Thursday, July 23, 2009

Naranj , Old Damascus

Naranj was recommended to me by Kano -Syrian Foodie in London who is not only a Surgeon but a top Food Blogger.He asserts that this is the finest Syrian Restaurant in Damascus and I cannot disagree.

There cannot be many restaurants in the World located in a more historic location - the corner of Via Recta aka Straight St or Medhat Pasha Street by the Roman Arch

The spacious 300 + cover restaurant is in a converted Old Damascene House with the largest space being in what must have been the countyard. The menu is pan Syrian with special dishes that represent most parts of what is now modern Syria .

Ideally you would want to visit this restaurant with four or more people to be able to start with 10 or more mezze and then have a main course of your choice.However on this occasion this was not possible.

I started with Houmus , Taboule , Babaganoush and Fried Kibeh all were perfectly executed. The Arabic bread was made on site in a section of the large kitchen that has a Fatayer oven for the various Fatayer and breads . I drank Arak with the meal as I have always found this to be the perfect match for Syro/Lebanese cuisine.

For my main course I had Lamb cooked in a clay pot with Bamya (Okra) one of my favourite oriental dishes that I have enjoyed in Greece , Turkey , Egypt and Lebanon. What made this dish exceptional was the quality of the lean lamb (shoulder and leg) and the firmness of the Bamya held together in an almost sweet tomato sauce that had been perfectly seasoned and spiced.

Some Syrian sweets were brought along with superb Cherries and Plums. I had enough time to smoke an Apple Argeela (Shisha) and drink a perfect Turkish Coffee.

I left the restaurant totally satisfied turned right and right again walking up Via Recta remembering Acts 9:10-19

Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias." And he said, "Here I am, Lord." And the Lord said to him, "Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight."

But Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name." But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name."

So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; and taking food, he was strengthened. Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus.