32 Sultan Gate
+65 6291 1190
27 Bali Lane
+65 6299 3267
Bedouin tents; Peter O’Toole on a camel; the cradle of civilisation; oil, war, sand and scarves. The Middle East evokes different images for different people. To me it will always be about the food, so the menu at Nabins is instantly familiar.
First up came hummus and baba ghanoush ($6.60 for the pair), two thick, pureed pastes, the former made of chickpeas, the latter eggplant. These fine dips have become staples of dinner party canapés the world over, and at Nabins they’re excellent.
So much for the vegetarian introduction. Next was the meat platter ($68.80), a bacchanalian orgy of grilled sheep and chicken in various guises. It was enough to feed a family of four – double the number at our table. When finally I pulled myself out of the trough, it was to suggest that the lamb shank and kofta kebab had been particular highlights.
While the region’s food is generally spiced, though rarely very spicy, the drinks and desserts tend to be on the cloyingly sweet side. Nabins’ baklava ($7.90) is perhaps stodgier than the other variations of the same, but if sugary beverages are your thing then do try a Palestinian drink called a halib falastin ($4.90), basically a milk, ice and honey-laced smoothie. Iced mint tea ($6.90) is marginally less sweet and quite refreshing.
For those in need of something a little stronger, Nabins has some very good deals on beers, including eight pints of Stella Artois for just under $40 (is it the best beer deal in the city?). Plus, the restaurant on Bali Lane stays open till 6am for night owls.