I’ve become a more cynical than usual of Doha’s dining scene of late. Too many new and mediocre burger joints, too much high praise for above average cuisine and frankly not enough fun.
But when Erstwhile Wingwoman and my business guru Brooke suggested we check out BulBul Streetfood after an event one evening last week, I was more than a little interested.
On first glance, the BulBul Streetfood in Tornado Tower is very out of place among the grey steel and traffic laden streets of West Bay. I’m a sucker for a colorful cushion. Add tacos and a flatbread pizza into that mix and I may never leave.
With brash murals featuring lots of yellows and blues and informal mismatched seating, a lot of thought has gone into the design.
Billing itself as “Lebanese street food meets New York”, the restaurant has a very elaborate backstory printed on its menu. I was hungry and lost interest in reading it pretty quickly – something about a woman called Salwa, a village in Lebanon, some kind of marriage to a super rich guy, a move to New York and a bird called Bulbul.
If you are still with me, then it’s time to talk about the food. The menu is like a greatest hits of Lebanese food…and then some. Be warned, the menu is presented on an iPad (a pet peeve of mine), which proves kind of pointless when we just recited our choices to the waitress who checked them off on an app on her phone.
Batting for the traditional team are the usual tabbouli, babaganoush, kibbe, BBQ chicken and shwarmas.
But delve a little deeper and you are rewarded with some fun and interesting interpretations on the classics.
A kibbe stuffed with pumpkin is plump, crunchy on the outside and the inside creamy. Cauliflower tempura is a fun take on the cult veggie taking the foodie world by storm, served with a spicy sauce.
An avocado babaganoush was a last minute choice, but paid great dividends – creamy and rich thanks to the avo. A kibbe burger could have benefited from better bread (or without bread at all) but the patty itself was tastier than expected and moist rather than dry.
Listed as “potato cubes with cheddar”, the name is deceptive. They could have been flaccid and limp. But…These were fried to a perfect crisp and well seasoned. Yes, the cheese queen was impressed.
So…fusion food…not always my cup of tea. But a Lebanese take on tacos – the soft shell stuffed with slivers of chicken shwarma and doused in a spicy sauce and melted cheddar – may have me reassessing my view. In the interests of full disclosure I believe the cheese was of the liquid variety. I’m gonna let that slip because the meat was juicy and the flavors good. (shame shame shame).
In all honestly, it was probably the only part of the meal that was not freshly prepared.
Less successful were the flat bread pizzas or savory mishtah. While tasty, there were far better things to be sampling on the menu (like the tacos and the potatoes).
Service was fun, informed and engaged. I really appreciate it when a manager/owner encourages staff to let their personalities shine. It’s rare here and a refreshing change.
Considering its prime real estate, Bulbul’s prices are within striking distance of reasonable. Starters sit between QR18 and QR34 while one of their full rotisserie chickens (delicious I am told by friends) will set you back QR52. Their crazy shakes (I got enough crazy in my life so I didn’t try) QR34 and above. Our feast pictured above was around QR300 including many diet cokes and lots of water.
What to know:
Parking is at a premium in this area but at night street parking is available. Or you can blag a park at the building’s above ground spots next door (tell them you are going to the restaurant).
While not exactly reinventing the wheel, Bulbul Streetfood is a fun and sometimes surprising take on the Lebanese food we all know and love. Perfect for a quick bite or an evening with friends, skip the more expensive and pretentious joints in the neighborhood and give this place a try – if only for the avocado babaganoush.
Tornado Tower (ground floor), Al Funduq Street
West Bay, Doha
Phone: +974 5021 6565