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Noah's Ark on Burbank Blvd - review

I've passed by this semi-new restaurant a zillion times since it's just down the street from me and finally made it over there on Saturday night. The bottom line is that this is a chow-worthy place that no one seems to know about. It's good cuz then you don't need reservations but bad, because I don't know how this place is going to survive without more patrons.

We started with an appetizer plate which came with hummus, moutabel and kashke. Hummus was smooth, no complaints there. Moutabel had a nice char flavor to the eggplant. Kashke was outstanding - slightly garlicky and creamy. We were slathering this onto the pita bread like there was no tomorrow.

I ordered what I usually order at Middle Eastern restaurants - ground beef kebabs (koobideh or lula, I forget what they're called at the moment). I order this everywhere - it's how I test out a Middle Eastern restaurant sort of like I test Italian restaurants with ordering a simple Bolognese sauce. Anyway, this version was very good - juicy meat, nicely spiced, piping hot, and accompanied by very fluffy rice.

On a side note, I went to Skaf's last weekend for the first time, and I know that many on this board really like it. I had the ground beef kebabs there as well and I'd have to say that Noah's Ark's version blew Skaf's out of the water. I know, I'll go back to Skaf's and try their fish, but like I said, I always order the koobideh/lula kebabs as my first try.

Anyway, friend's chicken kebabs had a nice nutmeg/smoky flavor. My bf's beef shwarma was more like beef stew (as in hunks of meat) than carved meats, but it was still good.
Service was friendly throughout. We brought in a bottle of wine with us and were not charged corkage (yay!) so that's a big plus there. Total bill for 4 entrees + App plate was about $50. Good deal!

So, 'hounds, the sad thing about this place is that when we went on Saturday night, we were the ONLY people in the restaurant! The entire time we were there! So, I'm writing this review hoping you'll go try them out. I'd like to keep this neighborhood joint alive and the food and service are certainly good enough to get the crowds.

btw, you get a 10% off coupon to go back within a month, so for sure they're seeing me again. :)

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  1. "So, I'm writing this review hoping you'll go try them out. I'd like to keep this neighborhood joint alive and the food and service are certainly good enough to get the crowds."

    Would that be Burbank Blvd in Burbank, North Hollywood, Studio City, Sherman Oaks, or Encino?
    A more specific address would be helpful.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Briggs

      Here ya go:
      13641 Burbank Blvd., Van Nuys
      Near Woodman

      1. re: Briggs

        yes, that's the one. Thanks for posting their info! :P

    2. there is also a noah's ark that serves kebabs in northridge, on the northwest corner of zelzah and devonshire. but at this one you order at the counter so there's no wait service. i wonder if it they're related.

      do they have a garlic paste like zankou's?

      1 Reply
      1. re: jackt

        None of the four of us got a tub of garlic paste nor did I see it on the menu, but I'll ask about it when I go back.

      2. Anyone else been? I was just looking at an old L.A. Times article from last September and Charles Perry said the hummus was good. Also wondering what the ambience was like.

        1 Reply
        1. re: omotosando

          Atmosphere is interesting... looks sort of like it's set up for a wedding. All the chairs have chair covers and gold bows.

        2. Finally went this evening.

          The lamb chops ($14.99) were superb. Meaty, perfectly spiced, succulent. Definitely the best lamb chops I've had in a few years. Yum. Chicken kabob also very good - moist and well-spiced - not dried out like at 99% of the other restaurants in L.A.

          Sadly, on a Saturday night between about 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m., my dining companion and I were the only people in the restaurant.

          New owners just started operating the restaurant three days ago. As best I understood it from the owner-server (since her English was not perfect), her husband is the cook and previously worked at other restaurants. This is the first restaurant that they have owned. There were also some young men who spoke perfect English and who are possibly the sons.

          If I lived in the neighborhood, I would definitely hit this place once a week. I hope more people will discover it This is definitely a chow-worthy restaurant and it would be sad if they didn't make it.

          1. Holy...that's less than a block from me, why did I not know about this place!!! Will go and check it out, thanks for the review!!!

            7 Replies
            1. re: ciaoxtina

              If you like it, write a positive review. They need help. I'm chowing down right now for breakfast on my leftovers and even my cold leftovers are pretty good!

              1. re: omotosando

                We went to The Ark a couple of times during the "old" regime and the food was fantastic. Went last night and with the exception of the meats, the food was wretched. Really bad. So bad, we threw at least half of it away and we don't throw food away. Ever.

                Ordered appetizer plate, with Hummous, Jajik and Moutabal also Dolmas, Kufta, Shwarma Plate, Lamb Kabobs and Beef Loula Kabobs. Ick.

                While the meats were good and the jajik fresh and tasty, everything else proved to be some of the worst Middle-Eastern food I've had in the 25 years I've lived (and eaten Middle-Eastern food) in Los Angeles.

                How do you screw up hummous? I've made it myself and I mean how? It was underseasoned, under-flavored, badly processed and oily. The moutabal was inedible. Bland, nasty, pasty, greasy, not smoky at all, in NO way resembling babaganoush despite the menu's claim. Dolmas were dry, inexplicably flat and dense, Kufta, greasy little deep-fried meat packs with an oily sponge for their coating. The rice was plain, white, oily and flavor-free, the roasted tomatoes accompanying the dinners were burnt and bitter.

                This grub was a HUGE disappointment and I will NEVER return. Really. Disappointed. I mean it used to be fabulous and now. . . Not. So. Much. Bummer, huh?

                1. re: Steve2 in LA

                  Sorry to hear this. When I went, the hummus was okay - nothing spectacular -- but the lamb and chicken were perfect.

                  1. re: omotosando

                    So anyone have a recommendation for brilliant Middle-Eastern grub (not Carnival or Alcazar, please) in the Van Nuys/Sherman Oaks/Studio City area? Muchos gracias.

                    1. re: Steve2 in LA

                      Yes, I do have a good suggestion, go to Cedar House Cafe, on Riverside & Whitsett, you wont be disappointed, please report back after going, its my favorite since I live in the Studio City/Sherman Oaks area.

                      1. re: Hypnotic23

                        I spotted that on another board and have bookmarked it as a place to check out the next time I'm jonesing for Middle-Eastern and some primo babaganoush. Thanks for the recommendation.

                        1. re: Hypnotic23

                          I second Cedar House..nice hummous. Now, we also have Hummous Bar in Tarzana-a bit out of the way, but not too bad