A couple weeks ago a bunch of us were invited to Al-Amar Express at Fahrenheit 88 for the Happy Hour promotion and a bit of food. The event turned out to be a definition of excess, and a textbook reference of good times.
Al Amar Express at Fahrenheit 88
Like most people, I had the unfortunate generalization that Al-Amar Express is a middle eastern food joint (which was correct), and hence must not serve alcohol (which wasn’t).
cocktails at Al Amar Express
In fact, the Al Amar “lets meet up…” wines and cocktails menu has several selections of Lebanese wines, popular beers, whisky, spirits, and some 10 different types of cocktails.
From 4pm to 8pm, buy 2 cocktails and get 1 free. The same thing applies to beer as well.
Lebanese wine, strawberry margarita, Corona beer
Before food was being served, we already got the night started with some mojito, Corona beer, wine, and margarita. Perfect start to the evening if you ask me.
hummus, Lebanese chickpea and eggplant dip, pita bread, haloumi salad
After a bit of chit chat and making sure everyone had something to drink, the food arrived.
We started out with some warm pita bread. Dipping them into hummus (RM 12.90) or those very interesting chickpea and eggplant (moutabal RM 12.90) as you would with chips and salsa, except the experience is quite a bit richer, and definitely more refined (for something that is eaten with hand)
The haloumi salad (RM 20) is another exquisite dish that I’ve never tasted – with fried haloumi cheese, herb crust crouton, cherry tomato, and vinaigrette dressing on top of a bed of rocket. The fried cheese was a revelation, slightly crispy on the outside, and definitely cheesy within. It was very good!
tabbouleh, warak enab, grilled chicken salad
Tabbouleh is a uniquely Arabic salad with finely chopped tomato, Italian parsley, and mint. The taste was very… refreshing.
Another salad we tried was the grilled chicken salad (RM 20), and this came with a generous portion of grilled chicken breast topped with aioli dressing. The marinate definitely leave a Lebanese signature in this dish.
Warak enab is these spring roll look-alike with ground lamb, rice, and spices all chopped up and wrapped in grape leaves. I find it a little too sour and salty, perhaps it is an acquired taste, or just a case of Al Amar sticking to the traditional recipe too closely.
spinach fatayer, cheese roll, lamb sambousik,
Spinach fatayer, cheese roll, and lamb sambousik (RM 8.50 each) were definitely the type of finger food best with some beer or cocktail. I don’t think further explanation is needed. Deep fried food always go well with alcohol.
Lebanese pizzas, shawarma and flame grilled chicken
And as we thought our collective stomaches were starting to get a bit full, the main dishes came.
First to be served were spicy chicken cheese (RM 17.90) and kafta with cheese manakeesh (RM 17.90) were both very delicious. They looked exactly like pizzas, but the taste was definitely different, a tad of saltiness, a kick of spiciness, and that savory taste from the meat. If I could only get these delivered…
The other main dishes were grilled whole chicken (RM 38) that comes in spicy and non spicy versions. The portion was enough to be shared between 2-3 adults. They too, carry the distinctive Lebanese taste.
Finally, we also tried the chicken and beef shawarma (RM 24.90 each). They were a bit like the kebab meat, but served loosely on a plate with pita bread.
a bunch of guys and gals who are completely full and half drunk
The session at Al Amar was rather enjoyable, there were good food, drinks, and excellent company. Ultimately, I thought the food at Al Amar was a little bit too one dimensional if you will. Everything stays very close to a distinctive taste that is undoubtedly Lebanese.
For a food review session, it gets a little bit monotonous, but to have a change of pace from other cuisines, a dinner at Al Amar surely wouldn’t disappoint, just don’t order the warak enab.
Al Amar Express
Lot G44, Ground Floor,
Buking Bintang, KL
GPS: 3.14748, 101.71283
Tel: 03-2141 3814
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