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The Armenian Market, off Arsenal Street?

opinionatedchef Feb 6, 2014 12:41 AM

In the past, we've had to go across the river to Schwarmaland (Allston/Brighton) to get our best kebab and schwarma fixes.
And now, a few adventurous and/or smart schwarma entrepreneurs have opened places on this side of the river. Outside of Davis Sq is Noor's Grill; in Davis Sq., CH smtucker has reported on The Shawarma Place (SP) ; and somehow, I have just found out about a c.2012 place in Watertown by the Target/Arsenal St. Armenian Market's(AM) schwarma and kebabs have more positive yelp mentions than negative,( AND the owner makes his own filo- holy shmoley. ) I'm thinking of soon doing a mini crawl/drive to both AM and SP to compare them. Has anyone been to AM, and what do you think of it? Striper? thx. much.

http://www.armenianmarketbakery.com/a...

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  1. Luther RE: opinionatedchef Feb 6, 2014 04:07 AM

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/917672

    1. Bugsey34 RE: opinionatedchef Feb 6, 2014 06:02 AM

      I have only bought the lamejun there and I did not like it. It tasted only of red peppers and had little to no meat. It was nothing compared to Sevan or Arax. Once I did that I never went back, but maybe worth a try for the sandwiches.

      1. beetlebug RE: opinionatedchef Feb 6, 2014 06:41 AM

        I had some delicious hot dish many months ago. I think it was a schwarma over pita or some other bread with a sauce. It was soft and crispy and flavorful. The whole thing was baked and I loved it.

        Recently, I bought baba and hummus. The baba was nice and smokey but chunky. I was having teeth issues so I had a harder time eating it. But I loved the flavor.

        1. t
          tdaaa RE: opinionatedchef Feb 6, 2014 08:16 AM

          I'm no expert, but I stop there frequently and like the shawarma. The family has tried other things, and it is a popular place for all, including my rather picky daughter.

          1. g
            grant.cook RE: opinionatedchef Feb 6, 2014 09:20 AM

            If you are ever on Rt 1 heading to Foxboro, Saab's (in the plaza with Ocean State Job Lot) makes a very good schwarma

            1. m
              macadamianut RE: opinionatedchef Feb 6, 2014 11:53 AM

              I like it there very much. I have eaten dinner there on a number of occasions. The schwarma both beef and chicken is excellent. They also make great zatar wraps with vegetables. It's a family owned business and they are very nice. Always making us feel very welcome. The owners sister does much of the cooking and she loves what she does. She makes everything from scratch. They have a little market where they sell some Armenian specialties like syrups and pomegranate molasses. The food tastes very fresh and made with good ingredients.

              1. opinionatedchef RE: opinionatedchef Feb 7, 2014 11:25 PM

                Wow, what a learning experience today. We DID get that schwarma crawl out of my system, trying the beef/lamb schwarma and the chicken schwarma wraps at Schwarma Place, and the Beef Schwarma and Chicken Schwarma wraps at Armenian Market.

                The Palestinian owner of SP was friendly, and the schwarma mixtures were clearly house-made (cinnamon being the predominant spice) and not salty, and the chopped turnip and cuke pickles etc made the wrap alot easier to eat than when they are in large wedges. Once the word spreads amongst the vegetarians, they will likely be very happy with the foul (dried bean) and the lentil/grain wrap, both very flavorful.

                But I have to tell you that the AM chicken schwarma wrap was a 9 compared to SP's 4. AM's version is $1 or so more expensive but man, that is SOME hunka sandwich. Literally 2 lbs, i'm guessing. Packed with moist and herb flavored chicken, tomato, lettuce, pickles, and a garlic sauce and tahini sauce(SP's sauce is thin/ watered down; AM's is thick and creamy). 4 pm lunch and not hungry til midnight. And, as other CHs have mentioned, i just LOVE the fact that the filled pita is toasted/grilled to light crispy exterior. The beef schwarma we had was not very successful, abundant though it was. It tasted like very dry roast beef; go figure. Of course, being obsessed with baking, i also had to try some handmade filo baklava and various spinach and cheese pastries, but the baklava was seriously one-note, as were the savory pastries we tried. I wouldn't order any of them again. But ymmv. For me, Eastern Lamejun's spinach and mixed cheeses borek are sooo much more flavorful.

                But that AM chicken schwarma is a killer. When we go back,i'd like to try his kebabs and soup and stews. The chef/owner, Jerry, is Turkish/Armenian and the waitress told us alot of young Turkish guys hang out there regularly. The table next to us was 4 Turkish men and it was a real treat to hear that melifluous language and see them with their double decker tea pots and hot tea in glasses.

                Thx youall for the encouraging words about AM; we certainly enjoyed it.

                9 Replies
                1. re: opinionatedchef
                  r
                  Ruprecht RE: opinionatedchef Feb 9, 2014 10:44 AM

                  Haven't been back lately, but I remember being struck by AM's chicken shawarma too. There was some unusual (in a good way) spice flavor in it that was very familiar but I couldn't quite place. Have to get back there on the next Target run.

                  1. re: opinionatedchef
                    GretchenS RE: opinionatedchef Feb 18, 2014 10:28 AM

                    I tried the chicken schwarma wrap at Armenian Market yesterday and concur with everything that Luther and opinionatedchef have written. It is a superb sandwich, the chicken has a ton of flavor, as does everything else in the enormous sandwich, with pickle highlights and crispy grilled exterior taking it to a different level. While waiting for it to be done I chatted to a woman who works next door who said that the lahmejun are also fabulous -- they were taking lots of them out of the oven and they looked and smelled terrific.

                    1. re: opinionatedchef
                      s
                      smtucker RE: opinionatedchef Mar 1, 2014 06:08 AM

                      I finished with my client early the other day, and decided to have some lunch at the Armenian Market based on this review. I did not get a Shawarma since it was described as two pounds of meat. No way I can eat that much at lunch time by myself. So instead, I got a bowl of the Lentil Soup and an "Armenian Pizza" or lahmjan.

                      The soup arrived warm, not hot, in a ceramic bowl with a stainless spoon with lots of bread. This was a very nice bowl of soup, but not a stellar one. The soup had clearly had water added occasionally to deal with the fact that it sits in a cafeteria style warmer during lunch time. The spices and herbs were not complex at all. I loved that it was warm, and it tasted good, but overall it was a bit bland for red lentil soup. The The Shawarma Place in Davis Square wins this one for me.

                      The lahmjan was not my thing. They were pre-made and baked, then warmed when ordered. The topping was similar to a Samfaina, but the flavors were all about the green pepper. Oh, do I dislike green peppers! Next time I will try one of the other offerings.

                      The market is half market, half food preparation. One would never head to the Armenian Market for the ambience; it reminds one of a greek-style pizza place. One of their refrigerators is incredibly loud which I found grating.

                      There are bathrooms which were very clean. In fact, the whole store was clean. The grocery selection is nice, but the lack of prices on the items and shelves made actually buying things difficult.

                      I did take home some walnut baklava and pistachio baklava. No prices again, but I figured 4 pieces of baklava couldn't be too much. Turns out that they weigh the goods for pricing at $12.99 a pound. It was okay, but again, just missed the mark by a bit.

                      My lunch of soup and lamejun was just under $7. I will return if I am in the area and want an affordable lunch, but for me, this isn't a destination spot.

                      1. re: smtucker
                        opinionatedchef RE: smtucker Mar 1, 2014 12:51 PM

                        Why am I not too surprised? As soon as you said you didn't order the one thing people have raved- the chicken schwarma roll up, I suspected what might follow.
                        And yes, if you go to 'the best burger' place and order a salad, that place prob won't be a destination spot for you either. Now if many reviews had said "You can't go wrong here. Everything is fantsatic," that would be a whole different story. Just sayin'.

                        1. re: opinionatedchef
                          s
                          smtucker RE: opinionatedchef Mar 2, 2014 08:20 AM

                          This is a very peculiar response. I was at a place called Armenian Market, and I ordered an iconic Armenian soup. The idea that once a dish has been proclaimed "what you order" by less than a half dozen people no one should investigate the rest of the menu seems odd to me. I wanted soup. I ordered soup. It was good soup and I will order it again, but I won't drive from North of Boston for this soup.

                          Of course no one has stated "everything is fantastic" since only about three things have been reviewed. I did recall that one person didn't care for the lamejun, but that another person raved that it was wonderful [different thread.] Another voice added to the choir simply fills out the response cards. Some people might love green pepper and will be eager to enjoy this dish. With two reviews stating that the green pepper flavor is too prominent, people like us will know to enjoy something else from the menu.

                          When I can find someone to go with me and split two pounds of meat, I will be happy to try the chicken shawarma, but the owner was particularly eager for me to try his kabobs since he has a grill in the back. I am now in that area two days a week, and when I don't bring lunch with me, I will continue to investigate the menu.

                          And why not order a salad at a burger place? It could be a great salad and isn't that what this board is all about- celebrating food no matter where you find it?

                          1. re: smtucker
                            k
                            kewpie RE: smtucker Mar 2, 2014 08:32 AM

                            smtucker- very well said! thank you very much

                            1. re: smtucker
                              m
                              Madrid RE: smtucker Mar 2, 2014 09:46 AM

                              and if it's a horrible salad, let us know about it!

                              1. re: smtucker
                                Bugsey34 RE: smtucker Mar 2, 2014 07:29 PM

                                I also don't think any Armenian place should have crappy lamejun, no matter how good their chicken is.

                            2. re: smtucker
                              Bugsey34 RE: smtucker Mar 1, 2014 04:18 PM

                              My thoughts exactly, smtucker. If you see my review above I said the lamejun tasted only of peppers.

                          2. k
                            katzzz RE: opinionatedchef Mar 1, 2014 06:18 AM

                            My three words regarding Armenian Market: garlic pita chips.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: katzzz
                              j
                              Jenny Ondioline RE: katzzz Mar 1, 2014 04:53 PM

                              We have about a third of a box of the garlic pita chips downstairs. It was a full box last night.

                              Annoyingly, they were out of or have stopped carrying the shredded phyllo that was the main reason we'd gone in after we left Target. Allstonian had been of a mind to knock out a couple pans of osmalia.

                            2. d
                              dori_pm RE: opinionatedchef Mar 17, 2014 08:18 AM

                              We had lunch at AM yesterday (Sunday around 1:00). Did some browsing in the store and noticed the prices were quite high relative to the "competition" in Coolidge Sq., and that some of the produce was of questionable freshness. The owner was incredibly welcoming and gave us some beef/lamb schwarma filling to sample. It was juicy and flavorful. We ordered one beef/lamb and one chicken schwarma. Beef/lamb was excellent, though not completely hot. The wrap contained chopped onions, pickles, and tahini, which added tang. The chicken was fairly dry and came only with pickles and tomato. It was also served tepid and the pita for both sandwiches was dry as well. We also thought the price was on the high side (I think $8.99, with no fries or other side dish). The owner gave us some baklava to sample on our way out. It was moist and light-tasting, really excellent. Overall a tasty lunch, but I agree, not a destination in itself.

                              1. s
                                sadflour RE: opinionatedchef Mar 17, 2014 03:46 PM

                                Wow, Schwarma misfire!

                                Just having been released from jail I went out Schwarma binging based on some recent recs here. Went to the AM yesterday and was utterly disappointed. In fact, half of this sandwich went in the trash when I returned home. Yes, really nice people but the component parts of this sandwich, including a jelly-like hot sauce, were simply awful. The guy slicing the meat didn't seem to know what he was doing and when I asked him to hold the garlic paste because I don't like mayo he said there was no mayo in it just oil, eggs, and garlic...

                                A little better, but not great, was the new place in Davis. This is more a schwarma burrito than anything else. The meat is pre-cut and dried out. Could be falafel in there for all we know. Again, nice people but....

                                The gold standard for me remains Aceituna down in Kendall. Three vertical spits, lines out the door, and a choice of spicy chicken that is cut right from the spit into your sandwich. Lines move quick, so go there first if you have a real Schwarma hankering, this is the place to hit. And they'll put their spicy potatoes in the sandwich, too, if you like....

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: sadflour
                                  opinionatedchef RE: sadflour Mar 17, 2014 04:22 PM

                                  Man am i glad they let you out so you could post this. have you tried garlic 'n lemons in allston/brighton? the owner used to work at aceituna and g n l is very popular on this board. I had some aceituna dinner entrees at a party and LOVED them. had absolutely no idea they did schwarma. thx much!

                                  www.aceitunacafe.com/

                                  1. re: opinionatedchef
                                    s
                                    sadflour RE: opinionatedchef Mar 17, 2014 04:32 PM

                                    Yes, three very hot spits. Beef and lamb, I believe, chicken, and spicy chicken. Don't let the line worry you (20 people are often waiting at lunch) because they are really quick (you need to be too)

                                    1. re: sadflour
                                      s
                                      smtucker RE: sadflour Mar 17, 2014 04:36 PM

                                      I can't find lamb on the menu. Says beef only which is a bit of a disappointment. Even the koftas are made with beef. But the next time I am over there visiting a client, I can't wait to give it a try.

                                    2. re: opinionatedchef
                                      Luther RE: opinionatedchef Apr 5, 2014 04:39 AM

                                      Garlic n Lemons is better and a better price, and with more convenient hours. Also, both restaurants are next to bubble tea shops, and the one in Kendall (Leisure Station) gets my vote for worst bubble tea in Boston.

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