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**RAVE** for Sevan Bakery in Watertown

This morning I found myself in Watertown. Finding Arax closed (it was before 9 am), I bopped on over to Sevan down the street. I was greeted by an incredibly friendly clerk who helped me pick out lahmacune (filled with luscious spiced lamb), a small carton of baked eggplant, and a delicious spinach & cheese pie, which he heated for me. So tasty. I had the eggplant and lahmacune for lunch -- both were excellent. My one regret was not getting the spicy garlic lahmacune; only the regular was available in small slices.
The staff was so nice, and for $8.50 I had a hearty breakfast *and* lunch. YUM!!!

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  1. swank, maybe lamejun? Alot of CHs love Sevan and i think the young guy/owner is such an energetic helpful fellow. But I hope you'll try Eastern Lamejun sometime-(3 minutes away- over on Belmont St by that Chinese restnt that striperguy raves) Their baby eggplant stuffed with rice
    (any of their eggplant dishes, really) and their Spinach and cheese borek -are staples for us.

    2 Replies
    1. re: opinionatedchef

      Yum! That is next on the Swank itinerary.

      1. re: opinionatedchef

        Love the stuffed baby eggplants!!!!! And I think their hummus is the best. Mine pale's in comparison.

      2. Sevan has nice Iman Bayildi and other lovely pan-Middle Eastern take-away items. I am sorry to say I have not been to Eastern Lamejun, just laziness I guess.

        My usual is to hit up Arax for produce and maybe some take-away items. Then I go to Massis Market for smaller sizes of spices which are also at Arax, but in huge bags only. A couple of things I just love at Massis are the sun-dried tomatoes, I pick up a couple of those, incredibly packed with flavor and still slightly moist, even if not packed in any oil! Also, the Bulgarian Feta is amazing, Just a slice of that on top of a salad is a great little meal any time of day!

        Sevan fills in some gaps for me, for instance their olive oil prices are just a hair under Arax's and their made-in-store items are very different, more Armenian and Turkish items. (Arax is not Armenian owned, I believe they are Lebonese.) Finally, the almonds in the bulk aisle are the best almonds I have ever had. I get a pound and a half usually. Everyone at the counter smiles knowingly when I say they are the best, and often reply that many other customers say the same. I don't know why their almonds are better, but they are large, and perhaps the roasting is better? I can't quite put my finger on it, but I can eat 4 or 5 handfuls at a time. Totally addictive.

        10 Replies
        1. re: tatsu

          I agree with you about the Iman Bayildi at Sevan's and I think it's very good also. I grew up eating this, and have tried several versions from different homes, and Sevan's is right up there with the best of them.

          Easter Lamejun is a place you should definately try for their Lamejun. It's the only kind I'll buy.

          Arax is still Armenian owned.

          1. re: Infomaniac

            That's interesting that Arax is Armenian owned. I had thought Lebanese, with no evidence. We were there once with our adopted son, who've we've been told is of Puerto Rican descent. Two of the guys working at Arax asked "is he Egyptian...I'm sure...". We were not at all offended, we all found it interesting and ever since our son has been telling anyone who will listen that he has Egyptian genes. I always loved Arax and have since loved it even more.

            I do wish someone would initiate a group tour of the wonderful Watertown stores and then we could all compile a list of what is available where. The entire area is such a treasure, such much so that I dream of moving to Watertown (add in Russo's) from East Somerville.

            1. re: Madrid

              They are Armenian's from Lebanon.

              1. re: StriperGuy

                okay, thanks,that's the Egypt connection! we do know our adopted son's mom but his dad remains mystery....his facial features are very egyptian. we take him to arax as often as we can...i'd go every day, if I could.

                1. re: StriperGuy

                  Yes, the owners who started Arax back in the late 70's were Armenian's from Lebanon. I guess you could call them Lebanese Armenians, as there are others who call themselves Syrian Armenians, and Persian Armenians. Anyway you slice it, it all taste good to me.
                  Arax is actually a River that runs through Armenia in case anyone is interested.

                  1. re: Infomaniac

                    Aren't the family who run Garlic 'n' Lemons also Armenians from Lebanon?

            2. re: tatsu

              Agree on Bulgarian feta - saltier and creamier than the standard stuff (at least to my mind/mouth).

              1. re: Bob Dobalina

                I am also a fan of the Bulgarian feta - in addition to Arax and Sevan, you can get a very good and inexpensive version of it at Bazaar - Russo's carries it but for more money. And Madrid, I do agree with you. It's a pleasure to shop at these stores (add Fastachi to the list for sublime nuts and nut butters and its my go to place for preserved lemon and orange rind for baking, etc.). It isn't just that what you buy is very good to great and well-priced but also that you leave feeling your business and presence was welcome. Such hospitable stores.

                1. re: Bob Dobalina

                  bob, for me, the bulgarian and french feta are def not saltier that greek feta, but they are def creamier, and milder.

              2. I love the vegetarian grape leaves and the baba ganoush.

                11 Replies
                1. re: veggielover

                  I'll second that, veggie.......I also love the "etch" (?sp?)

                  1. re: Science Chick

                    Etch is real easy to make, and I posted a recipe here if you ever want to try making it.
                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/764196

                    1. re: Infomaniac

                      I'm a fan of both Arax and Sevan. There's a new place to try as well - Armenian Market and Bakery at 23 Elm St in Watertown. They make their own lamejun. It's immaculate, the people are very friendly and they have tables to sit and eat.

                      1. re: sciaccagirl

                        I haven't been yet, but my sister in Belmont really likes this place. I'm anxious to try it out.

                        1. re: sciaccagirl

                          I've been a fan of Arax & Sevan for years until I came across Armenian Market. You're right! The place is amazingly immaculate not to mention the shawarma or lahmejune are the best in all of Watertown. I also find their location to be easier to deal with being near the malls and not having to worry about the ridiculous parking problems you find on Mt Auburn Street.

                        2. re: Infomaniac

                          Thanks *SOOOO MUCH***! I will make some this weekend! I can use up some of those heirloom tomatoes that are crowding my countertop! :)

                          1. re: Infomaniac

                            thx much for that link, info. I just added to it a recipe for Bazergahn, which may be related, but includes lots of cumin, tamarind paste, tomato sauce and paste.

                            1. re: opinionatedchef

                              Does anyone remember the fruit and vegetable store across the street from Arax and Sevan, and the bakery next door to it? I've been going to those stores for over 30 years, but I can't remember what happened to those two establishments.

                              1. re: cassis

                                Kurt was the very large cigar chomping character/owner of kay's (produce)when i lived on Prentiss St. 25 and more yrs ago. I believe Kay was his mom. I moved away in '87 and i think he died a few yrs later. The bakery next door to that- she was nice- that couple closed the bakery and opened a small lunch/dinner place down Arlington? on the left as you approached the UPS bldg. Ate there a few times; gone now.Maybe named Ararat?

                                1. re: cassis

                                  Kay's Market reopened not too far from the Mt. Auburn market enclave. The owner might be the son of the original owner. I only went once, and have been meaning to return. Here's a link to a review from Jan. 2012. I'm assuming it's still open.

                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/776357

                                  1. re: cassis

                                    Kay's Fruit Stand moved around the corner to Bigelow St.

                          2. Sevan's has the best taramasalata that I've had in Boston. Make sure you get the stuff that they make there, not the jarred one.

                            1. Try the Kazandibi. Sort of a super dense caramelized rice pudding.

                              20 Replies
                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                Hey, I missed that, Striper! Is that a homemade item of theirs, or something they carry in the refrigerated section? It sounds heavenly......

                                1. re: Science Chick

                                  Home made, and truly, insanely amazing. Once you try it, I guarantee instaneous addiction.

                                  1. re: StriperGuy

                                    Note: I also think Sevan smells better than Arax.

                                      1. re: Swankalicious

                                        That's kind of a silly comment. What are you implying? Arax features a lot of produce so it's certainly earthier. But there is no "smell" there.

                                        By contrast, I find that the airs at Sofra stink! ;-)

                                        1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                          The "airs" at Sofra give me the vapors.

                                          1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                            Well, I think that walking into a place with a slightly unappetizing smell is a downer. What can I say? Every time I've been there, it's smelled very musty. Just my take. Would you want to eat at a restaurant that assaulted your nostrils? Just a personal opinion!

                                            1. re: Swankalicious

                                              Well, it was not *just* a personal opinion - it was an unsolicited and irrelevant contribution to this thread, and which was meant to imply that Arax is not a "clean" place.

                                              The odor that comes to mind at Arax is of ripe melons usually stacked by the door. Rather than musty, perhaps you are too used to the antiseptic lack of smell that Americans seem to equate with quality.

                                                1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                                  Whoa, didn't mean to strike a nerve. I think the odor of a market is fairly relavent when trying to weigh its pros and cons versus other nearby establishments, such as Sevan, which is what this thread (which I started, as a positive post...) was about. I'm fine with a market smelling like food. It should. I think the odor at Arax is off-putting. The only thing I was trying to imply -- though "state" would be the more accurate word -- is that it doesn't smell to my liking.
                                                  I was talking about a specific market. You, on the other hand, are generalizing about "Americans," which I actually find far more off-putting than the odor at Arax. Sorry, I normally enjoy your posts, but yikes. Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion!

                                                  1. re: Swankalicious

                                                    FWIW, I agree with you... I like both Arax and Sevan a lot, and I also think Arax has a musty smell. Doesn't bother me, having grown up going to Indian markets that also have that smell of stale spices having seeped into all the corners and rested there for years. But I think it's perfectly valid to note that there's something about a store's atmosphere that you don't like.

                                                    1. re: Swankalicious

                                                      swank, i agree with you. Btw, did you ever try out Eastern Lamejun's stuffed eggplant, and cheese and spinach borek?

                                        2. re: StriperGuy

                                          Just to clarify, Striper, is this at Sevan or Arax? Sounds like I might need some for dessert today.

                                          1. re: bear

                                            Sevan makes the Kazandibi. Call them first, they usually have it, but not always.

                                            1. re: StriperGuy

                                              Thanks. It's very likely I'll be in the area this afternoon and if so, I'll just check.

                                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                                I just tried some of this kazandibi and it's really nice. I never would have thought to try it but I was in the neighborhood and I remembered this thread. Thanks for the tip.

                                            2. re: StriperGuy

                                              stripes, sounds like dulce de leche with rice in it. is it palamino colored? any rose water or spice?

                                              1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                Not really like dulce de leche. It is only caramelized on one side. Ya just gotta try it. Think it has some cardamon.

                                                Like a think dense rice pudding (normal color on one side) but the bottom is very thin dark brown layer. Try it, you'll like it.

                                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                                  Tried the kazandibi this weekend on your recommendation and it was great. Thanks for the rec. Good description. Thin slabs of dense rice pudding without a lot of rice grains maybe some cardamom but no rose water that I can taste and a thin layer caramel syrup soaked on the top (or bottom?). $5.99 to two pieces.