Leen’s Middle East Kitchen
Words: Nichole Ong
Photos: Rich Callahan
Leen’s modern contemporary setting creates the perfect atmosphere to savour a hearty, authentic Middle Eastern meal. The restaurant’s interior is welcoming, greeting the eye with cool-toned greens amidst a dimmed backdrop—a sleek but cosy setting. Aromas from freshly baked goods fill the air as Arabic bread is baked fresh in the eatery’s on-site bread oven, giving a tantalising taster of what is to come.
Hailing from Syria but having settled in Malaysia for the past ten years, Chef Ameer Alzalek has meticulously crafted an array of warm, flavourful dishes sure to delight many with their rich and smoky flavours.
The Smoked Hummus (RM 28) offers an impressive preview into the depth of flavour provided by Leen’s menu. It has all the components of a good hummus: creamy and savoury — but goes beyond the standard in its balance of smokiness and acidity, adding paprika oil for a bit of spice to balance out the creaminess. The hummus also comes with fresh hot Arabic bread (the same bread we smelt baking as we walked in), which was perfectly chewy and fragrant, pairing wonderfully with the hummus.
For those looking for a greener option, the Halloumi Fattoush (RM 35) is a perfect choice, with the components of heirloom tomato, kyuri Japanese cucumber, halloumi, and olives synergising to give equal parts sweet and savoury salad. The dressing, placed as the base of the salad rather than drizzled over the top, provides the salad with a refreshing lightness, balanced by the halloumi cheese and the earthiness of the olives.
Another worthy salad option is the Baba Ganoush Salad (RM 30), in which the charred eggplant, cooked to just the right texture, provided a base deep in flavour which complemented the crispy shallots. The addition of pomegranate indicates Chef Alzalek’s deep affinity for the ingredient (he even has a tattoo on his arm!). It gives a clear justification of this affection by adding welcome pops of piquant sweetness to tie the dish together.
The plating of the Kebab Khashkhash (RM 48) made it a sight to behold as the lamb kebab arrived beneath a cap of fresh, aromatic bread, which was cut open to reveal the flavours within in a cloud of mouthwatering steam. Digging into the hearty meal, it is no surprise that the lamb is cooked to perfect tenderness and is cloaked in an array of smoky and spicy flavours that leave you grateful for the dish’s generous portion. The lamb pairs deliciously with the bread, balancing the intense flavours with baked freshness.
Likewise, the Grilled Chicken (RM 58) is also generously portioned and impressively plated. The chicken is tender and juicy, with a seasoning of reduced soy sauce that penetrates beyond the crisp skin and distributes itself among the entire bird. Additionally, the creamy garlic sauce adds a subtly savoury flavour to the dish, while the leafy greens contribute a fresh brightness to the meal.
For those looking for a vegetarian option, the Mushroom Pide (RM 38) is a fantastic choice, baked to perfection in the brick oven. The flatbread is warm, crispy on the outside, and chewy on the inside, providing the perfect base for the savoury and earthy flavours of the fresh mushroom seasoned with truffle paste. Chef tells us that the secret to such an enticing flavour is a splash of lime juice to balance out the richness of the mushroom — a testament to the thought and skill that goes into creating each dish.
To finish off, we were treated to the Watermelon Cake (RM 28), an appropriately sweet and refreshing cap on a rich and hearty meal. The juicy watermelon and the almond cake blended together well in a satisfying bite, offering a balance of freshness and earthy nuttiness, complemented by the lightness of the whipped yoghurt garnish. Perfect for a sweet tooth looking for an enticing end to a meal.
Leen’s Middle East Kitchen Review
Leen’s is a must-visit destination for appetising, well-crafted Middle Eastern cuisine. From delectable starters to tantalising mains to sweet and refreshing desserts, the dishes at Leen’s are sure to leave you feeling warm, nourished, and ready to return for more.
Reasons to visit Leen’s TTDI: authentic, tasty Middle Eastern food; contemporary environment; great vegetarian choices; all of the starters; awesome freshly baked bread; a wholesome and nourishing meal.
Leen’s Middle East Kitchen
136, Jalan Burhanuddin Helmi, Taman Tun Dr Ismail,
90000 Kuala Lumpur
+6011 7020 7551
Leen’s TTDI Opening Hours
Weekdays: 6 pm-12 pm
Weekends: 12-3 pm, 6 pm-12 am