CHECK OTHER REVIEWS FOR THIS PLACE:
Al Soussi: Expertise and Knowhow Poured into an Authentic Breakfast
CNN's Best Breakfast Destinations: Lebanon Wins Number 1
Al Soussi: A Breakfast Paradise in Beirut
Al Soussi: Beirut's Traditional Breakfast is an Experience You Have to Try
You could never imagine that a place like this, hidden a dead end in Mar Elias, could be even close to serving not only good food, but some of the finest dishes the world has ever talked about…
The restaurant’s first location in Downtown Beirut first opened in 1890 and, after 85 years, relocated to Chehade Street, in Mar Elias, where it has been since 1975.
Following the recommendation of the CNN’s Best Breakfasts from Around the World, we went to meet the Soussi family. Raji Kebbe, the old man standing in the kitchen, and his cousin Ahmad el Soussi, welcome their guests from the early hours of the morning until the last minute of lunch has passed. They say try the foul (fava beans) at El Soussi, but that’s not the only thing they do… Come here for the hummus, fatteh, kawarma, bad ghanam and surely chicken liver.
It was 8am already when we landed at Al Soussi. The men were happily preparing one plate after the other, while the rich aromas of grilling and frying took over the street. Follow the smell, hear the mouthwatering sounds and spend some time in a street food space that’s filled with passion and positive vibes.
In action and despite his age, Raji and his cousin play with food in a synchronized way. How beautiful it is to see them grill the butter and put the pine nuts over it before throwing the mix on some cold laban. Forget about health, forget about cholesterol and enjoy.
They say, a picture says a thousand words, what about a video then? But here, neither photos nor videos will do, the experience cannot be understood unless see it in person.
After half an hour of preparations, we were invited to sit inside. One plate after another, they started landing in front of us. The hummus is so unique, prepared in-house the real Beiruty way. The foul, without garlic, melts like cream under your teeth. The fatteh, a blend of cold laban and cooked chickpeas with toasted bread and fried pine nuts, is heaven on a plate. The chicken liver is prepared with grilled vegetable cubes and to make things even better, we were offered a complementary salad with breakfast.
Sit back and relax, blend in with the setup, listen to the jokes, live the experience and don’t expect anything fancy. Go back to the old days, the living Beirut, the pumping heart of the capital, and enjoy seeing tourists from all over the country to meet Al Soussi. “Foul, toum 3al Ri7a” the employee shouts. Raji repeats after him, confirming the order of fava beans with a little hint of garlic.
More was yet to come. Msabbaha: Exactly like the foul, or hummus, with bits of cooked chickpeas, mixed with fava beans and seasoned with lemon and olive oil. An intense, rich flavor of lemon, olive oil and perfectly cooked ingredients with a subtle hint of spiciness as an aftertaste.
You didn’t have it all until you’ve had a bite of eggs, eggs with awarma. The special thing about them is that Beirut’s awarma (meat with fat) is different than the one I know. Ours, in the Metn and Keserwan, is simply minced meat conserved in fat. The Beirut one is long slices of shredded meat with less fat than I’m used to… and I enjoyed their version. I loved the juiciness, the seasoning and, most importantly, a distinct taste of lemon that comes at the very end and that will put a smile on your face.
Beautiful… and tasty… discovering this place added happiness to my life.