Showing posts with label kebab. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kebab. Show all posts

The Kasap Turkish Cuisine (Dubai)


As you’re sitting on The Kasap’s patio and taking in the man-made views of The Pointe, it feels like you’re somewhere Mediterranean, maybe even Turkey, just somewhere far from desert life. The restaurant should be thankful there’s such a great outdoor atmosphere as sitting on the lowest level of the patio also means you’re forgotten and service is slow at best.

Once we were able to get an order in, the food arrives at a quick pace; in no time a dish of vibrant babaghanoush (AED22) arrives with soft toasted pita. While the dip was refreshing, the eggplant flavour was masked by the other vegetables and it could really use more salt.


In general, most dishes were under seasoned. The minced beef Turkish-style flatbread (AED49) screamed for spices – parsley, salt - anything to cover the meat’s gaminess that was so off putting I couldn’t have more than a slice. How is beef even gamey, surely this must have been mutton?


If anything, what impressed me most about the dish was the presentation: the long plank placed on can so other dishes could be placed underneath. Such a genius idea for efficient space use that must make city planners swoon.

Thank you to J for this photo

The most flavourful dish was the adana kebab (AED58), the tender and juicy skewers have a hit of spice that really sneaks up on you. We used our fair share of the yoghurt and pickled cabbage to help calm the heat.


It also went well with the kale and pomegranate salad (AED34), which was tossed with bits of bulgur and a simple lemon and olive oil dressing. The kale just needed a good massage to break down the tough fibers.


Where I was happy with The Kasap’s restrained flavours was with the baklava (AED32). Normally, it’s a dessert that’s so sugary it makes my teeth ache – figuratively, not literally. The Kasap’s was still infused with plenty of honey but it was sticky without being too sweet. I also liked the liberal sprinkling of pistachios, which adds such a nice nuttiness to the dessert.


If all else fails, eat elsewhere and visit the restaurant for a drink. They offer a wide selection of juices, the Kasap special (AED29) a fruity blend of passionfruit with apple and orange. All our drinks tasted great, if only they arrived colder.



That’s when we could have really gotten the tropical experience of icy drinks, blue waters, and tons of sunshine. After all, with the Atlantis in the background, you could even daydream about being transported to Bahamas. Desert, what desert?

Overall mark - 6 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
 Address: The Pointe
 Website: http://thekasap.ae/

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


Is That It? I Want More!

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CLOSED: Taste of Uzbekistan (Toronto)


Uzbekistan, a country part of the former Soviet Republic, is no major tourist destination even though it was formerly a stop along the Spice Route. It’s a cuisine that many Torontonians would have never tasted until Djovikhon Buzrukov opened Taj Restaurant in a North York strip mall.

With its success, a second location dubbed Taste of Uzbekistan has now opened in the Yonge Lawrence Village. A larger space, the signage has a palatial quality to it and makes it feel like you’re about to get a taste of royalty.

So, it seemed off brand when a humble plate of babaghanoush ($8.99) was presented with a side of tandoori non in a plastic diner basket. Where the starter lacked in presentation, it’s made up in taste: eggplant grilled lightly and seasoned with lemon juice and oil. So simple, yet when produce is fresh all you should taste is the lovely creamy eggplant.


The bread, made in-house in a clay tandoori oven, could be toasted a bit less as the thinner middle portion became hard and cracker like, while the thicker ring stayed in the softer doughy form. Who knows, maybe this is how it’s meant to be made offering two textures, but it’s the softly toasted part that went so well with the babaghanoush.  

How dishes are presented seems to indicate items are meant to be shared. Each arrives as soon as they’re done, so if guests order their own main, there could be a significant lag until the entire order arrives.

A dish they recommend highly is the plov ($15.99), a traditional Uzbek dish that’s typically prepared on special gatherings. It’s touted on the sign outdoors, on their menu, and even when you ask them for their advice. Certainly, it’s a comforting plate that I could imagine an Uzbekistan family gathering on a weekend to enjoy.


Rice is cooked with onion, carrot, raisins, and cumin so it gets a lovely colour and aroma. Thankfully, the raisins are used sparingly so that it doesn’t sweeten the rice, merely creating moisture in the dish. Chunks of tender lamb are strewn throughout adding an oily richness to everything else. As I tucked into forkfuls of the rice, thoughts of biryani came to mind, but in a mild form. The side of achichuk salad compliments the plov, the fresh tomato and crunchy cucumbers giving the dish a fresh cleansing element.

Conversely, the overdone kazan kebab ($19.99) was forgettable, the lamb lacking moisture or flavour. In fact, the best part of plate was the salty sliced potatoes cooked in a cast iron pan so that it fries at the edges creating a crispy scallop potato like side without the heavy cream, cheese, and butter.



Taste of Uzbekistan’s service isn’t bad, but is a tad off. Before I could even sit down, our waiter asks for a drink order, so I quickly respond water until I have a chance to settle. Yet, you come to realize there’s no beverage menu so wait around until one is produced. 


The only saving grace are the generous wine pours; the glass arrives filled to the brim. And with enough wine, for me, everything gets better.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 3249 Yonge Street

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


Is That It? I Want More!

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A La Turk (Toronto)


Good luck getting a table at A La Turk without a reservation. I’ve learnt this the hard way – trying to secure one last minute or stopping by after work hoping to hear seats for two are vacant. It hasn’t happened yet.

It may be their complimentary bread and dip platter. It takes a lot of willpower not to just tear into the hot puffed pita that arrives fresh from the oven. Indeed, I often lose and suffered from slightly singed fingers.


Yet, it’s that steaming toasted pita with a slather of cool dip that gets you excited for the rest of the meal. There seems to always be a garlicky creamy spread, a sweeter carrot one, and a zesty and slightly spicy tomato dip (it’s my favourite_. The fourth condiment can vary between a lightly pickled vegetable or zucchini tzatizki.

Mix a couple of dips together to create something really good, but also save them for pairing with main dishes. They went nicely with the mixed kebab ($36) platter where the chicken wing was grilled beautifully but lacked seasoning. A dip in the creamy garlic sauce saved the wings and made it sing.

Meanwhile, the kabab didn’t need a thing, the mixture was filled with herbs and a bit of chili and so flavourful that you’d want to leave it plain. Since it’s cooked on the grill, there was a bit of smokiness but restrained enough that the kebab’s meaty herb flavours could still be enjoyed. The lamb chop was overdone, but remained moist and delicious, a bit of lemon zest would make it even better. Lastly, the dish is finished off with cubes of steak cooked medium… it’s good, after all, it’s steak.


The side of bulgur rice reminded me of a softer dirty rice. It definitely could use more salt, but with some of the saved tomato chili dip, it was fantastic. Plenty of veggies finish off the dish so you can mix and match the garnishes with the meat. Even the puffy bread the meats rest on is worth a taste, it’s soft and flavourful having soaked in the lovely juices.

If a platter of grilled meat isn’t your thing – sorry we may not be able to dine together - A La Turk has a number of dishes that combine proteins on a more balanced basis. The stuffed eggplant ($12) is something I order every time. Soft and meaty, the eggplant is filled with bell pepper and walnut pomegranate paste for sweetness and ground beef for a savoury element and texture. It’s so good that I may order one for myself in subsequent visits.


That bit of texture is sadly what’s missing from the koro dolme ($12) that takes peppers and eggplant stuffing them with a thick mushy rice. It really needs something else in the filling to add a bit of bite, or at the very least, cooking the rice less and incorporating more spices and herbs. In its current form, it was too sweet and tangy for me.


Having had manti ($25), a Turkish style dumpling, at other restaurants, A La Turk’s version wasn’t the strongest. The dough was too thick and the filling in miniscule portions that it almost tastes like you’re eating gnocchi with yoghurt. Less of the tart garlicky sauce and more texture within the dumpling could improve the dish.


The sarma beyti ($28) takes a seasoned veal and lamb kebab and adds tons of gooey cheese and eggplant and wraps it in dough before baking it in the wood oven. While I’d always lean towards sharing the mixed grill platter, this dish is a close second and is a hot sandwich at its finest.


Whatever you do, save room for dessert. Their kunefe ($8 for the small) takes time to prepare, but you really want them to not rush this. It turns out best when they cook it on a lower temperature so the vermicelli noodles turn a crispy golden brown and the cheese melts into a gooey blob but the syrup doesn’t burn yet.


It’s a sweet that can sometimes be a miss, on one visit the charred bits around the edges gave the dessert a bitter bite. But more times than not it’s that sugary, crispy finish that makes you yearn for more. It might explain A La Turk’s popularity: the fresh pita and dip starting off the meal on a strong note, while the kunefe ending it with a sweet finish. Pick up the phone to make that reservation.

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 3443 Yonge Street 
 Website: http://alaturk.ca/

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:


A La Turk Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato



Ottoman Taverna (Washington)


While researching interesting restaurants to dine at in Washington DC, Ottoman Taverna came up as the place where Michelle Obama and her friends visited for a dinner. Not too shabby if you’re an establishment where political royalty decides to break bread.  

Every Turkish meal should begin with the smoked eggplant salad ($10), which is really a dip and not the boring lettuce bowls we typically think of as a salad. Instead, it’s a flavourful thick spread made from roasted eggplant, Anaheim peppers, garlic, onion, parsley, and has a zippy lemon-pomegranate molasses drizzled on top.


A bit tangy, smoky, and spicy, it’s overall refreshing thanks to all the herbs and is great for smearing on warm pita. A great alternative appetizer that’s lighter than babaganosh without sacrificing flavour.

While the lamb and beef kibbeh ($12) seemed like they would be heavy and dense, after breaking through the thin crispy crust, the ground meat mixed with bulgur wheat breaks apart easily and is rather moist. Flavoured with aromatic onion, garlic, and parsley with some walnuts for texture, it’s even better when you wrap it in lettuce with some pickled vegetables.


Where exactly did I get this lettuce? It was part of the complimentary bite for the day, so sadly you may not always have this option. The amuse bouche contained a piece of chewy soft paste made from rice, tomato, and spices. It’s interesting, but definitely not something I would want again.


Ottoman was also my first experience tasting lahmacun ($12.75), a thin crispy flatbread topped with a spread made from lamb and spicy tomato paste. With the onion and cilantro on top, it’s a surprisingly light and refreshing starter.


It was a smart idea to keep the appetizers less meaty as when the Chef Mixed Grill for two ($57.50) arrived, there was more than enough protein to go around. The pucks of kofte – one beef with lamb and the other chicken – were both loosely packed making it moist and you could taste the herbs mixed throughout. Ottoman’s adana kebab was also really good and the lamb perfectly seasoned and also not overly strong.


Yet, the lamb chops were my favourite part of the platter: cooked medium well so that there was just a bit of pinkness remaining and oh so tender. If all the other options weren’t enough, there was also a heaping pile of shaved doner. If we had any pita remaining, this would have been delicious sandwiched with the onions. It also paired nicely with the rice, which must have been augmented with melted fat as the white rice was so flavourful and had a lovely silky texture.  

With all the appetizers, the meat platter for two was more than enough for our table of four. We really didn’t need another main, but the char-grilled branzino ($27.95) seemed like a good idea to balance out all the other proteins.

 

Since it arrived after the Chef’s Mixed Grill, I didn’t try the fish until later and by then it seemed overdone. Nonetheless, there was a solid meaty portion of the branzino and the silky herbed mashed potatoes it came with was delicious. The medley of sautéed vegetables was also refreshing and greatly appreciated after all the beef, lamb, and chicken!

There’s something about the décor at Ottoman Taverna that also makes the experience memorable. Even though the dining room is open and airy, there’s a sense of coziness at the banquettes with chairs that seem to hug you. It’s a modern atmosphere but the food is comforting and tastes like it’s steep in tradition. I can see why it’s where the First Lady decides to nosh with her pals.

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Washington, USA
 Address: 425 I St NW

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:


Ottoman Taverna Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Adrak (Richmond Hill)


Adrak isn’t a place you simply stumble upon. Located at the base of an office building, in the dark you merely see their glowing sign - if you’re looking for it – then still need to drive around the block to enter the complex at the back of the building. While the restaurant doesn’t benefit from a direct view from Hwy 7, they do occupy sizeable space and is one of the poshest Indian restaurants I’ve visited in Toronto. Adrak also has a contemporary vibe: there’s no glint of red or gold, instead the comforting dark browns and cool creams that is reminiscent of a steak house … if a steak house features a huge tandoor oven in their open concept kitchen.

Diners are treated to an amuse bouche to start, a fried cheese ball that’s could be an arancini topped with a spiced curry. It’s unclear if the bite is authentic, but who cares, it's tasty.


Adrak’s menu is extensive, containing several dishes rarely found elsewhere. Feeling adventurous, we picked out a couple of unfamiliar appetizers to try such as the stuffed potato wheel ($15) where a potato is hollowed out, coated with poppy seeds, and stuffed with a cheese and spinach mixture. While it tastes pretty good, I could do without the raisins used in the filling and the coating could use more seasoning.


The soya malai chaap ($13) is sometimes referred to as vegetarian chicken in Indian cuisine, as the soy protein is molded to resemble pieces of meat. To me they look like Jerusalem artichokes (or sunchokes) covered in mayonnaise. While the ingredient has a dense texture, it doesn’t resemble the consistency of tofu. Again, the appetizer could benefit from more spice as after getting past the creamy sauce, the inside was fairly bland, except for a light smokiness from the charcoal oven. I’m glad it was accompanied by a tart chutney and plump soy bean salad, which helped give the malai chaap some flavour. Perhaps, even something as simple as including more of the sauce for dipping would help.


Aside from the “vegetarian chicken”, we also had an actual chicken starter. The chicken seekh kebab ($18) is a sizeable portion and smelled great, but the texture took some getting used to – the consistency ground down to a paste, rather than minced. Personally, I would prefer if it contained more bite and at the risk of sounding like a broken record, more flavour.


When I picture Indian food, it’s usually something that’s packed with exotic spices. Therefore, when all the appetizers were so muted, it was a strange start to the meal. While I’m glad we branched out to try new dishes, there’s a reason why starters like samosa and chaat are popular.

Luckily, as we got to the mains, the flavour level increased … perhaps the appetizers merely were preparing the taste buds for what’s to come. The gobi aloo & peas ($16) had a strong hit of masala and heat, the roasted cauliflower adding a further smokiness to the dish. Wrapped in a thin roti this could have easily been a delicious vegetarian main.


The smoky baingan bharta ($18) was accurately named given the eggplant was grilled over charcoal adding a smoldering taste and smell. Along with onions, tomatoes, herbs, and chilies, the mixture was great for dipping bread into and could easily work as a starter. In fact, most of the bread basket ($8), for me, went towards this dish. Containing a piece of butter naan, garlic naan, laccha parantha, and tandoori roti, the bread basket was a great sampler, but the soft chewy naans stole the show.


Huge pieces of soft and tender paneer were in the saag paneer ($17)… Adrak certainly doesn’t skimp on the cheese! Along with the thick spinach base, the dish was rich and filling.


The Goan-style seafood curry ($25) incorporated interesting flavours: predominantly sweet and sour with a creaminess from the coconut milk and a light heat. Yet, it was more fish than seafood as both spoons contained flavourless white fish... where's the shrimp and scallop? It's a dish that goes well, perhaps even needs, steamed rice. On its own or even with the naan/biryani, something seemed off.


To be fair, the vegetarian biryani ($17) doesn't need any more sauce, even by itself it was moist (without relying on oil) and flavourful. With tons of vegetables (green beans, onion, tomato, and peas), in lieu of the customary chicken or lamb I normally have the rice with, it's nice to eat something lighter. 


Even on the dessert menu there were some unfamiliar choices: the dinner provided my first taste of kesar phirni ($8) a slow-cooked vermicelli pudding flavoured with saffron. While it was mushy with no distinct bits of the noodle, the cashew pieces added crunch helping to improve the texture. Once again, the raisins could be left out; Adrak should really consider calling out this ingredient on their menu as it's generally insights a love/hate relationship with people. 


Surprisingly, even with our weekend dinner the restaurant wasn’t busy – perhaps due to their hidden location. Most of the diners were large groups with 10+ people; Adrak’s long tables and open concept design is great for hosting large groups and semi-private parties. Their service was also exemplary and one of the better restaurants for accommodating dietary restrictions. In fact, it’s the closest option for a fine dining Indian restaurant I’ve visited in the city. And, if you have diners that don’t like spice, at least they can stick to the appetizers.

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Richmond Hill, Canada
 Address: 15 Wertheim Court
 Website: http://adrak.ca/

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:


Adrak Indian Restaurant & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato