How would you like your meat cooked? We must admit, sometimes the best answer is: not at all. On a recent Sunday, we awoke wanting two things: stuffed cabbage and raw beef. Kabobji, the Lebanese restaurant in Sunny Isles, offered both in pretty tempting packages.
We frequented this restaurant several times before for the usual: meat on a stick, meat stuffed in grape leaves, a fantastic bowl of lentil soup and a very addictive garlic sauce. However, on this day with certain carnal cravings in mind, we strayed from the usual entrees and sides and indulged in a more exotic variety of appetizers.
We never had our cabbage stuffed like this before.
Stuffed cabbage is a personal favorite and, like dolmas, it is always interesting to taste the regional variations on the dish. While our bubbie's may have featured raisins, a sweet and sour sauce, and a round form. Kabobji's malfouf ($6.99) was straight savory with rice and ground beef stuffed into long cabbage cylinders and served with tomato sauce and Middle Eastern spices. The dish wasn't quite as flavorful as their meat grape leaves, but we did love the shape and taking the rolls for a dip in the cool yogurt and cucumber sauce.
The kibbee nayee ($8.99), on the other hand, was a dish that satisfied us in just the right way. The elegance of thinly sliced beef carpaccio or tartare with a dainty quail egg was not here. And we were glad. The textured raw prime beef is mixed with cracked wheat and you get the benefit of eating something as substantial as meatloaf or meatballs without the hassle of heat. Served with the dish is the most delicious pickled turnips, raw onion and tomatoes. We found ourselves grabbing the pita on the table and making wraps for ourselves, using the yogurt sauce from the malfouf as the glue to hold it all together. The dish was quite filling and our craving was also fully fulfilled.
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For those not quite comfortable with raw beef, the restaurant also serves up the dish two other ways: fried kibbeh ($6.49), fried football shaped balls with the same meat mixture plus pine nuts, and tomato kibbeh ($6.99), replacing the raw beef with raw tomatoes and walnuts. Whether you decide to go with straight shawarma, kabobs, falafel or explore the menu for some more unusual Middle Eastern delicacies, all of the food is fresh, authentic and affordable.
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