During my stay at the Waldorf Astoria in RAK, M and I had lunch at Marjan, an eclectic Middle Eastern restaurant with a menu created by the famed Joe Barza from Lebanon and art created by Sasan Nasernia. This was an unusual choice for me, and I’m going to go out on a limb and make a daring confession: Middle Eastern cuisine is not my favorite cuisine. I find the grills to be dry and the lamb to be in overabundance. Barring hommus and muttable, there’s never anything on a Middle Eastern menu that makes me squeal with excitement and yell “I want that!”.
Now that I’ve given you an extensive background/reminder on how given a choice I’ll always opt for anything other than Arab food, I am so, so SO glad that I acquiesced to have had lunch here, because this was some of the best Middle Eastern food I have had ANYWHERE, and I grew up in the Middle East.
The flatware had an antique look, the porcelain plates regal and the decor modern but elegant. Since it was a tasting, we requested for the chef to give us only sample sized portions so as to allow us to try a larger variety with minimal wastage, and he generously obliged.
We started off with cold mezze, which included Fattoush, Tabouleh, a Hommus assortment and a Mutabble assortment. Now I know that Fattoush and Tabouleh are ubiquitous staples in the Middle East, but even these simple salads were so incredibly perfect here. The secret in every salad is always the dressing as far as I’m concerned, and the dressings had struck the perfect balance between sweet and sour in both cases. The Mutabble and hommus platters were phenomenal. The Mutable variety included a cauliflower, beetroot, carrot and the traditional eggplant options. The Hommus variety comprised of chilli, basil, blackberry and the standard chickpea hommus. What I loved about the usage of ingredients that are extremely unusual in the Middle Eastern cuisine, is that you could distinctly taste each of these unique ingredients but in no way did they overpower the integrity of the original dips. The blackberry hommus still tasted like Hommus. The carrot Mutabble still tasted like a Mutabble. I could have guessed what each dip was, in a blind taste test, and I loved that.
The hot mezze comprised of a seafood falafel, cheese rolls, and kibbeh. There was also a bowl of lamb meatballs in blackberry sauce; I don’t like lamb so I didn’t enjoy these but M was blown away.
The main course was a platter of mixed grills, ranging from lamb chops through kebabs to chicken. It also included some delicious lamb Arayes. I am the most wary person when it comes to ordering Arabic grills; I find them to be overcooked and dry way more often than not, especially the chicken. So, naturally my expectations were low to begin with but this platter of grills was outstanding. Juicy, succulent, and extremely delicious, this was the best platter of Arabic grills I personally have ever had.
If you ever find yourself in Ras Al Khaima, I highly recommend a meal in Marjan.