A couple of years ago, I remember organising to meet up with a few girlfriends to go shopping at the newly renovated Top Ryde Shopping Centre. And I remember it being so-spanking-new that there was zero mobile reception, unless you went to your network provider’s store within the shopping centre. It was pretty funny considering one of our cohort was running late, and as a result of this we had no way in getting in contact with her to establish whether she was running late, was lost, or wasn’t coming at all. I was greatly relieved when I went on Easter Monday with Dancing Queen, that the issue had been resolved. After a workout at our gym and a speedy shower, we were off to enjoy a leisurely lunch at Kazbah, located on the roof of the shopping centre complex. There’s generous seating both alfresco and indoors.
We surveyed the menu and decided that instead of ordering a main each, we would order a few of the mezze plates to share as I knew Dancing Queen has a small appetite and both of us enjoy sampling different dishes. Waitservice was quite efficient throughout our meal, and they were more than helpful in suggesting amendments to our order to suit the appetites of two young ladies.
To start, we ordered a single dip, the Babaghanouj ($8), which came with some soft, freshly-made Lebanese bread.
The babaghanouj was very creamy, but other than being quite smokey in flavour, it didn’t really seem to have much taste. We were more interested in the Grilled Haloumi Cheese ($14), which was perfectly cooked – not overly salty, nor squeaky.
It was quite nice and light accompanied with the Rocket, Walnut & Quinoa Tabouli ($14). The tabouli was refreshing and healthy, although with quite large pieces of raw spring onion – if I didn’t like onion so much, I may have found it a little too much.
As always, when eating large amounts of parsley, you’re bound to get some wedged in your teeth – and luckily my dining companion was nice enough to point it out for me. We were both very curious about the Kataifi Prawns, Muhamara Sauce ($6 each). While expensive, we were reassured that the prawns were king prawns. I don’t think either of us expected the prawns to arrive presented like this:
For those that don’t know, kataifi is a Middle-Eastern pastry made with a special form of phyllo dough. I’ve only had the pastry as a sweet, so I was interested to see what it would be like wrapped around a savoury component. Perfectly flaky and melt-in-the-mouth, it reminded me of the deep-fried taro croquettes you get at yum cha…and I’m afraid that’s the best description I can think of to describe the texture of the pastry! It didn’t have any flavour of its own, leaving the succulent, tender meat of the king prawn to shine. The accompanying muhamara sauce – a vivid orange paste made of walnuts, cumin, roast capsicum, harissa and a plethora of other ingredients – was simply amazing paired with the prawns. Smokey, warm and subtly spicy. For our main event, we had ordered the Lamb Kafta ($22) shish kebab to share. Each shish kebab comes with pita bread, pickle, chips and salad.
We originally had been contemplating whether or not to order the tzatziki as a starter dip, but decided that it may be too garlicky. I found here that the tzatziki was rather light and it was a nice cooling component with the hot lamb mince kafta. The salad was simple – undressed rocket leaves – and the chips weren’t particularly anything to write home about, but I attacked the pickle with great gusto. With the remnants of our epic lunch cleared away, I was eager to sample something from their menu – Middle-Eastern sweets are stuff made by Gods (just look at baklava). Dancing Queen had previously visited and had something amazing, and so she described it to the waiter. He listened attentively and after a short while, there was that “ah-ha!” moment when they both knew what each other were talking about. He apologised that the menu had since changed, but that the Chocolate & Pistacho Bisteeya, Raspberry & Custard Sauce, Pistachio Coated Halawa Ice Cream ($14) was as close to it as we could get. So get that we did.
A “bisteeya” is basically a Moroccan filo pie. It was embedded with pieces of melted dark chocolate, pistachio, currants, and what may have tasted like chopped dates or prunes. It was very, very sweet, but balanced well with the creaminess of the custard and the ice cream. I’ve been trying to look up what on earth the “halawa” was, but I haven’t been very successful in finding it on Google. Maybe a reader can help? I’m greatly enjoying branching out of my usual food scenes – the Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern food culture is something I have only just begun to explore, and as a result everything on a menu for me is exotic, and absolutely tempting. I’m pretty sure I’ll be returning to Kazbah to further my explorations in the future.
Kazbah Top Ryde
Top Ryde City Shopping Centre
(02) 9555 7067