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Sarah’s Kabob Shop

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Right by the Dmv on West Market, Sarah’s Kabob Shop is the latest ethnic restaurant to sit in this location, following Stix Kabobs and before that the dearly departed Peruvian Chicken (pollo a la brasa) place.

sarahs kabobs

Sarahs kabobs

This place seems to be doing well business-wise, but we weren't blown away by the food.

Sarahs kabobs

Sarahs kabobs

I ordered the falafel plate and M got a gyro plate. The falafel was a little burnt and lacking in any discernible flavor. Closer to a hush puppy than falafel. The salad was served with something that tasted like ranch and I didn’t finish the hummus, which is a big deal for me.

The fries were pretty good and they make a big deal that they’re made in house. The gyro was standard and decent.

I’d put this place in the Pita Delite category. I’d have a hard time coming back with Nazareth Bakery right down the street…

Seoul Garden

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Never judge an ethnic restaurant by its cover.

I had driven by Seoul Garden countless times and for whatever reason had never tried it.  Something about the dingy exterior and the Korean BBQ Steakhouse sign had me thinking it would be your basic low-rent, cliche Japanese steakhouse experience.  No sir.  Not Seoul Garden.

This place is far from American-ized and each time I’ve been, there’s been a healthy percentage of Koreans eating there.  Always a reassuring sign.  The lunch menu consists of a number of soups, such as the excellent pork and kimchi soup above, a few rice and noodle dishes, and some bento-box type options like below.  Prices are usually in the $5.99 – $8.99 range, a great deal.

I’ve been three times now and ordered a kimchi soup each time, once with pork and twice with beef short rib.  Even though I want to try other things (like this funky tofu and egg soup) I can’t not order the kimchi soup.  Something about the unctuousness of the long-cooked fatty pieces of beef or pork and the sharpness and heat of the kimchi… Man.  Good stuff.

Typical of Korean restaurants, the meal starts off with banchan – little plates of snacks and condiments.

And typical of banchan, it’s pretty hit or miss.  The funky apple and noodle slaw type stuff in the bottom left is awesome, some of the others are kinda ehh.

They end the meal with a little bowl of what’s basically a cinnamon granita (or cinnamon slushie as my 11 year old sister called it.)  It’s basic and there’s not much to it, but it’s tasty and a nice way to end the meal.

Seoul Garden is on W. Market up the road from Super G mart and some of the other restaurants we’ve tried.

Cleopatra’s Restaurant

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Baba ganouj > hummus.

And if you like either, try Cleopatra’s.  It’s located in the shopping center beside Chipotle, where Basil and Co used to be.  It was recently opened by an Egyptian guy in Greensboro who, according to their website, was inspired by the revolutions in Egypt and wanted to share his culture.

Disclaimer: I think was my first time eating Egyptian.  However, I’ve tried the cuisines from most of the surrounding countries in Africa and around the Mediterranean.  A lot of it was familiar in one form or the other – hummus, baba ganouj, labneh, shwarma, tagines, etc.  Sadly, what were most excited about fell short of our expectations: the pita.  Middle Eastern pita is slightly different than the pita we’re used to.  Instead of flat and dense, it’s more like a warm, delicious whoopie cushion.  Like this .  Visually, it was spot on, however the texture was much tougher and drier than what I’ve had before.  This might just be how Egyptian pita is for all I know.  I still ate it (and M’s.)  Also, it was pretty soon after they opened and they might have still been working out some kinks.

M got a chicken and rice dish that didn’t do much for us.  It was a lot like…chicken and rice.

Neither of us would order that again – not bad, just bland.  The dips and appetizers though were awesome.  Especially that baba ganouj. They claim on the menu that it’s the world’s best. I believe them.

D&H Tofu

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I’ll give you one guess what they sell.

I’ve been wanting to try this Fantacity place for a while now, partly for the potential of it being tasty, but mainly because it proudly champions tofu, which to most Americans ranks somewhere between brussel sprouts and liver on the list of least favorite foods.

I’m not sure why this tofu hate exists.  Maybe because most people only recognize it as a meat substitute, like this abomination.  However, tofu has been around for thousands of years (somewhere around 170 BC according to Chinese legend…and wikipedia) – long before the idea of a meat substitute existed.

I’ll grant it’s not the most attractive food, but it’s hard to find fault with the flavor of tofu.  Mainly because, on its own, tofu is basically flavorless.  Tofu does a great job of picking up other flavors though.  This 24oz container of tofu, which was like $4.99 or something, was flavored with lemongrass and red chili flakes.  It comes with a sweet vinegar chili sauce/dip.  Nothing offensive at all about it, but kind of bland.  It’d be great in a stirfry or curry though.  They also had plain and mushroom/scallion varieties of tofu, as well as silken tofu.  D&H makes all of their tofu in-house.

The real star was this:

Mung bean and coconut dessert soup?  Apparently these are very common in Vietnam and kids eat them after school lets out like Americans would stop by McDonald’s and get a soft serve cone.  They also had a dessert soup that contained mushrooms, so this seemed pretty tame in comparison.  It was like a slightly grittier version of tapioca pudding with a coconut cream on top.  Not sure if it contained any sort of tofu, but I don’t think it did.  Really tasty, if I was in the shopping center I’d grab another one.

Saffron Indian Cuisine

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Saffron is an Indian restaurant that’s been around for a long time, but not enough people in Greensboro seem to know about it.

Located right off Wendover at the Westover Terrace exit, it’s in a shopping center next to Taste of Thai.  Saffron is M and my latest obsession – I think we’ve been 3 or 4 times in the past month or so.

They start you off with pappadums and chutney.  Pappadums are really thin wafers, usually made from rice or potato flour, and Saffron’s have a nice bite of black pepper to them.  The chutney is a mix of mint and onion, and is so good that we’ve bought some to take home before.

The common Indian dishes that you hear people talking about are tandoori chicken or chicken tikka masala.  While these are good, the hidden gems of Indian cuisine are the vegetarian dishes.

M and my current favorites are baingan bharta, a tangy sweet eggplant curry dish, and bhindi aloo, a stirfried okra dish.  Add some basmati rice and naan and you’ve got a solid meal.  Channa saag is another of my favorites, a curried cream spinach dish.

Saffron’s portions are huge too.  The bowls are really deceptive.  When we order two entrees, we easily have enough for lunch the next day.  Treating it like that, Saffron is a great value.

Sorry for the lack of pictures.  We’ll just have to get more next time we go!

http://www.saffronindiancuisine.com/

 

Nazareth Bread Company

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Don’t let the name fool you, Nazareth Bread Company is more than really really good bread.

It also has delicious spinning meats.

However, their bread is very good.  Especially the pita.  I worked in New York City for a summer in college and lived in Astoria, Queens.  According to Wikipedia, in the 70’s Astoria had the largest population of Greeks outside of Greece itself.  I ate fresh pita bread almost every day that summer and I have pined for it ever since coming back to NC.

You can hardly see it under there because they load you up with so much food.  So let’s talk about what else is on the plates.  Mediterranean food has gotten to be pretty popular, so this should all be pretty recognizable to you.  However, Nazareth Bread is not a Greek restaurant.  The proprietors are Palestinian so the food has some slight differences.

The chicken kabobs are seasoned with a delicious blend of spices, including some that we would usually associate with sweet dishes like cinnamon.  Stuffed grape leaves have never been my favorite, but these were pretty good with some tomato and mint in the stuffing.  The taboule rocked.  Again, taboule is another dish that I could take or leave, but this was great.  Taboule is a dish composed of bulgher wheat with a lot of parsley, as well as lemon juice, onion, tomato, etc.  When it’s bad, it tastes like straight parsley.  This, however, was great – very lemony and didn’t taste like I was mowing a field by mouth.  The hummus was solid, with more tahini bitterness than store-bought varieties.

M ordered the beef shwarma, which came with sauteed onions and a tahini sauce on top.  Very good, but I would probably skip the tahini sauce next time.  It was a little overpowering.  Going clockwise is the tzatziki, a cucumber yogurt sauce.  This tzatziki was very cool and creamy with a sweet fresh dairy taste.  It wouldn’t surprise me if they made the yogurt in house.  Next is one of my favorites, (to both eat and say) baba ganouj.  It didn’t disappoint.  And rounding it out, more hummus.  And baklava.

I love all Mediterranean / Middle Eastern food like this, but this place had some of the intangibles right that elevated its food.  For instance, they grill over charcoal, which gives the meat and pita a nice smoky touch.  Also, they have a ton of sides to choose from.

Besides the afore mentioned sides, there was also falafel, cucumber salad, some kind of cole slaw, and a few others.  Also, on the other side of the restaurant is the bakery section complete with pita bread, traditional breads, and cookies.

 

Nazareth Bread Co
4507 West Market Street, Greensboro, NC 27407
http://www.nazarethbread.com/

Los Cobanos

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Edit: this place has closed.

In Spanish, Los Cobanos means….. The Cobanos.

Now that that’s cleared up, let’s talk food.  Specifically Salvadorian food.

M and I happened upon Los Cobanos while looking for The Purple Yam, a Filipino restaurant that has so far eluded us.  When we took a quick look at Los Cobanos’ menu however, we knew we found the consolation prize.

If you haven’t checked out FantaCity Mall yet on W. Market St, let this be your reason.  Los Cobanos is in the international food court, which is to your left if you’re looking at Super G Mart.

The first time Mackie visited Los Cobanos, we had $5.25 on us combined.  Amazingly, that was enough for two homemade pupusas, each with a small cabbage salad.  Pupusas are similar to tortillas but with the consistency of a dense pancake and stuffed with cheese and usually something else.  In our case we got a squash papusa and a “mixed” which was filled with beans and chicharrones (fried pork skins).  They were delicious, tangy oozy cheese and a warm crispy exterior.  And with the cabbage salad?  If you’ve like eating your hushpuppies with slaw at a bbq place like Stamey’s, you’ll dig this.

Now, while these papusas were good enough to deserve their own blog post, we had to go back and eat more.  We returned Sunday afternoon.  Mariva (although she says everyone calls her Maria) informed us that they were serving Sopa De Pata, one of the official dishes of El Salvador.  Sopa = soup.  Pata = ?

In case you’re wondering, pata means foot.  But before I tell you about cow’s foot soup, let me tell you about the drinks Los Cobanos serves.

Mariva brought us out a sampler of three drinks they make in house – horchata, tamarindo, and maranon.  The horchata was very good, milky with a nice vanilla note.  Nothing about it tasted artificial like some I’ve had.  It also wasn’t chalky like horchata can tend to be.  Mariva told us they make the tamarindo by soaking dried tamarind pulp for a few days and straining it.  It was delicious, a good combo of sweet and tangy.  Lastly was the maranon, which is made from the fruit of the cashew apple.  Apparently there’s a lot more to the plant than the cashew nut.  It’s really hard for me to describe the flavor of this drink, but it was extremely good.  M went with the tamarindo, along with a chicken empanada like dish that I forgot to take pictures of.

Back to the soup – a big steaming bowl of yuca, corn, cabbage, onions, cilantro, lime and a large gelatinous intimidating beef bone.  On the side were two homemade Salvadorean style tortillas.  The broth was delicious, rich and beefy with a nice zing from the lime.  Mariva mentioned it was traditionally eaten with added cabbage salad and hot sauce, which she was nice enough to bring out for me.  I finished the soup and was gingerly scraping at the remaining bone with my spoon.  M and I were debating whether it was there to be eaten or for flavor, like a ham hock.  Mariva promptly cleared up that discussion when she asked me why I wasn’t picking it up and eating it with my hands like everyone else.

This is the part where I wish I could say I picked it up and ate the fat and cartilage clean off the bone like an Andrew Zimmern highlight real.  It didn’t happen.  I think I took two bites.  You win this time, cow foot.

We had been chatting up Mariva every time she walked by, trying to learn more about El Salvador and its culture.  Apparently on Saturday and Sunday, it is customary to eat either sopa de pata or tamales de pollo.  Once the afternoon rolls around, everyone drinks atole, which according to Mariva is “like what Starbucks is to Americans.”   It just so happened they had been cooking a pot of atole all day in preparation for the afternoon crowd.

Atole is a sweetened milk and cornmeal drink, laced with kernels of fresh corn.  Warm and creamy, I basically had to wrestle it out of M’s hands to get a few sips.  It was very mildly spiced, which was nice.  (There was a nice subtlety to flavors of the food overall.)  You could tell it had been on the stove all morning long because the cornmeal was soft and not at all gritty.  The fresh corn added an interesting texture and made it very fun to drink.

Mariva told us her goals for her restaurant – keep the food as traditional as possible and stay authentic to themselves.  Her mother is a trained chef and works in the kitchen and her daughter works in the front of the restaurant.  3 generations devoted to bringing Greensboro a taste of the flavors and traditions of El Salvador.  Don’t miss this opportunity.