In hindsight, we should have worn track-bottoms instead of the flat-front slacks we had on. We were bursting at the seams. It was not just because the food was good (I’ll get to that in a bit), but the portions were incredibly generous. At the end of that dinner session, we felt like we couldn’t eat a single thing more.
I first caught wind of this Lebanese restaurant through my brother, who mentioned that they have an awesome lamb, which they served with rice. Never one to pass up a good meal, I made it a point to pay Al Rawsha a visit. It’s quite tricky to find, if you’re unfamiliar with KL, so bring along GPS to make things easier. Hint: turn left after Ampwalk Mall.
Nestled along Jalan Damai, Al Rawsha Restaurant serves traditional Lebanese cuisine, a ‘taste of Beirut’, as their menu says. ‘Rawsha’ apparently refers to a rock off a cliff, along the coast of Lebanon. I first thought it was a formal, fancy place, but I was pleasantly surprised to see it’s anything but. It’s actually a converted bungalow, with open seating areas, and lots of tables. Luckily, being there at 6pm meant no crowds.
Having taken our seats, we scrutinized the menu, looking at the various dishes on offer. The menu is quite large, with grill items, rice, cold and hot appetizers, as well as various side dishes and entrees. Feeling very hungry and enticed by the sight of a waiter carrying what looked like a platter of rice with huge pieces of meat in the center, my friend and I quickly decided on some dishes.
We ordered the Vine Leaves (RM9), which are grape leaves stuffed with rice, tomatoes and mint as a starter. As entrees, we decided to share a Lamb Mandy (RM22), a gently spiced rice dish with lamb, and a Shish Tawook (RM16), which were grilled chicken breast chunks, with bread and condiments. We also had a small bowl of Hummus (RM8) as a dip.
When the food all arrived at the same time, my friend and I got a bit apprehensive. It was a LOT of food. What we ordered could easily feed four persons. Putting that thought aside, the food looked very delicious indeed. Hungry and salivating, we pounced. Popping one of the Vine Leaves into our mouths revealed a pleasant surprise; the initial slight tinge of bitterness of the leaves gave way to a soury, minty and delicious filling. The Hummus, chickpeas blended with garlic, lemon, sesame paste and olive oil, came with large pieces of toasted flatbread, which we dutifully tore pieces off and dipped in the velvety smooth dip. A perfect way to whet the appetite.
It was time for the entrees. The lamb dunked on top of the rice was probably saddle, from the back of them lamb. Poking my fork and spoon into the lamb revealed it to be fall-off-the-bone tender; no knives needed here. Melt-in-the-mouth and flavorful, the meat went perfectly well with the buttery soft rice. Each mouthful was a dance of aromatic spices, of clarified butter and the umami-rich lamb. It’s perfect for meat lovers, especially those who don’t like their meat tough.
Eventually we had to force ourselves from the rice and lamb to try out the Shish Tawook. It was served with pita bread, smeared with tangy tomato (or is it harissa?) sauce, grilled onion and tomato, pickles, sour cream and oddly, french fries. We wrapped a chunk of chicken around the flatbread that came with the hummus and bit in. Now, chicken breast meat tends to dry out when improperly cooked, but these wonderful morsels were superb. A slight char provided a smoky flavor and crust, and the meat itself was tender, moist and very juicy. Not at all dried out. It was, for lack of a better description, the best chicken shish I have ever had in Kuala Lumpur (let me know if I'm wrong!).
We thought of wanting to order dessert, but three-quarters of the way into the meal, we just knew we couldn’t, despite being so attracted to their dessert menu. We just couldn’t. We were so full, we felt slightly embarrassed with ourselves. The bill came out to RM93, including drinks. Pricey? Not really, considering we had enough to feed four people, so work out the math and you’ll see it’s pretty good value for money, more so because of the large portions.
Al Rawsha is an excellent place for a big meal in a casual atmosphere. The only caveat? You might want to consider wearing pants with stretchy waistbands. You WILL get full.
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