By the way, this is the one thousandth post on kyspeaks since the inception some five and a half year ago. Been an amazing journey, rest assure there’ll be more to come. A big thank you for all the visits, comments, well wishes, critics, and the occasional “hello” in Real Life ™.
Bobby Chinn on World Cafe: Middle East (photos from TLC)
I’m generally quite content with what I do for a living, but there is a category of people that I’m quite jealous of when it comes to their profession, and Bobby Chinn is one of them.
While I’m sure there are lotsa hardwork and uncertainties, the job of a TV personalities on a food tasting/travel show couldn’t sound more awesome to me. The grass is greener on the other side, always.
Last week I got closest as I’ve been to that “dream” of mine, I got invited to meet Bobby Chinn for his new episods of World Cafe: Middle East.
Bobby Chinn’s exploit in Middle East (photos from TLC)
The series cover Bobby Chinn’s exploit in Middle East. Starting from Istanbul, the capital city of the Ottoman Empire, then Damascus and Aleppo – the oldest city in the world, Jordan and the West Bank with thriving Palestinian food tradition despite the instability, as well as Cairo and Alexandria in Egypt – where Bobby Chinn was born.
The man himself turned out to be quite an entertaining and friendly host despite the very visible effect of jet lag as he just arrived in the morning. Together with Haze, boo of masak-masak, Jovin & her aunt, and other guests, we had a good time while Bobby shared his experiences whilst making this series.
Catch the show on Monday 10pm, Astro Channel 707 TLC
donut thingy with sambosa, salad, some lamb soup
Now lets get on to the food at Al Halabi, shall we?
Al Halabi at Marriot Hotel is probably one of the more up market Lebanese restaurant in the country, with posh decoration of cushions, busy looking tables, a huge selection of shisha pipes, and chandeliers looking like gemstones. A very Arabic atmosphere, other than our group with Bobby Chinn being half Arab, most clients looked like they’re either Persians or Arabs.
The lamb soup was better than the lentil soup I ordered, which tasted like diluted dhal. Salad was refreshing if not a little too sour for some. I didn’t quite enjoy the donut thingy, but the fried pastry (Sambosa vegetable) was rather nice.
hummus & baba ghanoush, fluffy soft bread
This was only the third time I had hummus, but I gotta say the hummus was actually very good! It was a bit like a cross of peanut butter and tofu but with slightly oily texture, in a good way… if that make any sense.
Baba ghanoush, a classic eggplant dip, was a bit more sour and oily (olive oil), I kinda liked it, though not too much. These two goes pretty well with the excellent fluffy bread.
egg plant dish (musaka’a), fried spring chicken, grilled fish
For my main dish, I chose to have the egg plant (musaka’a) with rice. It was quite similar to the Northern Indian’s Baingan Bartha, but slightly less flavorful. Despite the bright color, it wasn’t exactly spicy, just a bit oily and sourish, nothing to shout about.
The other main dishes to choose from were the fried spring chicken (which was reportedly to be decent), grilled fish that were too dry, and grilled lamb (said to be quite tasty).
sizzling grilled lamb, baklava
Dessert came in the form of a very sweet pastry item called baklava - made of phyllo dough and filled with chopped nuts and honey, quite nice. I think I had at least 3-4 of those.
Bobby Chinn, KY, Haze
If this was the best Lebanese food could offer, I wasn’t particularly impressed, so I asked Bobby Chinn himself on his thoughts about the dinner. The man tried to be politically correct and said he enjoyed the hummus but didn’t want to elaborate more. I guess I’ll just have to watch the show too!
Al Halabi at JW Marriot
183 Jalan Bukit Bintang
55100 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.14765, 101.71372
Tel: 03-2715 9000