Jamjar‘s been on our radar for the longest time—Mell loves Middle Eastern food (East is East, hello) and Grace just loves chillin on the Drive, so this one was a long time coming. The bonus: Grace plays ball with Chef Ash, so we got to do our second Meet Your Chef Post! #SOSTOKED
We got the Taste of Lebanon tasting menu to share, mainly so that we didn’t have to tear our hair out choosing. YAY! It came with four dips to start, along with two large roti rolls. The roti rolls were thin (no filling up just on bread), and just a little sweet—we liked it a lot.
G: OMG HELP WHICH ONE DO I DIP FIRST I CAN’T
M: Just go for the closest—it’s faster to your mouth that way.
Fun fact: Ash hates hummus. Yes, she makes this stuff all day and it’s delicious, but don’t ask her to eat it.
M+G: So how did you start working here?
Ash: Well I used to work at Nuba. Then I found out about this place and just knew that I had to work here. I ate here for lunch every day trying to get a job, but the owner was never hiring. After the longest time, one day he came up behind me during lunch and was like, “So… we’re looking for someone.” It was awesome.
We’re pretty sure that we heard our server call this next dip “muttabel”—but the menu online says that it’s baba ghanouj, which prompted us to go ahead and research the difference between the two. Both have foundations of fire-roasted eggplant, but baba ghanouj is characterized as having pomegranate molasses, tomatoes, parsley and walnuts while muttabel is more yogurt, tahini, and garlic. But also, why not combine all the things or just some of them because it’ll still end up tasting damn delicious.
Server: Have you heard our drink specials this evening?
Server: The cocktail has smoked ginger, lemon, mezcal—
M+G: *cuts server off* WE’LL TAKE TWO.
(Follow Ash on Instagram to see sneak peeks of their daily drink specials.)
M+G: Okay, favourite cuisine? AAND GO.
Ash: Oh, Middle Eastern food, hands down. That’s why I love it here, because at Nuba, it was more Middle-Eastern-with-a-French-twist. Jamjar is very much folk/home-style Lebanese.
We loved this tasting menu because we got to sample so many things all at once. Mell’s favourites were the hummus and mohamara. Major props for the fresh olive oil in each dip along with fresh toppings like parsley, sesame seeds, and paprika. #itsallinthedetails
This next course was SO FREAKIN TASTY. In addition to a healthy portion of each individual taster, each was sooo delicious. The falafels were some of the best we’ve had, even beating out the ones we ate while abroad in Greece. The potatoes were cut/seasoned/cooked to perfection. And the cauliflower… don’t even get us started.
M: … Omg
G: What? What’s wrong? Okay let me try some. *chews* … oh I see
M: … I remember why I fell in love with Vancouver’s food scene now :’)
M+G: Do you guys have any Christmas plans?
Ash: The owner’s taking me to Lebanon!
M+G: … da fuq
Ash: Yeah we’re going to see how the chefs there cook—I’m staying with his family and everything. Hopefully I can pick up some tips to bring back to Vancouver.
We accidentally started to get full, probably because we waited a while in between plates because we kept talking so much between bites. But it was time for our last course… #ChallengeAccepted. The sauce you see beside it (really) heats up your tastebuds and we appreciated being able to choose our level of spiciness.
And jussst when we thought our meal was over… Chef Ash sends out two desserts for us to try. THAT’S RIGHT, TWO.
M: Fuck this ice cream is the bomb. And this chocolate bark is… spicy? Is that pepper? Ah, heaven.
G: You know what, I don’t usually care for ice cream as much as you do but I might have to fight you for this.
M+G: Where’s this ice cream from?? Earnest?
Ash: I could tell you… but I’d have to kill you. Lol.
There was also a rice pudding with shaved coconut on top. In a mason jar. It was good, but the sweetness is a bit more subdued in this one, so if you don’t enjoy desserts that are too sweet, this one’s the way to go. For us though, the ice cream really stole the spotlight.
This was Mell’s favourite meal since being back in Vancouver. Which is saying A LOT. We had originally wanted to hit up Famoso down the block for some post-dinner ice cream, but that was before these last two marvelous desserts. Needless to say, we skipped Famoso tonight. Ain’t even mad ’bout it.
Thank you, chef!