Dyafa opened its doors to Jack London Square just a little over two weeks ago, serving Middle Eastern cuisine in a sunny daytime setting. Starting tonight, its also open for dinner, offering an extended menu of chef/owner Reem Assil’s brand of Middle Eastern food, strongly influenced by her Palestinian-Syrian background.
Assil’s first restaurant, Reem’s California, is a cozy all-day cafe and bakery in Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood. Dyafa is a much larger, 105-seat full-service operation, boosted by a partnership with chef Daniel Patterson’s Alta Group. Dinner will reflect that support with a refined and extensive menu focused around Assil’s specialty, bread.
Dinner includes three main sections from which to order: moqabalat (bites), cold mezze and hot mezze, and suhoon (large plates). The menu is designed to create the cadence found at many Middle Easter tables, with small to large plates arriving at the table all at once. Assil says it’s designed to create an abundance on the table, with freshly baked mana’eesh and pita breads to accompany it.
Assil says each dish is meant to take diners out of the typical crutch of many Middle Eastern menus, each feature a technique or ingredient that’s been elevated in her kitchen. “We’re creating dishes inspired by the regions ingredient combinations,” says Assil. “It won’t be the exact traditional thing.”
The mezze sections include many familiar favorites like muhammara, labneh, and hummus, alongside less commonly offered dishes like hindbeh, with braised dandelion, caramelized onions, sumac, lemon and zidbiyit gambari with shrimp, tomato, peppers, coriander, chickpeas. Large plates are shareable, like a whole roasted fish with bulgur and tahini, and a braised lamb shank with garlic yogurt, arabic rice, almond, and gremolata. Check out the full menu below.
Dyafa is open for lunch Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m.- 2 p.m.; dinner is Tuesday through Saturday from 5:30 p.m.- 10 p.m.; eventually there’ll be weekend brunch from 10 a.m.- 3 p.m.