International Kebab House and house made Persian bread
The folks at the International Food Bazaar at Curtner and Union in San Jose have run the premium Middle Eastern Food Store in the area for many years with a steady hand and superb customer service. More recently they have begun to expand into disparate part of the strip mall they inhabit, perhaps the beginnings of a benevolent culinary empire. They now offer freshly baked Persian flat bread made on the premises. The bread is soft and springy with black blisters and has a slightly sweet flavor. It is best eaten straight from the oven and if your timing is good it can be snagged straight from the baker's hand.
The family has also decided to go into the restaurant business. They took over the somewhat forlorn Palms restaurant and have remade it into a very presentable neighbourhood spot with new tile floors, an open kitchen and expanded seating. The place has been busy from day one. No suprise as the food is quite good and exceptioanlly reasonable in price. The menu skirts the Mediterranean and is a bit confused mixing dishes from Greece, Iran and Arabia but who cares? The beef souvlaki was charred nicley with abundant beef flavor. The pita is soft, slightly warmed and glazed with olive oil and sprinkled with za'atar. The hummus is thick and creamy, plied delicately like soft ice cream. The saganaki was superb, as good as the upscale Greek houses in the area. The dish annoyed the manager whose
discouraging look was explained but the 2 alarm brandy fire he is obliged to set and hopefully douse to complete the dish. The menu is extensive and includes fresh fish.
We got a free sample of the Falefel which was dark brown and crunchy with an bright green fava bean interior. Looking at the other dishes, the wraps looked huge and appetizing as the the kebabs.
International Kebab House
2707 Union Ave
San Jose CA
408 626 7211
Just went for a solo lunch (not counting baby on a liquid lactic diet). I had the meze sampler, served with that za'atar pita. The pita isn't the usual pocket type, incidentally. It's softer and springier.
Tzatziki isn't quite as garlicky as what I had at a Greek friend's house on the Fourth, but the yogurt is tart, thick and ultra-creamy. I actually doubted that the baba ghanouj WAS baba ghanouj - the characteristic smokiness was there, but I didn't detect any tahini. Good, just different - like a nice light roasted eggplant "salad." I also liked the dolmades filled with dill-scented rice. It wasn't on the list, but I think they gave me skordala, too. Tasty. The htipi was pleasantly spicy and will appeal to feta fans; the extra-thick hummus wasn't so much to my taste.
I was tempted by the loukamades but didn't think I could do justice to them alone.
The restaurant has a nice-casual vibe and hopefully will catch on. I stopped by the market and was impressed with its range. Definitely have to get some lokum (Turkish delight) from the counter.
Ken, as always, great to have a report from you from your nabe. I found a website and the menu does ramble all 'round the Med. I'm excited to see loukamades and galaktoboureko in the dessert section.
International Kabob House
2707 Union Ave, San Jose, CA 95124