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Sep 25, 2008 09:53 AM

Best middle eastern in the valley?

I'll be in Sherman Oaks Saturday and thought it would be a good opportunity to try some more Middle Eastern places around there -- I'll probably get some stuff to bring home. I know about Carnival, and I've been to the Glendale Skaf's and to Amir's Falafel -- anyplace else worthy of takeout that's not too incredibly far from Sherman Oaks? Looking for great hummus, babaghanouj, pita, maybe roast chicken, etc.

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  1. Cedar House cafe whitsett and riverside

    1. I've read good things on Chowhound about Simon's on Sepulveda just south of Ventura Blvd. I haven't been yet.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Kate is always hungry

        I've been to Simons twice. The first time during lunch, and I ordered a sandwich which wasn't good. I went back my friend and I ordered the food you're looking for and it was good. It's worth a try. The chef is always around to talk to for recomendations.

      2. Not sure you're gonna do better than Carnival and Skaf's, both pretty darn good. If anyone knows of anything distinctly better I definitely wanna hear about it.

        2 Replies
        1. re: la tache burger

          Well, it doesn't have to absolutely be better -- sometimes different is good too. I'm particularly interested in places that have good eggplant salads and other prepared vegetable salads.

          1. re: Chowpatty

            It really isn't Middle Eastern per se but Chenar Deli, in the strip mall on the corner of Laurel Cyn & Riverside (next to Sushi Don), has some awesome eggplant dishes. It is all carryout but their baba ganoush is awesome and they have this eggplant wrapped around a filling made of walnuts, sour cream and dill that is super tasty.

            Also and FWIW, I really dig Skaf's but you've been to the one in Glendale The one in NoHo is really divey but there is lots of love and if you've never tried the baked kibbeh, it is the Monday special and it rocks.

        2. I don't know if you've heard about Hummus Bar & Grill on Ventura in Tarzana but it is dense with Israeli expats, both patrons and staff. Two strong points for me are their hummus and their fresh laffa flatbread station...

          An Israeli acquaintance considers Aroma Cafe to be her favorite - haven't tried them but it may be worth a search. They're also located on Ventura but in Encino...

          5 Replies
          1. re: bulavinaka

            great tips, forgot about hummus bar, am dying to try

            1. re: la tache burger

              The laffa is great and included with your meal, but the number of busy tables will effect your ability to get it replenished. Go during slack times during the day if possible...

              1. re: bulavinaka

                thx. besides humus and laffa, other standouts?? What about the eggplant chowpatty's lookin for?

                1. re: la tache burger

                  HBG offers a salad option where (I'm guessing here) nine to 11 salads in small bowls are brought to the table - it's endless refills as well. This assortment seems to vary from day to day (we've been three times) or maybe even afternoon to evening. We enjoyed an excellent chopped liver on our first time during lupper (late lunch towards supper) as well as a light flavorful egg salad, but our next two visits only resulted in egg salad and no chopped liver. Other than that, the small samples of various salads seemed to be about the same on all of our visits, give or take. Look over the run down on the post that I referred to above. Some were boring, others pretty good, and some were great. The assorted salads does include baba ganoush, if that's what you're asking for, and it was very good, light, and fluffy. Because I far more prefer hummus in general, baba ganoush is always an afterthought for me as I consider both to have a very similar taste profile. They also included a sauteed eggplant dish in the salads - that I did enjoy.

                  Let forewarn you that if one person at your table wants this endless salad option, then there's a good chance that each person at your table will be charged for it. I think it's $5-$6 per for those ordering an entree, and about $10 per for those only choosing this option. On our first visit, the waitress charged only me and my wife for this, and let our kids slide. However, we all were charged on subsequent visits. My guess is tables were taking advantage of this endless salad option where the whole table was enjoying the salads while paying for just one.

                  The falafal was a little overdone on our first visit, but was spot-on on our subsequent visits. The texture and flavors were great, and a very generous portion of tahini was provided.

                  We found their grilled items hit & miss. We thought the grilled portabello mushrooms were great. Their ribeye was very delicious as well. But when we ordered shawarma, I was expecting the typical Middle East lamb/beef style - it was chicken. Maybe I lost something in the translation or possibly just this place's style?

                  Their schnitzel is excellent in execution, but the chicken meat showed up again in the form of a breast. It has a very clean flavor for something that is breaded and fried. I would have preferred veal - pork obviously not an option here.

                  After eating here a few times, I would suggest that you follow one of a few strategies.

                  1) Everyone order an entree and get charged for the add-on salad option. This is probably the most economical way to enjoy a full meal there. The salads will vary in appeal from eater to eater, but I would think that most will find at least half the salads to be very enjoyable. Of course, if you can nuzzle up with the waitress and work something out...

                  2) Only order the entrees and of course the hummus. You can always order more food as you go along - this place is very conducive to an open-ended dining experience.

                  3) If you're going for lunch or are a lighter eater, just order the salad option. This alone will fill up most people as long as some protein items (i.e., chopped liver, egg salad) are in the mix.

                  Diana, who originally posted about this place, mentioned that HBG doesn't apply corkage for your wine. By all means, bring a bottle or two - this is the one thing that I felt was really missing in the dining experience. I hope this helps...

          2. Love Carnival, also try the eggplant salad, different that the babaghanouj. Great tabbouli, yogurt with cucumber all the salads are great.