I’ll be honest. I’ve switched from drinking heavily to enjoying an occasional pull on a hookah pipe. One could even go so far as to say that most of my sobriety diet is halal. This is great, since I love Middle Easter food and happen to live near one of the biggest Arabic communities in New Jersey. As a result, a lot of my upcoming reviews are going to revolve around Middle Eastern cuisine and hookah bars.
When I finished four weeks of sobriety, I decided to give myself a treat. I decided to check out a place called Kamil’s Lebanese Cuisine. The outside is quite unassuming, and it was right across from a large warehouse-style food center. After having seen that they have hookah on Yelp, I headed right in. Here’s what I have to say…
From my personal experience, there seems to be two types of hookah lounge: the super club-like ones and the casual ones. Kamil’s, from what I’ve seen, is casual. This is the type of place where you can go when you want to just chill out with friends.
This isn’t saying it’s shabby or cheap-looking, mind you. Rather, it’s casual and unpretentious. It’s chill, rather than the type of place where you have to dress up like a douchebag to feel wanted.
As someone who adores Lebanese food, I’ll admit, I’m not a picky eater here. I found the menu to be pretty damn impressive—and not just when it comes to the quality of the food, either. The menu was expansive. Traditionally, most people buy a bunch of appetizers and share them. I snagged a slew of my favorites and chowed down.
They had all my favorite appetizers on the menu, including foul, labne, as well as a really savory kibbeh nayeh. If these dishes sound pretty unusual to you,I’ll explain. They have a really authentic menu that includes a lot of foods that are pretty hard to come by in the United States.
Don’t feel like splitting apps? Don’t worry, they also have full platters. Trust me when I say it’s hard to choose just one plate!
If you’re a hookah lounge fanatic, then you’re going to enjoy Kamil’s. They have the standard array of Starbuzz shishas, including Blue Mist. (YUM!) When it came to the hookahs they carried, they got the typical ones you see in hookah lounge restaurants: floor standing models.
I took a hit of the hookah, and was happy. The hookah was well-cleaned and had a smooth, delicate bubble. Because the area was very well-ventilated, I was able to smoke indoors.
The Food Critique
Ooh where to begin? I ended up having a case of my eyes getting way larger than my stomach. So, I ended up eating about six different plates. Honestly, this was a lot of food. The portions are definitely made to share, and I had leftovers for days.
This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy the food. I devoured a ton of it. Kamil’s makes food that is exceptionally fresh, especially when it comes to their chopped salad and creamy spreads. This only works to enhance the flavor, in my opinion.
What more can I say? The foul (fava beans) were warm and melted in your mouth. The baba ghanoush was fluffy and light. The kibbeh was savory and had a perfect texture—one that could rival steak tartare in a good restaurant.
Now, I might not be a drinker anymore, but I can still explain this pretty well. Kamil’s appears to be a BYOB restaurant. There isn’t a bar here, which is actually pretty commonplace for halal things. However, they’re still true to the Lebanese way, which means that you’re going to have a lot more options than just soda.
They have classic Arabic-style coffee, as well as mint tea. Their coffee? Oh. My. God. YES. If you are a caffeine addict, this will be worth the trip alone.
One thing that most people quickly learn about service at hookah lounges is that it’s prompt, but gives you enough space to have a chat with people. Kamil’s is not any different in this respect. It’s the type of place that understands how to put together a relaxed environment where people chat over food.
If you’re looking for a place to relax over dining, then you will enjoy this restaurant. It’s the kind of place people go when they want to chill out.
While I had a great time at Kamil’s, I do have one regret. My biggest regret is that I made this a solo trip! Had I known how much food this place offered, or how good the hookah was going to be, I never would have gone alone. It’s a place that’s just too good to be a loner at.
|1489 Main Ave, Clifton, New Jersey 07011|
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