More Syrian flavours at SAJ

More Syrian flavours at SAJ

S.A.J. Bistronomy by Leen’s (short for Syrian Authentic Jars), offers a similar line up to its predecessor Leen’s, with a few small twists to familiar ones, a couple of fav mainstays and some entirely new dishes. Helmed by chef Ameer Alzalek, his culinary story is nothing of amazing, starting from his early days as a qualified accountant, to ecaping his Syrian home which was becoming unsafe, starting over as a kitchen help in various restaurants to opening his own establishment and making a life here now in Malaysia, his new home. His amazing life story notwithstanding, his smouldering good looks are probably the other reason why people keep coming to Leen’s, and now SAJ! But of course, the food here is definitely something to shout about.

A brick oven in SAJ produces delightful puffed-up crispy Syrian bread to go with the Smoked Chilli Hummus that has charred chilli paste, pickled olives, mixed herbs and coriander oil. For me, it’s the light smokiness that does it, the hint of spice. I don’t think I could ever dislike any hummus dish by Ameer; so simple yet a party in my mouth. 

I couldn’t recognise his Tabbouleh, usually a salad of chopped up parsley, bulgur, tomato and onion. Here at SAJ, they’ve been transformed into round balls of mixed vegetables, bulgur, walnuts with lemon and pomegranate juice, each laid on a shiso leaf. Different but still delicious. Just don’t be expecting a plate of greens. 

Hokkaido Scallops Crudo – slices of raw scallop topped with salmon roe, thin slices of pickled radish in a sauce of passionfruit and mango, similar to Japanese scallop dish, and so oishi!

Shish Rubyan, with prawns fanning out on an espuma of dashi, pumpkin and smoked coconut. Lightly seasoned and Torched, this pretty and very tasty dish is also Japanese-inspired.  

Crispy Syrian Rice is carried over from Leen’s, with crispy rice scented with 11 spices, roasted chicken, pickled cucumber and beetroot with crushed peanuts for added texture. For this, I’ll make an exception and eat rice. Grilled Lamb Ribs were smoky and moist with a special spice marinade, while Beef Tongue pide is a serious play on pizza. Quite mind-boggling how tongue can be on a pizza, but Ameer has managed to do a good job.  

For dessert, Olive Oil Ice Cream and a light Baklava Cheesecake that wasn’t overly sweet ended our lovely Syrian lunch. 

For those asking, the cute chef is taken and already has 2 kids (!), but do come and spend some time with him in his kitchen. He says in all honesty that his food offers Syrian flavours but not true blue fare which has much stronger tastes. For me, this middle path is wonderful.

Add: 130, Jalan Burhanuddin Helmi, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur. hp: 011-1139 1503