Feb 2011

House of Basturma – Pasadena

House of Basturma - Pasadena

It’s a well known fact that cured meats make my heart go pitter-patter, so when a fellow Pasadena-based food blogger alerted me that a basturma specialist recently opened up shop down the street from my home, I made my way there at my earliest convenience.

House of Basturma - Pasadena

House of Basturma was completely empty when The Astronomer, Danny, and I arrived last Tuesday night. However, as soon as we walked in, the mom and pop who run the place unglued their eyes from the local news and assisted us in navigating the Armenian-Lebanese-Turkish menu. I kind of got the sense that the older couple was a little baffled as to why two Asian kids and a white dude were stopping in for dinner, but they were hospitable and friendly nevertheless.

House of Basturma - Pasadena

We ordered a chikofte platter ($5.99) to start. Traditionally served as an appetizer, chikofte is a mixture of bulgur wheat and finely ground raw beef. We were informed by the proprietress that only Middle Eastern palates appreciate this dish, but we went ahead and ordered it anyway because I heart raw meat as much as the cured stuff.

The chikofte was topped with lightly dressed fresh tomatoes and served with warm pita bread. The first few bites of the chikofte along with the pita and veggies were very lovely, but  after bite number five, it started tasting monotonous. Had the portion not been so generous, we would’ve left things off on a high note!

House of Basturma - Pasadena

The dish I was most excited to dig into was the basturma sandwich ($4.99). In between the slightly crusty slices of bread were dill pickles, tomatoes, and the house special air-dried cured beef.

Aggressively spiced with cumin, fenugreek, garlic, and hot paprika, the basturma packed a mean and salty punch. The pickles, tomatoes, and hefty bread were effective in mellowing out the meat’s potency. Since this was my first introduction to basturma, I can’t say whether or not it was an exemplary specimen. However, I can say with confidence that it was a pleasant experience, and that I’d be up for trying more basturma in the future.

House of Basturma - Pasadena

Everyone’s favorite sandwich was the soujuk sausage ($4.99). The short and stout links were sliced in half and seared on the stove before joining the pickles and tomatoes between two slices of bread. The sandwich was quickly grilled using a panini press to finish.

We were expecting a bit of heat because the man behind the counter warned us that the sausage would be “spicy,” but what he meant to say was that the soujuk was bursting with spices—cumin, sumac, garlic, salt, and red pepper. Misunderstandings aside, the sausage sandwich was very tasty.

House of Basturma - Pasadena

Lastly, we shared the beef shawarma ($4.99). Wrapped in flat bread and smothered with tahini, the shawarma tasted nice and meaty, but relatively tame compared to the basturma and soujuk that proceeded it.

Following our savory feast, we retreated next door to Carmela Ice Cream for dessert. Maybe dining in Pasadena ain’t so boring after all…

House of Basturma
2487 East Washington Boulevard
Pasadena, CA 91104
Phone: 626-345-9090

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17 thoughts on “House of Basturma – Pasadena

  1. uh! I LOVE basturma, sojouk and all. I’m lebanese origin so this stuff runs in my blood. We call the “chikofte” “Kibbe”, and you can eat it baked as well. I just ate a whole pan today lol. Next time you have extras take them home and bake it, or fry it in patties. Now i want some more!

  2. Thanks, Mira! I actually stumbled upon your site while researching basturma. I was totally intrigued by the redder version that you wrote about, I bet it tastes slightly different too. Good to know about turning raw meat leftovers into patties. We tossed a quarter of the portion away because it was too much for us. What a waste…

  3. You are the biggest charcuterie junkie I know (outside of myself). Leave it to YOU to find this place. 🙂 Looks fantastic.

  4. Their basturma was okay, I thought, still like Sahag’s in Hollywood and Garo’s in Pasadena. Have you been to Old Sassoun Bakery just up the street from Garo’s, check it out. Garo’s is not full service, just the makings for some mezza.

  5. BurgerBoyLA – Thank you for the basturma leads. This was my first experience with this style of cured meat, and I am excited to try some more. Garo’s and Sassoun are next on the list! I love exploring my ‘hood 😉

  6. ooo…saw something similar to the soujuk on Food Network’s “Best thing I ever had” while at the gym. Must be a sign…I need to go try it.

  7. I like your website. Just that it’s Sucuk not soujuk and Pastirma not basturma in Turkish. Cheers

  8. “older couple was a little baffled as to why two Asian kids and a white dude were stopping in for dinner”

    As you can imagine, A and I get looks of confusion all the time. 🙂 It’s part of the fun.

    This seems like a perfect neighborhood find. You never know what’s in your area until somebody drags you there!

  9. I always enjoy reading your blog and like that you give small finds around the city a chance.

    I’ve had bastarma many times in my life. My mom just gets it from some deli in San Dimas. I tried this place last week and let me save readers the gas money. This place was a shit hole. The place was deserted and the meat had to have been sitting there for weeks. The bastarma was so dry, my girlfriend didn’t even finish a quarter of it and begged for water. I would pass on this place; it should be out of business in a few months. On the bright side, the dolmas for were great.

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