MELBOURNE | Syrian refugees Helda Almorani and Atallah Abo arrived in Australia 2016, fleeing the conflict in their country. It wasn’t long before they opened Shamiat, a small restaurant giving local Syrians a taste of home, and a place to connect. This year, the duo expanded the restaurant, which is now a main dining room, sweet shop, and cafe (which offers breakfast) spread over three rooms.
Syrian cuisine is one that’s underrepresented in Melbourne, and Shamiat is a great place to familiarise yourself with the vibrant, fresh, delicous dishes that exemplify the country’s food. Service is friendly, and there’s a real family/community vibe.
Like it’s Levant neighbours, Syrian food showcases the simplicity and freshness of the wonderful produce used. Those familiar with Levant cuisine in particular, will find a lot that’s familiar, with twists and regional variations.
Helda does the cooking, using family recipes passed down by her mother and grandmother. There’s grilled meat skewers and kebabs, and plenty of vegetable focused dishes. If you’re vegan or gluten-free, you will eat very well at Shamiat.
It’s all tasty stuff, and you can’t go wrong with anything you order. Particular highlights for me are the eggplant salad – grilled eggplants mixed with tomatoes, capsicum, and garlic, topped with pomegranate molasses dressing; the cabbage rolls – cabbage leaves stuffed with rice and vegetables, drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice; and the kibbeh nayyeh – minced raw lamb mixed with fine bulgur and spices. Also be sure to try the mujadara – lentils with rice, topped with crispy caramelised onions.
For dessert, it’s a selection of pastries from the counter. Baklava is always a good shout. I also recommend the ballourieh – shredded kataifi pastry with a pistachio or date filling. Enjoy them with a cup of strong, cardamom infused Syrian coffee.
To drink, there’s a small selection of juices, sodas, and Syrian alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. You can also BYO. There’s no corkage, but be decent and leave a tip in lieu if your finances allow.
64 Victoria Road
Telephone: (03) 9486 4458
E-mail: [email protected]
Mon, Wed – Fri: 5:00am to 10:00pm
Sat – Sun: 5:00am to 10:00pm