Ive been going to this place for years to buy marinated kabob meat. Ostensibly, the place is a meat counter that happens to have a barbecue grill in the back. They have a nice selection of meats cut into cubes for putting onto a kabob: several types of marinated beef, and chicken (including hearts). They also have lamb chops and a variety of whole fresh fish. And they have a cooler with barbecued vegetable salad, hummos, mutabal, various Greek and Armenian cheeses and some other treats. And then theres a sea of lavash bread to choose from.
About 2 years ago, they added a patio so people could eat there instead of getting the food to go. So I finally decided to try it.
Now heres where they got something right: They bring you a little remote control on a stand that you can press to summon the waitress. Each table gets one, and you can silently push the button upon which the waitress quickly appears. I think they borrowed this from the Korean restaurants.
The menu consists of various appetizers, sandwiches and combination plates.
As I like their beef kabob meat, I ordered the beef kabob sandwich served on lavash bread. And what it says is what you get. Its a rolled-up sandwich about 12 long, cut in half so its easier to manage. Im not a big wrap fan, because they always fall apart, but this one held together pretty well, and for good reason: Theres nothing on the sandwich but the meat. Its literally a beef kabob wrapped in lavash. No dressing, no sauce, no lettuce, no tomato, nothing. The meat was done perfectly, and there was no excess fat or gristle, just as I remembered it. I just wish there was some tahini or taziki sauce on it. It was just too dry. The sandwich was $5.95. I also got 2 stuffed grape leaves, which were still warm and delicious ($0.99 each) and a bottle of Armenian mineral water, which brought the meal up to about $11 before tip.
So I decided I had mis-ordered. I would go back and get a proper combo plate. But now here was the problem: They were about $9-$11 each. I wasnt concerned about the price, but I didnt want a huge plate of food. It was lunch, and I was walking. So I wanted a moderately-sized meal. I opted for the vegetable combo plate which weighed-in at $6.95.
The waitress looked at me askance when I pointed to it and asked what it included. She said she had never served it before, and couldnt say what was in it. Probably some barbecued eggplant or something. So I looked at the appetizers, which were priced at about $4 each and asked if I could just have an appetizer plate. Not a whole big serving of each appetizer, just a small scoop of hummos, mutabal, barbecue vegetable salad and a couple of dolmades (stuffed grape leaves). She seemed very happy with this request and said she would put something together for me.
She brought out 4 small bowls, each with a serving of what I wanted. It seemed like the perfect amount of food, but as I started eating, I realized this was way too much for me to finish. The hummos was outstanding. It was rich and creamy and topped with some olive oil, just like I like it. The mutabal was much less rich, and very smoky-flavored. Yummy. The barbecue vegetable salad was barbecued eggplant, bell peppers, tomatoes and onions, chopped up and mixed with a small amount of vinegar dressing. No lettuce. It was light, smoky and delicious. The stuffed grape leaves were cold this time and not nearly as good as the first time.
Overall, this was a perfect mix of tastes and textures. They bring a basket of lavash with the meal, and this time the lavash was much fresher than the first time. I would scoop up some hummos or mutabal or salad, spread it on the lavash and really enjoy it.
But I could only eat about half of what she brought. It was a shame because if I hadnt been walking, I would have brought the leftovers home.
Now heres the rub, the above, with 2 small bottles of Sparkletts water was $19. OUCH. I thought she was going to make me a little plate, not bring me the whole appetizers. On the upside, if I had been with someone else, there would have been enough food for both of us, and then the average cost would have been a more palatable $9.50 per person, the amount I would normally expect to pay for a non-entertaining lunch.
Oh well. Ive now given them 2 tries. The food is very good. I liked the flavors very much, but I havent been able to order that perfect dish. I learned, though. When you order the sandwiches, also order some hummos or mutabal or barbecue vegetable salad to add to it. When you order appetizers, bring a friend or modulate the ordering to one or two.
Golden Fish Meat & Deli
5112 Hollywood Boulevard (btwn Western & Vermont)