Reading ssfire's discovery of atayif at Sultan Bakery in San Jose, I've dropped by twice in two weeks to enjoy these Ramadan-only Levant treats.
The atayif wrapper is a spongy pancake encasing either walnut or sweetened cheese in a half-moon turnover. I have a strong preference for the coarsely chopped walnut filling and it also keeps for a few days, reviving readily in the toaster oven.
A third type is wrapped with an opening on one end for piping in cream cheese and crushed pistachios.
My next favorite thing at Sultan is the Jerusalem bagel, a giant oval ring coated with fragrant sesame. I've never seen this before in our area. They're huge and not as dense as the New York bagel. The interior crumb is light but not balloon bread, showing substance with good moisture, yeasty complexity and chew. I preferred the darker baked crust to the lighter, finding it crisper and more aromatic. The bread perked up nicely a day or two later when spritzed and heated in the toaster oven. I loved the rustic shape, and it's delicious with the hummus and baba ganoush here. More about Jerusalem bagels:
The zatar butter croissant knocked me out. Crackly, shatteringly crisp pastry tasted rather neutral though I was promised it was made with butter and not margarine. But the great texture made up for that and the layer of cheese and zatar added plenty of flavor punch.
Second visit I tried to buy another zatar croissant only to be told that three trays sold out fast. The clerk offered up the cheese croissant, but I could not be sold. He wound up giving it to me, saying that I would be back for more. No lie. This appears to be a tunnel of white cheese rolled up in layered croissant dough, then twisted into a spiral to create a snail. Crazy amount of cheese layered with toasty, flaky pastry.
Date-filled mamoul were pretty good, if a bit low on filling.
I preferred the crumbly texture of the semolina type mamoul, filled with either walnuts or pistachios.
The organic whole wheat pita bread was fine but the thin type here can't compete for my affections with the puffy, baked to order pita at Oren's. The hummus is rich with tahini and olive oil, if a bit low on lemon for my taste. Baba ganoush is unlike any I've had before. Firmed up with natural pectin, the texture's almost like custard and spiced with cumin, the burn of raw garlic, and no tahini. The clerk told me that its Jordanian style, and the finest in the world. I don't know about that, but I did like it. Weighing the containers of hummus and baba ganoush at home, they clock in at almost 14 ounces apiece. Priced at $5.25, they're a bargain compared to the 8 ounces for $5 for supermarket brands.
ETA: I also tried the sfiha, a pizza-like flatbread topped with ground meat (beef?) and a hint of tomatoes that was too soggy and underseasoned. Also fatayer in spinach, cheese, and ground chicken versions . . . best of these was the spinach. The ground chicken one had interesting spicing (can't quite put my finger on the elusive taste), but the white meat was pretty dry. I preferred the ones based on croissant dough over the blander and wetter base dough of these items.
What are your favorites here?
670 Stockton Ave
San Jose, CA 95126
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