One of the best things about food is its ability to trigger memories of specific moments in your life, whether happy, tragic or silly. One bite of a particular dish can open up the flood gates to a particular moment in the distant or not so distant past that you may have relegated to some obscure corner of your mind. It is the reason why “comfort food” comforts because for most of us, it takes us back to our childhoods, a time when we felt safe and happy.
Lebanese food works in this particular way on my olfactory and taste memories. The home cooked dishes take me back to my childhood and time spent in the kitchen with my mom and my great aunt. Restaurant meals take me back to those long, 5-hour Sunday lunches at remote mountain-top restaurants in Lebanon with my extended family gathered around the table for some mezza (a variety of small dishes to share), Arak and laughter. That is exactly where I found myself during a recent dinner at Lebanese restaurant Kazamaza. I enjoyed the ride down memory lane so much that I went back for brunch a few days later.
Dinner starts with a warm welcome the minute you walk in. The decor consists of simple wood tables and chairs, exposed brick walls and a few intricate lighting fixtures in this unpretentious and casual restaurant. The menu is not as elaborate as some I’ve seen in other Middle Eastern restaurants but everything that’s on it is well chosen. The first thing you’ll need to do is order some Arak (an aniseed flavoured alcoholic drink) which is the traditional drink that accompanies mezza. Next, order a few of the appetizers and a couple of the main meals. Hummus, baba ghannouj and a fattoush salad are classics on my list and ones that I always order. I also use these dishes to gauge the quality of the food at a restaurant since they are such classics. I highly recommend the ones at Kazamaza. I also tasted the hummus with kawarma (lamb confit), the mouhamarra (a spread made with red peppers and walnuts) and the ever-classic kebbe nayyé (raw minced lamb mixed with bulgur and served with raw onions and mint). The mezza were followed by a sweet and sour dish of kabab with cherries and a scrumptious portion of shish taouk (chicken in a garlic sauce) so superior to its below-average fast-food equivalent that it is a shame they share the same name.
Brunch was a bit of a problem, in the sense that I wanted to order everything on the menu! I ended up tasting a couple of classic Lebanese breakfast items: foul moudammas (fava beans served with tomatoes, onions, parsley and tahini) and eggs with kawarma (lamb confit). The foul was delicious and although the egg prepared like a puffed omelette was perfect, even if different than the way my mom makes it at home. I also ordered a dish that is one of my all time favourites: fattet hummus (chick peas layered with garlic yogurt and crispy pita bread and topped with nuts) and I must say that the one at Kazamaza is absolutely delicious! Accompany your brunch with sweetened tea and finish with a pot of strong Lebanese (aka Turkish) coffee and you’re set for the day!
Always remember that the more people there are around a table serving Lebanese mezza, the more food you can order and taste, which is really what it’s all about. So gather up your friends, book a table and let the Arak flow! Sahtein!
4629 Parc Avenue
514 844 6292
Tuesday & Wednesday: 5:30pm – 12am
Thursday to Saturday: 5:30pm – 2am
Sunday: 5:30pm – 12am
Saturday & Sunday from 1pm