A new mall has opened up right across Jumeirah Beach Hotel, and with it come glad tidings in the form of new restaurants (yay!), one of which is Ayam El Ezz –so Lebanese that you forget for a while that you’re in Dubai. The restaurant feels more like the a combination of several living and dining rooms of what I would expect for the be the upper middle to affluent class of Lebanon in the 50s and 60s. Interestingly enough, (even though I’m far from Lebanese), many of the vintage and antique items that adorned the walls struck so close to home and reminded me of the kitcsh objects I’ve seen in my grandparents house that have now sadly been shunned aside over the years for being “dated and obsolete”.
I couldn’t make it for the launch event of this cosy little establishment (sorry, guys!), but I did go in for a tasting recently though. What awaited us can be summed up in two words: Mezze Galore- which is great, because when it comes to Lebanese food, I’m crazier about the appetizers than I am about the grills.
The super welcoming manager highly recommended a Lebanese classic: Batroyniyah, which is a home made lemonade of sorts that is hand prepared and frozen for a while. I expected it to be more slushy, which it wasn’t, but I was told that this is the “authentic”, home made way. I checked with some Lebanese friends though, and they said they’ve never heard of such a drink, so I’m a little confused now. Even Google was lost..
The array of cold mezze we feasted on included a sweet and spicy Muhammara, a smokey Baba Ganoush, tart Warag Al Anab (rice-stuffed grape leaves), bright Tabouleh, and zesty Fatoush. We also tried the Hommus Ayam el Ezz, which has green onions, parsley, mint and tomatoes, but all the herbs were used to sparingly that none of them could be tasted distinctly.
Of the warm mezze, my absolute favorite were the Kibbeh Kazabeh– it literally translates to “liar kibbeh”, or fake kibbeh; the reason being that it’s made of lentils rather than meat. M on the other hand was nuts about the Sujouk and the chicken liver in pomegranate molasses. I also loved, loved, LOVED the Fatteh with Eggplant; which is warm hommus, with peices of pita bread and of course eggplant. The Batata Harra was great too, as was the Kibbeh Sajiyeh. Throw oven fresh pita bread into the equation and I can already see your eyes rolling to the backs of your heads.
Having had only a couple of bites of the aforementioned spread, we were already full, and understandably so. I didn’t mind much, as the mezze are my favorite part of Lebanese food anyway, but M was part weeping on the inside because he really regretted not saving room for the grills which are his favorite part, and part resting in peaceful bliss on a stomach full of chicken liver and sujouk. Regardless, we asked the restaurant to be super frugal with the mains, and so they brought out a plate of mixed grill and one of chicken wings. The chicken wings were marinated in lemon and garlic and were gone pretty much as soon as they arrived. The grills were tender, juicy and succulent.
Thanks so much for having us, and feeding us till we exploded, Ayam el Ezz. Now I know exactly where to bring friends hungry for Lebanese fare.