In a country with 3 million people and about 10 million different opinions it is impossible to agree on anything. But we’ve found one common ground that truly everyone can love and agree on – sweets. Safe to say every person living in Lebanon loves their belly more than the next person and with no shame we are (obviously) one of them! With so many dessert options available what does one seek when having immense cravings? Well if you really want to satisfy your sweet tooth, boy do we have the place for you! Take a small stroll into Tarik El Jdideh and you’ll find a little place with a not so little name – Safsouf.
Everyone knows Safsouf by name but do you know it by taste? If you don’t let us tell you something – you’re truly missing out! So we made it our job to go to Safsouf and try everything on the menu (as if that’s really considered a job.) We were lucky enough to also sit down with one of the owners and get a one-on-one interview – and for the record we left Safsouf with a lot more than just an interview!
We decided to try to beat early morning traffic, and head out at 8 AM. To be clear, we’re not talking about road traffic, we’re talking about Safsouf traffic because the only thing that can cure morning blues are his sweets! When we got there to no surprise there was a line at the knefeh stand and a line inside for the Maamoul mad bi Kashta that seems to be the most popular two. Standing outside you could instantly smell the aroma of all the sweets in the making and two seconds later you can hear our stomachs grumble. Once we made our way inside we met with the ever so delightful, Haj Badih Safsouf. He greeted us with a smile and he began his story. Safsouf was first opened by his grandfather, also named Badih, in the early 1940’s. That’s 75 of years of business in the dessert industry – they really know what they’re doing! 30 years later in 1975, Rabah and Salim, Badih Sr.’s sons, took over the family business, which they now also run with Badih Jr., his brother Kamal and his cousin Ziad, to continue the delicious legacy.
Haj Badih has been in the business for so long he told us that he could almost pin point each and every one of his customers. He explained, “It’s hard to stay away once your hooked, and for that I’ve had the same returning customers for so many years I’ve almost recognized all of them as well as their orders!” Pretty impressive!
With the topic of orders on the table, we needed to know which were his highest selling items. As we suspected it was the Knefeh and Maamoul mad bi Kashta. What a delicious duo! When we asked why do people always prefer his sweets over others, he simply smiled and said, “ Our customers know what they’re getting, they know they’re getting clean, good quality, and most importantly delicious products that they can count on.” Now that is something we can vouch for!
With such a successful business we wanted to know if we can look forward to anymore branches opening soon and to our dismay there won’t be any. Haj Badih expressed that it’s quality over quantity and the family would rather put all their energy into one extremely successful store rather than scattered around Beirut. However, with no plans on expanding it allows them to put all their energy into constantly renovating and upgrading the store from décor, all the way to appliances.
As we were in the middle of the interview our eyes caught attention on the Knefeh stand outside. Not only did the line get longer but also we noticed the conversation getting friendlier with the customers and the person behind the stand. It turns out the person serving the Knefeh is Haj Badih’s son! Turns out he loves the business just as much as his dad and one day he does plan to take over the business.
As we were packing up to go our eyes were wandering on the display case to see what we would take back with us. It made sense to choose the two that everyone raves over: Knefeh and Maamoul mad bi Kashta. We wanted to give our feedback on the spot so we ordered what seemed to be the 10th tray of knefeh made that morning. Our stomachs instantly did about 10 back flips of joy and our eyes were as wide as ever – “woah” was all we managed to say. The saying, the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach couldn’t have been more true and we have the dessert to prove it!