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Massis, Arax and Sevan

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So I Just picked up some warm weather provisions from Massis bakery in Watertown. While I enjoyed the hummus and the lentil salad, the yogurt/cuke salad and the grapeleaves were not as satisfying. I am wondering if there are certain items that are better at each of those three places. It doesn't seem like it would be too difficult to hop around if there were some things that were better than others at each place. Thoughts?

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  1. Many recent comments on that here:
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/414876

    1 Reply
    1. re: Science Chick

      I buy different things from each of them. Massis has nice freshly house baked bread, dry goods and jars of artichoke bottoms. Arax has delicious olives and pickles, homemade jams, interesting produce, beautiful and tasty feta cheeses, tahini paste and all kinds of pita bread and lavash bread. Sevan has the most delicious prepared foods such as their stuffed eggplant and their etch salad. They have wonderful fresh nuts and dried fruits. Across the street at Fastachi they also have wonderful nuts and chocolate. The best chocolate covered candied ginger. What I like about each store is that they are family run and the families are all so nice and helpful. I love going there to shop.

    2. Each store has strengths, but I haven't had the opportunity to compare them category by category. I can vouch that the desserts at Arax are killer.

      1. Not as close to the others as they are to each other, Eastern Lamajun is my favorite. The cheese and spinach turnovers are one of my favorite foods.

        4 Replies
        1. re: pamalamb

          I've purchased excellent lavash (from a Montreal bakery) and yummy metch (aka etch) from Eastern Lamejun. The lavash was strangely addictive considering the basic ingredient list.

          1. re: aventinus

            Where is Eastern Lamejun? I have been to the other three but never even noticed this one...

            1. re: lmuller

              It's a little further away from the others... 145 Belmont St in Belmont (about a 2 minute drive, maybe 10 minute walk)

              1. re: pamalamb

                And right next to Shangri La ...

                :)
                BK

        2. My favorites from each place:

          Massis - spinach/cheese pie (not spanakopita, it's a triangular pastry); churro-like spiral dessert, available at counter. Not crazy about Massis in general -- I mostly buy canned/boxed stuff from there -- but these are good.

          Arax - Grape leaves, mouhamara, black-eyed pea salad, tabouleh, Matnakash bread.

          Sevan - Baklava, pastry-wrapped stuff -- two varieties, one is triangular and the other looks like a small strudel and is available on top of the glass case, I think they are labeled as "wraps." Soujouk and potato wrap is my favorite, but all of those are good. The mushroom triangle is my favorite one of those.

          I like to buy nuts and produce from Kay's. They have some prepared foods too, like falafel, but I haven't tried them.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Pia

            I LOVE the grape leaves from Sevan! Their housemade taramosalata is also special. Additionally, we get the Roumanian feta, and the turkish delight there. Arax I've used primarily for breads and is a standby for olives, produuce and cheeses. RE Massis, I'm less of a fan. lamejun are good and spices (sumac, Zaatar) can be a deal.

            1. re: gourmaniac

              I am absolutely addicted to their grape leave (meatless)!

              1. re: Science Chick

                I am too. These are Istanbul Armenian style grape leaves - always moist & mouthwatering. Yum!

            2. re: Pia

              I used to prefer the olive bins at Massis but the pricing at all 3 is roughly the same. Each of the stores offers like 10-20 varieties of fresh feta, even Kay's.

              1. re: Dax

                I tend to go to Arax because it stays open slightly later than Massis and Sevan. Kay's also stays open... Right now Arax has green almonds (really short window for these). Also in addition to Middle Eastern produce, they have other dairy products such as Lurpak butter, etc.

                1. re: itaunas

                  The green almonds are awesome particularly right now.

                  Lately the prices on olives have been creeping up at Sevan, Arax definitely has the bargain olives.

            3. Sevan has these great crackers at/on the counter - probably split pitas and one is covered in herbs and olive oil (so-so) and the other is red pepper/chili oil and garlic (I think) and is AWESOME. Grape leaves and these crackers and that lavash with caraway seeds from Sevan.

              At Arax I go for the cheeses and other provisions, plus some prepared foods. The broad bean/lima bean salad is good, I really loved the metch, hummus on the last visit wasn't as good (too bitter?).

              My dumb@ss keeps forgetting that Eastern Lamejun is there and I've been buying it at Sevan. Now my trip to that 'hood will be up to 3-4 stops!

              1. I had the red pepper feta spread from Sevan last week and it was outstanding. Over the past year they've been expanding their repetoire and nearly all of the new items have been winners. I also like Sevan because they are much friendlier than the folks at Massis and are very gracious when I ask for 4 grapeleaves or one spoonful of baba ganoush. For me, a big downside of Massis is that most of the food is prepacked and therefore it's not possible to customize quantities.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Velda Mae

                  mmm, I was eyeing that spread the other day and didn't get any. I'll have to head over there tomorrow. I agree re quantities - I frequently go to Sevan and get just a little of this and that for a delicious lunch - no issues at all. too bad you can't buy fresh Syrian bread in individual rounds . . . . I ALWAYS end up eating too much of that!

                2. Who has the freshest pita? Does anyone know if there is a bakery in Greater Boston that bakes their own?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: bear

                    As a rule Arax has the biggest variety of breads, but them come in from all over (some as far as Montreal). Some of the breads, if you catch them the day the came in are notably unusual and amazing. I always just ask what is fresh that day.

                  2. There was a thread about muhammara earlier. I couldn't find it. I had posted that I don't really like muhammara. Boy was I wrong. This muhammara I just purchased from Sevan is INCREDIBLY DELICIOUS. Seriously. More mundane but still top-notch is the hummus. It's nice to eat hummus that actually tastes like hummus--this has a very rich tahini flavor. Maybe the best I've had in Boston. Fig-walnut and cream baklava each were exceptional. The etch is pretty good, maybe not the best I've had. Anyway, I have to say I'm a huge Sevan fan now.