Last Updated: August 12, 2017
Commonly linked to Mediterranean food, Middle Eastern cuisine is mostly famous for its variety of healthy small dishes, known as meze. I feel that Middle Eastern food is quite underrated in Singapore.
That said, I’d love to show you where to try this cuisine. Sorted in alphabetical order, here are 10 places for you to try Middle Eastern food.
Helmed by Chef Bjorn Shen and having a cookbook of the same name, Artichoke is one of the cooler brunch spots in Singapore (it serves dinner too, by the way).
Don’t expect mainstream eggs benedict and waffles because this place serves contemporary Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine.
The popular options include the Feta Burrata ($24, left) and Ful Madames ($16, right), both served with Turkish toast and Middle Eastern spices. I loved the garden basil relish on the Feta Burrata because it managed to combine really well with the veggies and toast.
If you’re looking for some contemporary Middle Eastern bites with a chill ambience, Artichoke is a great place to try out.
Artichoke: 161 Middle Rd, Singapore 188978 | Opening Hours: (Tues to Fri) 6.30pm – 10.30pm, (Sat) 11.30am – 3.30pm, 6.30pm – 10.30pm, (Sun) 11.30-3.30pm, Closed on Mondays| Tel: 6336 6949 | Facebook | Website
Aryaa is an underrated restaurant along Beach Road that serves North-Indian cuisine alongside really tasty meze and grills.
On top of being a restaurant, this place is a club, lounge and bar; a legit one-stop place to hang out during the weekends. The ambience was really nice and it felt as if you’re dining in a dimly lit castle.
Made up of tiropitakia (feta-spinach pastries, upper left), tzatziki (cucumber yogurt dip, upper right), tirokafteri (spicy cheese dip, lower right) and melitzanosalata (eggplant dip, lower left), The Aryaa Meze Platter ($18) is a healthy dish that makes a good introduction for those who are trying this cuisine for the first time.
If you feel like dipping your naan in dips and pita in curry, feel free to mix them up. Afterall, Aryaa is a two-in-one place that aims to cater to everyone’s palate.
Named after the capital of Lebanon, Beirut Grill is known for its authentic Lebanese pastries, delicious grilled kebabs and meats.
While it is really hard to stand out amongst other Middle Eastern restaurants in the Arabian quarter, Beirut Grill offers unique experiences such as belly dance performances that will probably make you feel like you’re overseas.
Marinated in rich Arabic herbs and spices, the signature Beirut Lamb Chop is definitely a crowd-pleaser. If you are looking to try traditional Lebanon dishes, give this place a try.
Beirut Grill: 72 Bussorah St, Singapore 199485 | Opening Hours: (Sun to Thurs) 12pm – 10pm, (Fri and Sat) 12pm – 12.30am | Tel: 6341 7728 | Facebook
Located in the Central Business District, Kazbar is quite a popular spot to hit up after work for dinner and drinks with your colleagues and friends.
On top of its colourful decor, it has a pretty impressive alcohol list with decent happy hour promotions.
If you feel like trying something unusual, go for the Warak Anab ($15, middle), a filling of herbed rice, parsley, tomato, mint, and onion wrapped in vine leaves that were slowly cooked for three hours in olive oil and lemon juice.
Sour but refreshing mini ba zhang, anyone?
Kazbar: 25 Church Street, #01-03, Capital Square 3, 049482 | Opening Hours: (Mon – Wed) 12pm -10.45pm, (Thurs – Fri) 12pm – 11pm, (Sat) 6pm – 10.15pm, Closed on Sundays| Tel: 6438 2975 | Facebook | Website
While most Middle Eastern restaurants are centralised at Kampong Glam, Qasr Grille & Mezze Bar is located in the bustling Holland Village. Being a vegetarian-friendly place, Qasr provides a lot of healthy and meat-free options for its patrons.
Order the iconic Shawarma ($24), a dish of tahini (sesame paste) and seven spices sauteed chicken, lamb or beef that fill the pockets of boat-shaped pita bread. Paired with a side of greens and crispy fries, this dish goes really well with some booze.
Located at Mohamed Sultan, Shabestan is a modern fine-dining place that offers timeless Persian cuisine. In addition, all of its premium quality dishes are Halal-certified and helmed by an executive chef that has 16 years worth of experience.
Explore different combinations of flavours with Shabestan’s home-made Persian bread, fresh from its traditional clay oven.
Dip it in Borani Esfanaj ($12), a dish of fresh spinach, fried onions paired with sun-dried yoghurt and priced saffron (which gives the dish its signature yellow colour).
Shiraz used to be a popular spot for Shisha or Hookah before it was banned. But, it is still a great place to hang out and people-watch at Clarke Quay. There are also belly dance performances that have succeeded in attracting plenty of customers and traction from tourists as well.
The famous charcoal-grilled kebabs range from $28 – $49, with sharing platters going up to $185 for four pax. While the prices seem steep, it is because Shiraz uses saffron to marinate some of the meats (hence the yellow colour).
Chef Gur Yucel has led various teams in five-star restaurants in Turkey and with him as the executive chef for Sufi’s Corner, one can expect to experience the authentic dishes of the Ottoman Empire.
With beautiful Turkish lamps and tile top tables, Sufi’s Corner makes its patrons feel like they are dining in Istanbul.
Kebabs aside, I would recommend the Kiymali Karsarli Pide ($19), a unique dish that consists of minced lamb and mozzarella cheese encased in an oval-shaped Turkish bread. It’s almost like a pizza, but a little more rustic and hearty.
Named after the Levantine vegetarian dish, Tabbouleh is a casual place at Arab Street that serves Lebanese food. Available here, the healthy dish itself comes with tomatoes, cucumbers and lots of parsley.
For the hardcore meat lovers, devour in the affordably priced Mixed Grill ($26.21), which includes lamb kafta, lahem mashwi (lamb cubes), shish tawouk (marinated chicken cubes) and a hearty plate of rice or fries. Sounds like a really fulfilling meal to me!
Tabbouleh: 41 Arab Street, Singapore 199740 | Opening Hours: (Daily) 11am – 11pm | Tel: 6292 5235 | Facebook
Tucked amongst all the yoga studios and cross-fit gyms in Telok Ayer, Urban Bites is a contemporary family restaurant established by the late Lebanese Chef, Ghazi Georges Khanashat.
The decorations and dishes may look simple, but this place is known as one of the most authentic Lebanese restaurants around.
Since it is impossible to taste every single item at one go, order the Mixed Grill Sampler ($29) that comes with grilled lamb skewers, chicken and beef kebab served with onions and grilled tomatoes. Considering this is located in Telok Ayer, it’s a pretty affordable price tag.