Amy Basha is a senior award winning Weekend Notes writer with close to 60,000 article views.
She is passionate about life and loves to write about the many amazing experiences in our world.
Published January 11th 2015
A Modern Twist on Lebanese Cuisine
Growing up half Lebanese with a Lebanese father, I've had my fair share of Lebanese food. I thought I had tried all of the best Lebanese food in Sydney, most of it being located in Bankstown and Green Acre.
One of our local Lebanese friends Zeina, said we had to try the new restaurant Zahli, that it was one of the best Lebanese restaurants in Sydney.
Zeina would know good Lebanese food as she writes a popular food blog with delicious Mediterranean recipes, called Poem and Dish.
Zahli's food is contemporary and fresh with a modern twist on traditional Lebanese cuisine. The décor is chic and sophisticated, my Lebanese father said he felt like he was back in Beirut, the Paris of the Middle East, at one of the beautiful eateries there.
We also really liked that Zahli was still serving lunch at around 3pm. The friendly owner Mohammad Issmail, said he wants it to feel like Lebanon where you can come in for a meal at any hour, not only for a set lunch and dinner hour.
We started with the hummous and fattoush salad. The fattoush had just the right amount of pomegranate molasses which gave it that great zesty flavour. The staff was very accommodating and provided romaine lettuce leaves to eat with the excellent hummous, as I'm gluten free.
Another dish I loved was the vine leaves. The taste was so fresh and good, I can already imagine going back for more of the divine vine leaves. Zahli uses fresh lemon juice, not citric acid or preservatives like many restaurants do, and that fresh taste really comes through in the vine leaves. And the presentation was stunning. I'd never seen vine leaves presented in such a beautiful way, Zahli defintely takes Lebanese dining to a new level.
You can't say you've had a Lebanese meal if you haven't tried kibbe nayye (raw) and while I'll admit I didn't have it this time, my dining companions loved it and said it was the best kibbe nayye they'd had with a silky smooth texture.
The Mansaf lamb was another highlight, the seasoned rice, with roasted nuts, lamb and a cucumber yoghurt on the side all combined for a taste sensation of delicious Mediterranean flavours that made my taste buds sing.
The portions were quite large and given the sophisticated presentation, it was a welcome change from the small fine dining portions usually given in Sydney restaurants.
Somehow, after the exquisite meal we left room to try some dessert, the Mhalabiye, a milk pudding infused with rosewater & orange blossoms. I knew after that delicious meal I had to try one of the desserts. The Mhalabiye did not disappoint, it was creamy with the delicate taste of rosewater and served chilled. The dessert was the perfect treat on a hot summer's afternoon.
Having a meal at Zahli's is giving yourself a treat of the sophisticated and colourful cuisine of Lebanon in the heart of Sydney. It's an experience you won't soon forget, make sure to go there soon, you won't be disappointed.
The fun at Zahli continues into the evening with live belly dancers on the weekend