>> Kentro Greek Kitchen | Eat the World Los Angeles

Wednesday, 5 January 2022

Kentro Greek Kitchen

GREECE 🇬🇷
Harbor Blvd. facade

COVID-19 UPDATE: The restaurant is open for indoor dining. Ordering is done at the counter before eating, so contact with servers is minimal.


Unfortunately in the United States, Greek culture and food has become so familiar that most people have no problem yelling out "Opa!" and simulating a smashed plate. Like Italian food, Greek American restaurants are often derivatives of the original food and culture, relying solely on those tropes and stereotypes to satisfy customers that often do not know any better.

Fortunately for Fullerton and the greater Los Angeles area, Kentro Greek Kitchen is not this type of place. Even the interior is fully comfortable not abusing the blue and white color schemes that seem almost obligatory. More important are the shelves of Greek wine, the large wall menu showing the day's offering, and letting customers focus on the food in front of them.

Beet salad

While all of the foods here looked delicious in pictures, it came as a bit of a surprise that everything in person was so delicious, not one mediocre dish amongst the entire meal. Vegetables are fresh and crisp, cheeses are top notch, and meats and seafood all seem touched by the hands of a very talented kitchen.

A small list of fresh salads includes the favorites but also a very unique beet salad ($10, above) that is joined by figs, walnuts, and smooth manouri cheese, all tossed in a vinaigrette. If you have not had it before, it is one of those moments where you feel like a similar taste has never before passed your lips. Sharing the dish between four people actually just leaves you yearning for more.

Horiatiki salad

The standard horiatiki salad ($10, above) is not at all standard, its vegetables snappy with each bite and topped with feta. An assortment of tomatoes add different types of sweet and sour notes, and a bit of bread allows you to sop up all the juices when the salad is finished, which you will definitely want to do.

On the opposite end of the starter spectrum with deep savory and fatty notes is the wonderful grilled octopus ($10, below), chunks of the mollusc and pickled vegetables smothered in latholemono. This lemon-y olive oil-based vinaigrette adds just the right touch of sharpness to cut the animal's fat.

Octopus

Chicken souvlaki

After such a nice beginning, it was with much excitement that the meat entrées started arriving, kicking off with the chicken souvlaki ($17, above), two skewers of Greece's most famous vendor food. Instead of a puffy slice of bread, the chicken is served over a bed of wild rice, which is sweetened by raisins and almonds and ultra-complex from onions, dill, and feta.

A side of tzatziki is not really necessary over the delicious marinade of the bird and scoops of rice, but it is also of high quality and will warrant usage. A dollop of the yogurt spread makes its way onto a few dishes, but if you need more a side can be ordered for a well-spent six dollars.

Psari sti skara (char-broiled fish)

It was hard to choose between the pan-fried or char-broiled fish options, but the latter was selected on this night with an order of psari sti skara ($18, above). This gently singed sea bass turned out to be excellent, one of many highlights of the meal.

It comes served over spanakorizo, a spinach and rice salad that is full of feta, dill, and onion. Another ball of tzatziki and a drizzle of olive oil over everything, and nothing is left out.

Paithakia (lamb chops)

For your fix of red meat and potatoes, there may be no better order than paithakia ($19, above), five small lamb chops that are served with a pile of their kefalotyri cheese-dusted house fries. The lamb is cooked to your liking and once again done just right.

A small list of desserts is available to satisfy your post-meal sweet tooth, but later in the day much of it might have already been spoken for. There should always be a slice of baklava ($6, below), which is not an afterthought or disappointing in any way.

Baklava

Judging by the other tables, a variety of flat breads are some of the most popular items and will need to be part of future meals. The wine that was shared on this night was just right and the rest of the list will also be looked forward to when dining back in the area.

While a shopping center in Fullerton is a long way from a true Greek kentro, or city center, once inside you truly do start to feel what that spirit is about. The opening of a bottle of wine and the arrival of your first starters is an easy way to feel the importance of togetherness and community the restaurant is striving for within its walls.

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