Saturday, March 17, 2007


After reading a glowing review from John Lethlean from The Age, I had tried to go to Rumi a few months ago, only to find the place full one time without booking, and still full when I tried to book the next week. Well, after The Age Epicure section released their Cheap Eats selection, it sparked renewed interest in me to go to Rumi. After reading some great reviews and comments from fellow bloggers, I booked and went on Friday.

Well, the higher the anticipation, the bigger the fall eh. I must say, I was so disappointed with my dinner and at this stage, will not go back unless there's some exceptional circumstances. The dinner started off good enough, we sat down to some water in this beautiful green glass jug. The waitress took a while to give us our menus, but eventually they arrived. She told us that they were serving cranberry, lime and vodka drinks specially that night, so we got some.

John stopped by the restaurant to see that we had arrived in one piece. He lives around the area and was on his way home. I left work 30 minutes before him, but since none of us knew the area, took main roads which were totally clogged and hence only arrived about 2 minutes before John did. He stayed for a vodka cranberry drink with us.

We all agreed the cranberry lime vodka drink was nice, although no one could really taste the vodka in it.

Here's Paul doing his best pose with the drink in hand.

But from here, the dinner just went sour, literally as you will see. The service was ok, the atmosphere quite good with the small restaurant fully filled and buzzing quietly with noise. Even the toilets were great, very nicely furnished. The look into the kitchen was interesting. But the main problem was the food, it was just plain bad.

So we ordered the Hot Yoghurt Soup with chicken and pistachi mante which everyone has said was really good.

Well, below are Kin's and then my reaction after taking one spoonful. The soup was SO SOUR it felt like I was eating a lemon. I thought it might have been the residual sugar in my mouth from the cranberry drink so I rinsed my mouth with water and took another spoon. Equally sour. I literally had to force myself to finish it. The dumpling thing didn't taste like anything either, just like a normal ravioli that you get at most Italian restaurants.

So I kept saying to Kin and Paul, "I'm sure it'll get better, this place got fantastic reviews." The next dish we ordered were some Lebanese Pickles and the Persian Meatballs in Tomato and Saffron that John Lethlean said were unbelievable. Usually I agree with most things Mr Lethlean says, but I would totally have to disagree this time. The meatballs were so flavourless and uninteresting. As for the pickles, they were again so sour it was unbelievable. I know pickles are supposed to be sour and I am one that can take sour, but these were extreme. I love all types of pickles and eat them in sandwiches all the time. I love Vietnamese pickles too of carrots, radishes, beans, cauliflower etc but these ones were bad.

The Roast Pumpkin and Chickpea Salad with tahini, currants and pinenuts were very ordinary. Compared to a very similar salad that I had at La Paella, this one was very very ordinary. I don't like vegetables, but the Chickpea Salad at La Paella had me going back for seconds, thirds and fourths while this one was pushed around the table by the three of us.

The Lamb Fettah with toasted pita, chickpeas, braised lamb and yoghurt topped with nuts and fresh herbs was ok, but tasted a bit like the lamb souvlaki that I had for lunch a few days ago. Only the souvlaki was a third of the price and 3 times as large.

The only dish from the whole meal that I liked was the Joojeh Kebabs, which was skewered quail with poached grapes and grape syrup. The syrup had a very interesting flavour, the quail was tender but seemed to be a bit underdone. It still had that slightly raw smell and taste to it.

For dessert, I had to try the Persian Fairy Floss. It looked great, but that's where it ended. It tasted like dry crumbly biscuits. I prefer regular fairy floss to it.

So what went wrong. After so much expectation, it call came tumbling down at the speed of an asteroid that crashed into my taste buds. Nothing was particularly good. Adding to insult, the prices were very expensive. It cost each of us $37 (which I don't mind paying at all for a decent meal) and as Kin's terrible joke went, "There was much Rumi for improvement and Rumi in my stomach for a lot more food." I was still very hungry afterwards but did not feel like trying any more things.

Here are some possible explanations as to why it went so wrong

a)the cranberry lime vodka drink affected everything we tasted, which in that case they shouldn't sell that drink

b)the head chef was sick that night and some apprentice cooked everything, in which case quality control is a real issue at the restaurant

c)my friends and I have taste buds that are just not used to this type of Middle Eastern food, which I very much doubt since we eat other foods like Greek which also have a lot of sour flavours in them

d)due to the recent publicity of the restaurant, they have relaxed their standards due to the high turn over of patrons.

I don't know the answer, but when all three of us agreed that it was terrible, then its quite a coincidence. Usually Kin will eat most things and like it, but even he didn't like the food. So I really want to know if other people have gone there very recently and enjoyed the food, escpecially the Hot Yoghurt Soup which was so sour.

Overall Rating: 9/20, I'm only giving it a 9 because the surroundings was nice and the presentation of the food was good.

Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20: Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.

Rumi on Urbanspoon


  1. Wow, I was all excited about visiting too! I will still probably try Rumi to find out where my opinion sits between yours and the other more postive reviews I've read. BTW, the sour soup photos are hilarious. :-)

  2. Cindy, firstly thanks for visiting and commenting. If you do go to Rumi, I would really love to read what your opinion is. I was really surprised how bad it was since I had also read so many positive reviews and usually agree with the reviews.

    As for the photos, those expressions needed no faking, the soup was so sour that it made my face cringe for real. Initially I was like "Kin, let me take your photo while you try the soup" and that's how we got the first photo. Then I thought he was faking it, so John took the camera and said he will take my reaction when I ate the soup.

  3. Hey there thanh7580 - so sad to hear you had a bad Rumi experience. As you probably read on my blog, I had a a really nice time there (gastronomically and otherwise). I didn't try the yoghurt soup though (it was too hot outside), but I heard mumblings of pure delight from the table next to us.

    Perhaps as you said, an off night?

    I just found the food to be really inventive, wonderfully tasty (just the right amount of spice), and the service/ambience great. I would probably give it a 14/20, as I too though the dishes were a little expensive (for what you got). And it is far from fine dining. But it was good for a relaxed, interesting, share type meal.

  4. Mellie, I liked the restaurant and ambience, but the food seriously tasted bad to me. Maybe it was an off night, or maybe those flavours just don't agree with me.

    If you try the yoghurt soup next time, I would love to hear what you thought. I really thought it was so sour, it was hard to stomach.

  5. hey thanh7580, if you should ever find yourself in lygon st again and disappointed with one too many of these johnny-come-lately trendy brunswick eateries, may i recommend, as an ex-local, the merits of Thaila Thai for a guaranteed gut-busting session of good simple thai food? thaila thai is just further down from rumi going towards the city on the same block as gelobar. in my experience i've never left the place feeling hungry or disappointed or even ripped off.

  6. Hi Serenity Later, thanks for commenting and I love the name. I really like the sci-fi series that only lasted one season called Firefly which then spawned the movie Serenity (the name of the ship), hence I like you nick name.

    I've actually been to Thaila Thai a while back and wrote a review about it here. I couldn't agree with you more about the place, just simple easy food at good prices and definitely filling. I will go back there for sure and eat on the outside tables again.

  7. I think you just don't understand this type of cuisine.

    Last time I went to Rumi, I was so impressed by the creative modern approach to traditional Middle Eastern flavors that I booked straight away for the following night. I was even more blown away the next night!!!

    Also...I think you need to realize that professional food reviewers usually base their reviews on several trips to the establishment.

    I think when reviewing a new establishment with ZERO credentials and relatively NO idea about food or the intricate workings of a restaurant or kitchen, you should probably make several trips to the establishment yourself before publishing a poorly written and scathing review of a fine restaurant. have every right to post reviews of restaurants, just as I have every right to provide my opinion and provide that opinion anonymously

  8. Anoymous, I agree that maybe I don't understand this type of cuisine.

    As for visiting a restaurant many times before posting, that has been discussed numerous times on other blogs. You are correct in saying that I'm no professional and this is a once off visit review. But that doesn't mean I can't give my opinions about it. People that read it will know that it was from a once off visit and it was my opinion. It's the same as me telling a friend that the food I had at Rumi was no good.

    And yes, you do have a right to post an opinion. Hence I haven't deleted any of your comments. I only don't like it when you lose focus of the topic and start insulting me because I gave an opinion.

  9. Thanh

    I was beginning to think you'd hung yourself with your mouse chord!!!

    I would like to refer to your own explanations as to why it went so wrong!!! In particular, section c)

    "my friends and I have taste buds that are just not used to this type of Middle Eastern food"

    I would very much agree that this is definately what went so wrong!!!


  10. Anonymous, I'm sorry that I have to work and can't be checking my blog all day for comments.

    Why do you feel you have to find a reason why I don't like something. We've already established that we all have different tastes for different food.

    It could be a number of reason why all three of us didn't like the food. It may be that we're not used to it, it may be something else. There is no definitive answer.

  11. Hi Thanh,

    My family and I went to Rumi about 3 weeks ago after hearing so many amazing reviews about the place. We were so glad there were a table for us when we got there. We ordered the banquet for 4 and OMG!!!...our experience???

    It was so.....SOUR!!!!! Salads, dips, the pickles SOUR SOUR...I have to eat a lot of bread after each bite! I like pickles and can take sour foods, infact I drink canberry and lemon juice mix on a daily bases! I even have lemon in my tea! But this, honestly VERY SOUR...the mother of all sour...

    After the entree I can hear my partner mumbling to himself..."I hope the main is not sour..I hope its good..I hope its good"

    Ta da! It wasn't sour was....SALLLLLLLTY....I think the chef accidentally drop a can of salt on our food....

    Of course Rumi will not see us there again....sadly, and we were so excited too~

  12. Hi Ange,

    I thought it might have just been that we went on a bad night since others seem to think the food was so good.

    I'm sorry you had a bad night after so much anticipation.

    May I suggest you try Maha in the city. It does some excellent Middle Eastern food but the night that I went, the service was a bit off.