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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Open Sesame: Get the Juicy Chicken Kebab, Skip the Fried Potatoes

I had been convinced for the longest time that Sunnin in West LA with an outpost in Long Beach (turns out the LBC one was the OG Sunnin, I later learned) had the best Lebanese food in LA. When I went to Open Sesame in Long Beach (there are two locations right next to each other on Second Street and one other in South Bay), I didn't expect it to be on par with Sunnin but it was.

The chicken kebab (called chicken tawook) was ridiculously juicy, just like at Sunnin, which itself had expanded from a tiny hole-in-the-wall to a larger nicer restaurant across the street on Westwood Blvd.
The romaine lettuce salad with a refreshing lemony dressing and some dill weed? Check, although it went a bit heavy on the feta cheese that I could do without. Baba ghannouj that tastes like garlicky, smoky eggplant that's so creamy that you have to have a dollop of it at every bite? Check. This chicken kabob plate also came with these mild pickled peppers.

The chicken was also perfectly charred despite its uber juiciness on the inside.

I must say, however, that there were things that still made Sunnin better for me. On another visit, I tried the fried potatoes that are deep fried and then smothered in cilantro, garlic, roasted chili and lemon juice. These potatoes were uninspiring. I missed Sunnin's fried potatoes, that are seriously more flavorful than this version.

I also tried kabssa, a lamb rice dish recommended by our server, but this one also disappointed. The lamb was bland and didn't taste that fresh. The rice had a lot going on with green bell peppers, onions, carrots, raisins, spices, as well as sprinkled with pine nuts and almonds. I liked the varied textures of crunchy and soft, but ultimately the flavors didn't blend well together for me.

Next time, I'll stick to the chicken tawook. I haven't tried kafta, ground meat patties mixed with herbs and spices that is one of favorite dishes at Sunnin. I'm a bit apprehensive to go outside of the chicken zone here but I'll give it a shot.

It's definitely healthier eating although it also seemed a bit pricier than I remembered Sunnin to be. Ah, time to pay good ol' Sunnin a visit.

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