When dining out with friends, do you find that you often order dishes to share amongst the group, or order individual dishes for each person to enjoy on their own? When faced with a plate of these fantastic lamb cutlets from Sahara, I wouldn’t blame you if you’d wanted these all to yourself.
For me, despite how fantastic these may be, sharing is by far and away the preferred option. Perhaps that’s due to my Asian heritage, where the concept of communal eating is as integral to life as breathing. However, when five succulent & smokey lamb cutlets are to be shared amongst six food bloggers (none of whom are vegetarian), you find yourself caught in what I refer to as the “yum cha dilemma”.
At yum cha, you’re often faced with the situation where there are an insufficient or uneven number of dumplings or portions to be shared equally. The question is, do you order more? Cut up & divide the portions evenly? Choose to fore go your portion in an act of self sacrifice? Or does it come down to a wild-west-like showdown of the quick and the dead unfed?
However, that was towards the end of the meal. As is often the case, the meal began with drinks.
Turkish Apple Tea ($3). A couple of the ladies ordered these glasses of fruity sweet elixir. Though, be warned – the apple tea was served really hot! A few minutes were required before the glasses could even be handled, let alone be drunk from.
Mezze Dips Platter ($14.90). As with a lot of Turkish restaurants, the meal often begins with bread and dips. In the case, wedges of pide were served with three dips, namely the ubiquitous hommus and baba ganoush, as well as a creamy spinach dip.
Though the particular dips they serve are not specified explicitly on the menu, there is meant to be a beetroot dip in place of the spinach dip that normally accompanies this dish. There was some disappointment over the lack of beetroot dip. However, the spinach one sufficed as a replacement.
Diablo Chili Garlic Prawns ($16.90). I imagine this dish was ordered in part due to its rather impressive name. Unfortunately it did not deliver, whether it be with what should have been the devilish heat of the chili (diablo is Spanish for devil), or the impact of the garlic (or rather lack thereof). The true devil was not in the dish itself, but in the marketing of this dish through its name.
To be fair, aside from the lack of any real punch, this dish wasn’t too bad. The prawns were cooked just right and there was plenty of mild, tomato sauce to dip the wedges of pide into. However, there aren’t a lot of prawns to go around, so the asking price might seem steep for some.
Kusbasi Shish ($22.90). Normally this plate of charcoal grilled chunks of lamb backstrap marinated in herb & spices, served with salad, pilaf rice, pide and aioli would be a worthy dish for one. However, due to our sharing-is-caring nature, this meal for one became a shared platter. It was as if it were always meant to be consumed in this fashion.
The lamb was quite nice. Tender, flavourful & delightfully smokey.
Adana Shish ($21.90). You can be forgiven for feeling a moment of deja vu. However, if you look closer, you should notice that aside from the otherwise identical fixing for this dish, namely the salad, rice, pide bread and aioli (if you can even make it out!), instead of the pieces of lamb backstrap, the Adana Shish consists of spiced lamb mince cooked in long, sausage-like forms.
The darkened regions on the Adana Shish are wonderfully crispy, smokey and flavourful. The meat is juicier than the Kasbasi Shish, with its juices soaking into the bed of pide below. A piece of pide that was much sought after.
Lamb Cutlets ($26.90). Thyme marinated tender cutlets of lamb served with garlic mash and seasonal vegetables (carrots and broccoli in this case).
Now we approach our dilemma; a catalyst for conversation. “Had we known beforehand that five cutlets were to be served, we surely would have ordered a sixth”, we’d lament. However, by then it was too late.
In the end we decided to evenly divide the cutlets amongst the six of us, the responsibilities of which, as with the knife, were placed firmly into the hands of Minh. As for the arcs of bone with the tastiest remnants of the meat still clinging to its frame? A showdown of the quick and the unfed :)
Dondurma ($11). Traditionally a “chewy” ice cream, a property due to two of its ingredients, salep and mastic, this chocolate flavoured dessert lacked any real chewiness to it. It pales in comparison to ones that can be found at places such as Mado Cafe in Auburn.
Thankfully, this was the only dondurma we ordered. Actually, this was the only dessert we ordered, with the intention of sharing this small challis amongst the six of us.
“Why”, might you ask?
Dinner at Sahara was merely the prequel. We knew that more food was to come. Food that we were eagerly anticipating prior to our dinner. Food that we couldn’t wait to get to afterwards.
With our hunger sufficiently satisfied, we pushed onwards to what I would certainly consider to be the main event of the evening. The details of which, unfortunately, will have to wait for another post.
218 Argyle St, Parramatta (cnr of Argyle & Marsden St)
(02) 9687 7898
10am til late, 7 days.