I had little idea of what I was getting into when I agreed to grab dinner at Raffi’s Place in Glendale. Glendale hosts, of course, the biggest population of Armenians outside of the Middle East, but I was meeting my Persian friends and knew that Raffi’s had to have at least some Persian touches. This turned out to be true, as Raffi’s Place served up Armenian food with a Persian twist because a bunch of ethnic Armenians come from the land formerly known as Persia. But enough about ethnicities and whatnot, let’s get on with the food.
When my buddy recommended heading to a place called Mantee in Studio City, I was really excited to eat a sea cow and hoped the manatees were farm-raised (because we all know they are endangered in the wild). But he quickly corrected me, saying that the restaurant was lacking that all-important second “a” and was actually Mediterranean. And one look at the menu showed this was not your typical Mediterranean. There were no schwarma wraps to be seen here and instead items like that were replaced by unique Lebanese, Turkish and Armenian delights.
In North Hollywood there is a deli unlike any I had ever seen before. Rather than being filled with cold cuts, pastrami or Italian sandwiches, this deli has food with more of a Greek and Armenian flair. It is called Noosh Deli and although not the usual deli, I figured it had to be worth a try. Scanning the menu, I decided any Greek place had to have some good gyros, so I ordered their Beef Gyro Sandwich (with fries and a drink for 6.99). It came with lettuce, tomato, onion and yogurt sauce. I ordered without the veggies and waited 7 or 8 minutes until the sandwich was prepped and ready to go.
Heading into Noho Royal Garden in North Hollywood, I kind of expected to find myself in a typical Middle-Eastern style restaurant. But no, there were no rugs on the wall, no decorative lamps or beads. Instead, it felt like I had just walked into a Mexican cabana. Part outside, part inside, with umbrellas, trees and stones, this was a perfect place to escape from work…well as long as the food was any good.