Nestled on the mountains of Mount-Lebanon Metn district, a few minutes before the Zaarour complex is the famous breakfast spot, Koukh El Sabaya, serving loyal customers from early morning until late afternoon.
Koukh El Sabaya is for the Metn region what Ambaratoriat el Lahm Baajin is for the Keserwan district.
Why spend more than 45 minutes on the road to reach "Koukh El Sabaya" when you can eat a Mankouche anywhere in Beirut? The question can only be answered when you're up there. Take my word for it. A cozy place where everything is unique starting with the view, the ambiance, the welcoming atmosphere and of course the food.
They have a unique way of preparing the dough used in most of the menu:
Mankouche with Zaatar that does not give you acid burn, a delicious non-oily cheese mankouche, ham & cheese Lebanese style pizza, Kechek and Labneh from the village - all served with fresh organic vegetables from the land below. Not to forget the popular, Balila and Foul are also part of the menu. My favorite is the 'Eggs with Awarma' on a thin brown dough baked in the oven.
Read the article below as published in Phoenicia magazine 2008 issue, before the restaurant moved to its new location higher up the mountain in a more modern setup that some don't appreciate.
Like any good fairytale, this story of three sisters- May, Mona and Amal- begins with the planting of a handful of seeds and ends with more than a good dose of living happily ever after. There is even a lonely cottage in the middle of the mountain side, which go the sisters represents a business that continues to blossom with tr passing season. Undoubtedly for May, Mona and Amal- the tree sisters at the heart of this tale- when planting those first seeds, they could never had imagined that they might one day have a TV crew descend upon them or visitors from across the world stopping by to sample their wares. But this is exactly what happened and continues to happen as word of the sisters rustic retreat spreads. Getting there takes a 45 minute car journey, heading out of Beirut and up towards Zaarour in the mountains. You'll know you arrived when out of the empty mountain side a gathering of parked cars suddenly appears in front of you. It's clear there is something worth stopping for a round this spot. If in doubt, ask for "koukh El Sabaya" wich literally means Girls cottage, and is the name the sisters, all still unmarried, gave their mountain dwelling. Another way to know you arrived is from the smiles on the sisters faces, just part of the natural charm that pervades the experience of a trip to Kouhk El Sabaya.
May, Mona and Amal are only too happy to tell the story of how they came to create this thriving rural cottage industry having been given land by the Abou Nader family to help them start a business, the three sisters got to work planting and growing vegetables and selling them to residents in the area. As business boomed, the sisters build a cottage on the land, and sister Amal put her creative talents to work making all the furniture from tree trunks and wood and painting artwork that hangs in the ceiling. Customers who stopped to buy vegetables soon become to ask I try also serve food, a request that led them to start making manakich-Lebanon's best loved breakfast snack. Visiting Koukh El Sabaya today, guests are treated to an eclectic experience that delivers the epitome of Lebanese hospitality, fresh produce for sale, as well as traditional snacks and refreshments. In summer everyday is abuzz with visitors, while in the winter it is the week-ends where things truly come alive. The Arabic music channel Rotana TV even hosted a live program from the cottage, an indication of the sisters spreading popularity. For more and more visitors dropping by with every passing year, it's clear the sisters 15 minutes of fame is far from over yet.