Kazbah Darling Harbour – Feast of the Middle East
It was the end of semester 2, 2012, and me and my fellow BITs needed a celebratory dinner somewhere close by. We originally intended to go to Surry Hills but as we were in the city already…Kazbah just popped up as a completely random idea. I was totally up for it – not having been there in some time. It was still one of the few places which left good impressions on me in terms of quality of food, as I simply have not had many great experiences with Middle-Eastern cuisine.
It was quite the surprise when I found out that I actually know the manager of the place – she went to my high school! My, how times have changed! People are sure getting around in life! It’ll be interesting to see how the service is this time – more than a year ago when I last went, the service was excruciatingly slow, despite the good food.
Well, it all seems to have changed for the better
Date Visited: 2/11/2012
Address: The Promenade Harbourside Shopping Centre, Darling Harbour, NSW 2000
Go-to dish: Lamb Kafta, Garlic Crushed Potatoes, Kalamata Olives Chakchouka, Hummus Sauce shish
So to reiterate, Kazbah serves Middle Eastern cuisine – you have your shish kebabs, your falafels, lebanese bread with various dips (hummus anyone?), and generally a very traditional, yet exotic ways of cooking it all up. Theres a distinct Moroccan influence to it all (example of a famous Moroccan dish – couscous), with distinct and liberal use of spices.
And that’s why I like it
The wait staff at Kazbah pour water in a pretty cool manner permitted by the laws of physics. If you do it yourself, be sure to do so with confidence – as pouring it slowly will lead to a watery mess!
We start with assorted bread and dips. All the bread was very nice – I really do prefer warm/toasted bread over their cold versions, and it’s great that Kazbah does it this way as well. The char is a bit strong, but you can scrape it off it becomes too concerning.
Out of the dips we received, I definitely preferred the baba ghanoush the most. I don’t usually eat eggplant, but when I do I eat it in the form of a dip. The hummus was rather blandish, while the carrot actually had a very nice aroma to it, it was t he baba ghanoush that had the creamy texture and deliciously smoky/nutty flavour that paired really well with the bread, be it crispbread or the full slice.
Next up, we have some very spicy prawns served in Kataifi fillo pastry. The sauce is extra spicy, made from aleppo pepper and brings a sharp but delicious flavour to the prawns. They themselves virtually soak it all up, and I made sure to have the sauce on with each bite. The mouth burns, with glorious spicy goodness.
Wow, totally screwed up the white balance on the pic (how did it escape my review??) but that doesn’t detract from the size of that lamb shank! Yes – it pulls right off the bone. That’s all you need to know really!
Well, the flavour is quite nice too haha. It wasn’t actually as spiced-up as I liked it to be and as a result lacked a bit of flavour on the innards, but texture was fantastic as expected. Kazbah, you can be more liberal with your seasoning on this one!
Beef cheeks are delicious cuts of beef that are strong and lean, but produce great results when you slow-cook them. It becomes super tender, and is kind of like a beef equivalent for lamb in that regard. This was a particularly yummy dish with seasoning that surpasses that of the lamb. I would have preferred it to be either more spicy or more seasoned, or even both!
Still, ate a lot of it, and the fork only came down when the tagine was emptied!
The shish kebabs is really where it’s all at. Most of us exclaimed when this first beauty was plated (or boarded?) up to us.
I gotta say pork belly with scallops is not a normal combination, but it didn’t really matter as I ate both separately. That’s really how you should as scallops have a super light and subtle flavour that will pass off as a mere cylinder of texture if you ate it with something powerfully flavoursome such as pork belly.
Speaking of the pork belly – ohh my yes it was delicious. Cooked very nicely, slightly leaning towards more tougher rather than softer, going very well with the mash and the spinach sauce (who’d have thought spinach sauce would taste so damn fine!).
Definitely, definitely wanted to eat more than my fair share of this one. How could you top it?
As it turns out, with a lamb shish. This is a little less fancy than the pork belly shish, but it’s superior in flavour. The combination of lamb, hummus sauce and potatoes that seems to be made in heaven – but you only realise this when you bite into it. It all comes together surprisingly and deliciously well. It just does everything so well and you could picture yourself getting full on this alone.
Of course, anyone who hasn’t done it before ought to give the shisha a try, unless you’re extremely aversive of tobacco. I decided to try it, as once shouldn’t hurt. It was very light on flavour but if you inhale enough, you will definitely feel it. A rather amusing experience as everybody tried to blow smoke rings
So I decided to get a dessert well after the meal – because better late than never! I’m glad I did too, as this is a very nice dessert. It’s very sweet and as is the case with baklava-style desserts, the pastry itself is very sweet too. I never found it to be too much though, as I was always able to switch from the ice cream, to the choc caramel sauce, to the bisteeya pastry. It never got boring – a sugar rush that, once in awhile, is definitely worth it.
It’s great to see Kazbah’s service times reduced and coupled with the quality of their food, makes it a winner once again. Awesome!
As usual, feel free to leave a comment or three
The Good: service is now quite good! Great representations of Middle Eastern cuisines, harbourside locale makes for some decent alfresco
The Bad: some dishes were not seasoned to preference, still quite expensive – your bill will run up fast if you want to fill up
I give Kazbah a grand total of eight Caesars out of ten – 8/10