A quick Google of Jasmine 1 in Auburn turns up very conflicting results: no one can seem to agree on whether it’s actually part of a chain, whether there’s an affiliation between the different locations, or even whether it’s spelt Jasmin or Jasmine (why did I not take a closer look at the sign when I was there).
But what they can agree on, is that the food is good.
Pronounced “Fool”, Foule consists of broad beans simmered with garlic and lemon juice, and topped with a fruity olive oil. As Anthony Bourdain once said of another dish, it “sits like a bag of quarters” in your stomach, but it’s so worth it. A thick stew of tender broad beans are lifted with the sour tang of lemon juice and served with soft Lebanese flatbread.
Well, the flatbread comes with every meal, so I’m assuming that I can pair the two together.
And as soon as I saw the word “kibbeh” (kebbeh?), the words “raw lamb” immediately come to mind. And I rarely see restaurants serve this, because of the risks involved in serving people raw, minced meat. Steak tartare is hand-cut, and so’s the Korean yukhoe, but mincing, requires a machine, and that can be an absolute breeding ground for bacteria if not properly maintained.
Unfortunately, my dining partners weren’t quite up for ordering it, so we ended up getting Fried Kebbeh instead!
These divine oval parcels involve seasoned lamb mince stuffed into a burghul shell, and deep fried into golden brown deliciousness.
And we got a salad. Because, EAT YOUR VEGGIES. But no, really, I never realised how INSANELY AWESOME it is to have crunchy bits of deep fried flatbread sitting on top of a salad so well-dressed it’s ready for the Oscars. Maybe it’s not the BEST fattoush in the world – I wouldn’t know really, since I’ve been distracted by it’s greener cousin tabbouli all these years – but it was tasty, and fresh, and one of the more enjoyable salads I’ve had in a while.
And then the main event. A Large Mixed Plate, $36, to share. 3 chicken skewers, 3 koftas, and 4 lamb skewers are served with a plate of pickles, and endless flatbreads. Oh, and a garlic sauce that is garlicky enough to repel a bad tinder date, but not quite enough to keep you safe from vampires, a la El Jannah. The kofta was fantastic – and reminded me heaps of the Persian Koobideh, which also involves seasoned minced lamb cooked on a stick – and the lamb kebab was well seasoned and had just the right accents of fat. And I adore lamb fat.
The chicken, not so much, but I’m not a chicken person, much less chicken breast.
The service – which some think is a bit spotty – was actually pretty good when I went – they had a few customers in the restaurant, promptly brought us our menus, and took our orders in a timely fashion. They also served up complimentary cups of hot sweet black tea, which ended the meal on a light, sweet note.
Not that it stopped us from dropping by the amazing bakeries on the way back to the car to get some desserts in!