While I have been to a fair share of Middle Eastern restaurants in New York City, I have not come across a dish called kubeh, which is essentially a dumpling with dough-like shell and a filling of meat, fish and/or vegetables. When a restaurant in West Village where kubeh is the central focus of the menu opened last year, I put it on my radar. Up until recently, though, my wife Jun and I simply have not had an opportunity to check out the place. On a recent Friday dinner with another couple that we have not seen in a long time, we finally made the trip. Overall, it was a delicious meal but not for the reason that I had expected. The pleasant surprises from the menu are in the starter section.
Kubeh offers a $45 per person family style menu which is, considering the amount of food that we had, quite a bargain. It consists of three different spreads and three different mezes, followed by three small plates, one main dish per person and desserts. Jun and I both enjoy having Middle Eastern spreads, and the ones that came out from the kitchen were quite delicious. The best of the bunch was the red pepper-based muhammara, which we happily dipped the pita bread into with enthusiasm. Hummus with tahini and chili oil as well as labneh with cucumber and zahtar were also good. For mezes that followed, the roasted eggplant worked beautifully with pomegranate for a memorable combination of flavor and texture, while the fresh salad bowl with tomato, cucumber, radish and dill and seared cheese with honey and rosemary also served as competent appetizers.
There were two types of fried kibbeh; I liked the one with ground beef better for its hearty feel that was surprisingly addictive. Warm cauliflower with sea salt, parsley and lemon was also gently prepared with moderate level of seasoning. For the kubeh, I went with the Syrian lamb one consisting of ground rice, lamb and mint in chicken soup that also has chickpea, carrot and dried lime, while Jun ordered the Syrian fish one with ground wild cod, cilantro and cumin in tomato broth that also contains fennel and mint. Between the two, I liked the fish one slightly better, with an earthy, aromatic feel of tomato broth that brought satisfaction to my palate. The lamb kubeh felt a little bit too much like an American chicken soup with matzo balls. For the desserts, mascarpone cream cup with raspberry coulis and shredded phyllo dough was serviceable, and the four different flavors of ice cream had varying results (we both liked the vanilla and chocolate ones, but felt a little bit overwhelmed by the Turkish spice and saffron flavors).
Getting a reservation at Kubeh is not too difficult; while there was a decent number of diners for the Friday evening, there were still some visibly empty tables. There is full bar with some unique wine selections from Israel and Lebanon that you should consider giving a try to complement your meal. The dining space gives a typical trendy West Village vibe that makes it work for a variety of occasions for casual dinner. Is kubeh the next big thing in New York dining scene? I’m not so sure, but what I can tell is that the restaurant Kubeh has some solid classic Middle American dishes you should check out next time you are in West Village for a meal.
KenScale: 8.0/10 (Jun’s Score: 8.0/10)
- Creativity: 7.5/10
- Execution: 8.0/10
- Ingredients: 8.0/10
- Flavor: 8.5/10
- Texture: 8.0/10
- Value: 8.0/10
Address: 464 Avenue of Americas, New York, NY 10011
Telephone: (646) 448-6688