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Onno: Speechless is the Word!
Typical Armenian cuisine, the kind of food you’d have at the home of an Armenian friend, is not served in the capital’s commercially well-known Armenian restaurants but rather in the minuscule low-key chophouses hidden in the maze-like backstreets of Burj Hammoud.
Onno has been feeding its customers authentic Armenian specialties in its charming 24 seats restaurant in Burj Hammoud since the year 1990. With its fairly priced menu, Onno serves items hailing from Armenian and Lebanese mezze in a simple non sophisticated manner, using premium ingredients you would buy for your home kitchen. After visiting Onno more than three years ago, I decided to come back and indulge in the best of the best: An authentic Armenian cuisine prepared with love and passion by Onno (Karnigue) himself, a father, chef, and professional cook. Onno is to Armenian cuisine what Fouad is to the Lebanese one. Do not expect anything fancy. The simplest restaurant you can ever imagine, nestled in the heart of the Armenian quarters welcomes you daily (excluding Sundays) for lunch and dinner with a plan to take you down memory lane, back to the old days when food was pure and tasty without any synthetic add-ons. Leave your manners and high expectations at home and head down to Onno where your taste buds will experience a new kind of extravaganza.
- A simple, one door shop nestled under Burj Hammoud's bridge
- Enter a tiny shop where the kitchen in installed and head up to the first floor
- Posters cut from magazines decorate the walls. Many international food aficionados have expressed their love for this restaurant and Onno is proud of it
- 24 seats is all what is available
- 2 red flowers decorate each table
- Yellow table cloths cover the tables making them look cozier
- Wooden chairs
- An old house style brown marble flooring
- Wooden decoration like an old cottage
- It's a no smoking place
- No music is needed to create a pleasant ambiance
- Simple white porcelain dishes, the ones you use on a daily basis at home
The menu sections:
- Cold Appetizers
- Hot Appetizers
- Armenian Specialties
- Hummos Awarma (With ground meat)
- Chili Olives (Green olives, red chili paste, walnut)
- Batata Harra (Spicy fried potatoes, parsley, garlic)
- Sawdet Dajaj (Pan fried chicken liver)
- Soujouk (Spicy pan fried beef sausages)
- Armenian Salad (Finely diced tomato, cucumbers, onion)
- Fattouch (lettuce, mint, thyme, rocca, radish, onion, tomato, cucumber)
- Soubereg (layers of sheets of dough, cheese)
- Manti (Baked meat stuffed dumplings, yogurt, garlic, sumac)
- Fishna kebab (Grilled kebab topped with wild sour cherries sauce)
- Madzounov Kabab (Grilled kebab, yogurt, fried bread, pine nuts)
- Itch (Armenian tabboule)
The awesome food:
- The hummus is served hot, different than all Lebanese restaurants. It is soft and tender, all by being tastier than any other one you can have around town. Grilled warm meat mixed with fried pine nuts add a perfect heavenly touch
- The Chili olives are like nothing you've tasted before. Crunchy olives, served without the core and mixed with the signature Armenian chili paste. It is addictive and surely not the best for your cholesterol levels. If you can't stop, don't start.
- The fried spicy potatoes are cut in small little cubes and mixed with parsley. Simple it is, yet very tasty
- The chicken liver is one of kind. I don't know how they do it, but it tastes nothing like the Lebanese one we know. Yummy!
- Soujok. My favorite Armenian preparation. Cut in small little cubes and fried with tomato, onions, green pepper in a light tomato sauce. Heavenly!
- What makes the simple Armenian salad unique is the way the vegetables are cut in small little dices. Easy and pleasant to eat
- Even the Fattouch is unique. It is prepared in such a meticulous way where they use cherry tomatoes cut in half, purslane and fried bread which makes it just perfect. You really have to taste it to understand
- Soubereg is THE Armenian dish each and everyone of you has to taste this dish at least once in your life. This is a mouthwatering piece of magic. It's THE dish that can win an award for being creative, tasty and innovative. I'm simply in love with it and Onno does it perfectly well
- Manti: I'm out of words... Close your eyes and feel every piece of tiny meat coating a crunchy bread, all floating in a bowl of Laban. Wow!
- Cherry kebab is something out of this world: A gooey dark red cherry chutney that is satisfyingly sweet mixed with tender and juicy lamb kebab and covered with crunchy fried cashew nuts and almonds. A really indescribable feeling in every bite. Another version of those cylindrical kebabs is mixed with yogurt. Both dishes are as good one and the other
- Itch, the hot Armenian tabbouleh is a simple mix of burghol and tomatoes. Nothing to be compared with the Lebanese tabbouleh even though they share the same name. I love it
How much would you pay for such a sumptuous dinner. A fine dining experience that takes so much time to prepare, activates each and every one of your taste buds. I would personally pay at least $50/person. Tonight's dinner bill was only $100 for 6 persons. Yes, at only $17/person, you eat like a king, fine premium super tasty food you will remember for life.
How unfair it is to pay a 17,000L.L for a cheap burger in the capital.
Just imagine how much you are missing if you still haven't tried Onno. Before leaving, the waiter noticed that I was shooting too many pictures and taking notes. Smart guy, he insisted I try a piece of Zeytov Dolma (Stuffed baby eggplants, rice, olive oil, served with yogurt). I ate it while standing up on the street and believe me it was worth every single bite. I just tasted it and started moaning unintentionally: Mmmmm! Onno's food is even more than awesome. Bravo!