Sydney’s in the midst of a haute-fast-food movement. First it was fancy Maccas-style burgers, now it’s time for tricked-up late-night kebabs. Thievery and briefly, Mary’s, pioneered the trend. Kazbah is the latest with its new opening, Mafi Mitlo. It’s a Lebanese-street-food bunker serving shawarma, dips and salad.
Mafi Mitlo’s shawarma is a perfect example of the trend. On the outside it looks every bit like a kebab or gyros straight from the streets of Revesby or Rockdale, but then bite in and you realise your lamb, chicken or pork has extraordinary levels of juiciness and flavour. It’s not just kebab rotisserie meat, of course. Zahi Azzi, the Kazbah group owner and head chef, tells us the meat is first skewered and seared on a flaming barbeque, and then sous vide for six hours and finally placed back on skewers.
“It’s a bit of a process, but we found the meat is so much more tender and more tasty, and it doesn't lose any of the juices,” Azzi says. He experimented with a few different cooking methods before deciding on the current procedure. Azzi and his team are baking their own bread, making their own pastries and preparing their own preserves and sauces. All that stuffed together is just $9 – that’s still classified as fast food, right?
The eat-in part of the menu is made up of Middle Eastern dip classics, salads and a ridiculously hard-to-eat dessert – a baklava sandwich. It’s two generous chunks of syrupy baklava encasing a dollop of vanilla ice cream. Azzi says it’s best to cut it up, and eat it like an Eton mess.
Take a minute to digest the bizarre and undoubtedly unique military décor with crumbling concrete turrets, gun tags, sand bags and an enormous mural that’s reminiscent of ‘80s arcades, action films and GI Joe. Azzi says he was initially worried people would think the restaurant was pro-war, but now he likes to imagine the reverse message. “We believe food brings people together, it doesn't matter what wars there are around the world, people still sit down and have meals together.” Order a tobacco-free shisha, some rose-syrup doughnuts and a Lebanese herbed beer and bliss out.
15 Bayswater Road, Potts Point
1300 529 224
Wed to Sun 11am–10.30pm