One thing that has been sorely missing from my life since packing up and moving to the more easterly part of the country is Middle Eastern food. You know, that and beaches. But seriously, I found Salem’s in Pittsburgh, but not so much in Buffalo. So when I took a trip back home to Michigan for a weekend Middle Eastern was one thing I craved more than anything else, even more than Coney.
While LA has its fair share of Middle-Eastern restaurants, Kabab Grill in Palms boasts something I haven’t seen elsewhere: its own pita oven. Growing up with the Middle-Eastern restaurants of southeastern Michigan, I just kind of assumed every place had their own oven, but in LA I learned this was not the case. Yet, a pita oven alone does not make a place great, so I was eager to see how this Syrian-flavored place would taste and hoped it didn’t taste like the blood and tears of civil war (too soon?).
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.
About a year ago, a new Turkish restaurant opened down the street from me in Palms. I was overjoyed at this and especially happy when I saw that they were open late on weekends. Unfortunately, I went pretty soon after they opened and was kind of disappointed with the results. Lucky for them, this was before I started a meat blog, so when I finally got around to paying them another visit recently, it was my first chance to give them an unvegan review. The restaurant is called Sofra Kabab Express and although “express” is typically applied to fast food restaurants in airports, this is nothing like one of those, even encouraging people to hang around and smoke hookah (nargile in Turkish).
In the quest to finally find some good schwarma in LA, I made my way to a little Lebanese place called Sunnin Cafe. I have fond memories of delicious Lebanese food back in Michigan, so I hoped that this place would be at least a little awesome. Getting there was a little confusing, though, as it appeared as though there were two Sunnins, right across the street from each other. On further inspection, it looked like the larger of the two is unopened and the small place will be moving in there soon.
The inside of the little cafe gave the appearance of a generic diner. There were seats
at a counter and no more than ten small tables. The big difference, though, was the strong smell of the Middle East and the rotating spool of meat where a deep-fryer might typically belong. I also loved that they made no effort to hide the fact that the cooks were Hispanic. It’s a pretty widely known fact that kitchens of ethnic restaurants all over LA are filled with Hispanics, despite the fact that waiters and such fit into the ethnicity. It was refreshing to see that Sunnin didn’t hide that aspect of their business.
We ordered some “hommos” (love the spelling) to start things off.