Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Petra Kebab House, Itaewon - 페트라 케밥 하우스

It was getting on in the day today after a long day of sorting fabrics and leather at the markets, so it called for a meal. We decided to start a food and lifestyle blog whilst in the taxi en route, so I called for Petra Kebab House to be our first stop. It was my first time, but the food was not unfamiliar.

For the three of us, we picked up the menu, and rattled off a bunch of dishes to our server;

Baba Ganoush
Chicken Kebab - chicken pieces grilled in spices
Tikka Kebab - lamb pieces grilled in spices
Sultan Chicken - chicken pieces stewed in a tomato and spiced sauce, with raisins and chickpeas
Olive Salad

Food came out quickly, and in a logical order. I've read plenty about this place and so I had fairly high expectations. The first things to be placed on the table were a cucumber-yogurt based sauce not unlike a tatziki sauce, and a chili sauce. The dishes we ordered soon arrived and we dug in, trying to put bread to vegetables and protein. Food was overall pretty good. We ordered a second olive salad as it went quite quickly and we got seconds on pitas as well, as we had a ton of food to wrap.
We probably didn't need the Sultan Chicken, a sweet'ish stewed chicken dish in a tomato sauce over raisins and chickpeas. In hindsight we could've gone with more chicken kebab or lamb Tikka Kebab.

My gripes with the food itself were thus; Korean tomatoes do not suit this style of food, just like any other tomato-heavy cuisine. Some more acidic, more sour tomatoes would've done wonders for that olive salad and the tabouleh. Both kebab and falafel dishes came out with the same relish of shredded red leaf lettuce and onions dusted in sumac powder. Looked nice enough, but red leaf lettuce doesn't have enough strength to hold up against the pitas nor protein; this is a technical mistake I feel too many restaurants in Korea do. For a restaurant that is as proud of its food as Petra is, I really do think they could put forth the effort and do their own tomatoes as well as realize the red leaf lettuce shreds don't function as embellishments nor do they add much in a kebab.
The Hummus was not knockout, and considering the fairly easy availability of all of the ingredients for Hummus in Korea, I found it a bit disappointing that it fell short. The Falafel was also a bit small for its size and a trip through the fryer made the Falafel small and more crunch that flavor.
Likewise, the Tabouleh was also a bit short on bulgur wheat, it was definitely more parsley than anything else.

Perhaps it was the drinker in me, and nothing against Petra in this case, but I felt that a meal without alcohol and a smoke to be a pretty strange feeling. The food itself was very fresh and light as well, which lended to the overall lunch-y vibe of the meal. I'd happily eat this for lunch any day of the week, but for dinner, it'd be a tougher sell to me.

I do think Petra has some decent food, but they do have some room for improvement as well, both with food detail and facility.

Location: On the hill above the 4-way intersection at Noksapyeong station. Also accessible by walking from Itaewon station.

Total bill was 89,000W for 3 people, including three Diet Cokes for beverages.

Food: 3.8/5 stars
Ambience: 3/5 stars
Service: 3.5/5 stars

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