In Middle Eastern houses, you can usually find a patio with al nafoura or water fountain in the centre, where people would gather near it to eat, or just to cool down and relax. This is the idea of the Middle Eastern restaurant in Le Meridien Jakarta “It is a place to enjoy each other company, enjoying good middle eastern food.”, Chef Ahmad Jamil, the restaurant’s current culinary captain said to What’s New Jakarta.
On a hot Jakarta day, this was particularly appropriate for me on my way in to the restaurant; the subdued light, faint middle eastern music in the background, and the sight and sound of the hotel’s pool in the patio, the temperature drops immensely and a sense of calmness stroke me immediately.
Al Nafoura is a melting pot of Lebanese design, ambience and cuisine. Built over two spacious levels, the textured sand stone walls and terracotta floor vividly contrast with the richly colored handcrafted artifacts to emphasize the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern ambience.
In the middle of the restaurant, an open kitchen with vertical rotating spit roasting slowly cooks shawarmas and large wood-fired ovens bakes assortment of fluffy home made breads and pitas.
To start, Chef Jamil introduced me to the mix of cold and hot mezzeh, the selection of small dishes of appetizers before the main course to be enjoyed with aperitif or to eat with bread which includes hummus, tabouleh, samboussek, babaganoush and the very distinctive tasting Warak Enab, or preserved and stuffed grape leaves. This type of presentation is typical of not only in Middle Eastern countries, but also in some parts of the mediteranian and the Balkans.
I asked Chef Jamil to give me his (and the restaurant’s) specialty, which was the signature Haruf Ouzi (braised lamb shank ouzi style served with oriental rice, assorted nuts and yoghurt sauce). The lamb shank has been slow cooked and roasted was so succulent and tender that getting it off the bone hardly needs any effort.
During the month of April, Al Nafoura guests are in for a special treat with the restaurant’s shell fish promotion, where fresh fruits of the sea, an ingredient group that’s a little unlikely in the middle east, are prepared middle eastern style. We tried the Australian crayfish on a bed of rocket salad, a very light and tasteful dish unheard of in any other middle-eastern restaurant.
For desserts, you can try the special Al Nafoura mix desserts platter with small bites of favourite middle eastern desserts Halawa Beirut, mohalabia, asaba halawa, and baklava. I personally love the Om Ali, or baked pudding with nuts, raisins and fresh cream.
For fans of the middle eastern cuisine or for anyone who wants a completely different experience of dining, Al Nafoura is definitely a great choice for your exotic night out! For promotions and more information about the restaurant www.lemeridienjakarta.com/alnafoura.
Hotel Le Meridien, Jalan Jenderal Sudirman Kav 18 – 20, South Jakarta
Hours: 11:30AM–2:30PM, 6:30–10:30PM