Went to Sunnin last night for the first time per all the raves on the board. First comment is on the appearance. This place is tiny, cramped, absolutely no atmosphere, and looks a little bit like a shower stall in need of some bleach. But you guys said it was good, there were positive write-ups on the wall, and the place was packed - a good sign (although putting 10 people in this place would pack it). We forged ahead.
Our order was all appetizers: hommus, baba ganouj, spicy potatoes, kibbeh, pastry turnovers (looked like little empanadas - forgot the name) filled with spiced beef/onions/pinenuts, and a big tub of garlic sauce. Got the garlic sauce because I had a revelation before while at Zankou, bought the tub, and proceeded to eat it at home everyday on pita, vegetables, rice, meat, everything but desserts (tempted, but passed).
The garlic sauce at Sunnin is not as good, and I wish I hadn't gotten the tub. While Zankou is pure essence of garlic, the consistency of the elmer's paste you used in kindergarten, Sunnin's is mayo. Strong garlic mayo, to be sure, but it has a greasy taste and mouth feel that Zankou's doesn't have, and that I didn't particularly like. Also, Zankou's is more lemony, and provides a nicer harmony all the way around. While I could easily put a big glob of Zankou's on a pita or a bell pepper strip and feel like it was a dip, I can't, nor do I want to, put a big glob of garlic mayo on anything and eat it. I'm kind of bummed and don't know what to do with all the leftover sauce that I have. Suggestions?
As for the rest, all was good. The hommus and baba were lemony and had enough, but not too much, tahini. The meat appetizers were good, with both of us preferring the kibbe. Nice and crunchy, abot the size of golf balls, but shaped with a point at either end like a lemon. Yummy dipped in the spreads, not so much so in the garlic. Made it too greasy. The potatoes were a knockout, literally. I though beforehand that the spice came from pepper, but it comes from garlic. There is more in there than in the garlic sauce. Also a little greasy.
Anyhow, we will certainly be back to try the grilled meats which smelled incredible. Great char on those. Also, it made me very happy when the cooks pulled the skewers out of the fridge and the meat was noticibly slow-marinated. I do not like bland meat. Everyone should marinate. We probably won't eat in though.
I recommend everyone who likes this cuisine to try Sunnin, but I think for the chicken and garlic sauce, I will stay true to Zankou.