BEIRUT: Imagine going to a restaurant and being served a contract to be signed in order to surrender to the upcoming experience. An experience of stimulating one’s five senses.
This is the case at SteakBarSushi, a unique restaurant concept in Naccache, which was built upon the idea being an experience rather than just an eatery. Eaters are presented with a contract of sorts before dining that promise something different.
Charbel Makhlouf, the owner of SteakBarSushi, recounts the story of his eating inspiration:
“When I was doing my masters in retail management with a focus on consumer psychology and behavior in the United Kingdom, I was exposed to more cultures, encountered people from all over the world and traveled to many countries. This, in turn, had broadened my mind and let me grow as a person. On one journey to Scotland, I saw the farming process and the connection people had with nature and organic farming.”
Makhlouf added that during his residency in the U.K he discovered that he wanted to do something related to the food and beverage industry after having worked previously in fisheries and butcheries.
“I had my little journal and wrote every day on it. After a while, I noticed I had a bulk of information and thought that I could create something with it. I didn’t want to create a restaurant but rather design an experience. Therefore, I wanted to open a concept that could stand out and catch a person’s spirit and psyche.”
For Makhlouf ever since he was young, he was always a rebel and hated rules. He told Annahar that he always did the opposite of what people told him, thus ending up doing his own thing. And in his own way.
“This is why SteakBarSushi was built upon not following any rules. I believe that in the Food and Beverage industry there is no right or wrong. If you look at each segment alone, you would notice there is no harmony,” he told Annahar, adding, “In the smallest details, whether the chairs, tables, cups, and chopsticks. Even the menu isn’t dissected, there is not a title for the sushi, appetizers, or meat section but at the same time, you feel there is an identity and story behind each item. The menu has a lot of aesthetical details, although there are no titles, you feel guided.”
Indeed, the menu was eye pleasing with a picture of every item. The concept of the store combined mainly steak dishes and sushi. Most items on the menu have a twist to them. For example, some of the sushi has Mozzarella, Jalapenos, Yogurt, and Osmalieh in them. What helped the owner was inspiration from different cuisines, whereby he intertwined several cuisine traditions through trial and error.
When it comes to the meat section, Makhlouf said that meat is generally perceived as a luxury item, but he believes that it needs to go back to nature where it started when it was hunted. That is why the meat is either chopped or cooked in a variety of forms, including lit flambeaux style with cognac, to represent an ancient cook fire of sorts.
To emphasize the past, customers are also given a bag full of different knives.
As for the desert sections, SteakBarSushi created various items designed for catering to a person’s taste and soul. Just recently, the restaurant launched the Trippy Chocolate inspired by astronomy and planets. Each small planet has a different flavor ranging on its inside ranging from lychee, salted caramel, hazelnut, raspberry and chocolate from outside. Also, the planets would be spinning.
At SteakBarSushi each month there is an event whereby they celebrate the food industry. The first event was celebrated with wine whereby they changed the entire place, for the next one they chose Remy Martin cognac and most recently Lindt chocolate. For the Lindt event, they even did sushi, salads, and steak with chocolate.
Another important factor of Steak Bar Sushi’s concept is to always break away from routine. He gave an example of a metaphorical couple who when they fell into a routine would get eventually bored.
“Bringing your significant other flowers at random would help break that routine and make the relationship feel exciting. That’s what we try to do here at SteakBarSushi, we let people break away from their place of comfort since routine is destructive,” he said.
Rami Assaad said: “The place has an identity of its own. You feel nostalgic upon leaving it. SteakBarSushi captures a person’s emotions in an earthy yet dynamic setting that combines the four elements of nature. Not to forget mentioning the food is beyond delicious and that takes you to another world.”
The secret to Makhlouf’s successful business is definitely not routine. He noted that it’s like running the marathon. The beginning is easy, but during the middle, one should know how to maintain their pace.
“Success isn’t people coming to my restaurant the first time and liking it, it’s actually having people come a second, third and fourth time. It’s showing people how they can feel new things when they visit, including a sense of belonging. We treat customers as if we are welcoming them to our home. We believe that when people choose to dine here, they are investing in us,” he said.
He forecasted for Annahar to stay tuned, that upcoming culinary surprises will be coming during the summer season.
Annahar is pleased to introduce the debut of “Dish,” a new section for all things Food. The section includes student cooks, coffee corner, sweets, food shopping, and dining options ranging from home kitchen to clubs.
For food and dining tips send to Dish Editor: Mariafmatar@outlook.com
Dish - Reach Out and Taste the World.
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