A look inside Zahli Restaurant and why it is one of the top restaurants in Sydney – a review
What makes an establishment one that can be classified as one of the ‘top restaurants in Sydney?’
This can be hard to tell and there are a number of factors which make up a good restaurant in Sydney’s CBD. Personally, a restaurant makes it into my good books when I want to go back and can’t wait to reserve my seat.
This was certainly the case after I left my experience at Zahli Lebanese restaurant in Surry Hills.
As we all may know, there are plenty of ‘trendy’ good restaurants in Sydney’s CBD, but that doesn’t necessarily keep people coming back.
After visiting one of the top restaurants in Sydney, Zahli in Surry Hills, I am confident in saying that this restaurant checked all of my boxes and I will certainly be back. Why do I say this?
Stepping into Zahli, my first impression was certainly exceptional. The beautifully decorated restaurant with a Mediterranean vibe, chequered tiles and a luxury bar was definitely a head-turner. It was the perfect fusion of contemporary and Arabic detail.
Being seated, the service was no let down either. Prompt and professional, the wait staff were extremely helpful in dissecting the menu and all of its options. After placing an order (or an over-order), the food started rolling in…
Let’s dig into the food.
Lebanese cuisine is for sharing, that is what the waitress told me. So naturally, my friends ordered just about everything off the menu. Okay, maybe not everything but we tried a range of different selections helping us grasp the overall vibe of Zahli. We wanted to see if everything we heard about the popular Zahli was going to meet our expectations.
Yes, yes and yes.
For ‘mezza’ which is basically the Lebanese term for starters, but more-so for sharing, we ordered a range of different hot and cold options. I must say these were all mouth-wateringly delicious, transporting me to what I believe would be the traditional streets of Lebanon.
Starting off with the famous trio of dips, hummus, labneh and baba ghanoush. These little bowls of goodness were gone within moments. The beautiful silky labneh and the amazing hummus and baba ghanoush were bursting of flavour. Best served on fresh or fried bread, I had to force myself to stop so that I can fit in the rest of our banquet.
If you thought salads were boring, you haven’t tried the tabbouli and fattoush by Zahli. I may even have no words. Tabbouli has a perfectly balanced flavour made from finely chopped parsley, mint, tomato, shallots, crushed wheat topped off with the flawless simple dressing of fresh lemon juice and olive oil. The fattoush certainly had it’s a moment to shine. That pomegranate molasses dressing and crispbread did it for me. Perfection.
The famous kibbeh nayye. Heard so much about this dish, and must say Zahli’s take on this dish was the best meat dish I’ve ever had, and good kibbeh nayye is hard to find (according to my Lebanese guest). Fresh, raw lamb meat which is finely blended and mixed with crushed wheat, herbs and condiments. Served with a side of fresh greens and olive oil – the Lebanese way.
Hot, crispy and fried. What better way to enjoy food? The fried kibbeh, ladies fingers and sambousik cheese were bursting of flavour.
The ladies fingers were amazing little creations of filo pastry filled with feta cheese and parsley. What better feeling than cheese oozing from the pastry; something I would definitely order in dozens and ‘smash’ within seconds.
The fried kibbeh had a unique middle-eastern flavour, consisting of ground meat, crushed wheat filled with finely minced meat, onion, pine nuts and spices. These little fried kibbehs looked like mini ‘footballs’ and were crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside.
By this stage, my stomach was going to burst and my jean button was going to pop. But, there was no stopping. I had to continue because I couldn’t be the party pooper who stopped at mezza.
Also, how could I say no to lemon garlic chicken and shawarma lamb?
Creamy, flavoursome, tangy and ever-so-good. The lemon garlic chicken places number one on my favourite food of the night. I can’t say anything else than you HAVE to try it.
The shawarma lamb was also a beautifully marinated dish with a combination of spices taking my taste-buds on a wild adventure.
Of course, this was all accompanied by the famous spirit Arak. Made from grapes and aniseed mixed with water, this spirit tasted just like licorice. An interesting but exquisite flavour and the perfect combination with all the rich Lebanese flavours.
I must say, and this is no overstatement. Zahli is truly one of the top restaurants in Sydney, bringing together amazing fresh and tasty food combined with a modern middle-eastern atmosphere. We thoroughly enjoyed the Lebanese music playing in the background, transporting us to the beautiful country while indulging in the exquisite food.
Just on an endnote. The service was also AMAZING, and good customer service is hard to find. The friendly staff assisted us with everything we needed and made our Zahli experience one to remember.
We now understand why Zahli is one of the top restaurants in Sydney and we urge everyone to try it, especially if you haven’t experienced Lebanese cuisine before.
That’s enough for now. I might go and book a table for this weekend, after all the reminiscing I am HUNGRY FOR ZAHLI.
Call Zahli on 02 9318 2228 NOW.