Christopher Pearce

The Sydney restaurant group behind Nour, Cuckoo Callay and Henrietta has added a flagship venue to its growing portfolio.

Aalia will swing open its doors in Sydney’s MLC building on 1 March, with the 150-seat restaurant putting Middle Eastern cuisine front and centre.

“Aalia has come to further represent our Esca portfolio with a truly unique restaurant that showcases the diversity of the Middle East,” says Ibrahim Moubadder, executive director and co-founder.

“We’re excited to bring such deep cultural and culinary insights to Sydney diners.”

Executive Chef Paul Farag is spearheading the culinary offering, which has been inspired by the roots of Middle Eastern and North African cookery, with some dishes dating as far back as the 10th century.

“Through food, we’re trying to showcase a beautiful region of the world which almost everyone seems to forget has a luscious coastline, flanked by oceans, rivers, and seas,” says Farag.

The menu has been designed for guests to share, with a meal commencing with raw dishes and mezze followed by mains and sides.

Whether you’re choosing a banquet option or a la carte, highlights include Persian caviar with malawach, diced shallot, labneh and chives and hand-stretched halloumi.

On the protein front, there’s lamb neck shawarma, king prawn shish and Murray cod masgouf, which sees the fish barbecued and covered in a glaze of garlic, turmeric, tamarind, with apple and orange juice brushed over during the cooking process.

“Each dish [is] crafted to represent a particular region or specific era of Arabic culture,” says Farag.

Bookings are now open.