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The Quick and the Unfed – Sahara Parramatta

Lamb Chops

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.

Sahara (Parramatta)
218 Argyle St, Parramatta (cnr of Argyle & Marsden St)
(02) 9687 7898
10am til late, 7 days.


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{ 23 comments… add one }
  • chocolatesuze April 8, 2010, 1:02 am

    mmm the lamb was so good haha it hurt to share lol but the best was yet to come :D

  • Helen (Grab Your Fork) April 8, 2010, 2:36 am

    Must not look at food blogs this late at night! The dondurma was disappointing but the adana shish was all kinds of tasty. And ha, Suze is right, the best was yet to come!

  • Simon April 8, 2010, 9:29 am

    For those of you that had issues with commenting on here, comments have now been re-enabled. I’m not sure why they were disabled in the first place, as that was not my intent.

    Apologies for any inconvenience caused.

  • Simon Food Favourites April 8, 2010, 10:48 am

    it looks like the regular crew of food bloggers have descended once again to feast. the lamb cutlets look devine. i must try. the mains looks a little on the pricey side for what you seem to get? is it a fancy sort of restaurant catering for mainly large groups of people. would you go back again to try other things? i’m looking for good Turkish restaurants at the moment.

  • Lex April 8, 2010, 11:47 am

    oh yes; memories that remind me that paramatta is worth the trek to get some grub haha

  • Howard April 8, 2010, 1:09 pm

    Sahara was my first foray into Turkish food, it’s awesome. However now I tend to goto Auburn, cheaper :)

  • Trissa April 8, 2010, 7:41 pm

    There is no way I would share any of those lamb cutlets – they look amazing!

  • john@heneedsfood April 8, 2010, 9:33 pm

    Those cutlets look mighty fine. I’m all for sharing, most of the time, though I would probably growl at you if you touched my lamb cutlet without asking!

  • Anita April 8, 2010, 9:45 pm

    Yum! That is a dilemma – I think the people serving you should let you know the number of cutlets – in case you each want one (which of course you would).

  • Mark @ Cafe Campana April 8, 2010, 9:50 pm

    Oh tell me what comes next! I need to know. This looks like a really tasty meal. I love lamb cutlets and these look good.

  • FFichiban April 8, 2010, 11:34 pm

    Hee hee glad to see you starting on that backlog my friend. Mmm those lamb cutlets were goods and so were the kebabs. Hooray for the afterparty tho!

  • penny aka jeroxie April 9, 2010, 12:24 am

    Lamb looks so good! Will wait for 2nd post.
    Oh yah.. I will not share that lamb.

  • kathy April 9, 2010, 4:29 am

    Great photos! Can I have the dessert? lol! :-)

  • Peter April 9, 2010, 8:29 am

    Oh, that lamb looks beautiful!

  • Haley Destafino April 10, 2010, 3:43 am

    Hello,
    My name is Haley Destafino, I am the Associate Publisher of The Mountain Times, a weekly newspaper in Killington, Vermont. Every year we publish a summer and winter menu book which is a collection of the local restaurants menus. We look for colorful and seasonal photos for our covers and the photos you have are very appealing. I write to you in hopes of getting your permission to use one of them for this winter’s menu book cover. We would gladly give you the photo credit and copies after it is published. You can see this summers cover on our website, http://www.mountaintimes.info. I look forward to hearing from you. mtntimes@vermontel.com. Thanks for your time.

  • Y April 10, 2010, 6:25 am

    Diablo chili garlic prawns – I would’ve been suckered into ordering that one too!

  • Simon April 11, 2010, 12:19 am

    Hi chocolatesuze! Would certainly love to go a plate of these on my own at some stage.

    The best was indeed yet to come :)

    Hi Helen! The Adana shich with the pide soaked in its juices was even more kinds of tasty :)

    Hi Simon Food Favourites! It’s a bit more “up market” than places like Jasmins but didn’t really feel that it was too expensive, aside from the Diablo prawns which I’ve already mentioned in the post.

    The place is quite large and looks like it would easily cater for a large group. Check it out for yourself and see if it meets whatever requirements you have.

    Hi Lex! Totally. Shame that there are only a few worth noting in the area.

    Hi Howard! Yep, Auburn and Jasmins in Lakemba are more my scene, for similar reasons :)

    Hi Trissa! They were quite nice :)

    Hi john! …and who wouldn’t, especially with those cutlets :)

    Hi Anita! Would have been a nice courtesy if they did. Anyhow, we know for next time :)

    Hi Mark! You’ll find out in due course. Stay tuned… :)

    Hi FFichiban! That’s just the tip of the iceberg :P

    Hi penny! Another one for the “not sharing” list. I must be like one of the only few on the other list :)

    Hi kathy! Thanks! “Dessert” will be coming soon :)

    Hi Peter! It tasted as good as it looked :)

    Hi Haley! Thank you for your consideration. We’ll sort out the details via email.

    Hi Y! Never again! So disappointing…

  • Katherine April 11, 2010, 6:25 pm

    Wow the food looks amazing. I’ve never heard of Sahara till I read your post. I will definately be going there soon. Your photos are great.

  • Angie April 12, 2010, 10:18 pm

    Oh your photos looks so good.
    When my boyfriend and I were here we left a little disappointed (food/flavours were not quite up to scratch).
    Maybe we might have to go back and give them one more go.

  • Simon April 16, 2010, 8:09 pm

    Hi Katherine! Give it a shot and let me know what you think :)

    Hi Angie! Sorry to hear that you didn’t have such a good experience there. Feel free to let me know if it’s any better the second time around :)

  • Sahara July 20, 2010, 10:30 pm

    Hey Guys,

    As Owners of Sahara Restaurant we were fortunate to have many regulars inform us of your great article and food blog.
    We love the enthusiasm and passion you guys show in a diverse range of cuisines.
    Our ambition is to continually develop our concept of Turkish and Mediterranean cuisine, so that people will have a better experience each time around. Thankyou for your contribution to Sahara’s! :)
    PS: Theheartoffood.com Rocks ;)

    • Simon July 21, 2010, 8:48 am

      Hi Owners of Sahara! Thanks for leaving a comment, and for the compliment :)

      I appreciate that you’re looking to continually develop your cuisine. I hope the feedback proves to be useful.

      I’ll certainly be curious to see whether those diablo prawns either get a fair deal spicier or has a name change to something more reflective of what the dish actually is the next time I find myself in your restaurant. As was indicated, the disappointment was in the expectations of the dish, not the dish itself.

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