The real deal

Le­banese street food served up with his­tory and style

Monthly Chronicle - - Dining Out Locally - Jenny Bar­lass

W hen I was a univer­sity stu­dent liv­ing in penury in Dar­linghurst, my choice of din­ner was al­ways the fab­u­lous take­away roll of hum­mus, falafel and tabouli from a Le­banese guy on Crown Street who re­ally nailed it with the flavours and the price - just $1.

It was fast, fresh, full of vi­ta­mins, and de­lighted my cof­fee-ad­dled stu­dent taste buds.

Fast for­ward a few decades and din­ing at the newly opened By­b­los Grill in Yar­rara Road, Pennant Hills has that same af­fect - again with­out bust­ing the bank.

It’s the By­b­los walls you no­tice first on ar­riv­ing - they have a de­lib­er­ately aged patina with a clev­erly dis­tressed look with wall paint­ings of in­ter­est­ing look­ing char­ac­ters sport­ing fez. There’s an art­fully drawn faded map of the town the own­ers are from in Le­banon. Pretty lanterns, soft lights and just a touch of sub­way tiles bring the look up to date.

Though the food is dubbed “Le­banese street food” by own­ers Tracey, Ju­lian and Jo Has­sarati due to its speed and sim­plic­ity, the beauty of this place is you can ei­ther opt for the street food op­tion, or stay longer and work your way through the menu with starters, a range of mains and dessert.

Hav­ing put our­selves in the hands of the own­ers, we be­gin with a starter plate of falafel which when bit­ten into re­veals a vi­brant green from the many herbs used, as well as crunchy golden Kibbeh balls, suc­cu­lent with rice and mince.

One of my din­ing com­pan­ions is glutenin­tol­er­ant and with­out no­tice of her needs, within min­utes the kitchen has pro­duced a plate of gluten-free falafel (the same recipe mi­nus cracked wheat), as well as smoky-tast­ing roasted cauliflower and a del­i­cate tahini sauce.

Next in the pro­ces­sion in Kousa - zuc­chini stuffed with rice and meet ac­com­pa­nied by just about the best sauce I have ever tasted - toum. This is raw gar­lic pulped with olive oil slowly driz­zled in, and fin­ished with lemon, pro­duc­ing a sur­pris­ingly white sauce per­fect for dip­ping small pieces of food into. So gar­licky it’s bound to clear any lift you step into the fol­low­ing day.

Our mains in­cluded a plate of char-grilled chicken pieces, pi­quant and vi­brant tabouli, and bright pink turnip pickle ac­com­pa­nied by a good serv­ing of creamy, home­made hum­mus far bet­ter than any­thing you could buy in the shops.

Other mains we didn’t have room to try but will be back to sam­ple next time in­clude the grilled meat plat­ter - pieces of lamb, chicken and sausage with a smoky fin­ish. Dessert is Knaffe, a feast for the eyes - a mix­ture of creamy cheese, cream and rose­wa­ter, adorned with shred­ded filo, rose petals, pis­ta­chios and Per­sian fairy floss. It’s a fit­ting end to a sump­tu­ous ban­quet. We fin­ish with Le­banese cof­fee tem­pered with car­damom which while strong, is not over­pow­er­ing.

“All the recipes are very tra­di­tional and gen­er­a­tions old,” ex­plains Tracey Has­sarati. “Many peo­ple cook be­side the road in pans and sell at mar­kets or to peo­ple pass­ing and this is where many of our food tra­di­tions come from.

“There’s a large Le­banese com­mu­nity com­ing to Aus­tralia as refugees af­ter the Sec­ond World War and th­ese are the recipes they have brought with us from home. Each gen­er­a­tion passes down vari­a­tions on how they make cer­tain dishes.”

The in­gre­di­ents are tra­di­tional - sumac, mixed pep­pers, pa­prika, pick­led veg­eta­bles, pis­ta­chios, all sourced from Le­banese sup­pli­ers in Auburn, while the meat is all Ha­lal.

This is a wel­come ad­di­tion to the lo­cal din­ing scene, and des­tined for huge pop­u­lar­ity for its fresh, authen­tic food de­liv­ered with tra­di­tional Le­banese hos­pi­tal­ity.

Owner Tracey Has­sarati and son Ju­lian Grilled meat plat­ter of lamb, chicken and sausage Le­banese salad Falafel and Kibbeh Skew­ered chicken with hum­mus and tabouli By­b­los Grill 74 Yar­rara Rd, Pennant Hills Tel: 9484 9579 Open: Tues­day to Sun­day 11am to...

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