There are between 7 and 10 million Lebanese and Syrians in Brazil. And about 4 million of them are in Sao Paolo alone. As a result, Lebanese food is very familiar to Brazilians and specialities like sfiha (a term that covers both manaqish and fatayer) and kibbe have become part of the national culinary repertoire. And of course there are Lebanese restaurants galore. Some are good and some not so. I have now tried three and each is good in its own way even if they serve a different cuisine from the one I was brought up with. I guess it is because they have been in Brazil for several generations; and despite having preserved their culinary repertoire, serving unusual dishes like shish barak which is not normally found on restaurant menus, they have adapted and changed them slightly. A few days ago, I was taken by adorable Luiz Henrique Ligabue to Casa Garabed which loved, particularly the fact that it is in the garage and one bedroom of the owner’s home giving the restaurant a rather unusual feel: part bistrot and part home dining.
And I absolutely loved their sfiha even if it is different from both the manaqish and the fatayer I am used to. The dough is crisp and the toppings and fillings delicious except for the za’tar which was a little bitter.
We also tried their Kibbeh bi Labniyeh which was also very good with the kibbeh very close to that in Lebanon although with a thicker shell and shaped in round balls the way they do it in Syria. The yoghurt sauce was a little too plain for my taste with not enough herbs but the yoghurt had a nice sour flavour as if it had been made at home.
To finish we had one piece of baklava to share between us. It came drizzled with honey which would have raised cries of horror back in the home country! Definitely a place to go to if you are in Sao Paolo.