kibbé nayé © 2012 . All rights reserved.

restaurant karoun: raw meat, cooked meat, and no meat

i am a food lover and i am not one to shy away from new eating experiences.  when a lebanese acquaintance raved about a raw meat dish that she claims is practically the national dish of her ancestral land, i naturally got curious.  after searching for dining companions and a suitable restaurant, i found myself headed to laval with some friends who, i was happy to discover, are more adventurous eaters than i expected.  restaurant karoun was our destination and armenian/lebanese food was our prize.

complementary hummus

while the purpose of our trip off the island was to eat some raw meat, it was not the only thing we ate.  we had ourselves a little feast!  to start off, we were presented with a bowl of complementary hummus, a dish of olives and pickled turnips, as well as pita bread.  the hummus, with its little pool of oil and a few whole chickpeas, was rich and as smooth as can be.  this was nothing like the dry, pasty versions you get in supermarkets or at fast food stands.   i could’ve eaten the whole bowl with just pita bread and i would’ve left happy.  the pita bread, most probably commercial, was presented in a plastic bag.  this was probably for hygienic reasons as well as to prevent them from drying out.  it worked; the pita remained pliant throughout our meal.

ayran

ayran was my drink of choice to help wash everything down.  this fermented dairy drink basically tastes like salty, watered-down yogurt.  a very thin version of an indian lassi if you will.  it takes some getting used to, but i found it to be perfectly suited for the job of palate cleanser.

kebbé nayé

now on to the main attraction, the kebbé nayé!  the freshly ground, seasoned raw meat (beef in our case) was mixed with cracked wheat and shaped into little nuggets.  it came to the table with sprigs of fresh mint, a wedge of raw onion, and a little pitcher of olive oil.  normally, i wouldn’t be too sure how to proceed but having done my research beforehand, i was prepared.  you scoop or spread some meat onto a piece of pita, garnish it with some onion and mint leaves, drizzle a bit of oil on top, and pop it in your mouth.  the kebbé nayé had an unexpectedly smooth texture punctuated by the crunch of the cracked wheat.  the meat was supposedly seasoned, but it was so subtle that i didn’t even detect it.  having been mixed and shaped by hand, the meat was closer to room temperature than i had anticipated.  i was expecting something slightly chilled like sushi.  after the initial excitement of having my first bite of kebbé nayé, i must say that i was neither blown away nor disappointed.  that being said, it is an experience that i am more than willing to repeat.

vegetarian combo

having decided that meat shouldn’t be a sole focus of our meal, we ordered the vegetarian combo platter.  on this plate you’ll find stuffed vine leaves, falafel, hummus, pickled turnips, tomato slices and salad.  the homemade stuffed vine leaves were loosely packed with rice and lentils and had a light lemony taste.  they were served cold, but not as cold as if they were straight out of the fridge.  these were by far one of the better servings of dolma i’ve had in restaurants, which doesn’t surprise me since many places serve the canned ones.  nothing beats homemade.  the falafel, drizzled with tahini, had a crunchy exterior and a moist, fluffy interior.  having only experienced the dry and overly salty falafels from fast food places, the deep-fried balls of ground chickpeas at karoun were quite the revelation.  if this place were closer to home, i’d pick a falafel sandwich over my usual order of chicken shawarma any day.

trio mix

after the raw meat and the not meat courses, we went all out and opted for the trio mix. a silver platter heavy with three brochettes each of charcoal-gilled kefta, chicken, and filet mignon landed on our table.  the kefta, brochettes made of seasoned ground beef, were the juiciest ones i have ever come across.  the chicken, although moist and palatable, was slightly under-seasoned for my tastes.  the filet mignon was slightly charred on the outside and perfectly tender on the inside.  aside from the meat, the platter included grilled onions and tomatoes, a biwoise salad (which consisted of mainly of onions and parsley, some tum (their potent garlic sauce), and triangles of pita bread brushed with hot pepper sauce and dressed with onions and parsley.  i always like to end a meal with a bang and this platter delivered.

the service was courteous, quick and efficient.  the food was delicious and the prices were just right.  this meal was definitely worth the trip off the island and i look forward to making the trek again.

restaurant karoun
411, boulevard curé-labelle
laval, québec
H7V 2S8
T: 450.682.6820

payment methods: cash, debit, credit cards

hours:
tue to sat 11h00 – 23h00
sun 11h00 – 22h00
closed mondays

Restaurant Karoun on Urbanspoon

4 Comments

  1. Claire

    I’ve never tried Karoun restaurant, but if you want to try AMAZING kebbé nayé again, try it at Daou, in Montréal, either on Faillon in Villeray or on Marcel-Laurin in Ville Saint-Laurent. Neither place would win prizes in terms of design and decoration, but the food is serious stuff. And a lot of Lebanese eat there, which, as they say, is always a good sign.

    I’ve only recently discovered your blog. Very interesting. Big food lover myself, so I appreciate your point of view and suggestions. And the very nice, pure design of your blog.

    Thank you for eating and sharing!

    Claire

    • thank you! it is always nice to hear that someone out there is reading and appreciating my blog :)

      daou was on our list while we were searching for a restaurant for kebbé nayé, but we couldn’t find a menu online and were afraid that it would be out of our budget range. i am definitely willing to try it, especially since it is much closer to home. i’ll add it to my never ending restaurant list!

  2. Claire

    Hello Julie,

    Yes, I have one of those too, a never ending restaurant list. Since there’s always great new places to try and, of course, you always want to go back to places you love, I’m not sure we’d ever get through it even we ate out 3 meals a day!

    About Daou: I’m glad that it was on your list, and yes, it is a slight problem about them. They’re very old world in terms of promoting their restaurant. No web site, very little info out in cyberspace. Then again, they don’t really need it, I guess, as they’re always full. But my boyfriend and I love it because it’s very affordable (though we always end buying way more than we can eat… but that makes amazing doggy bags). So, no worries there for your wallet. The fact that they have two branches is always really good cause if you happen to have a car (or rent one for the weekend, like we sometimes do), the branch in Saint-Laurent is much bigger and has a huge parking lot. So, no nightmare parking in tiny “vignette-controlled” streets. Their kebbé nayé is out of this world. Last summer, we took my boyfriend’s brother, visiting from England, to Daou and he had never tried Lebanese food before. We went with Lebanese friends and their sons and it’s the 8-year-old boy who recommended the kebbé nayé to us. He’s crazy for it! Mind you, their regular kebbé (fried ball of bulgur stuffed with ground beef) is always amazing, as are their grilled meat (chicken, lamb) and their sausages.

    You’ll have a good time! And how knows, perhaps we’ll even run into each other without knowing! :)

    Happy eating and continue suggesting great places to try!

    Claire

    • hi claire!

      i will definitely put daou on the list. i kind of got scared off because urbanspoon had the price range listed as ‘$$$$’. maybe we will run into each other one day! i’ll be the crazy girl snapping pictures of an insane amount of food. what can i say? i like variety in my meals and i like to get a good feel for the menu by ordering a little of everything ;)

      happy eating to you too and don’t be shy with suggestions of great places!

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