Friday 28 March 2014

Tarbush, Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur

Erin and I first really discovered middle-eastern food in Seoul, living in the expat enclave of Itaewon, where there was the only mosque in the city. There was one restaurant in particular, called Petra that had amazing food, and we went a few times every month.

Unlike Seoul, there is no shortage of Middle-Eastern people living in KL; I spend a lot of time talking with Iranians, Libyans, Iraqis, Saudis etc. at work, so where do they go to get their fix of their own cuisine? Well so far, our experience of Arabic food in KL has been rather limited so we thought we'd put that straight this weekend.

When searching for good Arabic restaurants in KL, Bukit Bintang often comes up as the place to go. A short walk down the main street and you'll go past numerous shisha restaurants and see middle-Eastern men with their burka-clad wives in tow.

In the middle of a parade of shops on this busy street is Tarbush.
After we sat down, the waiter brought us some complimentary soup:

It tasted like chicken and lentil soup. It also came with some crispy croutons.
A few minutes later it looked like this, a very promising start!

First off we ordered some fattoush with aubergine. RM17 (approx$5).

This came with a lot more on the plate than previous versions of fattoush I've had, with three types of pepper, aubergine, lettuce, cucumber, tomato, lemon and some crispy crouton pieces.

The salad came with a lovely balsamic dressing which combined with the juices of the other ingredients to excellent effect. When Erin orders a salad and I get a meaty starter, I don't usually try to steal so much, but I did with this!

Overall - An excellent fattoush 4 / 5

Next up was the falafel RM11 (approx $4).

I'm generally a big fan of falafel, which is somewhat of a surprise because deep-fried ground chickpeas don't sound particularly appetising to me on paper. It's something I've really discovered since living abroad, in middle-eastern restaurants in Seoul's sleazy Itaewon of all places...

These five pieces were a decent size for a starter, and the restaurant generously gave us more than enough pitta, which we soon started filling with a falafel-fattoush combination.

What you see above is what looks like a middle-eastern taco, but with a yoghurt and tahini mix replacing the sour cream. I'm not sure if you're supposed to eat it this way but it tasted great.

Overall - Finally a KL falafel fix - 3.5 / 5

We were feeling pretty hungry and predictably ordered too much, here was another starter - arayes RM22 (approx $7).

I've never had good chips in a middle-eastern restaurant, and still haven't...

These things were basically fried flatbread stuffed with minced lamb, as modelled expertly by my lovely assistant below:

I must say, these were very enjoyable but tasted like something that should have been eaten after a night on the beers rather than a starter. We didn't even come close to finishing them...

Overall - best shared among a big party, not a couple 3 / 5

Last up was my main course, which was lamb maklouba RM28 (approx $9).
This was a ridiculously-sized plate of food, and it came on an oversized plate that Alan Partridge would be proud of. An old favourite of mine, lamb maklouba comes with aubergine and nuts served on a fragrant heap of rice.  In the picture below you can see the fried aubergine on top of the lamb shank.

The lamb was tender and fell apart with ease.

I like my lamb to be pink inside because it can get quite dry if overcooked. My only criticism of this whole dish was actually that it was a bit dry, it needed a sauce to link the different elements, which were better than the sum of their parts. Nevertheless, it was a highly enjoyable main course and I would order it again.

Overall - Not the best Maklouba I've had (still Petra in Seoul) but satisfying nonetheless - 3 / 5

We left Tarbush feeling uncomfortably full but satisfied. We will return to try their mixed grill.

Slightly chaotic road outside

No comments:

Post a Comment