The UnProfessional Chef

A girl's commentary on food, cooking and all things delicious!

Location: Singapore

A closet food critic and wannabe chef who loves the art of cooking and enjoying great cuisine in the company of great friends!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Lip-smacking Lebanese

The sheer amount of variety of cuisine in London is a testament to the degree of multiraciality prevelant in this great city. Amongst the many nationality of peoples London draws are the Lebanese, bringing with them their traditional Arab dishes and mezzes. Indeed, the kebab stand is not only ubiquitous in London, but in many towns and cities across Europe.

Noura Central, however, was no hole-in-the-wall greasy kebab joint. Originating from Paris, this was an ultra-chic, silk lamp-lit glamourous sanctuary, basking in sumptuous soft purple and pink hues and with plenty of soft cushions to lounge about on. It was also extremely dimly-lit, which explains why I only have two decent photos to post.

Innocently unaware of the huge portions soon to set before us, we ordered the Noura meal, which comprised a selection of 10(!) mezes – five cold and five hot – served with Lebanese flat bread (freshly baked in a massive oven in front of us). The five cold dishes of aubergine cream, hummus, okra mixed with tomatoes and parsley leaves, cucumber yoghurt and a chopped parsley and tomato salad sparkled with freshness and flavour. In particular, the aubergine cream managed to be both creamy and smoky at the same time, enveloping the taste buds in sheer delight. The parsley salad was also refreshingly tart and gave a sour crunchy balance to the dips.

Five hot mezes

The five hot mezes comprised three huge mini-puffs (well, they were meant to be mini, but certainly after we ate them all, they felt very huge indeed in our tummies) individually containing cheese, spinach, and lamb, and two croquettes of lamb and beef, which deserves special mention for being topped with a wonderfully crusty sesame seed exterior. These were completely satisfying and completely filling. We were completely stuffed, and our main courses were still to come! These turned out to be wonderfully aromatic kebabs of chicken, lamb and beef. Certainly not of mere street-side quality, these were juicy, tasty and melt-in-your-mouth tender.

Delectable scoops of lemon sorbet, rose ice-cream, pistachio ice-cream and milk ice-cream (hidden)

At this point, we were seriously exploding, but had to hold out for one last course (or should I say three) of dessert. Considering how much we’d eaten, we wolfed down every last bit of our desserts which were four amazing scoops of ice-cream and two varieties of traditional Arabic crisp nutty pastries. The ice-cream was the star of the entire show, which is saying a lot, considering the overall classiness of the food. Tart lemon sorbet so dense it stood up on its own when scooped, a light rose ice-cream, vanilla with fresh pistachios and non-cloying milk ice-cream. Our Arabian night of feasting was completed with thick, sweet Lebanese coffee.

Noura Central
22 Lower Regent Street
London SW1Y 4YJ


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