ilili’s Duck Shawarma: It’s doesn’t get more contemporary than that. 
Photo courtesy Appetite for Good

ilili’s Duck Shawarma: It’s doesn’t get more contemporary than that. 

Photo courtesy Appetite for Good

ilili restaurant’s Philippe Massoud breaks down his tumultuous love affair with Sea Urchin in this month’s Saveur. ilili is New York City’s (and possibly the world’s!) most contemporary Lebanese restaurant. Famed for their progressive take on Lebanese favorites: Duck Shawarma, Deconstructed Koussa and Angel Hair Fatteh, Knafe Bil Jibneh, and many other Mediterranean inspired dishes. 

"Pitching contemporary Lebanese food (via the Med & Japan) to a public weened on store bought hummus has been an uphill battle at times. As Josh (Ozersky) noted in this month’s TIME Magazine, Lebanese cuisine is on the cusp of breaking free from the shackles of the public’s exposure to wildly misrepresentative deli offerings. Call it progress, globalization, or the dawning of the age of Aquarius; we’re just here to show New Yorkers what they’ve been missing." Executive chef Philippe Massoud.  

New York City Restaurant Week 2011: More Pix!

New York Restaurant Week Dinner Prix Fixe: Clams & Soujuk 

New York Restaurant Week Dinner prix fixe: Harissa & Amontillado Shrimp

New York Restaurant Week Dinner prix fixe: Marinated Octopus & Calamari Salad

ilili’s New York City Restaurant Week lineup includes another first for the NYC Foodie scene: an Arak promotion from two of Lebanon’s most celebrated wineries: Château Ksara and Massaya. We’re offering diners a sample tasting pour of ‘Lion’s Milk,’ with our $35 prix fixe Restaurant Week dinner menu. ilili’s RW menu references Japan, Italy, Spain, France, and Lebanon, offering diners a cross cultural experience culminating in the “quintessential’ Lebanese-American menu for 2011. New items include: K-Town inspired Marinated Octopus & Squid Salad, Fennel Cured Sardines, Clams & Soujouk (fenugreek sausage), Harissa & Amontillado Shrimp, Date Braised Beef w/Cashew Couscous, and Lamb Roasted in Grape Leaves. Our Restaurant Week Lunch Prix Fixe and Brunch Prix Fixe are $24.07

New York City Restaurant Week 2011: Prix Fixe Brunch, Lunch, Dinner

ilili New York City Restaurant Week Dinner Prix Fixe ($35)

Giant Lamb stuffed grape leaves. Don’t forget the sample pour of award-winning Ksara or Massaya Arak. 

ilili New York City Restaurant Week Dinner Prix Fixe: Veal Sweetbreads. 

ilili Brussels Sprouts Recipe

ilili Brussels Sprouts

Serves 4

1.25lb Brussels Sprouts

16 Tb Mint Yogurt

4 Tb Fig puree

4 Tb Toasted Walnut, crumbled

8 Tb Sliced Seedless Green Grapes

8 leaves Fresh Mint, chopped finely

Sherry Vinegar – to taste

1/2 tsp salt

Fig puree:

1 cup Water

1 cup Fig jam

Bring to boil then puree in blender.

Mint Yoghurt:

1 qt Yogurt

4 Tb Mint, minced

1 Tb Salt

Deep fry the Brussels sprouts or sear the cut side in a pan until well browned almost burnt, or you can toss with oil and roast in the oven at 500f until crispy.

Make sure the outer husk is removed from the sprout otherwise it will burn and fall off becoming an unappetizing and frustrating thing to pick out of the batch. The Brussels sprout should still be green with a browned outer leaves when cooked.  It should not be completely browned otherwise it will be bitter and overly laden with fry oil.  The sprouts should then be salted and tossed with the sherry vinegar. 

The two sauces should go on next in lattices and then it should be garnished with the walnuts and the grapes and before it leaves the window fresh mint. Be sure not to over sauce. You can always add more if you need it.

You’ll know you’ve perfected the seasoning when you get the perfect bite - a balance between bitter, salty, sweet, and sour and the umami. 

ilili restaurant NYC: New York City Winter Restaurant Week 2011

ilili’s New York City Restaurant Week lineup includes another first for the NYC Foodie scene: an Arak promotion from two of Lebanon’s most celebrated wineries: Château Ksara and Massaya. We’re offering diners a sample tasting pour of ‘Lion’s Milk,’ with our $35 prix fixe Restaurant Week dinner menu. ilili’s RW menu references Japan, Italy, Spain, France, and Lebanon, offering diners a cross cultural experience culminating in the “quintessential’ Lebanese-American menu for 2011. New items include: K-Town inspired Marinated Octopus & Squid Salad, Fennel Cured Sardines, Clams & Soujouk (fenugreek sausage), Harissa & Amontillado Shrimp, Date Braised Beef w/Cashew Couscous, and Lamb Roasted in Grape Leaves. Our Restaurant Week Lunch Prix Fixe is $24. 

New York City Restaurant Week at ilili isn’t about filling seats. It’s an opportunity to showcase our culinary team’s imagination and management’s dedication to celebrating a cuisine that has lain dormant far too long. For more on that please check out Josh Ozersky’s mention of ilili in Time Magazine. Here’s a quote: 

"…Philippe Massoud’s ilili, in New York, are both examples of chefs trying to push one of the world’s most complex and ancient cuisines into the culinary mainstream. (Massoud’s charcoal-roasted lamb shawarma is so good, I recruited him to serve it at the Meatopia festival I organized last year.) Middle Eastern food, these chefs are trying to say, is in a place right now where Italian food was 50 years ago; those crusty pea-balls in that leathery pita are the exact equivalents of the leaden meatballs in soggy spaghetti that used to pass for Neapolitan cooking."

Time Magazine Asks: Is Hummus the Next Guacamole?

From Josh Ozersky’s TIME Magazine piece:

"…Philippe Massoud’s Ilili, in New York…examples of chefs trying to push one of the world’s most complex and ancient cuisines into the culinary mainstream. (Massoud’s charcoal-roasted lamb shawarma is so good, I recruited him to serve it at the Meatopia festival I organized last year.) Middle Eastern food, these chefs are trying to say, is in a place right now where Italian food was 50 years ago; those crusty pea-balls in that leathery pita are the exact equivalents of the leaden meatballs in soggy spaghetti that used to pass for Neapolitan cooking.

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Spice of Life

Za’atar is the generic name for a family of herbs in the Oregano, Basil and Thyme family. Just think of za’atar as their sexier Middle-Eastern cousin.  A condiment made from dried za’atar, sesame seeds, salt and other spices has been used in Arab cuisine since the medieval times.

 At ilili a paste made from za’atar and olive oil is spread on fresh bread dough and baked. At home za’atar can be enjoyed on crudités with just a dash of lemon, or sprinkled on freshly strained yoghurt and eaten with pita chips. We encourage you to try spreading the za’atar olive oil paste onto store bought pita bread, pizza dough or phyllo pastry. Take our word for it; there are few olfactory experiences that compare to za’atar and olive oil sizzling away in the oven.

Aleppo pepper, a variety of Capsicum, takes its name from the northern Syrian town of the same name. It’s used as a spice in Middle Eastern cuisine in the form of dried and crushed flakes, known as pul biber (flake pepper) in Turkish. Most Aleppo peppers are grown in Syria.

At ilili we rely on Aleppos to create the heat in our dishes. More than simply a chili, Aleppo pepper has a depth of flavour not found in its spicy counterparts.  Great on all grilled meats, mixed with mayo for an easy condiment perfect for spicing up a deli-style sandwich, sprinkled on pizzas to impart an oriental flair, or mixed with oil and garlic as a condiment for crudités.

Sumac comes from the berries of a wild bush that grows wild in all Mediterranean areas, especially Sicily and southern Italy, and parts of the Middle East, notably Iran. It is an essential ingredient in Arabic cooking, being preferred to lemon for its sourness and astringency. Many other varieties of sumac occur in temperate regions of the world.

At ilili sumac is served with salt at the table because Chef Philippe believes it is a natural salt substitute. Using sumac in addition to salt on all our kebabs allows us to put less salt on the meat. Both sumac and salt are on our fries and naturally enough on the rim of our Sumac Margarita. With two seemingly contradictory flavors, earth and lemon, sumac nevertheless inspires the taste buds leaving them clamouring for more.

 

Fluffy Pita Bread

Described by patrons as “pillowy,” ilili restaurant’s pita bread is the perfect accompaniment to our traditional hummus, falafel, tabbouleh, baba ghanoush, and our more contemporary fare. Served piping hot, they emit satisfying puffs of steam, a sure fire sign they’re freshly home baked. 

Photo courtesy Jeremy Shapiro

ilili Falafel Sliders at NYC Wine & Food Festival.
Photo: Ben Kessler @Foodspotting 

ilili Falafel Sliders at NYC Wine & Food Festival.

Photo: Ben Kessler @Foodspotting