Kuala Lumpur - Al-Amar - KL's Best Lebanese?
According to an article on Middle-Eastern cuisine in The Star, Malaysia's top-selling newspaper recently, Kuala Lumpur has over 2,000 Middle-Eastern/Arabic eateries, catering to an estimated 200,000 Arab population in the city, which also tend to spike in the summer months when Middle-Eastern tourists invade the shores of Malaysia. Saudi women who passed through KL's immigration counters do *not* need to remove their full-face veils for identity verification purposes! How's that for special treatment for Muslims?
Anyway, amidst such strong competition in KL's Arabic F&B sector, Al-Amar has been consistently rated No. 1 restaurant under the Middle-Eastern category by a number of Malaysia's food guides.
I liked the falafel here - served hot & crisp. The tahini dip enhanced the flavors tremendously.
Other dishes we had:
- Tabbouleh: light, crisp salad consisting of chopped parsley, tomatoes, onions, bulgur wheat, with lemon, olive oil & spices.
- Cheese mankouche: which is something like a "naked' pizza, topped with cheese. Tasty snack nonetheless.
- Hot Mezze platter, which consisted of beef Sambousik, spinach Fatayer, lamb Kibbehs and cheese-filled pastry rolls. This dish was perfect for us to try all the hot mezze options.
- Mixed grilled kebab platter - Lahem Mechwe (grilled beef tenderloin) skewer, Chich Taouk (Lebanese-style chicken in lemon-garlic-cinnamon) skewer, and Kafta (Lebanese-style ground beef) skewer. Very substantial here, and definitely for meat-lovers.
Finished the meal with a selection of Lebanese desserts: Riz Bi Halib (rice & milk pudding), Mohalabieh (rose water & milk pudding, topped with chopped nuts) and Karicheh Bi Assal (milk curds with honey topping) - very sweet ending indeed!
Al-Amar Lebanese Restaurant
Lot 6.10, Pavillion
168 Jalan Bukit Bintang
55100 Kuala Lumpur
I passed through KL two weeks ago on my way to Borneo and stopped by Al Amar (the original, not express) with my family one night on this post's recommendation. I can't speak to whether it's the best in the city, but our meal was very good. (Disclaimer: I'd just spent four months in rural Indonesia, so anything not rice-based struck me as pretty miraculous at that point. But still.)
We ordered the hummus, tabbouleh, hot mixed appetizers, and mixed kebab plate, plenty of food for three people. All were delicious. Usually I'm partial to lamb, but my favorite was actually the beef kebab. I'd like to know what spices they used on that one. The pita could have been a touch softer, and there was a spinach pastry in the mixed plate that I found a little sour for my taste, but overall an excellent meal. We were too stuffed to try the desserts. With still water it came to about RM180, or ~$60. I'd definitely go back.
Mind you, the "Lebanese" do not uniformly consider themselves as Arabs and certainly the diaspora is mainly Christian, not Muslim. :-) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lebanese_people
Out of curiosity I wonder what the affiliations of the owners are.
This is obviously the one at the Pavilion SC. I see they have an online menu but without prices listed. http://www.al-amar.com/pavilion_menu.html Presumably halal although I don't seem to see declarations of this on their website.
How does the one called "Express" compare?
Some pics of Al-Amar Express which I snapped this evening - because of its more open setting (beside busy Jalan Bukit Bintang, opposite the old site of Bukit Bintang Girls School, now Pavilion mall), most of their Arab clientele looked Jordanian, Lebanese or Syrian (Western-clad, women with bleached blonde hair), whereas the more secluded setting of the older, more formal Al-Amar at the Pavilion is more popular with Saudis, their womenfolk clad in black burqas with full-face-covering veils.