When it comes to Middle Eastern restaurants in Singapore, I am by nature anxious. This is the cuisine I’ve largely grown up on, and it’s the food I cook the best at home. Ergo super, super high standards. So when I had a chance light dinner at Kazbar and the exquisite pleasure of the ‘first’ excellent kebab I’d had in Singapore, I had to return, and now this hungry Nomad would sample as much of the menu as possible. Oh yes, here I come habibi!
Located at Far East Square, I’d often walked past Kazbar but unfortunately never gave it much thought. It has existed in Singapore for around 10 years now, which in restaurant terms is practically a life-time…so they must be doing something right. Silly me, I should have known.
The exterior is pleasant with a good array of bar tables and themed furniture, but it’s the inside that drew me. This is a veritable Souk (Arabic for Market). Think private cave style dining areas, enormous sofas with low tables, fantastic mood lighting and a very snazzy looking bar. It’s awesome. Simple as.
Anyway, Ms Demeanour and I finally sat and eagerly started browsing the menu. She setting her eyes on a glass of Sangria, and myself on a Kazbar Mint ($14) lunchtime cocktail. Except, being difficult, I asked them to make it ice blended. The reason is that in the Middle East, these kind of minty margarita concoctions are everywhere and they are so refreshing on a hot day…The result. See below:
And yes, it’s as good as it looks. This was so tasty, I literally demolished it in 30 seconds flat and proceeded to order another.
So after my previous visit here when I ordered a cold mezze platter, I was pleased to see that the first course up was just that…
(I should make a little disclaimer here: as this was an invited tasting, the portions when ordering usually are much, much bigger. What we were served was done to allow us to taste as many dishes as possible without exploding…we still almost did nonetheless.)
As I remembered from the previous visit, this platter was astounding. This plate is literally 5 out of 7 of my favourite dips to eat (sadly Tzatziki and Taramasalata aren’t exactly ‘middle eastern’ dishes). The Cold Mezze platter comes with Hummus, Moutabal, Babaghanoush, Muhammara and the silky labne and costs $24. It also gets served with a healthy basket of lebanese bread which is perfect for scooping up these creamy delights.
Now, it would take far to long for me to describe in detail each dip, so I will say this without exaggeration: All 5 are excellent. Of particular note was the labne (sour yoghurt cheese dip), babaghanoush (eggplant, red pepper and chili) and hummus (blended chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon etc). Hand on heart, the best I’ve had here in Singapore. Maintaining tradition, the dips are savoury, lemony sour and a little spicy. Exactly as they should be. The moral of the story – order it!
You can also order the dips individually, $8 for a small plate, $14 for a big one.
Accompanying the platter was a healthy serving of one my old favourites, tabouleh. Very Lebanese in style..i.e. tonnes of parsley and lemon juice, less emphasis on the tomato and onion. Ms Demeanour and I agreed that this was a great rendition of this dish. I would definitely order this again.
Next up was a sampling from the Hot Mezze ($26).
A cheese boric, spinach borek, sambousek, kibbeh and falafel. Ms Demeanour loved the falafel best of all and I’d certainly agree it was excellent, but to my surprise, what stole the show was the kibbeh and sambousek. What can I say, I’m a sucker for minced lamb when it’s made so well…
Nonetheless, if I had to choose, I preferred the cold mezze platter, but if you’re in a big enough group, just get both. You won’t regret it.
With the stomach beginning to fill, the next course was served….and immediately space in the belly was found. I am eating all this meat – I told myself. Oh yes….
Consisiting of a mixed platter - joojeh kebab, shish taouk, shish kebab, kaftan kebab, lamb kebab and a lamb chop.
As the title of this review suggests, the meat here is fantastic. Without a doubt the best kebabs in town. What was of particular praise was the Persian Joojeh Kebab. That’s the yellow-coloured one in the middle of the photo. Marinated in minced onion and spices for more than 24 hours, this is succulent, kebab heaven. Unlike the typical disappointment around Arab St, these skewers are big, chunky pieces of meat with delicious juices oozing out. Whilst the other kebabs were tasty, this was for me the top.
Having said that, I highly recommend getting the mixed grill at $42 which comes with the 6 different meat styles. It’s well worth it. Otherwise, the individual kebabs are around $20 and quite generous portions in their own right.
Finally served up was a very cool dessert called Umalia. Effectively a bread and butter pudding coated with milk, sugar and ample pistachio. Honestly, this is one of the most unique and delicious sweets I’ve had in a while. If I had seen this on the menu previously, I wouldn’t give it a second glance. Having tried it now however, this is definitely on the ordering list. Well worth it.
Chef Kamel himself is originally from Lebanon and after many years at some top venues in Dubai, he was poached by Kazbar to come to our little red dot, and we couldn’t be happier. Nothing better than meeting a passionate, friendly and smiley Chef. He clearly loves what he does, and he’s damn good at it!
Kazbar is located at 25 Church Street, #01-03 Capital Square 3
To make a reservation, call 6438 2975.
Written by The City Nomad
On this occasion, the meal was hosted by Kazbar.