In the area for a visit, we decided to check out Uptown Kabob in Whittier. Directly adjacent to Rocky Cola Cafe, this family run "Mediterranean Grill" has that small town joint feel to it. You can tell they spent very little on the decor of the place since the walls are bare white, and what little color there was came from stock pre-framed pictures, the kind you'd usually find at swap meets.
The tables are set with white linen, but you soon notice that it's protected with a thin sheet of glass. Nevertheless, I was still pleasantly surprised at what I saw since what I was expecting was a takeout gyro joint, replete with a rotating spit of shwarma and an unshaven guy with a oil stained shirt carving meat from said spit. Instead we were greeted warmly by a waitress and given menus.
I opted for the Lamb Kabob dish for around $8. We shared an appetizer of hummus ($4) which was served with cold pita bread. The hummus was good, drizzled with olive oil and dusted with paprika, but I wished they toasted the pita bread or better yet, given us pita chips instead.
The Lamb Kabob came in a large dish with generous serving of white basmati rice accented with a streak of yellow rice down the middle of it. The basmati rice was fragrant and fluffy. Placed around the edges of the plate, framing the rice, were sliced white onions, a grilled tomato, a grilled jalapeno pepper, and about a half dozen cubes of de-skewered roasted lamb. The lamb was slightly charred on the outside, and brown all the way through. I could taste the marinade, but it was the slight gamey lamb flavor that I enjoyed. While the meat was not fork tender, I still savored it. But it could've been prepared a little more on the rare side. Next time I think I'll request it that way. The surprising kick of the dish came from the charred jalapeno and tomato. These provided a tart and spicy counterpoint to the gamey meat. Since no sauce came with the dish, I quite enjoyed this interplay of flavors from these simple ingredients.
This is not a destination restaurant, but if I were in the area again, I am certainly stopping by.
Uptown Kabob Family Restaurant
6749 Greenleaf Ave
Whittier, CA 90601
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