My co-workers and I trekked over to Nuba in Gastown for a Friday lunch last month. We made reservations and it was getting pretty busy by the time we arrived. Nuba is located on the corner of Cambie and Hastings, at the basement level. It always seemed a bit mysterious to me!
Disclaimer: All food was complimentary but opinions are my own
Salchicha Meat Bar serves North African and Middle Eastern fare and they are located on Granville and Nelson. I don’t have much experience with this type of cuisine so I was glad I was invited to this media tasting organized by Foodgressing.
It’s a few doors down from Twisted Fork Bistro.
For my other dine out Vancouver experience, my friend and I decided to go to Laziza. They had an interesting menu and we had never really tried Morrocan/Lebanese cuisine before so this would be a good opportunity. Laziza is located on Davie and Bute. On this cold Saturday evening we walked past it without noticing it oops! The interior is long and on the narrow side but nicely furnished with large mirrors on one side to make it seem bigger. Apparently they hired a top interior designer to design their Mediterranean atmosphere! There’s also a small bar area at the back as well.
Funny story: while I was joking about how I might one day light something on fire by accident with the candle… it actually happened to the table beside me!!! O.O Someone’s tissue caught on fire but the server came over right away grabbed it and stomped on it phew! Hurray for quick reactions! It happened really fast too! We started our meal with some complimentary pita chips served with a side of salsa. The pita chips were surprisingly good! Very crispy and well seasoned with something sour so it was salty and slightly sour at the same time. The salsa was also quite tasty the chips tasted pretty good without it too. I wish we had more or I could buy them somewhere!
I ordered their famous crispy cauliflower. On their dine out menu description it said “Seasoned florets battered in corn flour, flash fried and accompanied by a sesame dip and pickles”. It was SUPER delicious for cauliflower!!! Damn too bad all my vegetables can’t be served like that!!! The cauliflower was pretty crunchy but well seasoned and the batter on the outside was very very light and crispy and it didn’t feel too oily either. The dip was more like a watery version of a garlic ranch sauce and it had a slight kick to it and it was served with pickled red cabbage on the side. I would love to order this again. I never thought I’d feel this passionate about cauliflower.
My friend ordered the Mezza Sampler “with Hummus, Baba Ghanouj and Tabouleh Salad, served with Pita bread”. Ok I really have no experience eating baba ghanouj or any of the aforementioned items so I can’t really comment that much but it all tasted good wrapped in the thin pita bread! I learned that Baba Ghanouj is eggplant that is mashed and mixed with olive oil and various seasonings. I really had no idea that it was eggplant when I was eating it! The hummus had a prominent garlicky taste to it and the tabouleh salad was flavoured with a vinaigrette dressing that I enjoyed.
For my entree I went with the lamb tagine which was “chunks of lamb mixed with fresh seasonal vegetables, slowly cooked in aromatic tomato sauce, served on a bed of couscous”. This dish had a lot of veggies and they all soaked up the tomato sauce and ended up tasting like tomatoes. The lamb was very tender but the texture was not “fall off the bone” kind of tender. It actually didn’t taste like lamb to me and it didn’t have much flavour either. I like that there were a variety of veggies in this dish and the couscous was very tasty due to the tomato sauce. On the other hand, the tomato sauce was very dominating and that was all I tasted. The portion was really big and I didn’t end up finishing it.
PS. I ignored all the beans hehe =P
My friend had the seafood arabia which came with “East Coast Scallops, Prawns and Mahi Mahi, finished in a pomegranate reduction, accompanied by dry fruits and walnuts, nestled on couscous and drizzled with honey”. This portion looks a bit smaller from mine because mine had a lot of large vegetables that took up a lot of room. I tried the fish and it was cooked the same way as my lamb and it could have been more soft and flaky but it didn’t have a particularly strong flavour either. It was still on the bland side for me. The mushrooms and prawns tasted better though.
Finally we have dessert! My friend had the baklava which wasn’t on the menu but our server alerted us that it was an option and so we decided to try it. The flaky phyllo pastry was filled with pistachio and maybe some other nuts and it had a slightly sweet taste to compliment the crunchy texture. It was served at room temperature but I didn’t like it as much as my own dessert due to the hard texture. I like my desserts soft!
Meanwhile I opted for the Lebanese Konafa which was a “Crispy shredded pastry, stuffed with a lightly sweetened ricotta cream filling, topped with syrup and pistachios”. I really liked this because of the ricotta cream filling which was lukewarm warm, soft and slightly chewy. It had a cheesy texture but it tasted like cinnamon. The crispy shredded pastry didn’t really taste like anything but it was a bit chewy instead of crispy. It also held up really well and didn’t really fall apart either while the pistachio topping gave it a bit of a crunch. This was surprisingly good due to the interesting textures of the dessert.
Overall I enjoyed my experience here but the entrees didn’t really blow me away or anything but I loveeed the cauliflower! My favourite dishes were the crispy cauliflower and the Lebanese Konafa. Maybe I would have been more satisfied if I had ordered the lamb chops and prawns? The service was also very attentive but not intrusive. I enjoyed the ambiance and the music as well. They also offer gluten free and vegetarian options so be sure to ask!