It is quite amusing to see the faces of unsuspecting diners when they saunter upstairs into Leen’s spare but sleek dining room to discover it does not serve Chinese cuisine but Syrian. Leen, after all, is a favourite Chinese name for girls and is, in fact, the nickname of Serena, the wife of Leen’s chef and owner Ameer Alzalek, 32.
But those who decide to sit down to try out the food will not be disappointed. You will find Middle Eastern favourites such as hummus (with an addictively smoky twist), succulently juicy kebabs and refreshing fattoush salad with cubes of haloumi cheese. Experienced eaters in the country might have come across the talented Ameer before, as he has chalked up almost a decade in the F&B industry, working at various hotels in Langkawi as well as at selected restaurants and pop-ups in the Klang Valley.
Having opened in mid-October last year, Leen’s has built up a sizeable and loyal following. The dishes, each distinct and delicious, are nourishing and comforting, making it the sort of meal you would not mind having week in and week out. What works in Leen’s favour is also its reasonable pricing (nothing is priced above RM78) and top-notch staff. Although it is far from a fine-dining establishment, you would probably feel more welcome here than at other top-dollar spots.
The smoked hummus (RM28) served with sesame-studded Arabic buns is a must while fans of eggplant would undoubtedly find pleasure in the Baba Ghanoush (RM30). Kebab Khashkhash (RM48), made using lamb, is a definite crowd-pleaser as is grilled chicken in garlic sauce (RM58). As Leen’s is a Middle Eastern restaurant, we immediately assumed alcohol would be verboten.
But we spotted a neighbouring table imbibing, leading us to the happy discovery that alcohol is permitted — Leen’s even has a small wine list, offering a single red and white by the glass and seven wines in total. You are, however, welcome to BYOB. Corkage is priced at RM50 per bottle of wine and RM100 for liquor.
Leen's, 136, Jalan Burhanuddin Helmi, TTDI, KL. Daily, 6pm-midnight. For reservations, call 011 7020 7551.
This article first appeared on Jan 23, 2023 in The Edge Malaysia.