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a group of people sitting at a table posing for the camera

Sometimes you walk through a neighborhood, when something catches your eye. This time it was Lebanese Restaurant My Way, located on the Plaza Artistica in Bavaro. We tried and tested this restaurant with Lebanese food in Punta Cana and got to know the intriguing story of this family business. 

What to expect from Lebanese food in Punta Cana? At My Way you can test your waters by tasting this kitchen. Baba ganoush, mezzes, hummus, falafel, warak inab, kibbeh, and various of grilled meat like Shish Kafta appear on the menu. Some dishes we knew, others were a total surprise.

My way is a real family business. Father Furat El Samer, who also prepares the food, reveals that he is not Lebanese. “I am Iraqi. That kitchen is not really known here. When I lived in Santo Domingo, I worked in a Lebanese restaurant for four years and that is why I chose the Lebanese kitchen for this location,” Furat explains.

Serbia and Iraq

Even though Furat is Iraqi, Serbian pop songs are heard in the place, one in particular about this girl Nina. We suspect that there is also a Serbian connection there. And yes, there is. Farut’s wife Mirjana explains: “I am Serbian.”

“I ended up in Serbia, because I moved from Iraq to go to the University there. That is where I met my wife Mirjama,” Furat says.

From Santo Domingo to Bavaro

Daughter Sabina who enters the restaurant, explains it a bit more. “My dad actually lived with a family in Serbia. My mom was their daughter and he fell in love with her. We came to the Dominican Republic 14 years ago, because in Serbia there were hardly any opportunities. The situation was bad economically. There were a few places we could travel to without a visa. The Dominican Republic was one of them. A friend of my dad said it was okay here. So, me and my dad travelled to Santo Domingo. We did not speak a word of Spanish. I can’t tell you how many times I got lost in the city.”

“It was crazy. Walking through Duarte not understanding one word. But we managed, with a little help from my dad’s friend. We stayed in Santo Domingo for a few months and moved to Sosua afterwards. It is there that my mother, brother and sister joined us.”

Brother Emir who also works at My Way as a chef tells us he had a hard time adjusting to the Dominican Republic the first years. “It took me 3 years to get used to the island. I was 17 and left all my friends in Serbia.”

After moving to different places in the Dominican Republic the whole family ended up in Bavaro, where they owned a club and 2 restaurants. Now, they are focusing only on My Way which is part of their bigger business Bagdad Beograd.

Lebanese cuisine

People who love Baba Ganoush know that the flamed eggplant taste needs to be on point. And at My Way it is. The Baba ganoush has the best aftertaste of the eggplants. The hummus also taste like a good hummus is supposed to. The fresh flavor of the chickpeas and lime add to the zest and the richness of it. Both dishes are served with fresh pita.

The warak inab made from grape leaves filled with rice and tomatoes are made fresh in the kitchen. It is also one of son Emir’s specialties.

From the shisas to the napkin holders made from recycled paper, that Mother Mirjana makes, this place has its little details. Mirjama is actually an artist that uses waste paper, plastic and old clothes and transforms them into bags, bikini’s, bowls and even napkin holders.

The wraps with shawarma and the shish kafta dish are also a treat.

Well, go and check out this gem in Bavaro and indulge in Lebanese food and culture with a Serbian, Iraqi twist, together with a great family vibe!

Visit their website and Instagram.

Photo: Furat, Mirjama, Emir, Sabina and her children