Ima Cuisine (Auckland CBD, New Zealand)
Palestinian and Jewish cuisine is one of those cuisines I don’t really try a lot, not that I don’t like it but it’s quite rare to find restaurants that offer this fare. Luckily Auckland, this little big city has options for it and one of them is Ima Cuisine. Located downtown in Fort St, this is very accessible even to tourists, a place where the food served are influenced from Palestinian and Jewish restaurants, they serve quintessential Mediterranean diet; which is plant-based in proportion to meat with generous use of herbs, nuts, legumes, raw oil and spices.
The restaurant is proud of making fresh from scratch, every day on site which included breads, pastries and even cured meats. And this is evident once you grab that first bite, you know that the ingredients are fresh and feels homemade, rustic in some sense.
We came in here for a set dinner and the food was abundant and tasty, while not all my team mates love it (they are the ones who settle for steak, burger or pizza), I do love the selection on offer as well as its unique flavours. We started with some drinks, first with the Black Duck Superior Dark Ale which is surprisingly light for a dark ale, easy drinking.
Followed by a nice Shiraz from Barossa Valley called the Riebke 2017 Shiraz (NZ$69.00/bottle), a full-bodied shiraz busting with flavours like plums, black fruits and warm spices, mildly sweet and a bit of mocha. Great with the dishes that is about to be served.
While having some drinks we were served with some meatballs, pickles and olive to enjoy with our drinks.
Then the Mezze platter ($27 small/$40 large) came next together with some freshly baked bread. Mezze was a selection of vegetarian & Middle Eastern delights which included falafel, roasted cauliflower, labneh, baba ganoush, hummus, pesto and some sort of sun-dried tomato dip.
Then the attack of the salads. Five salads that were designed to complement the rest of the menu. Starting with Persian green rice with dill, mint & broad beans
Followed by a trio of Moroccan harissa spiced carrots with coriander; Minty, zesty, crunchy cabbage & cucumber slaw; and Green beans in tomato.
Last of the salads was the Sautéed spinach with garlic shoots & sesame and it was served with a Mediterranean style taco which I don’t know the name of. Crispy pita crisps on the bottom topped with a spiced yoghurt and crispy fried chickpeas.
After that the mains arrived starting with 5 hours Slow braised Lebanese Lamb Shoulder (NZ$20.00)
Then the Whole Market Fish, baked spiced snapper served on top of rice pilaf.
and for the last mains it was the Free-Range Chicken Mesachan, a traditional Arab dish, slow cooked, then grilled, tangy & topped with red onion, parsley, sumac & pine nuts (Whole NZ$65/Half NZ$35/Quarter NZ$17)
That was a whole lot of meal, and it’s quite intimidating in a nice way specially when it arrived in endless flow of bowls. And if that’s not enough desserts came next, luckily, it’s a light dessert.
We got served a Middle Eastern Platter (NZ$18.00), which consists of Filo pastry cigars filled with Turkish delight & pistachio, a fragrant milk custard called mahalabi & Egyptian syrup & semolina cakes called basbusa.
It was an amazing dinner! It was out of my usual taste, but I enjoyed it. Food was tasty, I specially loved lamb which was very fork tender, the fish which tasted really clean and fresh as well as the breads which I can’t stop eating.
Planning to go back here with my wife as I know she would love the salads on offer.
Address: 53 Fort St, Downtown, Auckland 1010, New Zealand
Phone: +649377 5252