There's no denying London stands out as a cosmopolitan city and if I had to name just one thing this potpourri of cultures has enriched the city with, then I would say... international cuisine. Well I'm a foodie and I think it's a luxury to be able to have the best dish from every country in the world by travelling from suburb to suburb in London.
Talk about suburbs, if there's one area that is known for a predominance of Middle Eastern culture, then that is Marble Arch, also known as the Arabian quarter - the best place to indulge yourself in Arabic dishes.
Almost every Londoner loves hummus and can find it almost anywhere and in any form - either roasted red, piri piri, caramelised or plain hummus. Even Brandon Flowers from The Killers said the hummus from Sainsbury's was his favourite in the world, so there's no doubt we have quality hummus to offer. But there's so much more to Arabic food than hummus and its spiciness, delicate and aromatic flavours is a real treat for the senses.
Nestled into the mountain range of buildings that line Edgware Road lies Al Balad - an authentic Lebanese restaurant. Right in a corner is where I found this place two years ago and since then I just couldn't stay away. Luckily for my pocket, the owner started to recognise me and give me special deals.
Whether you are a vegetarian or a meat lover, Al Balad offers exquisite dishes made with fresh and fine ingredients that will please the fussiest palates.
Not to encourage anybody to order things that are not on the menu and get an eye-rolling from the menu, but they are always happy to cook the shish taouk and the salad the way you want it. I'm one of the fussy customers who are fussy about the things I want and they are always happy to make the spicy Lebanese salad - my absolute favourite - less spicy. The chicken is also tender, juicy and delicious. Plus everything is healthy.
As to the cold mezza was absolutely scrumptious, but it was the tabouleh that sent us through the roof - finely chopped, perfect balance of ingredients and fresh. We also tried the fatuous - a side dish made of cucumber, mint, spices, tomato and lettuce, which was a delightful addition to our feast.
While the falafel was crunchy and tasty, the halloumi meshiwi -charcoal grilled halloumi cheese - was supremely divine and worth every sinful bite.