Five Questions with Nayef Al Shabuki of Al Ryan
|Nayef Al Shabuki at his Restaurant|
Having worked in and owned restaurants in other cities for many years, Chef Nayef Al Shubaki is new to Downtown Lynchburg. His restaurant, Al Ryan Mediterranian Cuisine, is located at 817 1/2 Main Street. When you stop in, try the seating area upstairs, where you can relax and enjoy the company of your friends in the Middle Eastern style!
What brought you to owning a restaurant in Downtown Lynchburg?
I first came to Lynchburg in 2011. I had cooked in and owned restaurants in other cities like Richmond, VA and Charlotte, NC. My first restaurant in Lynchburg was called My Favorite Things, which was on Old Forrest Road. We came to Downtown this summer. Many of our customers from My Favorite Things come Downtown now.
What interested you in Mediterranean Cuisine?
I am from Petra, in Jordon. I studied cooking in Jordon after I lived in the United States. I like to share the food from the Mediterranean. The meat is always very lean and delicious. The food is very fresh. I serve only halal meats and travel to Maryland to get halal lamb to serve. I make everything fresh every day. At Al Ryan, we serve dishes from across the Mediterranean, including Jordon, Libya, Greece, Italy and Lebanon. The food from the region is very special. It takes time. For example in Lebanon, if you go to a restaurant they will bring you a plate of olives, some hummus ... things to eat while you sit and enjoy the company you are with, to have a conversation. We need to sit and take time in America as well.
What does Al Ryan offer that is different from other food in Downtown?
We offer food that is different for this area. In fact, someone came to the restaurant from Roanoke, because they had heard that our food is so authentic. This would be dishes like Shawarma, which is an Arab dish. It is thinly sliced, marinated lamb or chicken that is fire roasted. It is served with a special sauce. I am hoping to add a dish called zerb to the menu. Zerb is stuffed lamb that has been roasted in a pit.
What is your favorite dish that you serve?
I could never pick one! I love them all! That is why I make them. A Jordanian dish that we serve that reminds me of home to me is mansaf. Mansaf has yogurt, meat and nuts, served over rice. We also serve Makloubi. It is an "upside down" dish. It has eggplant, meat and potatoes. It is cooked in a dish in layers. Then you turn it upside down when it is served and it comes out so the meat is on top.
What have you enjoyed about being in Downtown Lynchburg?
We love being in Downtown, there is such a variety of people. I like to be in the older parts of the city. We like to see our customers from before, but there are new people as well. It is a social place!
Al Ryan is located at 817 1/2 Main Street. Hours are Monday - Friday 11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 5:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. Find it on-line at: http://www.alryanmediterranean.com/