Wednesday, October 12, 2011

MIGF 2011: Al Amar, Lebanese Cuisine


I have no boundaries when it comes to food! I learned to appreciate each cuisine on its own and savor them truly based on their culture and environment. When I received an invitation to tour and savor the Al Amar kitchen and menu, I was ecstatic as it is important to also understand how each cuisine is made besides just eating them… J





Lebanese cuisine is not new to Malaysia, however, few outlets here does it as well as Al Amar! The team here takes their food seriously and this can be seen in the Al Amar Pavilion and Al Amar Express where both restaurants showcase Lebanese cuisine in its own hallmark!





Lebanese cuisine includes a great variety of fruits, vegetables, fish and lamb in their dishes. The cuisine also flavors seasonings like olive oil, garlic, lemon and loads of spices to spruce up the dishes. True authentic Lebanese cuisine is featured as mezze or small plates to be share among family and friends. There are a lot of bread, salads and braised dishes in their diet followed by sweet desserts.





For their MIGF 2011 Festival Menu, Chef Michael Karam has come up with a lovely array of Lebanese dishes that is visually gorgeous as well as scrumptious! His dishes represent an authentic recipe of Lebanese recipes coupled with an artistic French style presentation and a notation of Japanese healthy cuisine.






The theme for Al Amar’s menu features a four season courses in relations to their season in the country to be paired with or without wine.




We started off with a Sunny Start of Authentic Labneh Trio with Lebanese Southern Tapenade and a Brush of Thyme presented artfully with crunchy pastry sticks! Labneh is basically made from strained yoghurt that resembles a soft cream cheese. The three cheese balls are coated with dried mint, dried thyme and paprika with chili. I adored the creaminess of the labneh savored with the breadsticks and crunchy pastry sticks. It was just a luscious cheese so silky smooth and the hints of herbs and paprika was individually interesting in prepping up the flavors!





Our next course was visually stunning! Featuring Summer Blooms of Apricot Glazed Beetroot Tartar on Mango Leather and Rocket Coulis, the colors and presentation was attractive to the eye and so refreshing on the taste buds. The vibrant beetroots were perfectly cubed and flavored with apricot with a lovely balance of sweet and sour. Mango leather had the texture of a chewy dried mango stretch thinly while the rocket leaves were turned into a coulis to boost up the hints of herb to the dish.





Garnished with a thin wafer of crispy lotus root pressed with dill and dressed up with edible flowers, the dish reflects on how much thought were put into it despite it being a salad. While others may deem this as average, I concluded that I simply adore the dish as the taste was as vibrant as it looks!





Our Autumn Flavors reflected through an interesting medley of Spinach Bonbon, Soujouk Mille Feuille and Herb Crust Filled with Hommos and Grass Fed Baby Lamb Fillet. All three mezze were truly unique and features its own flavors and textures.





Spinach Bonbon is a cute replica of a twisted candy made from buttery pastry sheet filled with a creamy spinach filling. The bonbons were light and crispy with a savory edge and really easy to be addicted.





Soujouk Mille Feuille may sound fancy but it taste graciously authentic and sumptuous. Soujouk is little lamb sausages served with a lovely tomato sauce. This is was a favorite item among all of us that day. The sausages were full of spices and the minced lamb was superb!





Herb Crust Filled with Hommos and Grass Fed Baby Lamb Fillet was simply too adorable to the eye! A crispy herb patty shaped into a fish and filled with their house signature hummus, a creamy chick pea puree flavored with tahini or sesame paste, studded with bits of lamb fillets and sitting on a bed of shredded filo pastry. The herb patty tasted like a mixture of grains was a bit dry; therefore it has the hummus to sauce it up nicely!





For Raining Chefs, there is an option of lamb or fish as the main course of the meal.


The first Raining Chefs is Pan seared Red Mullet Fillets with Sayadieh Rice and Drops of Fish Jus presented in a long rectangle plate to heighten its visual.





Sayadieh Rice is a Lebanese rice pilaf cooked with caramelized onions and broth. The rice was so delightful and fluffy and I could taste a lot of spices and pepper in it. The grains were well separated as basmati rice was used to ensure a fluffy texture. I could be happy with just the rice alone as it was that good!





Pan seared Red Mullet Fillets with Drops of Fish Jus was decent as it was light and well seared. I personally thought the rice outshine the fish in this dish. The added bits of pomegranate seeds and nuts gave the whole dish a level of textures.





The second Raining Chefs features Braised Rack of Lamb with Stuffed Baby Marrow and Vine Leaves Accompanied by a Garlic Mint Sauce. I like the idea of lighting up the stick of rosemary to in fumed the air with the scent of rosemary to tickle our scent before the meal!





The platter itself looks like an artist’s color palate with three dishes being creatively placed in such an arty presentation!!





Braised Rack of Lamb was cooked nicely till pink to keep it moist and juicy. The seasoning was bit light but I believe it was to showcase the meat’s original flavors.





Stuffed Baby Marrow is another adorable appearance of using the yellow baby squash to stuff a filling of meat and rice! The marrow was lightly roasted and sits on a baby tomato with a swirl of sauce and leaves of mint. I think the ladies fell for this dish with such ease as it was simply too cute to be eaten!!





Stuffed Vine Leaves is one of my favorite Lebanese mezze. Soft vine leaves was wrapped with a filling of meat and rice and cooked gently in a broth till it absorbs the flavors of the broth. The vine leaves here are not to sour like most places but has a savory flavor with a hint of sour to it. The perfectly grilled potato beneath was painstakingly grilled by the staff of the kitchen as I saw them doing it while I was touring the kitchen. Thumbs up for this as I must order this when I return to Al Amar!!





After savoring the fabulous kaleidoscope of mezze, I was excited to see what Sunshine after the Rain brings in the form of dessert!


A platter of sunshine it was, Nougat Glacé Laid on a Bed of Vanilla Pineapple Confit Served with Pineapple Sauce & Spiced Chocolate Shell was a golden sight to behold!





Nougat Glacé was a mold of heavenly soft nougat muddled with dried fruits and coated in a crispy shell sitting on a sliced of vanilla pineapple confit. Although the nougat was vivaciously sweet, surprisingly it was not hard to savor it as there is charisma to the sweet dessert that seems to get me hooked. The super thin dried pineapple looks so glassy and crispy like a representation of the sun against the dessert!





Pour the pineapple sauce over the nougat and crack gently to reveal its jewels among the white nougat. Heavenly sinful!





Pineapple Sauce was light and not overly sweet.





What I love about the dessert is the Spiced Chocolate Shell that housed a gorgeous Cardamom Ice Cream in it!! The speckled chocolate shell was thin and melted as soon as I spoon this into my mouth. The cardamom ice cream was so fabulous and spiced up with cardamoms that I wish I could have another round of this alone.





A truly unique experience to be savored at Al Amar for Lebanese cuisine! Every miniscule detail has been calculated to a tee and every dish has a visually stunning presentation to attract the eye even before it is savored! This is definitely an amazing menu you don’t want to miss during this October month of MIGF!

Indulge in the Full Festival Menu RM138++per person with wine or RM98++per person without wine.

Additional offers:
Door Gifts
Walk in and receive RM20 Dining Vouchers for Al-Amar Express.

Block Bookings
Groups of more than eight people enjoy 10% discount.

Wine/Champagne Offers
Enjoy 15% discount on selected wines ordered (for additional wines ordered by bottle or glass).

Beverage Offers
Get a post-dinner complimentary drink of Lebanese Coffee or Mint Tea.

Shisha Offers
Book a table for a minimum of six guests dining on the Festival Menu and receive a complimentary shisha (one shisha per table).


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In addition to the MIGF menu, we were treated to a teasing platter of breakfast from its Catering Menu. Al Amar offers a wide variety of Lebanese, Middle Eastern, Western and Asian menu on its catering menu. Guest can select from canapés, buffets or even formal sit-down menus for their entertainment functions.





I love the sausages and Egg Benedict with spinach! My only gripe is that the egg yolk was slightly cooked as the yolks should still be soft and flowing but the flavors were spot on. The pastries filled with fruit filling were also sumptuous and crispy. All the above were delightful while savoring a cup of coffee or tea in the morning!





The hummus is so velvety and creamy that it is just hard to stop at mopping up the lovely chick pea puree with the Arab bread. Make sure to order this at Al Amar!





Here is a bird eye view of the kitchen where you can see everything is so neatly arranged in the various sections of the kitchen. I was told that the Al Amar kitchen is designed and approved by the HACCP standard to ensure that the kitchen is in certification to maintain hygiene and cleanliness in their food preparation. Every detail is scrutinized each year for auditing to maintain the certification. Therefore, there is a guideline down right to the knives and cutting boards to be used in the kitchen station where colors are used to segregate the sections of the kitchens. The kitchen is also cool and well ventilated to ensure the raw ingredients are taken care while in preparation and everything is neatly arranged and labeled for recognition.





I spied the staff preparing my favorite Stuffed Vine Leaves… yum!





More staff actions in preparations! You can see how everyone is zipped up in uniforms, gloves and a cap for hygiene purposes. The first picture shows an extremely focus staff grilled a perfect slice of potato slowly with such intensity… J





We were then introduced to Al Amar’s Executive Pastry Chef, Chef Qoutyba Fakih who was responsible for the beautiful desserts we sampled in the menu.





The charming chef proceeds to give us a cooking class on how he makes his Fruit Tarts and even allows us to get creative on the decoration part. Even the owner, Mr. Joseph Afaki gets his creative juices going in decorating the tarts!





Here is a sample of our decorating skill… J


What a superb day it was to be able to sample and tour the Al Amar kitchen to experience a day in a Lebanese kitchen! Thanks to Joseph and Ralph for their hospitality and graciousness in hosting us for that outstanding and unique experience.



Al Amar
Lot 6.10, Level 6, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur,
168 Jalan Bukit Bintang,
50450 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603-2166 1011


18 comments:

  1. Both Quay Lo and I love Lebanese food. Got to check out this restaurant soon. Nice review and beautiful photos as always. The chef is very handsome! LOL!

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  2. I remember the dessert I tried last time was very sweet, how about this time?

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  3. I spy with my eye, u guys learning making tarts!!!
    wah! I missed the making tarts session! sobs!

    The spiced chocolate shell looks good!

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  4. walau... can go their central kitchen.. SO nice

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  5. The dessert from MIGF menu is really nice.

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  6. *salivate* i loved the dishes all to bits especially the Herb Crust Filled with Hommos and Grass Fed Baby Lamb Fillet. It was cute and tasted yummy! Perfect:D

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  7. wow every dish is spectecularly done! Just amazing to see such amazing improvement at this MIGF 2011. awesome!

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  8. Perfect!!!!great job Michael ,amazing art :) good luck!

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  9. nice pic Jen~~~ :) Their MIGF menu is truly awesome!!!!

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  11. Quay Po: Thks! They have really good hummus.. make sure to order that!

    Ken: Yes...

    Choi Yen: Dessert is still sweet but I dont mind cos I only take in small portions.. :)

    Merryn: Next time dear.. and yes Spiced Chocolate has the Cardamon Ice Cream which is damn heavenly... hehehe

    Nikel: Yeah.. the central kitchen is like my dream kitchen... hehe

    Baby Sumo: Yes! Undoubtably addictive...

    Missyblurkit: yeah.. so adorable.. almost too cute to eat!

    BigBoysOven: Lets see if 2012 can outdo this one!

    Rosa: I agree with you. Chef Michael, hope you are reading this... yr masterpieces are truly an art!

    Yvon S: Thks dear... yeah.. I was knocked out-of-my socks for the MIGF menu..

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  12. Al Amar Lebanese cuisine is one of the best cusisine in "asia" ..........!!!

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  13. Mohammed Ansar: I agree absolutely!! XD

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  14. Inviting food photo. Good job guys.

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  15. Chefs have only been able to work in Arabic Restaurant, high-end cuisine. Why? Why haven't they been able to find other scenarios? For those chefs who want to do avant-garde cuisine, should they be finding their income in a restaurant?

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