Archive for the 'Middle Eastern' Category

Raffi’s Place – Los Angeles (Glendale)

Raffis Place - Glendale

Every meal at Raffi’s Place begins with sabzi, or “something green”—sprigs of basil, chopped parsley and white onions, and whole radishes served on a plate, along with pats of butter and a basket of unleavened lavash. When pulled together, these aromatics and herbs make for a uniquely Persian appetizer.

Raffis Place - Glendale

The sabzi to start, as well as the bougainvillea-shaded dining room, have been a part of the Raffi’s experience since 1993, when Rafik Bakijan and his wife, Gohar, opened the restaurant to share treasured family recipes with Los Angeles’ burgeoning Middle Eastern community.

Raffis Place - Glendale

For an appetizer, The Astronomer and I shared an order of tadig, a prized crispy rice crust, served with ghormesabzi (stewed greens with beef, kidney beans, and dehydrated limes) and gheimeh bademjan (stewed split peas and eggplant). The rice was a textural powerhouse, while the duo of stews were soulful and hearty.

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{swoon} Persian Ice Cream at Saffron & Rose

Saffron & Rose Ice Cream - Westwood

While there are many vibrant Persian establishments in Tehrangeles, none are quite as sweet as Saffron & Rose Ice Cream. The shop is named after its signature flavor, a creamy and floral mash up scented with saffron and dotted with pistachios. There’s a nut-less version available as well, but the man scooping behind the counter always insists on the one with the bright green pistachios.

In addition to its namesake flavor, the shop churns out over a dozen different varieties ranging from fascinating (orange blossom, white rose, dates) to familiar (chocolate, strawberry, vanilla). Since the taste of rosewater makes me feel like I’m chugging down a bottle of Kiehl’s toner, I selected a scoop of ginger, sandwich between two thin crispy wafers.

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Zankou Chicken – Pasadena

Zankou Chicken

There is no greater aperitif than a long walk. Strolling at an easy pace, admiring buildings and people along the way, works up an appetite like sitting in traffic never can.

While the number of restaurants within walking distance (and worth eating at) isn’t tremendous in our Pasadena neighborhood, The Astronomer and I have a solid list of go-to places including Pie ‘n Burger, Old Sasoon Bakery, and Cham Korean Bistro. Our most recent addition to the walkable and craveable list is Zankou Chicken, an L.A. institution located about a mile from home.

Zankou Chicken

This much-loved rotisserie chicken shack was founded in Beirut in 1962 by Vartkes and Markrid Iskenderian. The couple fled war-torn Lebanon and opened the first American branch of Zankou in Hollywood in 1984. There are currently ten Zankou locations in and around the Southland.

Zankou Chicken

Zankou is run much like a fast food establishment. Orders are placed and paid for at the counter, and numbers are shouted out as food is ready for pick up. Business was bumping the Friday night we visited. Still, lines moved efficiently and food was prepared swiftly.

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53rd and 6th Halal Cart – New York City

53rd and 6th Halal Cart - New York City

It was a gamble seeking out “street meat” for dinner the night before my brother’s wedding. There was a slim but real chance that the platters of sauce drenched meat would wreck havoc on our systems, rendering me a useless bridesmaid and my mom a less-than-cheery mother of the groom. Still, we had to take a chance on this New York City classic. The smells emanating from the flat top grills had us primed and ready.

53rd and 6th Halal Cart - New York City

There was a sizable line stretching down the street when The Astronomer, my mom, and I arrived on the scene. With multiple carts claiming to be the real Halal Guys occupying the four-way intersection, I had to text the guru of street meat to confirm the coordinates. The real deal is found on the southwest corner of 53rd and 6th after 6 PM. Thanks for helping a tourist out, Zach!

53rd and 6th Halal Cart - New York City

Before serving the hungry crowd, The Halal guys spent a solid thirty minutes grilling pita breads and mincing chicken and lamb. Lots of preparation was required in order to survive the long night of service ahead.

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