Portland is a foodie city but it doesn't have a great ethnic restaurant landscape as LA, NYC, and Chicago. And as great as the Northwest/Portland food restaurants are, having ethnic food is a nice change of pace. Ya Hala would be the change of pace.
This was a special. I forget what it was called but it consisted of butternut squash, red shallots garlic, and homous. The homous as they spell it was mellow and extremely smooth minus the grittiness that mine always seems to have. The appetizer made me look forward to the main entree.
Makloube is as they describe it is like an eggplant casserole with layers from the top down consisting of braised lamb, basmati rice and eggplant. I was excited to order this signature native dish but the result was well below expectation. It was disappointing because all components lacked the expected explosion of Middle Eastern spices and flavors. The lamb tasted as it was boiled in plain water absent any seasoning. The rice was bland but that was acceptable as rice is typically bland but even then I expected some seasoning here. The eggplant was the component most disagreeable cooked/fried to the quintessential mushy texture which would be at least palatable if saturated with flavor but in this case was also absent any detectable seasoning.
The waitress seemed baffled by questions outside her range of knowledge.
One great dish. One at the opposite end of the spectrum. Is makloube supposed to be that bland? Or was it an off night with an inattentive chef?
Restroom Ratings: 6.3. It had that musty humid over bleached smell typical of restrooms in many Asian restaurants.