salty water content. Here, the Halloumi Cheese is grilled and is paired with whole sliced Watermelon - a traditional method eaten by the Cypriots and is an exceptionally refreshing dish for the heat of Hong Kong. One slight area of improvement for this dish in my opinion would be to serve up the halloumi cheese & watermelon diced up as it will be much easier to eat. For recipes of such dish, see http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2008/07/grilling-halloumi-cheese-watermelon-salad-recipe.html.
b) Falafel - Deep Fried Fava Beans & fine herb croquettes served with tahine sauce
For those that commonly are mistaken for what Falafels are, it is a deep fried "ball" made of Fava Beans or Chickpeas and is an extremely popular fastfood & appetiser in the Middle Eastern region. Fava bean falafels are mainly used in Egypt or Sudan region and chickpeas in the Middle Eastern region. As a main dish, falafels are served as a sandwich stuffed in a pita bread with lettuce, tomatoes & tahine sauce. My falafels at Marouche Grill were served alone & drizzled with tahine sauce which I thought would have been better to be served in a pita bread to achieve to double your waistline. The taste was good and it was deep fried to perfection as it was not too greasy with very strong flavours.
DISHES I DIDNT LIKE
Kafta Meshwi - Charcoal grilled skewers of seasoned minced lamb with onion & parsley - Had high hopes when my lunch partner ordered this dish as lamb is signature to Lebanese cuisine. However, was majorly disappointed when the dish arrived:
a) Portion Size were far too small or maybe it was because the chefs decided to reduce the portion sizes due to the nature of the lunch. Priced at HKD170, this was very over-priced.
b) The flavour of the lamb may not be appealing to the Asian crowd as the strong flavour of the lamb over-shadows the onion & parsley flavours
Wark Inab B'Zeit - Wine leaves filled with rice, tomatoes, parsley, min & onion, cooked in lemon juice & olive oil -Had a debate in what to order in between the Grilled King Prawns & Wark Inab B'Zeit and I now regret in not ordering the King Prawns as I wanted to explore something which I do not eat on a regular basis.
Lesson #1 of Eating Out - always choose dishes that you are familiar with at times, think twice about ordering dishes that you are not familar with.
To my palate, this was the only dish whereby I wish I didnt order during this lunch. It was similar to the Chinese dimsum - Steamed Lotus Leaf with Glutinous Rice where I enjoy eating on a regular basis but the Lebanese version was very strange. It was sour by taste due to the lemon & tomatoes & the texture of the rice was also very sticy & slimey which was unusual. Food is a very subjective matter and this dish definitely did not please my palates. If you have different opinion on this, do let me know as everybody has different palates.
Coffee is a big part of Lebanese cuisine and there is a saying that One could Lose their Nationality if they do not drink coffee in Lebanon. Our meal was finished off with a fine Lebanese Coffee (Ahweh or Kahweh) and it is truly a great coffee with thick texture, trong pungent taste & flavour & usually unsweetened and will take some time to adjustif you are a coffee amateur. This has got to be one of the best coffees in town & much much better than the usual commercial junk you get around town.
Overall, an interesting meal as I have not eaten Lebanese cuisine for some time since my times in London in Edgware Road. Slight let down of lunch was the ambiance as the restaurant was very quiet and Wark Inab B'Zeit. Otherwise, it was an enjoyable meal with good flavoured dishes on offer. For those cautious of their calories, watch out for the Pita Bread & Hommus
UPCOMING REVIEW: BISTECCA STEAK HOUSE
Address: 31 Elgin Street, Central, Hong Kong (中環伊利近街31號)
Contact Number: 2524 4123
Quality & Flavour of Food (5* the highest): ***
Price for Lunch (5$ = very expensive): **