As seen on OpenRice
Zahrabel’s New Lunch Service
I went to Zahrabel over lunch since I heard they recently launched a midday service (they used to only open for dinner). At the beginning of June 2017, the restaurant introduced an Express Lunch Set Menu (HK$140) and an Executive Lunch Set Menu (HK$150-190). Both feature the famous Mezze Sampler packed with a variety of the restaurant’s best appetizers. Their Executive Menu, meanwhile, includes an add-on of hot food, featuring their bestselling dinner dishes.
They obviously put a lot of thought into their lunch service as they made sure all the food was served in a timely manner, given that most customers only have an hour or less for lunch in the middle of their work schedule. However, that didn’t detract from the intimate feel of the Zahrabel experience, nor from the quality of the food.
Situated on the 25th floor of a Wan Chai high rise, you will always have natural lighting and a view no matter where you sit. The layout of the restaurant is long, with tables arranged parallel to the floor-to-ceiling windows.
Nadia and Nysreen, the elegant Lebanese sisters who run the restaurant, were there when I went. As is their usual practice, they chatted with each table to make sure everything was up to standard. Zahrabel is a family business, and they said at least one member of the family has to be in the restaurant during operating hours to supervise the food and service.
The staff are as subtle and as classy as their owners. They were trained well, with that understated and old world touch that one hardly encounters in the Hong Kong dining scene nowadays (unless of course you go somewhere like The Peninsula. Even Mandarin Oriental hasn’t been able to quite get it right in terms of their staff tbh – and I’m not the only one who’s noticed!)
Middle Eastern Goodness
I’m surprised not more is being said on OpenRice about this restaurant, which for me serves one of if not the best Middle Eastern food in town (they had me at dessert – I asked for their house made date fingers when I went, but they only have it for dinner!)
Let’s start with drinks. I very much appreciated the service water which they offered immediately. I ordered the Hot Mint Tea with complimentary refills, included in the set. If you come for dinner, however, I highly recommend you try Lebanese wine, which is incredible. Nadia happily informed us that Lebanon was actually one of the world’s first wine-producing countries. Not hard to believe.
I went for the Executive Lunch Menu because I couldn’t resist the Shish Taouk (HK$180) – however the Zahrabel Mezze Platter was so filling that I had to take my skewers home with me after just a few bites. They served me two grilled chicken skewers on Lebanese bread with garlic sauce. I begged the server not to forget to pack the sauce when I took it out, it’s so good…
The mezze platter was a nutritious classic Lebanese combination of Hummus, House Salad, Felafel, Lebanese pickles, and pita/flat bread. And of course, the best part is the house specialty dip and my personal favourite in Zahrabel: the Jos Mahrouse, a dish you can’t find anywhere else in Hong Kong. Jos Mahrouse is a slightly spicy/sweet, nut-based dip only found in the northern region of Lebanon where the El-Mahmouds are from.
Both lunch menus are served with either Lebanese Coffee or Hot Mint Tea, and the dessert of the day. The latter was a house-made freshly baked baklava when I went, the best in Hong Kong imho! (I used to love Cafe Habibi’s baklava as well, but sadly they closed down)
Vegetarians (or healthy eaters like me) would appreciate the meatless mezze. It’s such an interesting and delicious mix of flavours and textures that meat eaters wouldn’t even miss meat having it. Zahrabel can also adjust the platter to suit vegan / gluten-free diets.
Would I come back?
Seeing as I’m a returning customer, the answer is clearly yes! I would return just for the date fingers and Jos Mahrouse!