By Jessica Grajczyk
1. Breakfast is my favourite meal.
2. Nuba is my favourite restaurant in Vancouver. I’m sure everyone is sick of my Nuba leg humping.
3. I haven’t eaten eggs in over a month due to a vegan experiment.
4. I am not familiar with traditional Lebanese breakfast.
5. I’ve just spent the better part of my morning traipsing through torrential rain and waiting for notoriously inconsistent east Van public transit to try Nuba’s new breakfast menu.
We walk into the familiar, warm and welcoming underground lair of magicians of Lebanese cuisine, also known as Nuba, at the corner of Cambie and Hastings. I peruse the lengthy menu but, due to some earlier online lurking, I’ve already decided that I will try the tomato egg casserole – poached eggs in a garlic and cumin tomato sauce, baked in a terracotta pot ($10). And I’m going to throw in an order of their unparalleled hummus ($2 – amazing!). I normally prefer savoury breakfasts and I’m fully prepared for the strong flavours that will surely ensue.
After an unfortunate encounter with soy milk chunks in her drip coffee (not necessarily meaning bad soy milk, just that the soy milk stars are not aligning), my breakfast date gets a replacement soy latte at no extra charge. We happily sip our wake-up drinks between sips of Nuba’s signature cucumber water – so refreshing!
Our food arrives and our table becomes a Tetris game of plates. My casserole, with its side of roasted potatoes and tomatoes on a separate plate, a small dish of tahini, a bowl of hummus, a bowl of pita, my date’s plate of ful medames (fava beans, red peppers, lemon and parsley – $9), plus all our drinks (refer to photo).
The preliminary verdict:
It breaks my heart to say that neither I, nor my date (who eats at Nuba at least three times a week), are particularly impressed by our breakfasts. The hummus is ALWAYS good, and of course the potatoes are little crispy/salty triangles of yum, but my casserole has a whipped porridgey texture and the ‘poached’ eggs on top of it are done extremely easy. After a few stirs it resembles more of a runny, garlicky, tomatoey, cuminy soup than a casserole. I don’t think it’s a good idea to ever eat raw eggs, especially if you are reintroducing eggs into your diet after a month long hiatus. My date notes that her ful medames are a bit too heavy on the citrus for her liking while musing that “maybe this is what Lebanese breakfast is supposed to be like and we’re just not used to it”. She vows to stick with the tried and tested mjadra in the future (a green lentil and rice dish offered at all times).
The concluding verdict:
We will return to try some of the other options such as the egg breakfast pita (with mjadra, caramelized onions, avocado, tomatoes, organic greens and pickle – $7.50) and probably steer clear of the casseroles and ful medames. Next time I’m going to bring a carnivore so I can witness how the Lebanese Champion goes down (fried eggs with zataar crusted Fraser Valley sirloin steak with fresh labneh and pita – $12.50). Other options include lamb sausage, labneh (strained yogurt) and fruit. They also serve a wide selection of fresh pressed fruit and vegetable juices and traditional Turkish coffee. Our server informed us that Veganmania usually delivers a selection of fresh vegan baked goods, which wasn’t the case this morning to our dismay.
We head back out in the rain with our bellies bursting and the contentment of a large breakfast at great value, even though the flavours and textures were not our cup of tea.
Nuba Breakfast Mon-Fri 8am to 11am, Sat 9am – 1pm
207B West Hastings at Cambie