I was SO excited when i received an invite to attend Mayrig’s exclusive Cooking + Tasting event for bloggers/influencers. Having heard so much about the Armenian restaurant through Instagram (along with all the tantalizing pics) my taste buds were equally as excited as i was for this mouth-watering opportunity.
Mayrig is located at the bustling Emaar Boulevard (they have their own valet parking too..score!) and founded by Aline Kamakian whom i got to spend a lovely evening with along with other foodies.
The restaurant has a beautiful outdoor seating area, where we spent our fantastic evening. A long table was set up just for us with a special tasting menu and some of Aline’s famous recipes such as the Fishnah Kebab (grilled kebab topped with wild sour cherries.. mmmmm!).
I must say that Aline is the perfect host! She chatted with us, told us stories about her restaurant and her life, fed us amazing food aaaand took us inside her kitchen where all the Armenian magic happens. She whipped up an olive salad which consisted of olives (doh!), tomatoes, walnuts, parsley and onions. She then showed us how to prepare the famous Vospov Keufteh (lentil kebbe); a mix of lentils, bulgur, onions and seasoning hand-shaped into finger-shaped patties and ready to eat!
We then sat down for our tasting session and the plates just kept coming and coming! I tried the following (refrain from judging me haha):
- Itch (Armenian Tabbouleh)
- Hommos Sojouk (Hummus topped with Armenian smoked beef)
- Printzav Keufteh (Crispy golden rice kebbeh)
- Fishna Keuftah (Hot Kebbeh filled with sour cherries and served on a bed of cold yoghurt)
- Idzou Patates (Spicy fried potatoes)
- Sou Beureg (Layered pastry with three cheese)
- Halabi roti (Aleppo style roast beef served with mouhammara)
- Lahme Beajine (Mini bread patties with spicy marinated mince meat)
- Mante (Minced meat dumplings served with tomato sauce and yoghurt)
- Fishnah Kebab (Grilled kebab topped with wild sour cherries coulis)
- Cheese Ma’amoul
- Armenian Baklava
- Rose, Halawa and Megle ice-cream
- Ashta ice cream sprinkled with Lebanese cotton candy and pistachios
This was the first time i try Armenian food and each dish was beautifully presented, unique and had a distinctive flavor.. Who knew that sour cherries and kebab were a match made in heaven?! I also tried raw meat kibbeh for the first time and loved it!
Dessert was the perfect ending to our day and i carried my heavy belly back home and fell into a state of food coma for the rest of the night.
I also got the chance to interview the magician in the kitchen, Aline Kamakian (a big thank you for taking the time!) hope you enjoy it!
When did you first develop your love for cooking?
Love for food, for cooking is something that I always remember, it is part of me, part of the family history, of the history of my people. I remember helping my grandmother in preparing the big family lunches: me and my cousins formed a chain of little workers, each of us contributing to his or her capacity. Later cooking became my way of convincing my parents to let me go out with friends. I remember the first time I prepared sou beureg, the layered dough with three cheeses, one of the most elaborate preparations of the Armenian Cuisine. I wanted to go out with my friend who had a motorbike. That day I prepared the whole sou beureg on my own. My dad was so proud of me that he couldn’t refuse anything.
When did you open your first restaurant?
My cousin and I opened Mayrig in 2003. It was my big dream that I inherited from my father, but it took me ten years to realize it. After the death of my father I started working in insurance to pay for my studies and after graduation I opened my own brokerage firm. Opening Mayrig started like a big adventure where the love of food was more important than strategic and financial planning.
If you could describe your food in 3 words, what would they be?
Silk-road flavors, Mediterranean freshness and rich and generous like motherly love
What made you decide to open a branch in Dubai?
It is my dream to share our food with the whole world and through our cuisine tell the story of who we are and where we come from. We have been looking for a good location for Mayrig in Dubai since a long time. For us Dubai is a platform to reach the world.
What is your favorite dish at Mayrig, and why?
Mante is my favorite with the crunchy dough, the tasty meat filling, the intense sauce of sun dried pepper paste and tomato and the fresh yoghurt topped with summac, combining cold and warm, crunchy and silky. Sometimes I just eat the crunchy dough pastries without sauce, sometimes I dip them in yoghurt, every bite is different and surprising.
When people come to Mayrig, they should definitely order ___________
Everything (laughing) but not at once. In Mayrig every meal can be different. Must-tries are the salad selection, the selection of kebbes, the grilled meat with wild cherry sauce, the sou beureg, the rice kebbe….
Any plans to open more branches in the UAE?
We are currently looking for other locations in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
I believe that Mayrig means Mother in Armenian. Why did you choose to call your restaurant that?
When my cousin and I opened Mayrig, combined the recipes of our mothers and of our grandmother. Mayrig is not only a tribute to them but also to all the Armenian women who kept this rich culinary heritage alive. Imagine, being refugees and living in harsh circumstances for over years, but keeping the memory alive of the flavors, of the ingredients and elaborate recipes. Food played and still plays an important role in keeping the Armenian culture alive and in giving us a sense of belonging.
Asides from Armenian cuisine (of course) what other cuisine do you enjoy the most?
I really like to try and taste and experiment in cooking: Indian, Thai, French, Italian…
Name a few restaurants that you love in Dubai.
La Petite Maison for French cuisine with a Mediterranean soul. A small Indian named Q’s who serves very authentic food. Belgium Café for a quick bite.
One ingredient that you can’t live without?
Armenian pepper paste that is homemade and sun-dried.
Your dishes are mostly inspired by ___________________
The freshness and surprises of the seasons, by high quality ingredients in general, by flavors that take you on a journey to far away places, by stories and good memories.
Enjoy the pics xx