‘Aleph’ is painted in a bright white against a black brick wall.
Aleph is the first letter of Hebrew, Arabic, Persian, Turkish and Urdu, and in literature, Aleph is known as the point where the universe becomes one; applying this concept to the naming of his restaurant, Founder and Chef Haitham El Khatib seeks to provide a space where people can find familiarity regardless of their religion, culture or language.
The interior is bright, airy and welcoming, with the walls painted a warm white with circular wooden tables lining the walls. Haitham explains that the reason why Simcic and Uhrich Architects recommended a side-by-side seating concept is because it’s scientifically proven that people are more likely to agree on things when seated on the same side(!) Now wouldn’t it be great if you can agree on which of the many delicious dishes you would try from the menu?
Based on traditional courtyards of Syrian houses, greenery is used to decorate the space, and you will find that everywhere you turn you will discover lush greenery hanging from the ceiling and adding privacy to dining spaces by acting as space dividers.
Aleph Eatery is a manifestation of the word ‘Aleph’, where people can come together to experience and celebrate familiarity in a cuisine supposedly different from their own. The restaurant cafe draws inspiration from classic Middle Eastern staples while pushing the boundaries of those traditions to offer a modern, borderless experience that does not belong to one country or culture of food.
The food served at Aleph Eatery references areas all over the Middle East, such as wine from Lebanon and Israel. Haitham continually challenges the status quo with new menu items every few months, retaining the flavours of the Middle East but presented in an innovative way. All of the colourful and flavourful items are vegetarian and use local ingredients paired with spices from the Middle East for an authentic taste.
The first thing you will notice about the dishes is the richness of their colour. One dish can serve up a medley rich in multiple layers of flavours that is at once sweet, tangy, and savoury. The Silk Road is a signature dish at Aleph Eatery, with creamy hummus as the base, baba ganouj, labneh, zaatar, and honey served with fresh chimichurri saj bread made in-house using their saj maker (a large circular machine right by the front window if you can sneak a peek). Use the chimichurri saj bread to dip into the flavourful spread and you may need to request a second serving of saj to finish the dish!
The Medi Benny offers a unique taste for those craving something different than the traditional benny for weekend brunch. Served with two poached eggs, turmeric hollandaise, pickled beets, and mixed herbs on fresh zaatar saj, this fragrant dish will kickstart your appetite even before you dig in. The mixed herbs add a fresh twist to the texture and flavour one would expect from an eggs benedict, great for those who lean towards dishes with a stronger taste.
We would venture to say that the Apricot Toast is a dish that would be loved by everyone who comes across it. A generous layer of apricots is dressed with fresh thyme and labneh (a soft cream cheese made from strained yogurt) to create a sweetly tangy toast for those who want a healthy option but have a sweets craving to satisfy. The apricot is juicy and refreshing, and the cream cheese balances out sweetness and adds a satisfying almost buttery texture to the toast. We recommend finishing off every meal at Aleph Eatery with a slice of apricot toast.
Aleph Eatery offers more than innovative Middle Eastern dishes, it also brings people together with the smiling faces of every staff member in the kitchen and Haitham’s attentive service for every customer walking through the door. Whereas other Founders may come out to greet regular clients, Haitham goes around to chat with every table, spending time to get to know his customers, whether it’s their first or tenth time coming in. Haitham and his team are creating a space where people will want to come back, both for the food and the community; here, they will find something familiar in both the food and people.
1889 Powell Street, Vancouver
Photos by Florence Leung