marhaba, again.


Now: to write about Marhaba, a little tucked-away Middle Eastern restaurant in Lambertville, NJ is a major MAJOR thrill, a thrill big enough to denote using the same word twice (twice) in one sentence. Dare you say to that five times fast.

Really, though, despite my love for their display of ambient lighting via several hanging lanterns (all true), it makes for a generally difficult picture-taking scenario most evenings, unless I were comfortable using my very bright, very disturbing flash while other patrons try to enjoy their falafel, and frankly, I cannot.

So though we frequent Marhaba enough to be considered regulars (seriously, the wait staff knows us), I have only been able to record a handful of perfectly-seasoned moments there, due to my courteous restraint.

HOWEVER: when you are smart enough to visit Marhaba during their lunch hours OR during the time of year when the sun doesn't set somewhere around 4PM, bless you, you will find daylight on your side and photographs of your brilliant meal are then possible.

Though there are many vegetarian options on Marhaba's menu, and I've tried (and loved) just about all of them, I decided to stray to a newly added dish, one that became part of the permanent menu at Marhaba after a successful run at restaurant week: koshari.

A basic Egyptian street food that can vary slightly by region, koshari is a dish of rice, lentils, chickpeas and macaroni, all topped with tomato sauce, fried onion and garlic. And mine in particular came with a hard-boiled egg, for a balance of creamy with the acidity of the tomatoes and garlicky punch. I mean, you tell me what's not to love about that. 

Colin opted for a steady favorite in the vegetarian ouzi (hold the mushrooms, please), a phyllo "pocket" filled with rice, spiced vegetables and golden raisins.

And of course, you also can't go to Marhaba without getting their falafel: the taste is definitely signature and a little more heat-heavy than most other falafel I've tried. And unlike other varieties, this homemade stuff is really dense, the ingredients all visible, aka sesame seeds everywhere: yum. Pair that with their amazing za'atar bread, and you have the best meal, possibly, on earth.