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Kabab-ji Restaurant, Lebanon
Kababji Zalka: Sandwiches or Dine-in?
Kababji: A Late Night Dinner
It was time to visit the new branch of Kababji in Hazmieh, especially after my last dine-in experience in Zalka. The place is breathtaking, that's for sure.
The new Kababji comes with a touch of finesse, class and modernism combined, upgrading the Lebanese diner we know into an architectural wonder.
A large glass facade protects a square space and its high ceiling, a restaurant that looks neat, thanks to the light grey floor and white painted walls. White tables surrounded by light wooden chairs fill the space, while a touch of greenery adds the relaxing feel you expect a restaurant to offer. The self service Sandwicheria is separated from the dining space by a glass door which blocks smells and odors.
Facing the entrance is a corridor, separating the dining area from the grill entrance with a display of Kababji's goods, items you can buy for home. Olive oil, Labneh, olives... Kababji has its own brand now.
There are some more details you have to see. A metallic wall separates the two dining areas from each other. Plant pots are turned upside down and used as lanterns. A long leather sofa follows the display area and then there's the brick walls and the upper dining area which was closed the day I visited.
I had same issue I had in the Zalka branch, I expected a better welcoming from a brand like Kababji. Nobody smiled at me or even approached as I came through the door. We arrived, opened the door and waited, but the waiter didn't feel the need to approach us for some welcoming words.
The food, as always, is guaranteed to be fresh and tasty:
- Laban Ayran: A firm, thick Laban in a large glass and served with a straw. Light lemon, infinite salt and Laban; a powering dose of Lebanese yogurt. I like it.
- Lahme Beajine: Kababji's famous Lahme Beajine, served in small portions or large ones, crunchy, crispy borders surrounding a thin layer of lightly chewy dough spread with meat and pomegranate molasses. Kababji's famous ground meat with a light, sweet touch and a rich juiciness. I love how the dough is white, how the borders are homogeneously crunchy and how the flavors of the filling are balanced.
- Tabbouleh: Ordered without onions it's as good as you'd expect. Pieces cut to the proper size, lots of tomatoes and a little borghol with fresh parsley.
- The stuffed grapevine leaves are good, as good as they should be, but lack a bit of lemon. The rice is too prominent when it should be lighter and more moist.
- The Hummos is better than the one I had in Zalka but still, I've had better. This one was not too firm and tastes of too much tahina. I'd add lemon and mash it more to give it a subtle taste and texture.
- Balila: A loaded plate of cooked chickpeas covered with a generous portion of pine nuts and bathing in a bath of olive oil. A pinch of salt and we would have a great plate. I'll order it again.
- Arayess kafta: Toasted Lebanese bread spread with kafta that's moist and tender. Those are good.
- Kababs were served, Istanbouli with four skewers and Orfali with two skewers. Tender meat served with skewers of toasted potatoes. Meat is indeed what made Kababji famous. The Istanbouli comes with pine nuts and Orfali with grilled tomatoes and grilled onions and bigger chunks of Kabab.
- Grilled vegetables: Those were really lovely. Part of the light menu, two skewers of chunky vegetable, a grilled flavor, a moist heart and beautiful colors. I urge you to add them to your next order.
- I loved Fayruz's musical tunes in the background.
- The place is relaxing, well lit and looks extremely clean.
- The screen displaying kababji's food and social media channels is in very low resolution and was wishing everyone a happy Easter in May.
- Since smoking is not allowed, those ugly metallic trays with cigarette support should be changed.
The Hazmieh branch is a must visit. It's an upscale, modern version of the local "snack" we know in Lebanon.