Posts Tagged ‘Middle Eastern’

Student Foodie: Semsom’s Fresh Middle Eastern Food Will Soon Become Your Favorite Summer Spot

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016

With Halal carts on every corner and hundreds of Middle Eastern restaurants all over the city it didn’t seem like we needed another one but Semsom, located at 2 Astor place, serves up fresh twists on old favorites that will have you coming back again and again.

The fast-casual Middle Eastern eatery was opened by two creative sisters Christine and Carine about a year ago but is already an institution in the Middle East with locations in Lebanon, Oman, Ksa, Kuwait and an upcoming location in Dubai. Already, a successful businesswoman- Christine is responsible for bringing Dunkin Donuts to the Middle East and was named Best Businesswoman in the Middle East in 2011- Christine’s dream was to share her passion for Lebanese food with the world.

Sisters Carine and Christine at Semsom's grand opening. Photo courtesy of Semsom.

Sisters Carine and Christine at Semsom’s grand opening. Photo courtesy of Semsom.

Walking into Semsom Eatery will immediately transport you to a calm, cool Middle Eastern villa. The restaurant is clean and airy with turquoise accents and you almost expect a seaside breeze to hit you. It’s clear that the concept is to make you feel at ease and at home, with comfortable and ample seating and personalized touches. The wallpaper is a dynamic photo of a friend of the two sisters in their father’s old car. The restaurant sells scrumptious French treats by Michel et Augustin that Carine loved when she lived in France and the recipes of Semsom’s delicious offerings are based on family recipes that the sisters loved to devour as children. An upcoming location in the Financial District will even have the window shutters from Christine and Carine’s childhood home.

The concept is simple and streamlined- walk up to the counter and choose either a bowl or a wrap, the bowl is recommended because it allows you to taste each dish individually, and you definitely will want to capture each of the unique flavors. You can choose lettuce or rice as your base (or half and half). Then, choose between two chicken dishes, two meat dishes and two vegetarian options. The Taouk chicken- simmered in vinegar tomato sauce and paprika is tangy, moist and flavorful. One of the vegetarian options- the wild thyme cauliflower is oven roasted with sumac and dried thyme, earthy and filling it will have even non-vegetarians salivating.

Semsom's wholesome Middle Eastern food will have you salivating. Photo by Tamar Lapin

Semsom’s wholesome Middle Eastern food will have you salivating. Photo by Tamar Lapin

You can then add two flavors such as pickled mushrooms or cabbage, tahini carrots, minted yoghurt, hummus or sweet and sour eggplant. The eggplant is a definite hit, made with pomegranate molasses it has an interesting zesty taste with sweet undertones. But the definite standout on the bowl is the hummus which is made with fresh chickpeas (never canned!) and soaked in water overnight. Lea Ghandour, Carine’s friend who heads marketing for the NYC branches tells me that the hummus, “takes 12 hours to prepare and two minutes to devour.” And she’s right! Using fresh chickpeas makes the hummus ultra creamy and smooth. You can slather it on any of the dishes or eat it by the forkful. Make sure to top your bowl with some mint leaves for an even fresher accent.

Tamar trying some delicious vegan soft serve at Semsom.

It’s all affordable too! Prices range from $7.00 to $8.50 for wraps and from $8.00 to $11 for bowls.

The food is simple, bright and colorful and all seasonal and locally sourced. The beef comes from New York institution Pat LaFrieda and the chicken is free-range and antibiotic free, all halal. Everything is flavorful and evenly spiced with an air of simplicity that’ll make you want to try to recreate the recipes at home. And you can- the owner’s thinking ahead set aside a corner of the restaurant- a souk of sorts which sells spices used in the recipes: turmeric, sumac and zaatar. You can also buy some of the sisters’ favorite cookbooks, handmade soaps, and cute, colorful clay cups.

In a rush? Grab one of Semsom’s readymade seasonal salads to go like the watermelon feta salad or indulge with a serving of sriracha hummus and some healthy pita chips. One of their new offerings, the vegan soft-serve is also a definite must-try. It comes in flavors like chocolate halva and frozen mhalabiyeh (rose and orange blossom water). Get some candied chick peas to sprinkle on top and you are set.

by Tamar Lapin

For an extra discount on Middle Eastern food like you’ve never tasted try the Campus Clipper coupon below:



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Cheap Eats Vegan

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

written by Christina Roylance

Think being a vegetarian means expensive specialty restaurants, and lots of drama when you go out to dinner with friends? Do you feel that you’ll have to be the most finicky customer of all time and waiters will hate you? This could not be further from the truth.  Living in NYC is getting easier and more enjoyable every day to be a vegetarian or vegan.  There’s tons of options, and you don’t need to drag everyone to your all-veg restaurants; there are simple ways to get cheap awesome vegetarian food by being knowledgeable about good places and keeping a few things in mind.
NYC is a mecca of different cultures and backgrounds. Ethnic foods abound in the city, and there’s often cheap, local places for whatever foreign flavor you want–Indian, Thai, Japanese, Italian, Middle Eastern, Mexican, whatever.  Many of these cuisines are sensitive to vegetarians, and can easily be requested vegan, as long as you know what to ask for.

Middle Eastern food is a great resource for vegetarians.  Falafels are cheap, vegetarian fast food sandwiches: deep fried tahini balls with hummus and veggies!  It’s a great, simple, yet filling option.  Aldiwan Lebanese restaurant is located on A if you want a sit-down Middle Eastern dinner.  It also has a great selection of vegetarian appetizers, as well as a tasty vegetarian Mousaka entrée that’s big enough for two.

At lunchtime, there’s always Indian food all-you-can-eat buffets for cheap.  Indian Taj on Bleeker has a $10 deal that’s even cheaper with a Campus Clipper Coupon.  Indian food is hearty and flavorful, and you can just ask the servers which dishes do not have any meat or cheese.  These buffets are usually huge, so there’s bound to be a selection of vegetarian things to eat.

Thai food is a personal favorite of mine.  Entrées tend to be large so you can cut the cost by splitting dishes.  There are always a great deal of vegetarian options, but just ask if there are any eggs in the dish and it’s easy enough for you to be accommodated.  Boyd Thai on Thompson has great vegetarian options, and vegan treats and desserts available as well!

Mexican cuisine is great because if that’s what you’re craving, you can either get fast and cheap take-out style places or sit down to dinner.  Vegetarian and vegan burritos are easy since you often custom order them.  With rice, beans, veggies, and guacamole, (and cheese and sour cream if you’re not a vegan) a vegetarian burrito is filling and quick.  Try grabbing one from Burritoville, and use your Campus Clipper Coupon to save $1.

Surprisingly, lots of sushi restaurants can accommodate vegetarians as well, with veggie filled sushi rolls. It is important to make sure the restaurant doesn’t use fish sauces or oils in the preparation though if you’re a strict vegetarian.  Sushi Yawa on 8th street has tons of vegetable rolls (cucumber, avocado, sweet potato, spinach, and more!), and a bunch of vegetarian appetizers as well.  Plus, everyone I know loves sushi, so non-veg friends will be happy to accompany you.

Italian food is everyone’s favorite–who doesn’t love pasta?  It just takes a few easy questions when ordering your pasta dish to know if it’s vegetarian or vegan.  Just ask if there’s meat in the sauce, request no parmesan, and ask for your food cooked with olive oil instead of butter.  Most dishes are prepared that way already, but if you just check it should be easy to make any changes.  Grotta Azzurra in Little Italy has an affordable $10 prix fixe for lunch, as well as a Thursday night ladies night, with free appetizers and half-off on drinks!

So just because you’re vegetarian or vegan doesn’t mean eating out has to be boring or expensive!  You can still eat your favorite things; just be a little conscientious and ask the right questions.  You don’t have to miss out on any great deals or fun nights out just because you have different dietary needs.  So remember to use Campus Clipper coupons to get the best deals, and be sure to experiment and have fun.

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