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Monday, December 22, 2008

Al Aseel, Greenacre

So I've always had a soft spot for Lebanese food. I think it's the simplicity of the cuisine: charcoal meats, zingy salads and downy soft quarters of fluffy Lebanese bread. Perhaps the deep-fried falafel balls (mmm... deep-fried) also have something to do with it. And I love the creamy decadence of toum, the dip with a fiery garlic punch.

We head to Al Aseel in Greenacre to see if its reputation for good Lebanese food can possibly topple our long-time favourite, Jasmin in Lakemba.

Complimentary pickles

Al Aseel is quite a large eatery, huge glass windows offering a view of the laminate tables already filled with local families and friends. The floorstaff are young and female--daughters of the owner, we presume--dressed smartly in black polo shirts embroidered with the Al Aseel logo.

The ubiquitous plate of pickles (radish, jalapeno peppers, olives, pickles and tomato) is served promptly but we immediately notice the lack of onion and mint that is included at Jasmin. Missing also are the bowls of tahina and toum we usually receive at Jasmin. Yes, we're comparing everything today.

Fatteh $8.00
Chick peas, fried Lebanese bread, salt and yoghurt
topped with pinenuts and melted butter

Fatteh is Speedy's favourite dish, but we're disappointed by the one here. Lined on the bottom with a layer of deep-fried Lebanese bread, we find its oil gives an unpleasant residual film on the tongue, and the puree of chickpeas is simply that, not incorporated with yoghurt to a delicious creaminess like the one at Jasmin's.

Fattoush $7.00 (small)
Lettuce, tomato, eschallots, radish, parsley and
fried Lebanese bread with garlic dressed with grenadine and olive oil

Fattoush is a happier combination of fried Lebanese bread and lively fresh salad. We relish the crunchy chips contrasting with the slight bitterness of radish, the juiciness of cucumber and the crisp greenery of lettuce, eschallots and parsley.

Falafel $6.00
Chick peas and secret spices deep-fried in cotton seed oil
with tahini sauce (vegetarian)

Jasmin wins on the falafel too. Whilst golden on the outsides, the insides seem a little dry and crumbly, and not as vibrant green and moist as those at Jasmin's.

Laham mishwee (bbq lamb skewers) $13.00
3 skewers* of delicious bbq lamb
served on a bed of onions and garlic dip
(*the last skewer was served a few minutes later)

And then the meat arrives and things get very tricky.

The lamb. Wow. It's amazing. I've always tended the find the lamb at Jasmin is a little gamey and a touch on the chewy side. Here, it's amazingly tender. Veruca Salt and I fight over the barbecued onion wedges, grilled over charcoal until caramelised and sweet.

We're relieved to finally receive our cherish pot of toum too, although it seems a little stronger in garlic here, a harsh heat that means between the four of us we don't even manage to finish this tiny pot (usually at Jasmin we finish at least one refill).

Chicken breast lemon garlic (House Specialty) $15.00
3 skewered bbq marinated chicken breast
tossed in special garlic sauce served on a bed of onions

I'd been swayed by the words "House Specialty" to order the chicken breast lemon garlic, and boy I'm glad I did. Again the meat is meltingly tender, so much so I have to double-check with everyone that yes, we really are eating chicken breast! Usually I avoid chicken breast like the plague, having encountered so many dry ruins, but here its soft and juicy, bathed generously in a garlicky yoghurt sauce.

Verdict? Torn.

I want the toum, fatteh and falafel of Jasmin, and the lamb and chicken from Al Aseel.

So hard to choose!

View Larger Map

Al Aseel Lebanese Restaurant
4/173 Waterloo Road, Greenacre, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9758 6744

Open 7 days
Sunday to Thursday 9am-9pm
Friday and Saturday 9am-10pm
Public holidays 9am-10pm

Related GrabYourFork posts:
Lebanese--Emma's on Liberty
Lebanese--Jasmin, Lakemba
Lebanese--Jasmin I, Punchbowl
Lebanese--Rowda Ya Habibi (Mar07) and (Jul04)
12 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 12/22/2008 12:29:00 am


  • At 12/22/2008 8:35 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I love Lebanese food too. The chicken lemon garlic dish look especially delish. Mmm...

  • At 12/22/2008 9:01 am, Blogger Annie said…

    Mmmm... we have been meaning to go here for ages! I'm impressed that you managed to order such a modest amount of dishes! Eating mezze-style usually involves us ordering way too much (and then eating it all!)

  • At 12/22/2008 12:32 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The meats here were so good. I still lick my lips just thinking about the blister marks on the lamb.

    The only solution to this dilema is to order take out. Meats from here and other stuff from Jasmin.

    Was very disappointed that the toum was not part of the complimentary dish.

  • At 12/22/2008 4:34 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Tender + Meat = I want!! Glad to hear the Fattoush was good, I can never get enough of it when I'm out for lebanese.

  • At 12/22/2008 5:54 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    i always have troubles logging on but can i ask, is Jasmin cheaper than Al Aseel? i think i mixed plate at Jasmin is $14 and Al Aseel is $18


  • At 12/22/2008 6:25 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The chicken with garlic yoghurt sauce sounds divine!

  • At 12/22/2008 11:39 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oohh thx for the tip soo when I come here I should go to town on their meats :D:D:D? (I probably would have done that anyway though haha)

  • At 12/23/2008 10:51 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Andrea - The chicken lemon garlic was so so good. I get pinings for it just looking at the photos (and editing these photos was torture all over again!).

    Hi Annie - We've eaten at Jasmin lots of times so we've kinda worked out our stomach capacity. We still struggled to finish these dishes - we needed a takeaway container to make sure we didn't waste any delicious goodness!

    Hi Veruca Salt - Yeah it's such a shame that toum isn't a complimentary side dish. If we get take out, where will we eat? Maybe we need a staggered lunch, a food crawl if you will :)

    Hi thedelectabledelight - I love fattoush. Who doesn't love a salad that includes deep-fried crunchy things :)

    Hi Sydneyguyrojoe - We never order the mixed plate as we always prefer to order our own dishes and share amongst the entire table. I think that you are right and Jasmin may be slightly cheaper but then I can't vouch for comparative portion sizing. Perhaps you'll just have to sample both and report back :)

    Hi Arwen - It was my favourite dish, although the lamb wasn't far behind. Must be quite easy to make too? I expect the chicken was marinated in the yoghurt.

    Hi FFichiban - Oh yes indeed. Often I enjoy the vegetarian dishes more at Lebanese restaurants but these meat dishes are definitely worth ordering and savouring!

  • At 12/24/2008 3:47 pm, Blogger YU said…

    I've been here. I really like the Lemon Chicken Breast Garlic. Did you go to the Lebanese sweet shop down the road?

  • At 12/31/2008 12:14 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Yu - We did indeed. Post to come soon :)

  • At 10/14/2012 3:19 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    mmm the food is good their but yh i still.prefer jasmine lakemba <3 nothing.beats that restaurant however al aseels workers aint.as friendly as they should be...

  • At 3/04/2013 12:33 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I wnet on the weekend (3rd March 2013). Was fantastic. Staff were very nice, the place is massive and looks great. Didn't go for falafel, but the Kibbeh (the fried and the other cooked one) were top shelf, dips were nice, tabouli top shelf, Lamb great, chicken delicious.... cost $130 incl $6 tip for 4 people.... none of us could eat anything else.... looking forward to trying Jasmin next excursion out west....


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