From a quick kebab to a grand banquet of sharing plates, Middle Eastern cuisine can really hit the spot. Here’s our roundup of great Middle Eastern restaurants in Singapore.
What’s cooking? Authentic Lebanese and Arabic food
What’s on the table? From Ottoman rule to French control, the history of Lebanon and the influence of its neighbours have helped the country craft one of the most popular of Middle Eastern cuisines. Emphasising a diet defined by freshness, herbs and spices, Beirut Grill sources several key ingredients directly from Lebanon for its star dishes and regional favourites. All the usual suspects can be found on the menu, from hummus to kofta, but we followed the “Chef’s Recommendations” stamp for some unforgettable bites!
To start, we picked from both the cold and hot mezza menus; the tabbouleh ($13) – a light salad of parsley, tomato, onion, bulgur wheat, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil – was a refreshing complement to the pan-seared kefalotyri cheese ($16) topped with caramelised fig sauce. Served sizzling, this sweet and salty combination is utterly moreish, as the melted cheese twirls around fresh bread.
The menu boldly declared the Beirut lamb chops ($27) as “best in town”, and I can safely say we now vouch for this. Tender and full of flavour, we were quick to clean them up alongside the shish taouk ($20), chicken cubes marinated overnight with Lebanese herbs and spices, chargrilled to perfection on a bed of grilled vegetables and Arabic rice.
We wrapped up the evening on a traditionally sweet note with Oum Ali ($12), a rich fresh cream pudding baked with raisins, nuts and coconut topped with honey and pistachios.
What else? For those craving a tipple or two, there’s a great cocktail and wine menu on hand – perfect for Friday nights when you can also catch the mesmerising belly dancer from 8pm onwards. – Leanda Rathmell
What’s cooking? Predominantly Turkish and Mediterranean cuisine.
What’s on the table? We started with the meze tabagi ($19), an assortment of the restaurant’s signature dips – hummus, babakanus (roasted eggplant with yoghurt), saksuka (tomato, garlic and eggplant), patlican salata (eggplant salad), ezme (tomato and pepper salad), yaprak sarmasi (rice wrapped in grape leaves) and rus salatasi (Russian potato salad). Served with a warm Turkish lavash bread – the perfect base – this appetiser was absolutely delicious. We opted for the small portion and had plenty to go around for two, but there’s also a bigger portion ($27) available for larger groups.
Meat lovers will be pleased with the selection of kebabs on offer. The adana kebab ($24), featuring minced lamb seasoned with traditional spices, was seared to perfection, and came with a generous serving of fragrant, fluffy buttered rice and a side of fresh green salad. For something different, try the inegol kofte ($24) – special grilled beef patties based on a 19th-century recipe; they’re well executed, extremely flavourful and with a tender bite – a must-try.
End your meal with the classic baklava ($10) – simple yet divine. Or, if you only have room for one dessert, get the kunefe ($13), a one-of-a-kind treat made of thin vermicelli pastry baked in soft cheese and sweet syrup – hands down the highlight of my meal!
What else? The cosy 50-seater restaurant is especially popular during dinner hours, so you’ll either want to make a reservation beforehand if you’re visiting with friends, or arrive early to snag a seat. – Anthia Chng
What’s cooking? Turkish! Kebabs and mezze galore.
What’s on the table? We chose the fried cauliflower with white bean purée, sundried olive and green chilli hot sauce ($12) from the mezze section to start, followed by a salad of grilled cucumber with kale, shaved fennel, chemen crumbs and herbed yoghurt ($14). We then tried all six kebabs! While that sounds like loads, each pita is “open” and the fillings are hearty, perfect for rolling up and tearing in two. The big hitters were the halloumi cheese with smashed avocado, spiced macadamia and pomegranate molasses ($8), charred pork belly with smoked potato purée, gala apple and barberry ($8), and Turkish pepper lamb kofte with eggplant whip, pickled cucumber and yoghurt ($8). The way they combine flavours here is outstanding, and we could have taken on a second round of kebabs if it weren’t for saving our waistlines. No Turkish meal would be complete without a Turkish delight trio ($10), which had pistachio nuts – an unexpected twist.
What else? Head through the velvet curtain to enter The Ottoman Room – ideal for a private party or more formal dinner. And be sure to book ahead, as it’s always busy here – a testament to the beautiful and authentic cuisine. – Emi Finch
What’s cooking? Halal-certified Persian cuisine, with charcoal grilled meats taking centre stage.
What’s on the table? The appetiser platter ($35) is a great way to start, as you’ll get to taste five different apps of your choice; we especially loved the muhamara – a delicious dip made from walnuts, pomegranate, molasses, olive oil, toasted bread crumbs, roasted peppers and spices, served with Iranian bread, and kash-e-bademjan – a mixture of sautéed eggplant, onion and mint (almost like baba ganoush). The Shirazi salad ($12) of chopped cucumbers, tomatoes and onions is super fresh, and another great accompaniment to the meal.
From the charcoal grill, there are loads of different lamb, chicken, beef and fish options, from kebabs and masti (meat cubes marinated in yoghurt and Persian herbs) to a range of mixed meat platters. We shared the Shabestan platter for two ($95) to try some variety, as it includes beef fillet, lamb, chicken, fish and prawns. Though everything was fantastic, I particularly loved the perfectly flavoured beef and the super-succulent prawns – delish! We paired the platter with a mixed rice plate ($12) that included zereshk rice with barberries and pomegranate, and bahala rice with lima beans and dill. To round things off, be sure to finish with some baklava ($10).
What else? Don’t miss the belly dancer on Friday nights from 8.30pm! – Amy Greenburg
What’s cooking? Fun Middle Eastern food with a twist.
What’s on the table? The food here is amazing. It’s all about shared platters – and lots of them!
We started with a selection of mezzes including chickpea and tahini hummus ($8), smoked eggplant, pomegranate and teriyaki babaganoush ($8) and roasted red pepper muhammara ($8), all served as dipping plates with soft pita bread ($4.50).
The caramelised cauliflower ($8) was one of my favourites, tossed in a tahini and dill sauce, as was the squeaky halloumi with honey-glazed carrots and Thai basil ($22). Next came the kale fattoush ($18), an unusual but very yummy dish – a homemade “feta burrata” served with kale croutons and herbs. Next came the brassica tabbouleh ($18) – perfectly cooked Brussels sprouts with raw cauliflower grains, red cabbage and pickled onions, the amazing hot skillet prawns ($38) in green harissa and cream, 100-day aged short rib with Turkish coffee barbecue sauce ($36) and slow-roasted lamb shoulder ($38), which melted in our mouths. Artichoke has a great selection of beers, wines and ciders, and can make pairing recommendations, too.
What else? We loved this place. It’s busy and buzzing, with a great vibe and great music – a lot of fun. It’s also quite casual, so a perfect place to unwind. Dinner is served Tuesday to Saturday from 6.30pm, with an awesome brunch on weekends from 11.30am. – Jacqui Young
Looking for something a bit different?
When a basket full of Middle Eastern treats from Turkish and Mediterranean food supplier Straits Marine Supply arrived at our Wine & Dine desk, we decided to put it to the test. Here’s what various members of the EL team had to say about the products.
What’s in our basket
• Yorsan whole fat sheep milk cheese, $10 (500g)
• Yorsan halloumi cheese, $7.20 (250g)
• Yorsan double cream cheese, $3 (200g)
• Taris pepper-stuffed green olives, $7 (500g)
• Tamtad hummus, $3.50 (380g)
• Tunas tahini sesame paste, $4 (300g)
• Gulluoglu classical Turkish delight, $6.50 (250g)
• Torku whole wheat biscuits, $3 (420g)
• Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi Turkish coffee (ground), $8.50 (250g)
“I really enjoyed the Turkish Delight candies. I’ve previously only eaten those with pistachios, so this one in particular is quite unique to me as it’s rose-flavoured and doesn’t contain any nuts. I also like the chewy texture!” – Liana Talib
“I liked the cream cheese – it’s rich, creamy and thick, like a lighter, spreadable version of brie. I think it would go well with berry jam.” – Leanda Rathmell
“I usually prefer deli-bought olives as they’re less ‘briney’, but these were rather good, and had a bit of spice from the pepper inside. Really quite moreish!” – Amy Brook-Partridge
“The whole-wheat biscuits are addictive! They remind me of the Digestive biscuits I used to eat when I was younger, only these taste a little nuttier. I love how they’re not too sweet, too; perfect for dunking into a hot cup of coffee!” – Anthia Chng
“I liked the texture of the hummus – thick and satisfying, yet still very smooth! It also has a very authentic and strong chickpea flavour without too much salt.” – Susannah Jaffer
“I grilled up the halloumi cheese and added a dash of olive oil, and it was absolutely delicious – addictively salty with a firm texture that reminded me of fried mozzarella. It went wonderfully with halved tomatoes, like a Middle Eastern Caprese salad!” – Amy Greenburg
To order, visit straitsmarinesupply.com and click on the “products” tab. Delivery is free for orders of $150 or more, and $30 for smaller orders. To handpick products in person, visit the warehouse at 42 Tuas View Place.
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