Chef’s House proves that variety doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice quality

Chef’s House
(Photos: Jason Ruffin/Jordan News)
Chef Mamoun Habbaq spent nearly 10 years working as a sushi chef at upscale dining venues that included the Kempinski Amman and Sheraton hotel, before another stint at Amman’s fabled Meat Masters, and eventually co-founded Chef’s House, a small, understated restaurant squeezed into the Dawoud Complex off Mecca Street in Amman.اضافة اعلان

Those experiences were what eventually shaped the menu at Chef’s House, which hosts a number of Asian, American, and international dishes, all stacked up next to one another on the pages of the menu. While, admittedly, variety is not something restaurants are generally known for doing well, here, it simply works.

(Photos: Jason Ruffin/Jordan News)

The vegetable spring rolls have a fresh crunch that reminded me of homemade ones I’ve tried in the US, and the brisket was so tender it was difficult to pick up with a fork, but a bit more on that later.

Chef Mamoun credited his staff for being able to maintain quality across a range of dishes. One of his chefs has been with him for more than 10 years, and another is not far behind. He also has experience working in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa.

(Photos: Jason Ruffin/Jordan News)

“Here in Amman, if you go anywhere, (at) any restaurant you will find staff turnover. This will destroy the quality, it will destroy the reputation, … it will destroy the business, and it will destroy the place,” Chef Mamoun said.

That lack of turnover has paid off, not only is the food of quality, but the service feels more akin to an upscale restaurant.

Not wanting to overdo it, but still wanting to try a range of options, I’m sure I committed some kind of cardinal sin when I ordered sushi and brisket in the same sitting. Many chefs spend years, even decades, learning and mastering the subtleties of both sushi and brisket. And spring rolls are one of those dishes that for whatever reason usually only taste right when made at home.

(Photos: Jason Ruffin/Jordan News)

However, I did have some sense. I began with the sushi and spring rolls while my palate was still fresh. To start, most sushi restaurants in Amman, in my experience, seem to taste largely similar at a certain level. Simply put, the quality plateaus at a certain point. But I did notice something different about Chef’s House — the rice. It was pleasantly sticky, as sushi rice should be, without losing its texture and feeling too clumpy.

The different rolls also offered a welcome mix of flavors and textures I was not used to when it comes to sushi in Amman. I found myself actively switching between the rolls to savor each one, whether sweet, salty, crunchy, or soft.

Next were the spring rolls. Now, if you have never had homemade spring rolls, you are missing out. It always amazes me when I walk into a restaurant specializing in Asian cuisine, and they can’t capture that flavor and crunch, because it is a relatively simple dish; it just requires care. Chef’s House captured it perfectly.

The shell offered a perfect crunch that slowly tapers off as you bite into the vegetables. The portion was also generous for an appetizer.  

Lastly, came the brisket, which was served with a side of mashed potatoes and mac and cheese. The mashed potatoes were basically a mix of butter and potatoes, as all great things should be. The dish was creamy and overall a very solid choice to accompany the brisket.

The mac and cheese was also extremely satisfying. Again, not difficult to make, but easy to mess up. Chef’s House’s version used more than one type of cheese and the pasta was perfectly cooked.

The dish I was most skeptical about was the brisket. Southern-style BBQ is not something I take lightly, and many of the places I have tried in Amman have left me less than enthused. But Chef Mamoun seemed to get it. While the brisket did lack some char around the edges, (if it were up to me, I would finish off cooking every meal by throwing it into an open campfire), it was extraordinarily tender.

(Photos: Jason Ruffin/Jordan News)

Brisket is a tough cut, so when I have trouble even picking it up with a fork, I know something is right with the world. The brisket generously soaked up the BBQ sauce, which was on the sweeter side and paired well with the mashed potatoes, and in that moment the only thing I was missing was a slice of bread to finish it off.

While the menu displays a surprising amount of range, it delivers on both quality and price, being extremely affordable, which looking back, should not have come as a surprise considering the chef’s decades of experience in his field.  

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