Archive for the ‘Lebanese’ Category

Nuba Restaurant

Vegan-friendly

Cuisine: Lebanese
Tofu puffs: 4 out of 5
Price range: $$$
Time visited: Nearly a dozen
Location: 207-B West Hastings Street (at Cambie Street)
Hours: Sunday to Wednesday: Lunch 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Dinner 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Thursday to Saturday: Lunch 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Dinner 5 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.
Contact: 604-688-1655
Website: http://nuba.ca/

Entrance to Nuba Hastings

Entrance to Nuba on West Hastings

Like its nearby neighbour Gorilla Food, Nuba is another one of the relatively rare subterranean restaurants in Vancouver. Located at the corner of West Hastings and Cambie Street, Nuba’s laid-back, minimalist décor and tempting menus mean this place is hoppin’ from the moment their door opens for lunch until the last call late at night.

Once inside, you’ll see that Nuba has two areas – one with table service and the other with cafeteria-style seating where you mosey on up to the counter to peruse the giant chalkboard menu on a wall. If you’re keen on table service, reservations are a must, especially in the evenings. Show up without a reservation and the staff will try their best to accommodate you. But be prepared to be a bit rushed though your dinner. Our experience has been that while we get a table, it’s usually been reserved for someone else. Try not to be offended when the bill ends up on your table before you’ve finished eating. The servers do their best to be polite, but they can be quick to usher you out the door in time for the arrival of the next guests.

The Spoonies love Nuba for a several reasons: there are quite a lot of vegan options (the menu states everything is vegan unless otherwise noted), the food is delicious, and anyone you take there will find something on the menu to love, which makes it a great place to go with omni friends.

Mhjadra Plate

Mjadra Plate

There isn’t one thing at Nuba we’ve tried that we haven’t liked. The Spoonies are divided on the roasted potatoes that seem to be paired with many offerings. But that’s just about personal finickiness. Keep in mind that there are separate lunch and dinner menus at the Hastings location, though most of the vegan items available on the lunch menu are available during dinner service.

Even the most committed eggplant hater will adore the baba ghanooj. It has a luscious smoky caramelized flavour and you won’t be able to stop dipping into this creamy appetizer. While hummus may be a common offering on many a menu, Nuba steps theirs up a level by drizzling a heavenly golden, fruity olive oil over their hummus.

We lust over the Mjadra (pronounced “mah-ha-dra”) and Najib’s Special so much we often negotiate who’s ordering what, just so we have at least one or both of these dishes. The Mjadra is an amazing green lentil and rice dish of the most delicious flavour, topped with perfectly crisped onions. The Najib’s Special is crispy browned cauliflower perfectly paired with lemon and tahini. Be sure to order the mezze size of both these dishes if you want a little for everyone to share. If you’re not so much into sharing, we also highly recommend getting a plate instead. Just beware that you’ll likely be plenty full with a plate, if you manage to make your way through one.

If you and your dining partner(s) feel like grazing, splurge on the La Feast (just remember to ask your server to make it vegan). The mezze and pita falafel offerings are equally good, but we’ve found the mezze size to be more than filling where we’ve ordered other appetizers. Sadly, the mushroom-y vegan hushwie has disappeared from the both the lunch and dinner menus, but we hope that someday it will make a reappearance.

Najib's Special

Najib's Special Plate

On the dinner menu, the vegan options from the lunch menu are still available. One shining difference is the vegan meshwi. If you order this offering, you’d better arrive at Nuba very hungry. The dish’s skewers of grilled mushrooms and vegetables are large the hummus and taboulleh plentiful. Since the Spoonies can be creatures of habit when it comes to finding really good dishes we like, we’ve yet to try the eggplant with Lebanese ratatouille, the house fattoush salad, the eggplant stew, or the grilled laffa and labneh. But, if these dishes are like everything else vegan on the menu, we’re certain these items won’t disappoint.

Of course, there’s dessert options as well, along with freshly squeezed juices and a decent selection of other beverages, including wine (not all of them vegan). We’ve never had enough room left for dessert and usually avoid ordering drinks since it means less room for the all important food. If you’re brave enough to have tried the dessert, let us know. One of these days, we’ll learn to leave a little room for a sweet encore.

As much as we love Nuba, it does have some faults. During several visits, our dishes arrived without some ingredients. Specifically, the Mjadra frequently doesn’t come with the promised avocado or jalapeno. The hot sauce included with some dishes almost never makes an appearance. The baba ghanooj and hummus mezze never come with as much pita as they require. And once in a rare while it takes the servers a few tries before they remember what drinks you ordered or that you ordered a drink at all. Despite these sticking points, the service is generally friendly and there’s usually a quick turnaround from the time we’ve ordered to the time our food arrives at the table. And the atmosphere is easy-going with a hang-out kind of vibe. Nuba’s definitely the perfect place to take out-of-town friends, for a romantic tête-à-tête, or to rest your weary feet post-downtown prowl. Come hungry and leave plenty stuffed and happy.

Nuba 1 Lentils

Mjadra Mezze

mushroom plate

Veggie Hushwi Plate

Falafel

Falafel Plate