How sweet would it be to have a Genie in a bottle that at the twink of a nose grant wishes and bring dreams to life? Luckily, any lover of offal in the NY area does not have to keep praying for a blue colored and hairless Robin Williams to pop up. Mombar restaurant in Astoria, Queens is where worshipers of offal and unique eats should pilgrim for the chef owner’s special tasting.
Mombar is a critics’ pick type of establishment and rightfully so. The menu is compromised of intelligent Middle Eastern cuisine. The staff is extremely friendly, funny, and add an intimate element of attention to the dining experience. Most importantly, the personality of the chef owner exonerates throughout the small, funky + eclectically decorated restaurant and his beaming warmth gently covers the entire experience. This is a special happy place, good in its own right by any means. Slow cooking and Middle Eastern eating with aromatic ingredients and prepared at a high caliber.
Yet, there is a tasting menu at this restaurant that is not written. It is not highly publicized. That has not stopped the world from slowly but surely finding out about it. Food stars and their shows have flocked to Mombar and Kebab Cafe (Mombar’s brother restaurant) for their secret tastings. This special tasting is real, down home cooking not for the faint of heart … because that is what you might be eating. This is Mombar’s famous offal tasting menu, an ever changing symphony that pays homage to all parts edible of lamb and cow.
Peck the beak’s Mombar offal tasting menu
- Egyptian bread with zatar and served with a chili spread
- Lamb cheeks and raw egg spread served with more bread
- Lamb sweetbreads
- Rocky mountain oysters (bulls testicles) with olives
- Lamb kidneys
- Veal penis with mustard, chickpeas, and sour cream
- Beef foot with rice, garlic, cumin, and vinegar
Almost all of the proteins in the tasting were braised or poached to sweet, soft succulence. Egyptian flavors of lemon juice, cumin, onions, garlic, parsley, coriander, and yogurt were heavily showcased throughout the tasting.
Veal penis, bulls testicles, and beef foot, oh my and exquisite
The braised lamb cheeks were ground into a paste and seasoned. It was served as a dip for Egyptian style naan/bread. The cheek spread was a tantalizing compliment to the flaky Egyptian bread and a chili dressing. Bread serves as a backbone for Egyptian cuisine and it rocks at Mombar.
The lamb sweetbreads were creamy and void of any over-the-top gamy taste. Soaking the sweetbreads (or most offal for that manner) in milk prior to cooking helps eliminate any immense foulness. Poaching the sweetbreads in milk also help them retain maximum softness and lushness. The bulls testicles were hilarious to eat and extremely velvety. I was pleasantly surprised of how dreamy the texture was in addition to its taste playing off well with olives. The veal penis was also one of a kind type of dish. Another funny dish to eat with friends and again, delicious.
My favorite dish was the braised beef foot. I am a sucker for animal shanks and Mombar’s preparation was right up my alley – served with rice, garlic, spices and vinegar. Complex yet satisfyingly comforting and a gorgeous homey note to end the remarkable offal tasting journey.
To eat or not to eat, like Prince Offal at Mombar’s
Sit back and enjoy the magical carpet ride of a dinner known as Mombar’s offal tasting. There is no need for a menu or a clock. This is an offal lovers dream and given it is an ever changing tasting with whatever is fresh on hand, it is a dream that can be placed on frequent repeat.