The owners of the top-notch International Food Bazaar in San Jose have opened a restaurant, which is “perhaps the beginning of a benevolent culinary empire,” says Ken Hoffman.

International Kabob House is a spiffy place with new tile floors, an open kitchen and more seating than its previous incarnation, Palms. The Mediterranean menu has Middle Eastern kebabs and fresh fish, but leans markedly toward the Greek.

A dramatic starter is the saganaki (Greek fried cheese), which is “superb, as good as the upscale Greek houses in the area,” Ken says. Beef souvlaki (skewered chunks of meat) is nicely charred and very flavorful. Well-fried falafel are made with favas as well as garbanzos. And the pita is something else, Ken says: soft, warm, “glazed with olive oil and sprinkled with za’atar” (a spice and herb mix that owes much of its flavor to marjoram or oregano).

Speaking of bread, the market has started offering freshly baked Persian bread. “The bread is soft and springy with black blisters and has a slightly sweet flavor,” says Ken. “It is best eaten straight from the oven and if your timing is good it can be snagged straight from the baker’s hand.”

Maybe they’re challenging Anwar Bazaar & Bakery across the street to a flatbread throwdown. At about a yard long and half an inch thick, Anwar’s freshly baked Afghan bread gives the impression of crustiness while remaining pliable and has the hearty flavor of whole wheat.

International Food Bazaar [South Bay]
2052 Curtner Avenue, San Jose

International Kabob House [South Bay]
2707 Union Avenue, San Jose

Anwar Bazaar & Bakery [South Bay]
2626 Union Avenue, San Jose
No phone available

Board Links: International Kebab House and house made Persian bread
Afghan food: Anwar Bazaar and Cafe Sophia

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