Knowing what to order when you're sitting down to try an unfamiliar cuisine can make dining out at a new restaurant intimidating.
For those in Vancouver looking to get to know the vibrant foods and flavour of Lebanon and Syria, the new location of Yasma has a brilliant solution that ticks all the boxes: A tasting menu that showcases menu highlights, will fill you to the brim with delicious eats, and represents an incredible value.
Priced at $89 per person, Yasma's multi-course tasting menu takes diners through a range of hot and cold small plates that give a taste of the bounty of big flavours of Lebanon and Syria. While you might not be sure if you should try things like kibbeh niyah or yalandji - dishes you might not recognize by name - the tasting menu solves the uncertainty and instead brings the best of what Yasma does to your table.
And absolutely, you should try as much food as possible at a spot like Yasma, where the chefs have been known to spend years perfecting techniques to get a dish just right, aging labneh (a thick, strained yogurt) for use in one unusual - and delicious - amuse bouche, or mastering the ultra-fine mincing needed to make kibbeh niyah - a meatball made of raw lamb with bulgur and spices.
Yasma also boasts a luxuriously simple hummus, made with just chickpeas, lemon juice, and salt that's drizzled with olive oil and served with a basket of their house-made bread, piping hot and puffed up. The bread will prove hard to resist for lapping up hummus or other dips and sauces - trust me. Those dips and sauces include an addictive smoky red pepper muhammara or the eggplant babba ganouch that comes pomegranate-studded with a juicy lamb chop. And speaking of juicy, Yasma's shish tawouk is tender, succulent chunks of marinated chicken cooked over their charcoal grill and served with house-made toum, a pungent, silken garlic sauce.
If the name Yasma is more familiar than some of their specialty dishes that's because the restaurant had previously been operating as a "ghost kitchen," as in they didn't have a sit-down space of their own, opting instead to serve take-out and delivery out of borrowed kitchen base.
Yasma has now shifted operations to a brick-and-mortar location with a beautiful waterfront view at 550 Denman Street in Coal Harbour. The charming space with great big windows and a soon-to-launch patio is already welcoming guests for dinner service, from their a la carte menu as well as their outstanding tasting menu.
From the bar, you'll find custom cocktails with Middle Eastern ingredients like pomegranate, orange flower water, and arak - a traditional Levantine spirit. The new bar program was designed with the help of local bartender Sam Thornton. Yasma is also pleased to offer hard-to-find Lebanese wines on their drink menu, and for the non-imbibers, refreshing teas and cool sips like mint lemonade.
And if you're like me and want to try it all, Yasma's tasting menu is ideal. They'll rotate the dishes, but you can always expect eight to ten dishes that will take you on a delicious journey and fill you up.
@vancouverisawesome Who doesn’t love a tasting menu? PS Is this the best hummus in #vancouverbc Could be! #vancouverisawesome #vancouverfoodie #lebanesefood #syrianfood ♬ I Can Feel It v3 - Nick Sena and Danny Echevarria