Middle Eastern restaurants that focus on freshness and quality of ingredients have been proliferating in places like London (Ottolenghi and Honey & Co.) and in the U.S. (Glasserie and Zahav) over the last few years. And now, we’ve got a spate of new ones arriving in Paris.
The foods of the Middle East had mostly been relegated to kebab and falafel stands, but new places are showcasing the variety of foods and cuisines found in the Moyen-Orient, focusing on casual, shared dining experiences, with fresh ingredients (often with an emphasis on grains and vegetables), at places that include Liza, Miznon, and Mokonuts, as well as newcomers like Balagan, Salatim, Ibrik, Café Oberkampf (for shakshuka), Tavline, and Yafo.
The owner of Yafo houmous café is Lotan Lahmi, who spent most of his career baking, working at Ladurée and in the pastry kitchen of the Prince de Galles hotel, before going over to the savory side. He told me that he used to have to get up at 4:30am every morning, which I’m sure is one part of baking professionally that he doesn’t miss!
His architecturally simple, yet functional café is a welcoming place to pull up a stool, with a friend or two, which I did when my pal Romina (of Les Madeleines bakery) came to town. She was taking a break from making macarons and her famous Kouign amanns, and I’d been meaning to check out a few of the newcomers I had on my “Restaurants I Want to Visit” list (which are actually a series of scribbled on post-it notes scattered around my apartment, and in my pockets, wallet, and messenger bag). Her visit gave me the opportunity to head to Yafo for lunch.
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