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Mar 31, 2007 04:41 PM

My Lunch at Falafel King In Westwood - Or The Search For A Decent Piece of Kabob Continues

In Westwood to run some errands this afternoon. In 'N Out was sounding pretty good, but with a huge line, I thought I would give Falafel King a try,

Walked in. Deserted on a Saturday afternoon. Now, I've spent a fair amount of time in the Third World and don't like to think of myself as prissy, but I was a bit taken aback by how grungy the place was. Grossly grungy. But what the hey, maybe that meant authentic.

Chicken kabob took a fair amount of time to cook on grill. Good sign - that usually signifies they are cooking actual chicken, not prefab chicken strip "product." In the meantime, I studied the L.A. Magazine article framed on the wall, touting Falafel King as one of the great food finds in Los Angeles. The article was from 1993 (!) and on the cover of the 14-year old magazine was a picture of a young Arnold Schwarzenegger . Time machine time.

Chicken kabob done. Served with salad and choice of two sides (I took hummus and cucumber and tomato salad). Chicken kabob not good at all. Texture was spongy and taste was not flavorful. Hummus was not as bad as might be expected (how's that for damming with faint praise?) Salad was just a bunch of tired greens on which they had thrown some tahini. Tomato cucumber concoction was also very tired.

Lesson learned - grossly grungy does not signify authentically good, although I guess in theory it could.

Meal so unpleasant that I needed, as one does when one has an unpleasant meal, to wash the taste out of my mouth. Walked over to Green Tea Terrace on Westwood Blvd. and got an iced green latte, half sugared. Hit the spot.

The search for a decent quick kabob in West Los Angeles is becoming so frustrating, I think the next stop will be in my own kitchen. Yes, I will master the art of kabob myself.

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  1. Try King David Grill on Pico near La Cienega. Sunin on westwood is also liked by many on this board, while some do not like it.

    5 Replies
    1. re: jlq3d3

      I'm one of those who loves Sunnin. In addition to good grilled things, they have lots of excellent side orders like fool mdamas (spelling?) -- fava beans -- and such. Negatives are that Sunnin is tiny and sometimes there's a line.

      I think the Zankou chicken which is on Sepulveda south of Santa Monica also has kebabs. I haven't eaten at that particular location yet, but I hear it's nice. At other Zankous, I've never ordered kebabs -- so far I've been so into their chicken plates and "tarna" (like a chicken gyros) sandwiches.

      That said, I applaud your intention to start cooking.

      1. re: jlq3d3

        Actually, I already posted about my underwhelming experience at King David Grill.

        I like the hummus at Sunnin, but they do not know how to make a good kabob. Both their chicken and beef kabob are mediocre.

        1. re: jlq3d3

          Also, I think Zankou (or at least the one in West L.A.) is beyond awful.

          1. re: omotosando

            As I said, I've not been to that Zankou. I find other Zankous to be somewhat variable, and generally better when they're busy. At the moment, my favorite chicken comes from Pollo a la Brasa -- but they also are variable.

            Perhaps we just have different tastes. But I'll try again -- have you ever had the chicken kebabs at Beverly Felafel? I haven't eaten there in a while, but I was always impressed with the chicken in their chicken kebab sandwiches. Beverly Felafel (assuming it's still in business) is located in a strip mall just south of the Beverly Center. The prices are a little higher than Zankou or whatever, probably reflecting the location and rent.

            1. re: emmy

              Is Beverly Falafel the place in the strip mall on the south west corner of 3rd and La Cienega? If so, I tried it a couple of years ago and thought it was really poor.

              Before they tore down the ABC Entertainment Center, there was a good kabob place there called Aladdin (not related to the horrible Aladdin on Westwood and Olympic that has now become the horrible Dunya's) and the Green Olive on Wilshire near Bundy, which recently closed, also made a good kabob. Other than those restaurants and Moishe's at the Farmer's Market, I have not found a decent Middle Eastern kabob in Los Angeles, although there are a few places like Sham in Santa Monica that I have yet to try.

        2. you might give shamshiri grill a try, especially if you are there around lunchtime on a weekday. their lunch specials, which include several types of kabobs, are very reasonably priced.

          1. Try Haifa Restaurant on Pico just east of Robertson. Small place, owners are Israeli, they make great kababs, soups, and many traditional Middle Eastern dishes. They are closed on Friday nights and Saturdays and will probably be closed this week for Passover.

            If you're in the valley try Carnival on Woodman & Moorpark. Hands down the best Middle Eastern food in Los Angeles. Try their Carnival Combination along with the Salad Appetizer, enough for two or three people.

            1. Sinai kosher market on Pico near Robertson. It's run by Iranian Jews. My Israeli friend raved about it and finally convinced me to try.

              Simple, fresh, clean-tasting -- everything you could possibly want, as long as you're not looking for a refined dining atmosphere.

              You can also pick up some of those long, flat wooden-handled kabob skewers for your home Kabob experiments.

              2 Replies
              1. re: tritip

                They sell hot, freshly made to order kabob right in the market? Is there a place to eat it there, or is it strictly to go?

                1. re: omotosando

                  If it's the same market I'm thinking of, I second the recommendation for Sinai. Good prices also. They have a few dining tables but you definetely don't go for the atmosphere as it's also a meat market. Don't forget to ask for sabzi wih your kabab.