al hamra, holland village

great – and almost definitely one of the best places locally – middle-eastern/lebanese food in the expatriate haven of holland village. that latter description was particularly chosen – there seems a lack of local interest in the highly spiced flavours of this region’s cuisine, which probably accounts for the scarcity of places serving it. but I love it, and so this place made me right happy.

the food is great, nearly at the level of lebanese I used to get in london – whether a mark of authenticity I leave you to decide – and while expensive, it’s more than good enough for me to return.

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beirut grill, bugis

decent lebanese food along bussorah street – though I still haven’t found anything in singapore that satisfies nearly the way yalla yalla does. I came here in a group of good friends because two of us wanted middle-eastern food, and despite the fact that we have a sizeable muslim community here (which ostensibly ought to perpetuate the growth of these restaurants), I haven’t really found a place with good hummus or pita – which I think, really, are the basics. this place came up on our incessant googling, and so we took it for a spin – it was pretty decent food, and one of the best in this genre that I’ve had in singapore, but it stands nowhere if contesting with outlets in london.

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comptoir libanais, london


decent lebanese down at south kensington. this place just opened recently and I’ve wanted to come here for the longest time, mainly because the place is always packed out – but then again what restaurant even slightly above average isn’t in the area?

anyway, this is only my second time having lebanese food, but I have to say I far preferred the food at yalla yalla, not that that should vouch for its authenticity or anything like that. the place was packed out, but we got a table for 2 within 10 minutes on a friday night at 8pm, so that’s not too bad.

we had pita with hummus – it was strangely tannic and sour, not really the rich spread that I was hoping for. the pita was good though. the chicken sambousek – those fried puffs you see up there – were way too dry. I have to say honestly that this has been one of the first few times I’ve disliked a dish at a restaurant so much I just left it alone.

the fried halloumi steak was good, though a bit oily, but that was easily rectified by padding with a serviette. I do enjoy halloumi though, so this was a good dish to come after the sambousek. after this, we shared a mixed grill plate which came with pieces of chicken, as well as a chicken and lamb kebab and this was nice, with a flavourful pilau.

I’m not quite sure to make of this experience, but if I were to have lebanese, I’d definitely head to yalla yalla.

p.s. about the lighting in the photos: I never process my photos before posting them here, and was playing around with the white balance to see what made for a more attractive photo. I have to say I’ll stick with the less-accurate and less-clinical looking flourescent setting instead of using true white balance.

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yalla yalla, london


amazing lebanese street food in soho. I dislike no-reservation establishments, but this, and spuntino have made me realise that they are truly worth the wait. we queued outside the green street branch for 45 minutes waiting for a table, but I would – and am planning to – do it again.

everything was good, so there really isn’t need to go into detail. we had the elderflower lemonade and apple-mint-ginger drink to start, both too sweet but fragrant; the BEST plate of fried seafood I’ve had in london (and to put this in context my till-now favourite has been the fried calamari at busaba eathai), fresh and crisp and the spices were the best counterpoint; z’atar flatbread; a basket of pitas that never seemed to lose their warmth; hummus and a fattoush salad; grilled sea bass on a tomato sauce (so good) with fluffy fragrant pilau; as well as some grilled lamb skewer. that was a long paragraph, but it was so good.

we had a very friendly waitress too, and she gave in to our request for singular pieces of the sweets so we could try more. there was the turkish delight, which is the first time I’ve had it so fresh and fragrant; a date-semolina cookie; as well as kneefe, which was a semolina sponge on a layer of stretchy cheese. this last was a bit too unfamiliar, and we couldn’t finish it but it went well with the rose ice-cream. these were all too sweet though, but it’s a cultural thing.

run to yalla yalla, or rather don’t go there so I’ll have less of a queue to grapple with.

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