Ethnosh at Jasmin Mediterranean Bistro


It’s NoshUp time!


Ethnosh™ guides you to the most delicious ethnic food in your area, garnished with the stories that bring the flavor to life. Immigrant and locally owned monthly food series!

Next stop is Tuesday, June 10th at Jasmin Mediterranean Bistro in Cary, NC.

Come get a plate full of some great Mediterranean food, and meet Nawwaf Said and his family who bring all this goodness to the Triangle.

$5 at the door gives you access to a tasty mix of signature samplers. Other beverages are available for purchase.

• What: Ethnosh
• When: June 10th, 6-8pm
• Where: 1624 Walnut St, Cary, NC 27511
• Cost: $5

In the meantime, here’s our Ethnosh signature story sampler, featuring photography by Manzoor Cheema and a writeup by Stacey Sprenz!

Blog by Stacey Sprenz

As I sat listening to Nawwaf Said tell the story of how he became a restaurant owner, it occurred to me that I was sitting in the presence of one determined and wise individual. Nawwaf grew up in the West Bank, an area of Palestine that has a rich history. His wife, Bayan, also grew up there, but the two did not meet until later in life in Amman, Jordan. They married and moved to Cary, North Carolina. Although they travel back to Palestine each year, North Carolina is their home and the place they have chosen to raise their family, share their culture, and create delectable food.

Jasmin Owner

A self-proclaimed “competitive person,” Nawaaf explained that this determination to do and to have the best was what drove him to seek a life in the United States. After completing a Masters of Computer Science and spending more than 20 years in corporate America as an electrical engineer, Nawwaf decided to enter the restaurant business full time. He and his wife had always owned a restaurant “on the side” while he was working in the corporate world. Well-known area restaurants like Aladdin’s Café and La Shish were once owned and run by the Said family. Sharing his culture through the food of his homeland has always been important to Nawwaf. Jasmin’s Cary location (there are two other locations in Raleigh) opened about three years ago. Its name in Nawwaf’s native language is Yasmeen, which is a beautiful, fragrant flower. Contrary to what some think, it is not the name of one of his daughters.

Many times during our conversation, Nawwaf expressed his profound fondness for the town of Cary. All five of his children were born and raised here. He cares about this community and the people in it. He smiled and said, “I could not leave this area. It fits me. It is a nice quiet place to grow a family.” Nawwaf and Bayan’s two oldest children, a son and daughter, have become part of this family affair now that they are in college. Both were out delivering catering orders the day of my visit. It has always been about family working within the business in one capacity or another. Nawwaf has learned a great deal along the way about meeting the needs of his customers and providing a quality menu that showcases his cultural heritage.

The conversation makes its way to the topic of this new, beautiful restaurant we are sitting in. The open, airy space includes six traditional lamps. These cherished possessions were one of the few items transported to this location from the old location. In the corner there is what appears to be a Grecian fountain on the ceiling.

Jasmin Lamps


These details along with the beautifully stacked orange tagines and the colorful artwork transport you to the Mediterranean. Nawwaf explains the original plan for this Jasmin location. The old Hardee’s building across the street, which was the first Cary location, was not ideal. It did not have the ambiance or adequate kitchen set up for their menu, but Nawwaf made it work for three years. He shared, “you always want to fit the deer into the elephant’s body not the other way around.” From the beginning, the intent was to build another location across the street; however, this task proved so frustrating that Nawwaf often said, “I need to close this.” Thankfully, he stayed the course, and customer feedback on the new space tells him he made the right decision. This fresh start was exactly what Nawwaf needed and what his customers wanted.

Sharing culture through food is an integral part of Nawwaf’s mission. He believes food is the best way to understand other cultures. Growing up in the West Bank, Nawwaf enjoyed freshly pressed olive oil on homemade bread and preserves made from grapes harvested in his yard. He uses recipes and processes that are traditional and multi-generational. Quality is paramount.

Jasmin Food

He only uses “top of the line” olive oil. He explains that the best oils for drizzling on top of a dish are the ones that are fresh and are often cloudier than the refined oils. These oils have more flavors and are similar to the fresh pressed olive oils of his childhood. The chicken Jasmin uses is fresh—never frozen—and comes from a farm in North Carolina. Nawwaf imports many of the spices used at Jasmin in order to provide the most authentic culinary experience for his customers. The flatbread made with Za’atar (a traditional spice and herb mixture) is an outstanding example of what makes Jasmin unique. Freshly baked pita and flatbread complement the other ingredients and make the meal feel homemade. Nawwaf believes, “if it is something you wouldn’t eat or don’t like, then do not put it in front of your customer.” His work ethic, attention to detail, and passion for sharing his culture comes through in every delicious bite.