On the surface, you’d probably be right in thinking that Japanese and Lebanese cuisine have virtually zero in common. I mean they rhyme, but that’s probably about it, right?
Enter Mezza Train, the first restaurant of its kind in Australia (or possibly the world) that serves mezze-style dishes on a Japanese “sushi train” type conveyor belt. For the uninitiated, the mezze/meze concept of dining, at least in the Lebanese culture, involves five to ten dishes served at once, to a mid-to-large group of diners. This Mascot establishment prides itself on offering these dishes in a way that introduces – or even highlights – the best of the cuisine.
The family-run restaurant recently partnered with restaurant aggregator (and their preferred booking partner) Zomato to further introduce the outlet to a wider audience, since opening in December 2015. It’s clear that clientele are a mix of families out for a fun night, or groups of friends enjoying a cruisy dinner. The Mascot location helps to bring commercial and casual diners, and its schtick of also being a “sushi train” service venue meant that it appealed to people who were familiar with Lebanese cuisine and those who were not.
Similar to a Japanese rotating sushi bar restaurant, Mezza Train‘s dishes are delivered along the bar (although standard tables are also available), and placed on colour-coded plates to denote prices. Individual baskets filled with pita bread are already available at each seat, so a diner can simply munch on bread and Hommus ($4, and made with mashed chick peas with tahini, garlic, lemon and olive oil) whilst making their selections.
Another satisfying starter to try is the Arnabeet (also $4, it’s fried cauliflower, lightly seasoned and fried, topped with taratour sauce).
Once you’re ready to move on, try the Falafel plate, fried and made with chick peas, broad beans, garlic, herbs and spices ($5.50), or the Grilled Haloumi Stack, served with watermelon slices, basil and mint leaves ($6.50).
For the meat eaters, Mezza Train serves enough dishes to satisfty. These heartier dishes are $6.50 per plate and include items like the Shawarma (marinated lamb strips with onions, garlic, tomato and parsley), the Maanet (a lightly pan fried plate of sausages with tomatoes, garlic and lemon juice) or the Kafta (a minced lamb skewer plate made with seasoned lamb mince, parsley and onions).
An added bonus to a Mezza Train experience is that you can enhance your dessert enjoyment by predominantly choosing their sweeter plates, while the rest of your group can continue with their own plates. Choices include the Knafeh ($5, made with handmade semolina mixture, drizzled melted cheese and orange blossom syrup), the Ayesh El Saraya (a bread pudding treat filled with crushed pistachio and rose syrup, and topped with cream, $5), the Batlawa (made with phyllo pastry filled with crushed nuts and lemon-scented syrup, $4) or the Znoud el Sit (another a phyllo pastry dish, filled with Ashta, also known as Lebanese cream, sweetened with a syrup, $4).
Mezza Train‘s schtick of serving Lebanese dishes conveyor belt style is idea for those looking for their favourites from this cuisine, and probably a good choice for groups with various dietary requirements. Many of the dishes are either vegetarian friendly, gluten free or both, and the meats halal certified.
With their enterprising take on serving mezze-style food, Mezza Train is a fun venue for lunch or dinner, and, as they aim to expand around Sydney, you’ll be sure to see them outside of their flagship Mascot location.
Address: Cnr O’Riordan St & High St, Mascot 2020
Contact: 0421 681 775
Opening Hours: Lunch – 12:00pm – 4:00pm | Dinner – 6:30pm – late | Closed Mondays