Restaurant review: Ooh! Kabsa

Ooh! Kabsa offers authentic and delicious middle eastern cuisine a stones throw from TRU. (Kim Anderson/The Omega)

Ooh! Kabsa offers authentic and delicious middle eastern cuisine a stones throw from TRU. (Kim Anderson/The Omega)

by Kim Anderson and Ashley Wadhwani 

We bet you’ve noticed that new joint across the street on McGill Rd. Ooh! Kabsa popped up, seemingly overnight, after the closure of TRU Spirits Lounge. We were curious and hungry, a deadly combination. So we stopped in for lunch at 1:00 p.m. to find out what Ooh! Kabsa was all about.

The menu

The menu offers a variety of items, platters, sides and sandwiches with the options of lamb, chicken, fish and vegetarian falafel. The prices are a bit steep for the average university student’s budget, so for a splurge-type meal, be prepared to spend within the $20 to $25 range. Ooh! Kabsa’s menu dives into Saudi culture, but unfortunately it doesn’t offer descriptions of the various dishes. For those unfamiliar with these traditional items, looking at the menu without descriptions can be a bit overwhelming.

The Kabsa lamb for example, includes red rice, a basic side salad and a piece of lamb on the bone. A clarification in the menu would be nice, as they do serve three kinds of rice: red, white and yellow. We ordered a platter that came with four falafels, a mixed salad, a side of fries, pita and homemade hummus.

The food

Although the price is a tad steep, the dishes include a generous portion of rice – roughly two and a half cups. The lamb is tender, slow-cooked and falls off the bone. The natural flavour of the lamb is balanced with the exquisite daquose sauce. Impressively, the sauce is made from scratch. It’s light and spicy without being overwhelming. Alongside their homemade hummus, the dips and sauces are made exactly the way they should be, complimenting the main dishes without overpowering your palette.

The service

The service is great, until it gets busy. The staff are friendly and gave us space to enjoy our meal and each other’s company while maintaining proper serving etiquette. Our server was happy to explain the menu items and to answer all of our questions. When we got our meal, the restaurant had three other customers at two separate tables. Once another three tables came in, our second item, the falafel platter, took much longer than we anticipated.

It’s clear that as a new restaurant, they have some growing to do. But as they hit the typical learning curves, as long as they keep up with the food quality and friendly service, customers will keep coming back. Ooh! Kabsa offers a unique and authentic dining experience that fits in seamlessly with the Kamloops restaurant scene.