By: Sarah Richard
Following the closure of Soho favourite Life Cafe last year, diners have held high hopes for the new restaurant by Black Sheep Group that was set to take its place. And now it’s here. Maison Libanaise is a Middle Eastern-style restaurant over three floors, with a different concept on each level. The first floor offers made-to-order Lebanese street food to take away, such as wraps, salads and falafels, while the second floor serves traditional mezze and main dishes, and the final floor is home to a rooftop and open-air dining area.
On the second floor, the mezze portions are designed to share – just the way they do it in the Middle East. I love dining this way, so I was more than happy to order pretty much every dish on the menu and share it with my five companions.
The appetisers proved to be among the highlights of the night; they included hummus bi tahini, baba ganoush, La Maison labneh (all $48) and homemade pita bread ($18). Good hummus is really hard to find in Hong Kong so I was impressed to see Maison get the recipe spot on. Then we tried the eggplant fattoush ($78), which was fresh and bursting with flavours. It might be worth mentioning now that I used to live in Turkey a few years back, so I have somewhat of a love affair with this kind of food (although Lebanese food is slightly different), and I was completely in my element at this stage.
This was actually my second visit in the week to the restaurant, and when I first tried the almond falafel ($68) it was slightly dry and disappointing. This time, however, it was seasoned with great consistency. Dish of the night, meanwhile, was the pan-fried haloumi ($88), which can only be described as pure perfection. Order two of these! I wasn’t quite as keen on the pulled lamb shoulder ($198); I felt it had more of a Western style to it, and lacked that Middle Eastern edge.
Since we had already devoured most of the menu between us, we couldn’t refuse dessert, and when told my all-time favourite sweet treat baklava was available ($38 for 4 pieces) I was sold. It tasted just about as good as the ones I used to buy from the local Turkish food market!
You may consider me biased because of my love for Middle Eastern food, but if anything this makes me a harsher critic. I didn’t get the chance to sample Maison’s extensive Lebanese wine list but I’ve heard positive things. The quality of the food is very high and prices are reasonable, the only downside is it seems everyone is jumping on the craze and there are lines out the door most nights at the moment – so do book in advance.
10 Shelley Street, Soho
2111 2284 | maisonlibanaise.com.hk
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