Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Al-Amar to Spice up your Life

Who can miss the attractive red interior glassed up restaurant outside Farenheit 88? Yes, Al-Amar express proves to be a popular haunt especially for those who love casually dining on Lebanese cuisine after work and on weekends.

Al-Amar Express holds an enviable position being poised on the sidewalk of Jalan Bukit Bintang in the new Fahrenheit 88 shopping mall which officially opened in November 2010.

The restaurant is a modern, hip and contemporary space with cozy furniture custom-designed especially for the restaurant. The textures and colours of the restaurant come in soft soothing shades of creams and beige with wooden floors and touches of Al-Amar’s signature stamp of red. Suspended from the high ceiling are numerous black wire chandeliers that give off a soft ambient glow. The exterior side of the restaurant has been modeled using a large expanse of glass walls so customers can enjoy watching the busy crowds of KL stroll by.

The menu consists of a combination of Lebanese wraps, healthy sandwiches, chawarmas, salads and Manakeesh (Lebanese pizzas). Al-Amar Express is also open for breakfast and serves a wide array of Lebanese pastries offering diners an alternative to the usual western or continental options. Prices start from RM 8 - RM 25 per dish.
We got the opportunity to try their mouth-watering cuisine at their Fine Dining restaurant at Pavilion a couple of weeks ago when Ralph Zeidan, Al-Amar's Sales and Marketing Director and Alex Hassan, Catering and Event Director, gave us a call to introduce their services.

Al-Amar prides itself by providing some of the best Lebanese offerings available in town and has almost 50% of its ingredients imported directly from Lebanon. Several of the grains, spices, and condiments including chickpeas and the reputable seven spices have to be flown in directly from Lebanon enabling them to deliver the true authentic taste of Lebanese Cuisine. Particular care has also been given in choosing local ingredients to ensure the best standard and freshness levels are met with the stringent requirements of Lebanese Cuisine.

Behind the delicious food and outstanding service stands a team of very talented individuals forming the heart and soul of its operations. The kitchens are led by four highly experienced Lebanese chefs, they are Chef Pierre Chahda, Chef Michel Karam, Chef Qoutyba Fakih and Chef Yehia Mohd El Arab putting their years of knowledge at work to bring the best taste of Lebanon to Kuala Lumpur.

As for Al-Amar’s restaurant operations, these are handled by a team of multilingual and competent individuals benefiting from years of experience in the F&B and hospitality industries. Inevitably the result is top notch service employed to enhance your dining experience.

Throughout the years, Al-Amar has made an impact on the local culinary scene and has proven its ability to delight customers by providing great food, ambient interiors coupled with excellent service.

With all the good stories we read and heard about them (they were awarded “BEST MIDDLE EASTERN RESTAURANT” by Time Out KL Food Awards 2010 and awards of excellence for the MALAYSIAN GOURMET FESTIVAL 2009 and 2010), we couldn't wait to try their dishes.

As we sat down, Hassan and Zeidan enlightened us with the services provided by Al-Amar. Not only do they manage restaurants, they also do catering for parties, small and big. Their extensive kitchen ensures that they have enough hands to handle both restaurant orders and catering orders separately.

Hassan ordered the dishes while Zeidan filled us in a little about their backgrounds. Hassan was working in China for a few years before working in the Malaysian hospitality industry, namely the Grand Millenium hotel, before being personally requested to be involved with the starting up of Al-Amar. Zeidan meanwhile was working in Paris before being asked to be part of the group as well. (I had my chance to practice my smattering of French!)
From left: Alex Hassan and Ralph Zeidan

Their jovial personalities made it a very comfortable lunch and we were famished by the time the first servings arrived.

We started off with the customary Cold Mezze consisting of Hommos (Mashed chickpeas mixed with sesame seed paste and a dash of lemon juice, topped with olive oil), Labneh Bel Toum (Lebanese cream cheese made of strained yogurt, enchanced with garlic, topped with olive oil) and Samkeh Harra (Roasted grouper fish served on a bed of spicy tomato sauce). A must try is also their Tabbouleh, a traditional salad dish made of fresh parsley, tomatoes, onions and bulgur wheat and topped with lemon, olive oil and spices. It helps to work up the appetite tremendously.

I was a little skeptical about having the grouper fish without rice (My stomach is pretty Malaysian) but the texture and the taste on its own instantly washed my hesitance away and I eagerly waited for the next course.

The Hot Mezze consisted of a mixed platter of gooey (and yummy) Cheese Rolls (how did they know I'm a fan of cheese?), Kebbeh Kras (Fried ground beef and bulgur wheat shell stuffed with minced meat, chopped onions and pine nuts), Spinach Fatayer (Fried dough stuffed with baby spinach, onions and a zest of lemon), Beef Sambousik (Fried dough stuffed with minced beef meat and spices).

I simply loved the Beef Sambousik as it melts in the mouth in just one bite. (Their beef is imported from Australia).

Next, the Makanek (Lamb sausages marinated with special Lebanese seasoning)arrived and it was my colleague's turn to be a little skeptical as she's never eaten lamb in her life. Hassan and Zeidan assured her that this would be turning point in her life and she took a brave first bite and was instantly converted into a lamb-eater! "There's no "lamb-y" taste!" she squeals in delight.

To make sure we went off with heavy stomachs, Hassan ordered the Mixed Shawarmas Platter,
a beef and chicken Shawarmas platter served with, tarator sauce, garlic sauce, French fries and condiments plus Grilled Chicken to go with Kabbseh Rice (Fragrant basmati rice cooked with tomato and spices).

To end the lunch with a sweet note, we had Layali Laubnan (A popular layered pudding consisting of semolina, kashta and bananas all topped with fine nuts)and Spiced Fruit Salad (Fruit salad soaked in a spiced passion sauce and topped with strawberry ice cream)

Al-Amar Express is having Let's Meet Up For Lunch promotion. This promotion is offering four differences set Menu which included Manakeesh Combo, Lebanese Sandwiches Combo, Baguette Sandwiches Combo, and Half Roasted Chicken Combo. Click for more info http://bit.ly/kSacns

Al Amar Lebanese Cuisine Sdn Bhd
Lot 6.10, Level-6, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur,
168 Jalan Bukit Bintang, 50450 Kuala Lumpur.
+6 03-2166 1011

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Based in Malaysia, Best Events specializes in Conferences, Seminars, Murder Mystery Dinners, Gala Dinners and Team Building events.


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