For half a century Abou Jihad still stands strong in Jaledib. Just saying half a century alone makes you realize how authentically professional Abou Jihad is...otherwise it would have collapsed decades ago... Since 1962, Nabil Abou Jaoude, aka Abou Jihad started as a Kabab specialist and grew to become a popular place for many.
On MarTakla street inJal elDib, this 200sqm eatery with 45 seats has been serving guests the best of oriental dishes all made from premium ingredients - traditional recipes that have been impressing customers for three generations. Through the open kitchen, guests can see their orders being prepared freshly on the spot - famous grills are prepared as early as 11am for lunch, serving all kinds of barbecue dishes and sandwiches. That's not all... A wide array of breakfast is available includingmousabbaha, foul, hummus,balila and much more... cold appetisers, hot appetisers. You can dine in or order to takeaway, call for a delivery and they even offer catering services.
Abou Jihad is well know for its first quality raw meat. Their raw 'baladi' lamb cuts will make any meat lover rejoice with pleasure given to their taste buds.
My friends and I decided to have lunch on a saturday after the recommendation of my father in law: "You have to try Abou Jihad and Abou Joseph in Jal el Dib, those are authentic restaurants that remind me of my childhood and still serving the exact same quality."
We arrived to an individual house built on Jal El Dib internal road just next to where Les Jardins de Chine restaurant was located. A Lebanese construction, the Beiteddine palace style known for its arcades with white and yellow stone lines. Just open the door to be mesmerised by pleasant food aromas dissipating from the open kitchen in front of you. To the left the dining area followed by another one with curtain glass where smoking is allowed.
The place described:
- The restaurant is constituted of three distinctive rooms
- The grill behind the fridge face the entrance
- The non smoking dining area, nested at the end where a premium arguile can be enjoyed
- A restaurant looking authentic but built in 2011 following the Beiteddine style of yellow and white stone walls
- White marble tiles inside and a dark concrete floor outside
- A bar, in the middle room prepares the drinks
- Inside are nice pie chairs and outside another simple design used in almost all villages of Lebanon
- Beige square wood tables
- The main architectural piece is the long grey stone wall facing the curtain glass that shows the stret ahead
Looking at the menu, you'll understand that Abou Jihad is not like any other Lebanese restaurant where hummos and grilled meat is offered. Here, you can indulge in almost each and every piece of the "sheep". Each organ is treated and seasoned differently and served grilled or raw. Lunch started with Termos and pumpkin seeds while the order is prepared.
The Menu: Cold Appetisers:
- Hommos 6,000L.L
- Moutabbal batinjan 6,000L.L
- Labneh 6,000L.L
- Stuffed Grape Leaves 8,000L.L
- Season Salad 5,000L.L
- Fattouche 5,500L.L
- Tabbouleh 5,500L.L
- Seasoned Potatoes 5,500L.L
- Hommos, Meat & Pine Nuts 9,000L.L
- Foul 6,000L.L
- Balila 6,000L.L
- Mousabbaha 6,000L.L
- French Fries 5,500L.L
- Cheese Rolls (6pcs) 8,000L.L
- Kebbe (6pcs) 8,000L.L
- Samboussik (6pcs) 8,000L.L
- Makanek (12pcs) 9,000L.L
- Chicken liver 9,000L.L
- Lamb liver 12,000L.L
- Daran 8,000L.L
- Kalawi 8,000L.L
- Amourette d'agneau 8,000L.L
- Nkhaa 6,500L.L
- Chicken wings 11,000L.L
- Thal 8,000L.L
- Kafta 11,000L.L
- Lebanese Kebbeh 10,000L.L
- Kebbé Orfalieh 11,000L.L
- Raw Lamb Liver 12,000L.L
- Habra 10,000L.L
- Lamb Fillet 14,000L.L
- Grilled skewers 11,000L.L
- Chich Taouk 9,000L.L
- Cotelettes 12,000L.L
- Poussin grille 20,000L.L
- Arayess 9,000L.L
- Kabab halabi 10,000L.L
- Khachkhach 11,000L.L
- Kabab eggplant 11,000L.L
- Kabab Ourfali 11,000L.L
- Stuffed vine leaves: Thick and generous. Juicy with a strong lemon flavor and a premium filling. Very yummy
- Hummus: A beautiful texture, generous plate and covered with olive oil. A soft lemony after taste is so pleasant. I enjoyed it and didn't feel the tiny little bit of garlic inside. Today I discovered one of my favourite hummus in town.
- Teble: That's raw meat without borghol. A nice hard meat with a beautiful colour and consistency. I really enjoyed it even though I am not a raw meat fan.
- Hummus with meat: very rich and super generous. I loved it even thought the meat is a bit chewy. It is fresh meat: understandable. Each and every bite is filled with rich flavours. Meat, oil, pine nuts, fat and hummus. A must try
- Sambousik, Kebbe, Chese rolls: Those are my least favourite. Sambousik is too crunchy and oily, kebbe is richly filled but can be much better and the cheese rolls proportionality between cheese and puff pastry is inadequate. It contains way too much oily cheese. This plate didn't impress me much
- Labneh: Deceiving! It is good but not great. In an authentic Lebanese restaurant, I would have expected to eat something "Baladi" with a harder consistency and less lemon aftertaste.
- Kabab Halabi: All the kebab plates are unique. Really out of this world. Delicious, soft and tender, feeling light and perfectly seasoned. The kabab halabi is served in a plate containing 5 skewers, covered with a toasted bread and a grilled tomato on the side. Delicious!
- Kabab khechkhach: Like the others, 200g are distributed into five skewers are served lying onto a tomato sauce. Cut a piece, dip it in the tomato and enjoy. Waw! That's good...
- Kabab Orfali: The presentation in here differs. Two skewers with five cubes of kabab each separated by pieces of tomato. Every bite containing a kabab and a tomato is a piece of heaven. Soft, juicy and tender, I enjoyed it without bread to feel each and every ingredient
- Eggplant Kabab: Kabab cubes charcoal grilled with eggplant. A complete mix of tenderness melt like butter under your teeth
- Arak abou jihad: Thats a very good one. A must try. After three glasses, the rest of the day and the next morning were very positive.
- Mouhalabiah... a speciality: My favourite dessert which my wife's aunt does perfectly is something I look to at home or at Fouad Hrajel specially after Al Halabi stopped producing it. Abou Jihad's is good but would be great if less sugar is used. The quantity of rose water is perfect and the consistency as well. That's a good mouhallabiyah discovered close to home
- Meghle: A very good taste, consistency and equilibrium of ingredients. A tasty dessert it is
Daran: Halaywet: My latest awesome discovery!
My Latest Discovery: Daran or Hlaywet is a part of the oesophagus covering the (Me3la2). Looking like a cluster of grapes. Balls of fat embracing a white tender meat. Just imagine! (excuse the amateur description but this is what I could gather of the owner).
Simply Waw. Forget about your medical problems, erase the possibility of cholesterol and plunge into this unique piece of Heaven. I grabbed one, put in my mouth to feel the hot juicy piece of meat. A slight pleasant crunch of fat covering a white meat. The fat burns on the sides creating charcoal crunchy corners full of oil and juicy fat. Mmmmm... Simply awesome. Fat, crunchy, toasted, burned, soft, tender, juicy... many consistencies and flavours at once. Nothing, nothing compares to that. You have to close your eyes and go taste it. Simply awesome. The experience continues when you lick your lips afterwards and feel the salty fat around.
The things I liked:
- The plates are beautifully decorated, generous and appetising
- Portions richer and bigger than other Lebanese restaurants (6 pieces of sambousik when others serve 4 in a more expensive plate)
- The prices are up to 30% cheaper than Halabi and Mhanna
- A food quality that equals the high end Lebanese restaurants around
I would improve minor things:
- Lebanese bread only is not enough. I would have expected some Markouk bread or freshly made dough. Kaak is a possibility as well.
- I think offering hard goat labneh is better than the one proposed
Sometimes, you go searching for good places to eat far away from home when next door nests a unique restaurant that serves unique preparations. Abou Jihad, located in the heart of the Metn area is a place where you can have a superb Lebanese bite at an affordable price all in a simple non sophisticated setup. I won't wait for long, I am going back next week.