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  • Writer's pictureHunger Leads

ORFALI BROS | Aleppian Cuisine – Influenced and Inspired

When is the last time you went out to eat somewhere and you were blown away by the first bite of something new and magical? Modern cooking is not just an art, it’s a science! It’s the chefs who truly know and understand their ingredients and how they work together that master this gastronomic phenomenon. It could best be described like mastering a foreign language. Not everyone is going to understand it and not everyone is going to value what it takes to get there. At Orfali Bros, you’re going to eat up passion… and lots of it as the menu will change, we are told, often. The fabulousness of this menu is the familiarity of the flavours of Middle Eastern food, but with new thinking and a touch of eastern and western inspo. We are not however talking fusion! Far from it.


Rose Cherry Kombucha

As we casually chat with Mohammad Orfali, his influences and inspirations come from his motherland, in the North of Syria through the Aleppian cuisine he grew up with, and no less, from all his travels around the world. His educational cooking background is diverse and one we urge you to read for yourselves to understand the journey it has taken to get to this remarkable spectrum of Molecular Gastronomy he has made his own. http://www.morfali.com/my-story/


Presentation is everything and sustainability is key. Orfali’s fresh kitchen ingredients are grown in local farms around the UAE and sourced for their outstanding quality to serve the freshest ingredients grown right on our doorstep.


Mohammad’s younger brothers, Wassim and Omar, work in the art of pastries and boulangerie, and they compliment each other superbly. They provide masterclass courses for you to learn their art of dessert creations. Look their courses up here: https://www.orfalibros.com/courses


When you get the menu, you want to order everything, and I can tell you we put a pretty good dent in it – if only we could eat more! The Corn Bomb, we actually ordered three of these as sharing the first one was just a tease and did not give justice to this delicate little trio of corn ‘ensemblage’. The challenge to prepare corn in three different ways and stack it into one large bite sized treat was a big win for us. You have the crunch of the corn tortilla, the creamy custard, and the corn kernals topped with delicate shavings of parmigiano reggiano served on a corn husk, balanced upon a spherical mantle that the waiter carefully brings in the hope to not dismantle its presentation before he gets to you. Superb!


The Corn Bomb

The Bouquet is a thing of beauty, and not just to look at. This seasonal arrangement of herbs, edible flowers and elderflower is served with a labneh and pistachio dip and it’s difficult to describe what the explosion of flavours you get from this are exactly. It’s an experience you have to enjoy for yourself as I believe it will be a personal one. You will understand the importance of freshly grown ingredients that is presented on this plate and just how significant they are to the menu.


The Bouquet

Orfali! I beg you to never take the OB Croquettes away! We should have ordered more of these wonderful celeriac balls of magic with comté cheese and truffle mayo. I’ve been craving these ever since. Celeriac is one of my favourite vegetables whenever I am reminded of it and have it, but it’s one of those often forgotten as you never, if not rarely see it on a menu, especially in the UAE. I’ve only recently started experimenting with it in my own kitchen so having these croquettes based on this root vegetable was a highlight.


OB Croquettes

Next up, was the Shish Barak a la Gyoza. These beef dumplings with hot oil, garlic yoghurt, pine nuts and mint were incredibly moreish with their medley of flavourful Middle Eastern spice, and it’s a clear demonstration that any culture can make a gyoza their own if they know how to make it work. I will never look upon a gyoza as a typically Eastern Asian speciality again. This is the perfect example of modern cuisine transformation. Sure, others have done it, but not to my knowledge, with such success.


Shish Barak a la Gyoza

And then we moved on to the Spicy Lamb Ribs… If memory serves me well, I’m sure we were told the ribs are first cooked sous vide – then they are crisped up in a gochujang glaze with lemongrass, sesame and peanuts. There is nothing else quite like it and you may have a mix of emotions happen while you take that first bite. It’s sweet, it’s sour, but not too much on either, it’s crunchy on the outside and takes you by complete surprise, and it’s perfectly succulent and soft in the centre as you take it off the bone. Word of advice: you may not want to share this one!


Spicy Lamb Ribs

The Eat H is a burghul tabbouleh blended with an Aleppo chili paste, tomato, puffed burghul that gives this dish a unique crunch, and olive oil which you can eat in 2 ways. On its own to get the full effects of these bold ingredients, and then wrapped up like a taco in the beautifully vibrant green shiso leaves served on the side which release an incredible aroma of flavour.


Eat H

You must also have a Pide! With four to choose from, the choice is hard done, but we chose to go with the simplest of the selection with the Cheese Pide. Absolutely delicious, with a superb sourdough crust, a mix of mozzarella, akkawi and kashkaval cheeses and a perfectly poached egg mixed over the top by Orfali himself. Despite 3 cheeses, it’s thin, it’s light, it’s not greasy and it just hits the spot perfectly. I’d go back and eat one of these over a pizza any day.


Cheese Pide

The first thing you see when you walk into this charming restaurant is Wassim and Omar’s display of decadent desserts. You’ll want to try every single one, but clearly some discipline is necessary. The French influence is strong with their signature all over them, but not every pastry chef can pull it off with the finesse required, but these two ‘Pâtissiers’ most certainly can. The 3 we ordered were nothing less than perfect. This may be the very first time where we both remarked the perfect balance of sweetness. Most desserts are so overpowered with sugar that it distracts from the different flavours, but in this case, you are able to taste each ingredient as a separate entity. When I make desserts at home (it’s rare, but it happens), I always cut recipe sugar requirements by half or a 1/3 depending on the overall content.


The Canelé’s caramelised exterior is perfectly crisp with a succulent vanilla custard interior. I thought about it only after we left and I should have got a box of them to take home for after-dinner espressos. Heaven.


Canelé

The Cheesecake Cream Puff!!! The interior baked vanilla cheesecake encased by the wonderful puff choux is ever so light and airy with it’s perfectly balanced strawberry confit. And my favourite, the Raspberry Shortbread Tart with the added bonus of almond cream, pastry cream and raspberry confit is divine. We recommend it all, but you’ll be spoilt for choice.


Cheesecake Cream Puff
Raspberry Shortbread Tart

So often I walk out of a restaurant full, uncomfortable and longing to get into a 180˚ position on my sofa from the lethargy to follow. We walked out of Orfali Bros enamoured by the level of contentment we received. This is a restaurant you will keep coming back to, and after your initiation, you will be bringing friends and family with you to share your table as these are dishes you are going to want to talk about while you eat. There are conversations to be had here between mouthfuls.


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