In Arabic, Mamnoon translates to “thankful” or “grateful.” In Seattle, it’s an establishment in Melrose Square that explores the intersection of Lebanese, Syrian, and Persian cuisines, an ode to the heritage of co-owners Racha and Wassef Haroun.
“We’re in the middle of a really vibrant community,” says Jason Stratton, Mamnoon’s chef and general manager. “People come here for lunch everyday, and it’s really an expression of that we’re so grateful to be here, to be representing this ancient cuisine, thankful for our guests, thankful for each other, and thankful for the opportunity to really showcase a lesser known cuisine in this part of the world.”
Stratton’s culinary background is mostly rooted in Italian and Spanish cooking, so this is a new adventure for him. He likens the profiles of Mamnoon’s cuisine to the spectrum of Mediterranean. “A lot of these ingredients are very familiar to me, and so looking at these other flavor profiles, to me, it’s an exciting thing to explore,” says Stratton.
Not surprisingly, hummus is one of Mamnoon’s best-selling menu items. In this “Table 42” vignette, Stratton shows us how the restaurant makes its carrot beet tahini, a slight play on traditional hummus where the chickpea base is substituted by carrots from a local farmers market.
“There’s such a tradition of community. Eating as a social thing is very important,” says Stratton. He adds that this mentality is picking up more and more in the U.S. “Americans are kind of more reverential of sitting around the table together and breaking bread.”
Stratton hopes that when guests visit Mamnoon, they have an experience that opens their eyes to what Middle Eastern food is all about. “That feeling of discovery is really exciting for the staff, as well,” he says. “And I think it’s something the guests are really responding to.”