Meet Me at The Basha

It was noon, and I happily obliged to meet a bud at one of Overland Park’s latest openings – The Basha. My Tastebud was comfortably tucked into a booth, ready and waiting.

“You will flip out – this is so good and the owners, Mo and Nader, are very eager to please,” she said.

“What’s the back story?” I asked, then proceeded to hear about the gentlemen, both newbies on the restaurant scene.

Mo hails from Jordan; Nader, Egypt. They met years ago, both dreaming of launching a restaurant and decided this was the time.

“We were both really missing flavors and the atmosphere from our countries,” says Nader. “The more we talked, the more real it became. We hired a chef, Amany Sadik from Egypt, found our location and here we are.”

So Mo and Nader give us their spin on the succulent treats gleaned from their country’s family recipes, plus others in the Middle-Eastern crescent.
“Sit back, relax,” says Nader, tempting us with a lovely, deep, currant-colored drink served in a fancy glass ($2.49).

“It’s hibiscus juice,” he said, smiling as I asked what “basha” means. “It’s a term for someone with an aristocratic nature.”

“I’m a Democrat, yes, but an aristocrat ... hardly.”

That being said, I felt like one when the pita, hummus and baba ghanouj accompanied by a plateful of warm falafel and kibbeh was presented ($3.99 to $4.99).

“You like these?” Mo motioned to the kibbeh.

“Yes, but I’m pacing myself for the landslide ahead,” I said, examining the meatball stuffed with onions and nuts in a crunchy coating.

If you haven’t already noticed, the Standard American Diet is often devoid of much color. All that changes when you partake from this culinary rainbow.

Our lush green salad, filled with mint, sumac, cucumbers, crisp lettuce and tomatoes, was lightly brushed with a tangy olive oil dressing.

Good starters so far. Not to be outdone, however, by the plate of shish kabobs and chicken shawarma, all atop heaps of mellow-yellow rice ($7.99).

It took awhile to consume the banquet before us, but I have to say it was worth savoring.

I noticed an area in the back of the house filled with banquettes, pillows and ottomans.

“So this is where you lounge Bedouin-like – hookas optional, I imagine?”

“No hookas,” Nader corrected. “No smoking, no alcohol.”

The meal concluded with my favorite, honeyed baklava, and two other treats, kunafa and rice pudding laced with raisins and nuts ($2.99 - $3.99). I wasn’t a fan of rice pudding, but I am now.


Vowing to return

“So this is a great find,” I coerced a meat-and-potatoes Chowhound the following week.

To the delight of Mo and Nader, after I had mentioned them on the radio, the place started to fill around 6-ish.

We again started with kibbeh, then graduated to bountiful entrees.

A succulent tilapia sauteed in olive oil perched on a bed of rice for me ($8.99) and shish tawook — or grilled chicken skewers — seasoned with an array of herbs for the hound ($10.99).

Don’t ask what I was thinking, but I thought I’d also try the gyro plated with creamy tahini and garlic sauce ($10.99).

Accompanying both entrees, hummus and a green salad.

Chowhound informed me, “It’s so good, I don’t want to talk.”

Why should this night be any different than any other, I thought.

“Coffee?” Nader asked, then obliged with an bold cup of Turkish — so rich and aromatic I was transported to Istanbul.

“You know,” he leaned in, “in my country, at the end of the meal, a designated seer will actually read your fortune found in the coffee stain at the bottom of your cup.”

“Send her over,” I implored. I always want to know what’s ahead.

I’m interpreting that I’ll be back to The Basha.

Gloria Gale is an Overland Park-based food writer. “On the Menu” is not a restaurant review, it is a summary of dining out in the metro area.