“You get over your first love by falling in love with something new.”
– Mo Ibrahim
Except you Bacon-Avocado Burger. I will always love you.
Hopefully the title says what I think it says, I used Google Translate lol.
In February of 2014, my wife and I tried Korean food for the first time. Our relationship wasn’t that far along and we were still in somewhat of a semi-awkward, see-how-far-it-will-go stage. What we needed was a date night that was both simple and romantic, yet exotic and adventurous. Naturally, we turned to food. I looked up a Korean place downtown and we just grabbed our coats and went. It turned out to be the perfect balance of romantic and fun. On a whim, we had set out to try something new and it was a great experience. Since then, I’ve been a big fan of trying different cultural cuisines.
Admittedly, we don’t do this as often as we should because I have a dark secret that is hard to overcome: I like what I know I like. I’m usually the kind of guy that gets the same flavor every time we go for frozen yogurt and the same toppings on every pizza I order, partly because I don’t want to risk paying for something I don’t like, but also because I reeaaally like what I know I like. Regardless of these tendencies, though, I always get the urge to try new restaurants with food that is completely foreign to me. Sometimes I just need the right opportunity.
Recently our good friends James and Catherine invited us to try Lebanese food. It took a few tries to find a day that worked for all of us, but eventually we set a date and met up at a great place by their house called Micho’z Fresh Lebanese Grill. I had done a little research ahead of time because I wanted to get a feel for the best things to order. I knew that if I went unprepared, I would get whatever looked most familiar to me (which is a terrible way to try new things).
The restaurant was small and cozy with indoor and patio seating. The brick walls and wood ceiling gave the place a comfy look. Someone greeted us when we walked in and let us pick out a table. They brought salted carrot sticks with lime for us to snack on while we waited for our friends to arrive…which made me feel really healthy haha.
We decided the best way to sample the most Lebanese food (without shattering our tiny budget) was to split the Michoz sampler and an entree. The sampler plate seemed to be comprised of most of the main items that had popped up in my Google searches, so I new it was legit. It came with 2 sambousik, 3 falafel, 3 grape leaves, 2 raket, and 2 kibbeh which Wikipedia claims is Lebanon’s national dish 😉 . I didn’t really have a favorite, because they were all basically fried-stuffed-with-meat-or-cheese deliciousness. I’m not a food critic by any stretch, so I’ll just bullet-point my thoughts on the different foods for you:
- The falafel, which for some reason always conjures up in my mind the image of a rolled waffle filled with honey, were deep fried chickpea paste in the shape of a short muffins full of flavorful spices with a crumbly texture.
- The sambousik, sometimes spelled “sambousek” are a small, baked, meat-filled pies that reminded me of empanadas from Chile. They were delicious.
- The grape leaves were the only thing we weren’t fond of…although for the record, I gave them more of a chance than Ana did. The flavors were just very strong and different. They were cold, wet and stuffed with something. That probably makes them sound really bad, but I would try them again…probably an acquired taste lol…sorry grave leaves.
- The kibbeh, was very good, I could probably eat a whole table full lol. Wikipedia (good thing this isn’t a scholarly research article) says they are cracked wheat, minced onions, and finely ground meat all deep fried…all I know is they were good.
- The rakakat are crispy fried pastries filled with akavi and mozzarella cheese. They are light and delicious. I’m sure I don’t need to say more, but if all I had to eat was rakakat and kibbeh, I would leave fat and happy!
For our entree, we go the lamb kabob with a side of Lentil soup. Juicy chunks of lamb cooked to perfection served with tahini sauce, rice, and a side of your choice…is how the menu puts it (too good to be my words lol). The menu also boasted various other kabobs, as well as shawarma served on rice, hummus bowls, tilapia, and more. It all sounded delicious, but I have never had lamb, so in the spirit of trying something new we go the lamb kabob. The whole dish was very tasty. The lamb didn’t taste too much different than beef (not big surprise), but Ana really loved the rice (she told me multiple times lol)…so good job Micho’z. The lentil soup was surprisingly good, but I am the slowest soup eater in the world, so I only had two spoonfuls.
Our friends were awesome enough to share some of their food with us so we wouldn’t miss out on any of the Lebanese goodness. Catherine ordered the gyro meat with a side of baba ghanouj, and James got the chicken kabob with a side of hummus. Everything was a sort of a whirlwind of flavors, but the texture and taste of the gyro meat was so amazing, a sort of fatty crispiness on one side and a tender juiciness on the other. I will be getting the gyro meat next time we go.
Overall, there was almost nothing on the table I had eaten before, and only one thing I didn’t like when the meal ended. Success 🙂
I like doing a little research ahead of time so you can get a real feel for new cuisine. Often restaurants will already have their menu posted online so you don’t have to feel pressured into picking something before the waiter returns (for the third time).
If you have never eaten gyro meat, order it!
Yelp is a great tool to help you find new places to eat. You can even enter a type of cuisine like “Japanese” or “Russian” and it will pop up reviews, maps, and photos…and hours, always check the hours and read recent review to see if a place is still in business (don’t ask me how I know that last part is important lol).