If you think you’ve had every kind of Knefe… think again. While touring Beirut for some of its best street food, my friend Hassan remembered a place, a small place on Mar Elias called El Zeidanieh, where his father used to take him when he was a kid.
From outside the place isn’t a fancy one, no decorations, no crystal chandeliers hanging from above, but inside a treasure awaits. Yes, a treasure, lying on a round metallic tray, sitting, warmly ready to satisfy your craving.
Al Karout has been open for more than thirty years in Mar Elias after moving from Downtown Beirut before the civil war. People come here for the Knefe, Mahmoud tells us. I think you’ll come here for Mahmoud and Knefe, for sure. A gentle and funny man, he welcomes you into his home, sending one joke after the other while playing with melting cheese which will make you drool.
The Knefe at Karout is special, unique for many reasons. It is extraordinary because of its non salted cheese, premium cheese, imported from the Czech Republic, its melting heart, its thick layer of crumbs, its fine texture and concentrated body. A square is cut, stuffed in the bun and scented with a couple of drops of rose water. It was a premiere for me: Knefe and rose water.
The Knefeh was in a normal piece of Kaaka and the bun was very well done, thin and not chewy, the perfect holder of the inner sweet filling. The buns were produced that morning and it showed in their fluffiness and smell. Inside is a huge portion of Knefeh that's maybe good for breakfast and lunch combined. A melted, premium quality cheese and an enjoyable sweetness that stays in the mouth for some time told me that El Karout knew what they were doing. Every bite combined a mix of aromas and my taste buds really appreciated the mix. Sugar syrup adds the sweet flavor and rose water the aroma to make it an enjoyable way to start your day.
I can’t put its taste in words and maybe won’t say more than the video can. Watch Mahmoud and go down to El Karout, they’re waiting to make you smile.
Karout Knefeh: Zeidanieh, Near Mar Elias, Tal3et Schehade, +961 1 790660