Transporting a taste of home to a tropical escape, Zali is now serving up Lebanese cuisine in the popular Indonesian island of Bali.
Opening while parts of the world are still undergoing lockdowns, the restaurant was born in a strange time – “a time of crises,” Dalal Mawad told The961.
Mawad, along with co-founders Joe Ghantous, Ibrahim and Joelle Maalouf, and Chakib Abillama, dared go against the tide and create a business abroad while the pandemic wreaked havoc globally.
“In the spring of 2020, as the pandemic was taking its toll on the world, putting a halt to travel, business, and tourism, and as Lebanon was grappling with an unprecedented economic crisis, [we] came together and decided to respond to adversity, venturing into a new business abroad, exporting a Lebanese grandmother’s cuisine to the world,” Mawad said.
This grandmother is the talented Liza Maalouf, an amateur chef who is also the mother of the co-founders Joelle and Ibrahim. Having been filling hungry tummies with her delicious recipes for years, Liza was the main inspiration behind Zali.
So much that the name Zali is a play on the words Liza and Bali.
So, why Bali?
Of course, a more serious question would be why not Bali?
The idea came by chance when Joe (who would become one of Zali’s co-founders) found himself confined to the island for months because of the pandemic, Mawad told us.
There, he pitched the island as a location for the restaurant venture and it worked out!
Right now, there are very few Lebanese restaurants on the island, let alone in the area where Zali opened. And what makes Zali uniquely special is its healthy home-style Lebanese cuisine with many vegan options.
“Vegan cuisine is popular in Bali which attracts a lot of yogis, surfers, and tourists who want to experience a healthy and cleansing vacation,” Mawad noted.
“Zali wants to bring to Bali a taste of Beirut, its blend of flavors and cultures. The concept of Zali was born from our love for food and belief that sharing food is sharing stories and spreading happiness,” she added.
Should you ever find yourself on a trip to Bali, give Zali a visit!