by Jessica Grajczyk
Vancouver has no shortage of little Lebanese take out joints, but none quite match the quality, consistency, and variety available at Nuba. Featuring recipes passed down from co-owner Victor Bouzide’s grandmother (credited for introducing Lebanese cuisine at the 1893 Chicago World Fair), the Nuba menu consists of snacks, light meals, and generous plates of Middle-Eastern favourites for vegans, vegetarians, and carnivores alike. Ingredients are fresh, handpicked, and organic wherever possible, and if you don’t have time to sit down, you can take some of their flavourful creations to go in a biodegradable bamboo container. This fast-er food is not only a healthy option, but also an environmentally conscious one.
At Nuba, you’ll find usual suspects like hummus (arguably the best in the city), baba ghanooj, and falafel with some lesser-known Lebanese specialties available for the more adventurous diner. Menu items are divided into three different size categories to suit varying degrees of hunger. The mezze is a snack or appetizer served with pita and homemade pickles (man, I love those little purple things); the pita option is just that, your selection wrapped in a pita with lettuce, tomato, pickles and tahini; and the plate is a full entrée accompanied by tabouleh, hummus, pita, salad and your choice of organic brown rice or potatoes. Nuba also offers a selection of traditional salads and soups, including a daily vegan soup feature. Everything is super-healthy and affordable, with nothing far over the $10 mark. Prices range from $5.00 for the hummus mezze, to $11.00 for the beef sirloin kebab plate.
If I’m just in the mood for a quick snack, I usually opt for the hummus mezze, or if I’m interested in something a little more substantial, the garden falafel pita with avocado, hummus and pickles saves the day. Other menu items of note include the mjadra – organic green lentils and brown rice in a jalapeno reduction with avocado and crispy onions; or, if you’re looking for something a little different, try najib’s special – crispy cauliflower with organic lemon, sea salt, and tahini. The vegetarian platter for two, le feast, is next on my list, now I just need to find someone worthy to share it with me.
Nuba will soon add a new dimension to their growing little chain. A bigger, licensed location with a full juice bar and coffee bar is scheduled to open at Cambie and Hastings this month. Take out will still be available at the new location, but its larger capacity will allow Nuba to expand further into the realm of sit-down restaurants. The Beirut-inspired design strays slightly from the minimalistic theme of the other two, but is definitely easy on the eyes. And I’m glad that I’ll soon be able to enjoy my garden falafel with a beer.
322 West Hastings – Mon-Fri 11:30am to 7pm
1206 Seymour – Mon-Fri 11:30am to 10pm, Sat noon to 9pm