What I Got: Tabouli Salad, Beet Falafel, Grilled Halloumi, Yara Tzatziki, Vegan Warak Einab, Fatteh Eggplant, Sfiha, Namoura, Kenafa, Maamoul, Sfouf/Tumeric Cake

Price: $$$

Location: NYC


Tabouli – The Tabouli includes parsley, bulgur, onion, tomato, scallion, mint, lemon juice, and olive oil.  This tabouli was the freshest I have ever had. All the ingredients were so fresh and bursting with flavor.  The bulgur helps to hold everything together.  The lemon juice and olive oil make a bright and flavorful “dressing”. Tabouli is best eaten with a pita.  Yara’s pita was fresh, delicious, and perfect for picking up the refreshing tabouli.

Yara Tzatziki – The Yara Tzatziki is made with yogurt, cucumber, dill, garlic, dried mint, and lemon.  This tzatziki was so light and fresh.  There was a generous amount of juicy cucumber.  The yogurt was perfectly smooth.  There was just the right amount of garlic to add delicious umami flavor but not become overpowering.  The dill and mint added wonderful herbed flavor and the lemon adds a hint of citrus.  I love tzatziki, and this was one of the best I’ve ever had.

Beet Falafel – The Beet Falafel are chickpea patties mixed with beets, parsley, onion, garlic, and cilantro.  These were great falafel.   The texture was perfect. They were neither too chunky with big pieces of chickpeas, nor too smooth so that there was no texture.    They had a subtle sweet, earthy beet flavor that was delicious.  If you aren’t a fan of beets, you won’t even notice the flavor, but if you love beets like me there is the perfect hint of flavor.  The parsley, onion, garlic, and cilantro are blended in, bringing herby and savory flavors.  There is also a subtle kick of spice.   The Beet Falafel comes with tomatoes, pickled radish, and tahini.  The tomato and radish are a great fresh garnish to eat with the falafel.  The tahini is creamy and perfect for dipping your falafel.

Grilled Halloumi – The Grilled Halloumi is grilled cypriot cheese, arugula, cherry tomatoes, and olive oil.  Halloumi is such a unique and interesting cheese.  It is salty, firm, and squeaky.  Yes, I said squeaky.  When you bite it, it squeaks on your teeth.   When it is grilled it is warm and slightly melted.  The arugula and cherry tomatoes are great to balance out the salty cheese.  The olive oil compliments the cheese and prevents it from being dry.   If you haven’t tried halloumi, you must!

Vegan Warak Einab – The Warak Einab are grape leaves stuffed with tomato, parsley, onion, dried mint, and rice with lemon juice and olive oil.    Since these are Lebanese, they are served warm (which I find to be the better than cold).  The rice was soft and delicious.  They had great flavor and were perfectly lemony.  I eat stuffed grape leaves a lot, and these were everything I hoped for.

Fatteh Eggplant – The Fatteh Eggplant is eggplant with chickpeas, pita, and yogurt.  I have never had anything like this before.  It was delicious!  The roasted eggplant is cut into small pieces and mixed with the yogurt, chickpeas, and crunchy pita.  The dish is served warm.  The yogurt adds a great subtle tang and does not overpower the delicious eggplant.  The chickpeas are wonderfully earthy and nutty.  The crunchy pita adds the perfect bit of texture to contrast from the soft eggplant, tender chickpeas, and creamy yogurt.  I could have eaten the entire bowl if I didn’t have to share.  I can’t wait to go back and order more.

Sfiha – The Sfiha is a meat pie stuffed with lamb, onion, tomato, pomegranate molasses, and pine nuts.  This sfiha is in the form of a tiny dough pocket that is open on the top with the meat filling inside.  The dish comes with four sfiha.  The lamb was perfectly seasoned and cooked just enough, so it was not dry.  The sfiha were bursting with the Mediterranean flavors I love so much!  They were delicious and adorable.

Namoura – The Namoura is a baked semolina and farina cake that is soaked in a sugar syrup made with rose water and orange blossom.  It is topped with pistachios.  This was my first time having namoura, and I LOVED it!  The cake is dense and chewy.  What makes it special is the syrup.  The cake is saturated with a sticky, sweet, aromatic syrup.  I find the flavor of an orange blossom and rose water syrup to be so addicting because it is so light and delicious.  This Namoura was truly a special treat.

Kenafa – The Kenafa is a dessert made of baked cheese topped with bread crumbs, crushed pistachio, and a rosewater and orange blossom sugar syrup.  Most kenafa I have had are topped with a nest-like pastry.  Instead, Yara’s kenafa is topped with a layer of pastry-like breadcrumbs.  This creates a more dense layer of pastry rather than an airy nest. The cheese is the most delicious, gooey, melty cheese you will ever have.  It has a mild flavor and is just ever so slightly salty.  The breadcrumbs and cheese are drenched in the light, incredible syrup.  The dense layer of breadcrumbs absorbs the syrup beautifully.  It was DELICIOUS!

Maamoul – The maamoul are cookies with fillings inside.  They have a crumbly dough on the outside and are filled with either dates, walnuts, or pistachios.  The dough was wonderfully sweet and melts in your mouth.  My favorite are the date cookies.  They were perfectly sweet, rich, and smooth inside.  The walnut and pistachio cookies were both filled with sweet chopped nuts.  They were perfect. 

Sfouf/Turmeric Cake – The Sfouf is a dense cake (slightly lighter than pound cake).  It is made with semolina, flour, turmeric powder, vegetable oil, and anise.  It is wonderfully moist and rich without being overly heavy.  The light anise flavor is fantastic.  The cake is not too sweet, which I love.  This is a great dessert if you are not as adventurous or just want a beautifully moist cake.

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