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13.03.2019

He came, he pined, he plated.

When Atiq Kapadia moved to Bombay from Dubai, he had lucid dreams about the juicy shish taouk and creamy hummus he left behind in Dubai. Lucky for us, one man’s longing is another man’s lunch.

Atiq has since, with partners Fahad and Faiz Kadawalla, set up Arbab (‘boss’ in Arabic), a slice-sized restaurant in Bandra that advertises: “Lebanese cuisine, French in style, Arabic in soul.”  All you need to concern yourself with is that the food is delightful, and the prices, low.

Take A Tuk Tuk For Taouk Taouk

Arbab’s seating is limited to the outdoors, so go snatch the last of winter’s dregs, letting the kitchen – we’re told the chefs are from Lebanon – send out one of the best hummus bowls you’ve had in the city. Less airy than most of the variants served in Bombay, the hummus is dense, slick on the surface with an olive oil spill, topped with sliced radishes and served with a thin, fluffy bread. This is the only vegetarian dish available the night we visit.

Over on a rotisserie rod, a meat carousel of chicken and mutton spins, while we order the mix grill, which showcases shish taouk, lamb kebab, lamb chops and lamb tikka, served hanging over rice, so that the juices mix in. All varieties of kebabs are succulent and subtly scented, the spices and yogurt, flavouring but never dominating the dish. The platter is accompanied by a motley crew of pickled turnips and carrots, toum (garlic sauce) and pungent chilli sauce.

Mezze Mood

Meat packers, also worth ordering is toshka, a lamb-heavy equivalent of a Mexican quesadilla, stuffed only with meat and cheese. Its  four quarters will fill up a single person in a single sitting. Not available but slowly being added to the eatery’s repertoire is cold mezze - baba ghanoush, moutabbal and more. Soon, those seeking fattoush, manakish and even an Arabic breakfast will be rewarded by the kitchen, which is also conspiring to create shawarma tacos.

Speaking of, our meal ends with the chicken shawarma, which arrives elegantly rolled with just meat and nothing else. Those looking to add more to every bite will find the same side of pickled root vegetables, a brilliant mint-onion-cilantro combination and yogurt sauce. We suspect this will become a Swiggy favourite.

To go with the food, there’s no tea or Turkish coffee…yet. Just mint lemonade and watermelon juice, both icy, refreshing hints that summer is coming.

Getting there: Plot 117, Shop no 4, 28th Road, Linking Road, Bandra (W). Meal for two costs approx. Rs 1,000-1,500.

Accessibility: There is a single step to get to the seating area.

This review was conducted by Aatish Nath, a freelance food and travel writer.

bpb reviews anonymously and pays for its own meals.

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Food & Drink