I suppose there are some people who are disgusted by the very idea of eating raw meat. I am not one of them. Beef tartare is of my favorite things to eat. Once I even had horse tartare, which was quite good. I am especially fond of other cultures raw meat dishes and relish Korean yuk hwe and Thai num tuk. So when I heard Wafa’s was making a Lebanese lamb tartare I knew I had to try it.
Kibbe nayeh ($18.95), is served as a special at the Forest Hills eatery. It’s a relative of the fried footballs of cracked wheat and meat except that this kibbe is nayeh, that it is to say raw. Wafa Chaimi makes it to order, blending freshly ground leg of lamb, bulghur, walnuts, basil, black pepper, and Lebanese seven-spice mixture. Topped with a splash of olive oil, it’s traditionally eaten eaten with raw onion and warm pita.
If tucking into steak tartare makes me think I am in a 19th century bistro, kibbe nayeh makes feel as if I was in a soukh or more likely at table with a Lebanese family. And that’s because at Wafa’s I am. Both of her sons told me that they love the dish and look forward to eating it every Thanksgiving.
Wafa’s, 100-05 Metropolitan Ave., Forest Hills, 718-880-2055