Ever since Irm and I moved to Princeton NJ more than three years ago we always looked for a good middle eastern restaurant in our area. After trying numerous places, we failed to find anything that resembled to what we ate in our favorite restaurant in Boston, or some of the amazing Arab restaurants we tried when we visited Israel. However, yesterday’s food experience might finally put an end to our search.
People always ask us why we are so obsessed with Middle Eastern food? What is so special about it? Middle Eastern food is special for us because it reminds us of our childhood, friends, culture and family, which is why we are so excited when we finally find a restaurant that carries such food.
El Sham, a restaurant located only ~20 minutes ride from downtown Princeton, offers a variety of a Syrian style Middle Eastern dishes. After a quick look at their online menu, I decided that we ought to go and try their food.
The atmosphere at El sham is very much Middle Eastern. Lots of pictures are nicely placed on the wall, symbolic decorative swords (Very Middle Eastern), and great Arabic music in the background. The place gives a good feeling!
For appetizers we ordered some hummus, Baba Ganouj, and some Falafel. All three dishes were very well spiced and garnished with fresh cilantro (probably the most common herb in the middle east cuisine for cooking and garnishing), and olive oil. The Hummus was good, certainly different than the rest of the not so good hummus dishes I tried around here. The falafel was very good, and hot. I say hot because some of the places we have been too served us warmed falafel, which in case you wondered is not a good thing.
The only recommendation I have to the owner of El Sham is to replace the lettuce salad they serve with the appetizers with an authentic Middle Eastern salad, which will make this place perfect.
For her main dish, Irm ordered the lamb Shawarma sandwich, which she enjoyed very much. For myself, I ordered the El-Sham Protein Platter (see picture below), which came with three different meats, and some Syrian rice (“Syrian Rice” is the name given to a number of rice and rice-pasta based dishes that usually include chicken broth). I enjoyed the variety of meats, and really enjoyed the rice which was delicious. The only initial complaint I had is that the dishes showed in the menu didn’t really match the actual quantity on the plate. HOWEVER, it ended up being not a big deal at all, as it turned out there was plenty of food on the plate to satisfy my “big eyes” :)
For dessert, we ordered the Basbusa (a Middle Eastern Semolina cake), which was very good as well. We also received a complimentary Baklawa (my favorite), which I thought was very nice. It is part of the warm middle eastern hospitality that I love so much.
At the end of the meal, I found out that the owner of this place really understands Inbound Marketing. I submitted a guess post about the way he does Marketing to the IMU Blog. I will provide an update once it is out.
All in all, we really enjoyed the food and hospitality at El Sham restaurant, and we will definitely come back again.