CHECK OTHER REVIEWS FOR THIS PLACE:
Semsom: Flavors of Lebanon in Oman
Semsom Eatery: Delicious Lebanese Flavors in New York! (Restaurant Closed)
It's an eatery and not just any other eatery… It’s a restaurant with a whole new approach towards Lebanese food in the heart of New York City… Semsom Lebanon is now in the Big Apple showing the world the true vibes of our local cuisine and culture, which in my opinion is one of the tastiest in the world.
Semsom, which opened in Lebanon in 2008, has given a whole new meaning to Lebanese food, adding a special 'twist' to our traditional favorite dishes. If you’re familiar with Semsom, and am sure most of you are, you have surely spotted their red hummus, or maybe the green one, and maybe tasted their osmalliyah chicken strips or sipped on their special colorful drinks – this is what you would expect to find on the menu of Semsom - Lebanese food with a twist.
It’s this special “twist” in flavor that has traveled the world including countries like Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and now NYC.
In New York, sisters and partners Christine Sfeir and Carine Aswad are opening their first eatery this week just few meters away from NYU and couple blocks away from Washington Square Park, introducing a Lebanese fast food diner with an American approach.
The new address for Semsom is more of a fast food joint with class. There are a few things you’ll notice as soon as you walk in… The black and white tiles on the floor, the beautiful large photograph taken on the seashores of Batroun, a small mini mart where some Lebanese products will be sold, and the open kitchen that takes over the main facing wall.
Let’s check out the details of the interior:
- Tiny little white and black tiles cover the floor.
- The shop is fitted with square wooden tables surrounded with black painted chairs. You’ll also find a lounge area with a black sofa and some violet chairs.
- Light green is the color, a color decorating some chairs and the menus.
- To the right is the boutique; where you’ll find a couple shelves selling spices and Lebanese goods.
- Next to that is a fridge for ready-made food on the go.
- One main decorative item to look out for is the car, the old Mercedes car shot on the shores of Batroun, our old Phoenician city.
- Facing the entrance is the bar; an open kitchen nestled behind a wood and glass protection where the manakish and other Lebanese bites are prepared.
- Behind the bar you’ll find the menu hung on the wall, a casual menu boasting several colors that showcase some of the best things Lebanon has to offer.
- Sweet bites
- Semsom manoosh
- Lebanese specialities
- Pick your base of choice – a bowl or wrap
- Add the protein - taouk chicken, turmeric chicken, savory beef, Lebanese meat balls, wild thyme, cauliflower or pumpkin
- Drizzle with flavors
The tradition here is different than the one we have in Lebanon. Hummus is enjoyed with pita chips which you can buy in a bag, while what you order are all served together in one plate, and portions are dispensed in plastic containers...
That's what I call modernism in Lebanese cuisine and I love it!
It was time to eat:
- For breakfast, I started with their manakish or manoosh as they call it here. Pre-prepared flat bread cooked on the metallic grill and topped with zaatar, labneh or cheese. The good thing is that zaatar in New York has an interesting taste; it kind of has an exotic touch. It’s different than the ones we're used to in Lebanon.
- The vegetables used are fresh and the dough has a light crunch I enjoyed. Labneh is as good as I expected it to be while the cheese, which is a mix of mozzarella and feta, which feels like akkawi cheese.
- Now let’s try some lunch items. I wanted to live the whole experience so I asked for their hummus, meatballs and spicy tarator, a salad with tomatoes and cucumbers and eggplant baba ghannouj, pickles and mint leaves.
- Frankly speaking, I was astonished. I came here with low expectations. I was not too convinced that Lebanese food could be this good in New York; but the food is excellent!
- Their hummus tastes so good with an intense zesty boost and tahini flavor. Their eggplant mix is exquisite and so fresh and as for the meatballs, they are intense in flavor... Bravo is the least that can be said.
- Now comes what I enjoyed most… Their bag of pita chips. Take a bag, open it and dig into the sea salt pita chips: A wow effect you wouldn't expect if you were Lebanese used to the typical traditions. Since the hummus is tasty, the crunch provided by these pita biscuits turn this food into an exotic experience one would normally enjoy in Latin America. I'll be eating hummus with salted pita bread when I’m back to Lebanon.
Today, June 21 on a beautiful NYC Sunday, was my first visit to Semsom, one of Lebanon's ambassadors to the world. I enjoyed some flavorful food in a fresh ambiance. I honestly can't wait for Tuesday to come so I can witness the vibes at the official opening and report back to you.