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$10 and edible in Century City (Sunnin)

When I first moved to Century City, I was warned it would be a culinary wasteland. This sad fact is mitigated by the fact that it is a short drive from several culinary wonderlands. However, sometimes a girl just wants to stay near (as in within a mile) of home, so I've been working hard to find cheap but delicious meals for $10 in my neighborhood (this would be Santa Monica Blvd, between Westwood and the mall--thereby eliminating both Westwood Village and Sawtelle).

I've made some headway, but I think I'll be posting a $10 revelation every time something comes my way (or maybe up the amount to $15).

Sunnin was this week's discovery. We ended up paing $9 each after tax and tip for enough food to fill five hungry stomachs.

Hummus: incredibly smooth and creamy, and chock full of garlic and paprika.

Magadareh (sp?): ground lentils with caramelized onions. I loved the crispy onion bits, but the lentils were just like any pureed beans. I love beans, but they weren't special.

Foul: fava beans in a garlicky, spicy sauce. WOW! This was easily the most amazing thing in the meal, despite the horrible name (pronounced "fool" by waitstaff). I heard a lot of people ordering this, so I think it's a restaurant favorite.

French fries: the skinny McD's variety. Hot and crispy, but again nothing revelatory.

Pita: thin, probably storebought, but perfectly adequate.

Pickled daikon: cold, crispy, tangy, and bright pink. Everything they should be!

Beef shwarma: I think the quality of schwarma varies so much depending on how long it's been since the last person ordered it (and hence, how long it's been rotating on that spit) that it's unfair to judge. I went a few days ago and someone ordered it right before me, so the pieces I got were less charred and more juicy. Last night, the pieces we got were more charred and less juicy. It was good both times, but different.

Beef kebab: juicy, hot, beefy, lightly spiced. Good.

Falafel: served very hot and very fresh. Perfectly crispy on the outside but still hot and moist on the inside. My falafel hating friend pronounced it "definitely the best falafel I've ever had" and happily ate half of one. I wouldn't go as far as to say it was "the best," but it was good enough to convert a falafel hater and it was good enough for the rest of the table.

The Greek salads and rice that came on the side were both excellent.

This is the kind of food that I would love to find more of in Century City. Sunnin isn't trying to impress anyone by being exotic or chic. The guys wear greasy aprons, and they're there to slap hot food on a styrofoam plate. You're there to eat under the flourescent lights and get out as soon as you're done. The food is filling, hearty, no frills, and cheap.

Real food at prices real people can pay. Any other suggestions? My next post will be about the Mexican place in the same strip mall as Ogden cleaners and that Christian bookstore.

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  1. Juquila (Oaxacan) on Santa Monica Blvd. near Federal; Clementine (cookies and sandwiches and soups) across from mall.

    1. Zankou Chicken -- Sepulveda just south of Santa Monica Blvd. for their rotisserie chicken and garlic paste and pita.

      Philly West -- Westwood just south of Santa Monica Blvd. for cheesesteaks and burgers in a dive-bar setting with some TV's and a bigscreen -- prices about $5+.

      1. i hate juquila. but i do like Terried Sake House next door. as well as Le Saigon. These are all on the same block on Santa Monica and Federal. There's Nook a little farther down. And i think if you do some research, there's a bunch of good ones on Westwood Blvd. right above Sunnin. Zankou on Sepulveda (right below santa monica) is not as good as original but still pretty tasty and cheap.

        1. Let's try a Mangolian reversal?!:

          I've been dying to try, and will shortly, the Kajmak, "Sandwich of the Future", from Aroma Cafe (a short walk/drive south from Overland & Pico on Overland):

          http://www.aromacafe-la.com/Menu/Appe...

          2 Replies
          1. re: JBC

            I've tried Aroma recently and was underwhelmed. I was really hoping to like it because there is, as Pei pointed out, a dearth of good restaurants in the area, but I won't be back.

            I'll be interested to see what other cheap eats Pei comes up with. Many years ago, I liked Feast from the East, but I think the quality went down when they expanded a couple of years ago.

            By the way, I find the food at the Zankou on Sepulveda Blvd. inedible. The chicken to me is on par with the stuff you buy sitting under the heaters at the grocery store - greasy on top and dried out beneath the skin. The hummus, well it bears no resemblance to hummus. Chacun à son goût, but Zankou sure isn't mine.

            1. re: JBC

              i tried it though with out the cream cheese/sour cream, etc topping, i think that the kajmak. but it comes along with the beef "prosciutto"

              i just had the beef prosciutto sandwich, it was all right though nothing special, granted i didn't have it withe the kajmak, as a side note, they have a nice turksha coffee and a pretty darn decent cherry strudel to go with it.

            2. This may seem like a dumb question, but where exactly is Sunnin located? I've looked at the map on the website (1/2 block north of Santa Monica Blvd on the west side of the street), but every time I've driven by, I've never seen a sign for the restaurant. There is a gas station at the corner and Ramayani, the Indonesian restaurant, is only a few doors down. So where is Sunnin in relation to them (and where is parking)?

              3 Replies
              1. re: Jwsel

                I don't know about parking, but your directions are correct. If you're facing north on Westwood the restaurant is on your left side south of the huge ROSS.

                It's a very small restaurant, but the sign on the glass door does say Sunnin. It's closer to Santa Monica than Thai Spice (not good, by the way).

                I think the store right next to it (directly south, closer to Santa Monica) is a smoke shop or possibly hookah lounge, but they had a bigger sign so maybe that'll help you.

                1. re: Pei

                  Sunnin shares a very small parking lot with Ambala Dhaba and another place perhaps the hookah lounge or whatever it is. Every time I plan on trying Sunnin, I'm seduced by Ambala Dhaba!!!

                  http://thedeliciouslife.blogspot.com/...

                2. re: Jwsel

                  it's between the gas station and the indonesian restaurant.