Thursday, January 07, 2010
The restaurant's name "Hubblee Bubblee," suggests the exotic notion of a hookah and hints at its Middle Eastern cuisine. The term "Halal" lets people know that food on the menu meets Islamic religious standards, a necessity for the faithful and a guarantee of high quality for all patrons.
Owner Ayman Shomar said he spent 12 years in Plainfield at various food establishments before launching his own place. It took two months to renovate the premises at 433 Park Avenue, he said. A key element is the charcoal barbeque pit, where chicken, ribs, steak, shrimp, fish and various kebabs will be grilled. There is also a flat grill for burgers, including salmon and veggie varieties.
Newcomers to Middle Eastern food may have to get used to ordering falafel, baba ghanoush, kufta kabob and shish tawook, but there are plenty more familiar offerings on the menu, such as grilled cheese sandwiches and Philly cheese steaks. The restaurant will be open 24/7, Shomar said, with breakfast, lunch and dinner menus.
The Islamic standards for Hubblee Bubblee include not just halal food, but prohibitions on the presence of alcohol and a call for respectable behavior on the part of patrons.
The restaurant offers not only take-out and free delivery for a $12 minimum, but seating for groups and parties in a rear dining room that can accommodate up to 60-70 people, Shomar said.
In a bit of serendipity, the restaurant is planning its grand opening just as a newly-refurbished building a block away is filling up with about 45 state employees. Shomar is making his offerings known to the agency in hopes of attracting both lunch trade and those who want take-home dinners.
The grand opening is still two or three weeks away, Shomar said, but meanwhile the doors are open and the barbecue pit is fired up. Camera-shy, he declined to have his photo taken for the blog post.
For those who want to learn more about what halal means, there is a web site that explains the rules. By Googling around, I was surprised to find that the popular Tom's of Maine toothpastes, featured in health food stores and supermarkets, had received halal certification as well as kosher certification and other approvals. It's never too late to learn something new!