[Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia] Lunch at Tarbush, JW Marriott

It’s a challenge to rate the top Middle-Eastern restaurant in Kuala Lumpur - there are 162 entries in TripAdvisor alone. There are roughly about 780,000 Muslims in KL city centre’s 1.8 million population, so it’s a huge potential market out there for Middle-Eastern food.

The General Manager of the JW Marriott Kuala Lumpur, Syrian-born Mahmoud Skaf once shared with us (when we met late last year) that, in his opinion, the best Arabic food in KL can be found at Tarbush restaurant inside JW Marriott. Skaf has stayed in Malaysia for 18 years, and he thinks the cooking at Tarbush reminds him of his grandmother’s.

Tarbush is the brainchild of Lebanese restaurateur and long-time Malaysian resident, Mohyiddin Al Halabi, who opened the first Tarbush in KL back in 1998. This JW Marriott outlet looked like the most opulent one amongst the 3 branches around town.

Our lunch:
Lamb sambosa - spiced minced lamb with green peas & onions in filo pastry. Superb rendition here.

Hommus - chickpeas, tahini, garlic, olive oil - one of my fave dips in the whole wide world, ever since a Jewish roommate in my college days taught me how to make one. The one here has subtle flavours.

My own homemade one (pictured below): a bit too heavy on cumin & garlic. Been doing it “wrong” for the past 40 years - I’ll need to tweak my recipe after tasting Tarbush’s splendid version.

Pita bread

Fattah Makdous - a Damascene specialty of crispy flatbread chips, layered with tomato, yoghurt, tahini, crushed garlic, onion, parsley and spices, topped with deep-fried eggplant, minced meat and mixed nuts (pistachio, cashew). This was so very, very good. I need to order some pilaf rice to go with it next time.

Chicken Tajine - loved this - strong, deep flavours. But we realised then that the restaurant (Lebanese in origin, but with a lot of Syrian influences) did not have any couscous on their menu, the way Moroccans like to have with their tajine.

It was a really good lunch, with some very good service from the maitre’ d, Alaa, who’s also Syrian.

Tarbush at JW Marriott
Upper Ground (UG) Floor, JW Marriott Hotel, 181, Jln Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tel: +603-2715 2785
Opening hours: 10am to 2am daily


Odd disconnect on the menu photos–they don’t match the descriptions. Nevertheless, it looks great.

I was thinking the same, too, then realised that their website is not correctly updated, and they merely put in “dummy” photos as placeholders for menu items which they do not have pictures of.