That is exactly what happened last night at Mint Cafe.
Mint Cafe is one of Houston's best Middle Eastern restaurants. The young guy who manages the floor is one of the nicest folks in the Houston restaurant business. He once explained that his family is from all over the Middle East, including Egypt.
Last night, I asked him about the daily special - a dish I had never heard of. He said that it is one of his favorite foods. He usually eats it every Friday, the only day that the kitchen makes it. But he can't eat it now, because it's Lent.
This dish -- named after its main ingredient -- is ملوخية in Arabic. But in English, there are at least 18 different ways to spell it. Mint Cafe uses different spellings on their specials sign and the receipt. Google seems to prefer this spelling: molokhia.
Molokhia is one of Egypt's national dishes. (The other is ful mudammus, which is also one of Mint Cafe's best dishes.)
Mint Cafe's molokhia is basically chicken, water, garlic, and the finely chopped molokhia plant. It may have a little spice -- most recipes use corriander. At the table, you add rice and a vinegar sauce with chopped onion, which enhances the flavor even more.
So, you ask, how good can a chicken & rice soup be? Chicken and rice usually don't excite me. But this was something completely different.
Molokhia is often described as similar to spinach. It may look like spinach, but does not taste like it.
The flavor is very distinctive. I don't have a good flavor reference point. It tastes less green and vegetal than it does earthy and almost meaty. Of course, that may be the interaction with chicken and spices. But the flavor is completely unlike any chicken stew or soup I have ever had. It also is quite addictive.
Keep in mind that Mint Cafe only serves molokhia on Fridays. And they don't sell beer and wine. So bring your own.