>> Al Sanabel Bakery & Mehmet's Koftegi | Eat the World Los Angeles

Wednesday 30 December 2020

Al Sanabel Bakery & Mehmet's Koftegi

EDITOR'S NOTE: An updated version of this article (05 April 2024) is available as part of the Free Friday Favorites section of our Substack page. Check that out here:

Do not forget to look up when you enter the Al Sanabel Bakery/Koftegi, which has been outfitted with a vaulted roof to simulate the stone arches found in the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul. That market has been around well over five centuries, while the makeover here on Brookhurst Street is just a few years old. The long-standing Lebanese bakery recently changed hands in 2016, and added Turkish favorites from Istanbul-born and raised chef and culinary tour guide Mehmet Kaplan.

Thankfully fans of Lebanese flatbreads and other baked goods have been happy with the high standards of quality remaining the same. The bakery has not taken any of its attention to detail off of these items, just added quite a few more Turkish offerings.
A recent takeout haul.

Perhaps in response to the popularity of Adjaruli khachapuri being called cheese boats and experiencing a wider audience outside of the Caucasus and Russia, Chef Mehmet has added a "Turkish Boats" section to his menu to give traditional Turkish pide a makeover. His options include all the classics and his own creations like "Juju's Boat," which is a combination of muhammara and kashkaval and can be enjoyed with either chicken or beef.

For this order, a classic white cheese and soujuk pide ($6.99, below) was obtained and just a little mangled after transport. Such are the ways of 2020, but the "boat" was as tasty as ever once reheated briefly in the oven. The thin crust is not just a crust, but adds to each bite and is very durable to hold up its weighty ingredients.

Since the bakery's name is still attached to the restaurant, you expect that most everything in the form of dough will be done just right. It makes sense to order an item or two more to get good use of these talents. Still under the "Turkish Boats" section of the menu, try a walnut lahmajun ($5.99, below), which combines ground beef with ground up walnuts.
The most pleasing part of this besides the astonishingly thin and delicious base, is the bold sourness that comes from a pomegranate spread underneath the meat and nuts.

When you get to the "Main Courses" section of the menu, the mood shifts dramatically to that of a carnivore. The options are broad, and for those only able to make one order, the best bet might be the chef's platter ($29.99, below). Besides getting two sides, you also get two mini lahmajun just in case you do not have room in the order for larger-format baked goods.

In addition to those, the meats involved here are one adana kebob, a serving of doner, one beef kebob, one chicken kebob, and two kofte patties. "Koftegi" is the English writing of the Turkish word Kรถfteci, meaning "maker of kofte," and a large hint of the item you probably should not ignore in your order.

The largest difference that Chef Mehmet declares about his kofte is that the high grade beef is chopped by hand rather than ground. This creates a far better mouthfeel and allows you to enjoy the marinades and spices more. Indeed the marinades are spot on for every piece, if the cooking seemed to vary between meats. Unfortunately the beef kebob was tough and dry, possibly just a byproduct of takeout.
The long grain white rice and light, creamy hummus both make excellent choices as your sides, but you have plenty of options to make different meals each time you come.

A couple desserts can be seen in a small refrigerated case at the checkout counter and are both hard to resist. Sรผtlaรง ($6, seen in top photo), or rice pudding, is a must order of course, a hefty, heavy portion of this sweet favorite. Despite its weight, the product underneath the the burnt top is less dense and more liquefied than normal. It is marvelous and addictive.
AลŸure ($6, above, listed as ashoura on bill) is another dessert you may have seen less but is also done really well here. A tri-color band made from pomegranate, pistachios, and walnuts creates a beautiful diagonal pattern on top. As the rest of the ingredients underneath warmed up with the takeout order on the way home, the liquid started to come through. There are more nuts down there, as well as sweet fruits, white beans, and grains.


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