The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Lebanese @ Alfanoose, NYC

Yes, I'm still blogging about our NYC eats even though we've been back in Tokyo for over a week now, but this is the last one. Rob's auntie arrived in New York two days before our flight back to Tokyo, so we met up with her for dinner on that Thursday. Rob and I actually had no idea where to bring her, only that it had to be somewhere downtown near our apartment because we had an early morning flight the next day. The problem was, good restaurant eats are hard to find in the financial district of the city. In the end, we decided to go to Alfanoose, which was a 5-minute walk from our apartment, and it has plenty of good reviews so we knew the food would be decent enough. However, we didn't expect it to have such a casual setting, but this is not a really bad thing. It's the first time we've brought her somewhere we haven't been before. (By the way, the spellings of the dishes names are as given by the restaurant's menu, which differs slightly from the more usual spellings.)

We decided to go for the Combination Meat Platter (US$18) where you can choose two types of meats, and it comes with a pita bread, the choice of mojadara (lentils with wheat or rice) or salad, and either homous, baba ganouge, tabouli or foul mudammas. I was overwhelmed by the unfamiliar terms and the variety of options to choose from, and it didn't help that Rob and his aunt left it up to me to choose dinner, so I just chose the meats and let our server decide what would go with the meats. We got the Lamb Shawarma (sliced lamb meat marinated in vinegar and spices, US$13.25) and Shish Tawook (charcoal grilled cubes of marinated chicken breast). I honestly do not remember which side dishes were chosen for us, only that they were yummy. We also shared a serve of Meat Kibbeh (ground lamb with cracked wheat, stuffed with chopped meat, onion, walnut and spices, US$7.95). This was nice, but I probably preferred the falafel which I'm comparing to because they're both deep-fried balls. Rob mentioned that although the meats tasted good, they were pretty dry on their own, but that was easily fixed by liberally using the dipping sauces that came with the platter.

Combination Meat Platter with Lamb Shawarma and Shish Tawook; and the Meat Kibbeh:

In addition to the meats, we shared a Combination Vegetarian Platter (US$12) with a choice of three vegetarian dishes. This option is served with a pita bread and mojadara or salad. I chose the Falafel, Stuffed Grape Leaves and Foul mudammas. The vegetarian musaka was also on the plate, so I guess the combination vegetarian platter included an additional side dish. The falafel was pretty good, and Rob said it was his favourite item out of everything. I enjoyed the musaka too.

Combination Vegetarian Platter:

I liked the generous serving sizes - although there were four of us sharing the two combination platters, we couldn't finish everything. I also liked that you could choose wholewheat pita bread here. And also the fact that this place caters to both the herbivores and carnivores with plenty of choices. Rob always has room for dessert, and Alfanoose has a decent selection of Middle Eastern desserts. He selected Namora (US$1.75) and Kinafa (US$2.75). The Namora was a rather dense coconut cornmeal cake soaked in sugar syrup, and it proved too sweet for us. The Kinafa was a light and creamy cheesy dessert, which was really nice! So nice that Rob went and enquired more about it. It uses shredded phyllo dough called kataifi, which gave it a lovely light texture to the dessert. And it wasn't too sweet, which made it all too easy to eat too much of it.

Namora and Kinafa:

This is a great little place for Middle Eastern food in a laidback atmosphere. Friendly and helpful staff too.

Alfanoose Middle Eastern Cuisine on Urbanspoon

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