Tag Archives: lebanese

Naya’s: A Piece of Lebanon in New York City

Lebanese is the one cuisine I can never tire of! Even after my holidays in Lebanon in which every family visit is accompanied by a plentiful feast, I come back craving the food. Having been spoiled with the best Lebanese food, my family and I have always struggled to find an authentic and delicious Lebanese restaurant in New York city. That is until we found Naya’s in midtown.

In celebration, I brought my friends for a well-prepared feast on Easter. Traditionally, the standard Lebanese meal at a restaurant is all about sharing. It begins with the mezze, which are small sharing platters. My family, one who loves food, usually overdoes this course and is even too full to move onto the hot dishes. Nonetheless, the meal is finished off with a platter of grilled meat and vegetables and rice with vermicelli.

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Common mezze include hummus, taboule, babaghanoush, spinach pies, fatoush (salad with pomegranate syrup and sumac), falafel, kibbe (meat and cracked wheat stuffed with spiced ground meat), sambousac (fried pastry filled with spiced ground meet), grilled haloumi cheese, among many other dishes. The variety is so expansive that a different combination of dishes can always be ordered.

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I have found it nearly impossible to not leave a meal like this full beyond belief. However, the food itself is actually quite light. Butter and cream are rarely used. Each dish usually contains a large amount of olive oil, garlic, and lemon. For the most part, dishes are prepared through grilling, baking, or sautéing. There is an abundance of vegetables, whole grains, and fruits in every meal. Fish and poultry are more often used than red meat, which when used is most commonly lamb.

Naya’s menu offers a broad representation of Lebanese cuisine. They are true to the original flavors and preparation. With the plentiful choices, there is sure to be a dish for everyone to love. Go to Naya and allow yourself the opportunity to become acquainted with the mastery of a Lebanese kitchen.

 

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Mama Ghanoush: Unpretentious Lebanese Food

Spinach Flatbread
Spinach Flatbread

 

A few friends and I were planning to go to Mama Ghanoush, a new Lebanese restaurant in Kip’s Bay last week, but, as the city shut down in preparation for the storm of the century, we decided to go to flat top on Amsterdam instead.

Mama Ghanoush was still on my mind and so a few days later I made the trip down. The name of the restaurant is a play on the name of the eggplant appetizer found in almost every Middle Eastern restaurant, baba ghanoush.
Coming up to the place from the street, you see the name Mama Ghanoush, written with a few Arabic letters. Entering the restaurant, you hear Arabic pop music, and you are greeted with friendly staff. Wooden tables, soft green and blue pillows, clay vases, and a billboard filled with  postcards, postage stamps, and photos of the ‘greats’ of Lebanese and Middle Eastern music give this place a rustic, Mediterranean feel.
The menu, not too large, offers a great selection of mezza (Middle Eastern small plates), flatbreads, and the traditional grilled meats like shawarma and kebab.
Because it was very cold outside, I ordered a lentil soup, which turned out warm and comforting, but, garnished with lemon juice and parsley, it was not too heavy. I then ordered a spinach flatbread, not very traditional as far as I know, but very delicious. The bread was topped with a spinach and feta mixture, similar to what you’d find in the Greek spanakopita. The star of this dish, though, was the bread. Thin, and beautifully charred, it was crunchy on the edges and warm and soft in the center.
I left Mama Ghanoush satisfied, refreshed, and ready to walk out into the biting cold. I’d definitely recommend going to Mama Ghanoush, for some light, authentic, and unpretentious Lebanese food.

Restaurant Review: Man’ousheh in Little Italy

 

Photo-credit: Omar Abboud

The city’s Middle Eastern community is buzzing with the opening of a new restaurant on Kenmare St. in Little Italy: Man’ousheh. A simple menu, a great story, and a fashionably designed location have made this place one of the most successful pop-ups in the city. The founding chef of Man’ousheh, Ziyad Hermez, is a Lebanese IT graduate who has worked in his field for ten years in DC and New York, before deciding to return to Lebanon and work in a bakery to learn the trade of making mana’ish. Mana’ish (plural of man’ousheh) are Middle Eastern flatbreads topped with your choice zaatar, strained cheese, minced meet, or labneh. These simple, delicious breads are sold for 5 bucks each, and are baked on a tradition furun, or griddle, coming out fresh and soft for every customer. For an extra two dollars, you can garnish your man’ousheh with some tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, and fresh mint.

Middle Eastern food has become very common in this city, but no restaurant has been able to recreate the authentic flatbread, a breakfast staple in many countries in the region, and Middle Eastern expats are thrilled to be able to have a hearty snack that is a vivid reminder of home, right here in New York. To wash down their mana’ish, Lebanese and Middle Eastern expats will find a great variety of imported beverages like 961 beers and bon jus, the pyramid-shaped juice carton found in every Lebanese kid’s lunch box. Not only that, but Man’ousheh also offers backgammon boards for free, so you can play the traditional game while sipping on your little bon jus and snacking on a man’ousheh.

Coffee fans will also love this place for offering freshly brewed Blue Bottle coffee, as well as the brand’s baked goods and granola bars. So when you’ve just woken up on a Saturday morning and are about to head to Butler for the day, do yourself a favor and take your work downtown where you could sit in Man’ousheh with a cup of Blue Bottle coffee, a freshly made flatbread, and the morning sunlight streaming in through the restaurant’s large glass façade. I really hope you make that trip downtown, and when you do, Sahtein w Afieh!