May 06, 2014 Beirut Lebanon Middle East

Onno: Traditional Armenian Cuisine. "Speechless is the Verdict!" (Restaurant Moved)


Welcoming: 4/5

Food Temperature: 10/10

Ambiance / Music: 7/10

Menu Choice: 5/5

Food Taste: 29/30

Architecture / Interior: 5/10

Food presentation: 9/10

Service: 7/10

Value for money: 10/10

Onno: The Best Authentic Homey Lebanese Armenian Food

What more can I say about Onno, this small modest Armenian restaurant in Bourj Hammoud. I can easily repost the same review published exactly a year ago, but I need to give this place justice by reliving the great experience in words… Especially that this time I was there with Chef Patron Raphael Dontoye of La Petite Maison worldwide...


Now here's a challenge, taking an internationally renowned chef out for lunch... Should we go somewhere fancy, somewhere new...? How can I impress him? Raphael has traveled, Raphael knows, Raphael is a cook himself. I followed my guts and I'm not sure why but I felt that he would like Onno, despite its location and street style feel... So off we went to discover the busy streets of Bourj Hammoud.

It was 2:30 PM on a Friday, I called and inquired if I could pass by for lunch. Raffi, who has been working at Onno for over 20 years, assured us we were welcome and waited for us to arrive. Here is where the experience started... Raphael believes it was the best Lebanese/Armenian he has had to date in Lebanon. Onno is a place you go to relax and enjoy some local jewels. Leave your ego home and come and enjoy the finest homemade food Lebanon has ever witnessed.

“What would you like to drink?” Raffi asked. "Do you have any sparkling water?” With a proud sarcastic smile and a serious look he confirmed having the world's best sparkling water, and it’s Armenian. I can honestly tell you that he was kind of right, Jermuk, named after the mountain spa town in Armenia, was a very good one indeed compared to the international names we know.
We then started to order, a plate from every section of the menu. Hommos with pine nuts, chicken liver, meat with cherry, fattouch, soubereg... Finally, he stopped and said, “Enough!” There was no room for arguing; "enough is enough for two people, so why throw food away?" How many times have you seen a waiter do that? Bravo, Raffi.
What came next was two hours where we enjoyed some really good food. Some authentic, unsophisticated flavors of what real Armenian cuisine is all about. Fattouch, cooked vegetables, tabbouleh, meat... I'm finding it hard to tell you how happy we were, looking at each other, Raphael and I, in awe and amazement.
Raphael fell in love with the fattouch and it's dressing. I wanted to surprise him by asking Raffi to give us the recipe for the dressing and without any hesitation, he told me how to do it and went down to the kitchen and got me some to take home. I gave it to Raphael - you should have seen the look on his face... He was so happy to be able to take home some of this green gold.
Before going into the details of the food, I have to tell you a little something that happened during lunch. Raphael looked at Raffi and expressed his appreciation and fascination towards the food....Proudly, Raffi answered that he has been working here for the last 20 years or so and that Onno is one of the best restaurants in town.
"Do you know Anthony Bourdain?” he asked, “He came here and wrote about the food. And not only that... Have you heard of that famous No Onions Garlic guy? He gave us a 19/20 on the food."
Wow, I felt a shiver, a bizarre feeling, he was talking about me and was not aware I was actually there. I didn't know how to react. Raffi was so proud of Onno and I can say he was totally right.
The awesome food:
  • The hummus is served hot, different from all other Lebanese restaurants. It is soft and tender and tastier than any other hummus in town. Grilled warm fried pine nuts and almonds are poured on top of it with their fried juices adding a perfect, heavenly touch. You will enjoy softness and a crunchy feel in one bite that will make you close your eyes and moan. I fell in love with this dish.
  • 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. Soft like butter and extremely juicy, each bite gets you closer to addiction.
  • Easy and pleasant to eat, the fattouch is unique. Despite the large variety of dishes we ordered, Raphael fell in love with this salad, this one in particular. It is prepared in such a meticulous way where they use tomatoes, purslane, lettuce, cucumbers and fried bread which makes it just perfect. What makes it unique is the sauce. An equilibrium of pomegranate molasses, lemon, sumac, salt and olive oil, each enjoyed and combined with a certain unmatched subtlety. You really have to taste it to understand.
  • Soubereg is "THE" Armenian dish each and everyone has to taste it at least once in their life. This is a mouthwatering piece of magic. In my opinion it is an award winning dish - creative, tasty and innovative. I’m simply in love with it and Onno does it perfectly. Thin layers of puff pastry cooked with butter, cream and cheese.
  • Manti: I’m out of words… Close your eyes and feel every piece of tiny meat coated in crunchy bread, all floating in a bowl of laban. Wow! Small bits of meat and dough, cooked to perfection and bathing in a fresh Armenian laban bowl.
  • 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.
  • 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. This one was served hot, with or without bread and has a caché of its own. Take a bite and let it melt under your teeth while its flavors dissipate.
  • Quail eggs and bastorma: Heaven on a plate

Onno is Onno. Onno offers perfectly tasty food where passion, dedication and love is enjoyed in every bite.You leave Onno happy and satisfied... You feel that all your senses have been attended to, with care and dedictation. Onno is a must try... And I really hope I won’t be getting any of those nonsense comments judging the place, service and decor...





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