11/11/13 10:03am

Wafa’s Kibbeh Nayeh aka Lebanese Lamb Tartare


Lamb tartare is a Thanksgiving favorite for Wafa’s family.


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

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2 Comment

  • Joe – think this special will show up often this month? I’m like you – I love the raw. Made my own steak tartare just last night, got the meat fresh ground at the Zum Stammtisch Butcher Shop and mixed in my favorite ingredients – smoked paprika, caper, onion, etc. The Num Tuk you found was incredible too and I can’t eat Korean without the nearly frozen crunchy yuk hwe. (Although if you want to try a not-so-frozen one, Wonjo on 32nd St in Manhattan is divine). If Wafa mixes to order, do you think she would leave out the walnuts for us allergy-ridden folks?