So, I had been at this Eating Pico project for several weeks now, and the time had come to change pace. So following up on a recommendation from Jewish Journal staff writer Julie Fax, I took my mother and sister out to try Kabab Mahaleh, a year-and-a-half-old family-owned Persian establishment tucked under the arm of Eilat Market.
Strolling in at two o’clock on a weekday afternoon, we got one of the last free tables. The restaurant was abuzz with Farsi as at least twenty people were seated with their food when we arrived. More arrived after us to order food to go or to pick up large orders of sangak, the popular naan-like flat bread that underscores any kabab at Kabab Mahaleh.
I wouldn’t know what to choose even from their simple menu of koobideh and kabob, but this was partially because my menu was printed in Farsi! For guidance I asked the cashier, who kindly flipped it onto the side printed in English and recommended we try their beef koobideh and the chicken thigh kabob.
The nearly twenty-minute wait to receive our food was tempered by Mahaleh’s miraculously low prices ($5.99 for the beef plate) and the fact that the place was packed. Really, I was impressed. While we waited, the kitchen workers fired up an immense sangak that might have measured four feet long, baking it in a gigantic aluminum (?) warmstone oven behind the counter that looked like it was borrowed from the set of Willy Wonka. Honestly, you just have to see it.
When the food did arrive, it was terrific. The beef maintained appropriate texture and was cooked just long enough to give it the right amount of saltiness. The chicken’s tanginess made it the winner even though it was more expensive ($8.99), and the tomatoes and onions added the right amount of moisture to the mix. The sangak, which also comes on the side (and the restaurant should give it to customers while they wait), serves as the magic carpet, absorbing all the different tastes before finally following them down the esophagus.
The mid-sized restaurant activated test buds that had lay dormant since my high school years, when my buddy’s mom would serve up pungent bowls of ghormeh sabzi as we settled down in front of his PlayStation. (Madden was our game of choice back then. Also, how’s that for romantic imagery! Momma’s finest cooking plus videogames!)
Even my sister Hannah—a notoriously picky eater—surrendered her phobia of foreign foods momentarily to revel in Kabab Mahaleh’s perfect poultry. And by this I mean she literally wouldn’t let me have a second bite.
Why not go someplace new? I recommend this restaurant and certainly will be returning soon. See you there!
Cheap, casual, and good for kids.