In need of some high-quality food on the go? Leylaki, the newly opened Lebanese café in The Wave is the place to go, says Matt Blackwell
The Walk at The Wave, Muscat, is slowly but surely coming to life. One by one, all those “Coming Soon” signs are being replaced by boards that read “Now Open”, and one such establishment is Leylaki. I was having one of those busy days, running around in preparation for the arrival of a friend from back home in the UK and after realising I had barely eaten anything all day, decided to drop into The Wave on my way back from a quick shopping trip.
The purple branding of the Lebanese café had caught my eye as I passed through The Wave on two prior occasions, although when I’d enquired at the desk I was informed that they did not yet have all the items on their menu. Third time lucky and after finding out they now had everything apart from a small selection of sandwiches, I felt it was high time that I sampled their fare.
Leylaki’s seating is all open-plan, lending it the air of a food court as it sits nestled in The Walk among several chains of culinary competitors. Having never eaten Lebanese food before, I found myself at a bit of a loss as I scanned the menu, but thankfully the employee on the till was both incredibly helpful and patient as he carefully talked me through the different items on offer. Rows of skewered of meat were on display in the glass case next to the till and in the end, I settled on the recommendation of my server’s personal favourite: the fried kebbe stuffed with meat from the hot starters section and the tawouk for a main.
It was about 3pm on a Saturday and one large family party and a handful of couples populated the small café. I had no trouble finding a place to sit and settled down for a spot of good old people watching as several groups of friends and family all hurried about their business at The Wave.
My observations were cut short mere minutes later by the arrival of the fried kebbe. Made with cracked wheat, minced onions and finely ground meat, they looked worryingly dry upon first inspection. My initial fears were allayed after the first bite, however, with the meat inside (I’d guess beef or lamb, although the menu didn’t actually specify) pleasingly moist. The portion size was good and I hungrily tucked into the torpedo-shaped croquettes, although an accompanying sauce of some kind would’ve been a welcome addition.
Leylaki is an above-average fast-food joint, but falls short of a full-blown restaurant, which led me to wonder about their style of service and, in particular, when my main would arrive.
But these questions were quickly put to bed, with the tawouk brought to my table just as I was finishing the first of the four kebbe.
Luckily, I have a large appetite and this did not present a problem, but perhaps it would’ve been clearer to label the “starters” as “side dishes” as this is effectively the role they fulfilled on my visit.
Served on a plastic plate, the meal would score no points for presentation, but my word did it taste good. Even before I could sample what had been placed in front of me, the aroma of the chargrilled meat had my mouth watering.
The cubes of chicken were unbelievably succulent and tender, with the faint charred taste only serving to enhance the flavour. When combined with the garlic paste, pickles and wrapped in one of the two pieces of Arabic bread, it certainly made for a hearty lunch.
One word of warning, though. While pleasant, the garlic paste was dangerously potent, to the degree that it was probably a good thing that I wouldn’t be entertaining guests until the following day!
At RO6.3, it’s certainly not the cheapest lunch option, but Leylaki is head and shoulders above your everyday fast-food outlet in terms of quality, while the portion size was such that it easily kept me satisfied for the rest of the day.
In addition to the grilled options, Leylaki offers an extensive range of soups, salads, shawarma and starters.
It also has a selection of manakeesh and pastries, all of which are made on site using fresh ingredients.
While this was my first experience of Lebanese cuisine, with so much on offer at Leylaki I’m almost certain it won’t be my last.
Info Box: Leylaki
The Walk, The Wave, Muscat
Tel: +968 2418 7444
Opening Times: Sunday – Saturday 8am-11pm
Lunch for one including a drink: RO6.3
7 / 10 Service
8 / 10 Food
5 / 10 Ambience
Great quality food for those on the move.
Y Magazine reviews anonymously and pays for its meals