As I pressed the elevator button that would take me up to Kempinski’s new baby Tambourin, I couldn’t help but mull over the term ‘authentic’. There have been instances where the same word has been used to describe original cuisine, but so far my escapades have been unsatisfactory and my experiences wanting. Well, my agenda for the night was to sample some authentic Arabian cuisine, and for once, I decided to set my prejudices on the subject aside.
Our host for the night, a jolly chap called Kithure showed us to our table to await the other guests before the night officially begun. I’m glad we were the first ones, because it gave us a chance to ogle at the Arabian themed décor. Beautifully set dinner tables, intricate wall designs and colorful dinnerware were purposefully laid out to distract us. The draping on the lounge area was decked out in a rich red and maroon color, immediately taking me to the merchant streets of Morocco. A friendly waiter quickly offered us cool refreshing drinks and I picked out a fresh pineapple mint cocktail presented with a side of sweet dates. Ever tasted a date stuffed with pistachio nuts? Me neither. What a treat!
When all the guests had arrived and all niceties exchanged, it was time for business! If you want to judge the food on its authenticity, I always say, start with the chef! And for sure he was Arabian…the accent was a dead giveaway and if you must insist, his knowledge and passion of the food as he explained what he had prepared for us, was proof enough. The team at Kempinski stressed that each restaurant under their portfolio was run by a chef from it’s own region.
For starters, we enjoyed a cold mezze of Arabian delights. The Hummus with basil pesto was the best hummus I’ve ever had this side of town; seriously orgasmic. The Sawdat Dajaj, which is basically sautéed chicken liver with white onion and garlic was a rich memorable dish that stood out. I noticed that most Arabian foods are light, with an emphasis of fresh ingredients and healthy oils. The food is also fairly spiced, which makes it a great treat for the whole family.
From the mains, I sampled the Jawaneh Motafah, a platter of grilled chicken wings with lemon garlic sauce-what a versatile and delicious selection this was! But despite that, the winner of the night must have been the golden fried chicken balls stuffed with pistachio nuts,halloumi cheese and wrapped in othmaleah pastry. You just have to taste it to believe it. Some meals are better left for the tongue to decide.
We had other selections from the menu like the Arabic mixed grill of grilled vegetables, kebabs and lamb. To cap the night off, we had the Umm Ali, a milky bread pudding with mixed nuts and raisins. Of course there are many more food selections I haven’t mentioned at the expense of boring you, but Tambourin is truly an authentic Arabian restaurant.
Did I mention that the dishes are quite affordable, and there will be some belly dancers to entertain you as you enjoy your meal? There is also some flavored shisha on offer for the discerning guests who want to take the experience a step further.
You can have a small intimate party for your guests, as the sitting capacity is quite large.