Sherman's Food Adventures: Jamjar (Granville)

Jamjar (Granville)

My first ever experience with Jamjar was with their original location on Commercial Drive during a Brunch Crawl event.  I vaguely remember that we had hummus and some other small things.  Suffice to say, this did not fully represent what Jamjar has to offer.  I never made it back despite my curiosity since Lebanese/Middle Eastern fare isn't exactly in abundance in Vancouver.  Well, it wasn't until Nora suggested we all meet up for dinner one night at their new shop located at the old Rangoli spot.  

We ended up sharing a few things to start including the Hummus Trio consisting of original, lemon and red pepper.  I thought all of them were pretty good except the original could've used more acidity.  It was a bit strange as the other 2 had much more tang and hence had more pop.  We also could've used more pita bread since the amount of hummus was generous.  Naturally, we also had to get some of their fabulous Falafels and they did not disappoint.  We got 4 large perfectly fried balls that were firmly crunchy on the outside.  Inside, they were not fluffy per se, but neither were they dense.  They were nicely spiced where they ate well even without the yogurt dip.

Of course we also had to get the Makali (aka deep fried cauliflower) tossed in pomegranate molasses dressing. This was a rather large serving that featured a mixture of large and small florets of smoky cauliflower.  I enjoyed the firm, yet cooked through texture, but it could've been more crispy on the edges.  I loved the sweet and tanginess of dressing.  Next, we tried the Riyah (lamb popsicles rubbed with cinnamon, turmeric and Greek yogurt) which was a little pricey at $17.00.  It was good though featuring a smoky and crispy char.  The meat was cooked a bit more than I would've liked, so it wasn't as succulent as it could've been.

To get a good sense of the menu, we decided to order "A Taste of Lebanon" shared meal.  It started with Olives, Makdous, Feta, Hummus, Muttabel, Mohamara, Spinach Dip, Mujadra, Eggplant Stew, Cauliflower, Falafel and Batata Harra.  Now if this looks strangely like the dishes we'd already ordered, you are partly right.  We kinda goofed here, but the server didn't really tip us off either.  No matter, one of my favourites was the muttabel (roasted eggplant dip with tahini, lemon and garlic) as it was smooth, tart and aromatic.  I also liked the creamy sesame spinach dip since it had some texture even though it was pretty creamy. The second plate was more of the same, so not much to comment on that.

The main event (in my opinion) of A Taste of Lebanon was the plate consisting of Shish Tawouk, Makanik, Beef Kibbeh and Prawns.  I thought the beef kibbeh was the best of the bunch sporting a smoky sear and being well-seasoned with sweetness from the onions.   The shish tawouk (chicken) was also seared nicely, but dry and lacking impact.  It could've used more lemon juice.  I didn't enjoy the prawns as they were rubbery and overdone.  Lean and meaty, the makanik (sausages) were nicely spiced with layers of flavour.  For dessert, we got the Chocolate Rice Pudding featuring coconut milk and aborio rice. This vegan, gluten-free dessert was actually pretty good where it was creamy while thick and rich.  It wasn't overly sweet (even with the rose water) which was fine in my opinion.  Overall, our visit to the new location of Jamjar was decent and reasonably-priced (except for the lamb).  With that being said, some more refinement is still needed, especially with their proteins.

The Good:
- Something different, especially for the neighbourhood
- Generally okay pricing considering the area, but some are strangely overpriced

The Bad:
- Some proteins were overdone


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