10 Best Halal Dishes in Los Angeles
|Susan Ji-Young Park|
|Apey Kade: Sri Lankan kottu rotti|
Kottu rotti, a popular Sri Lankan street food, is composed of chopped rotti (flat-bread) served with fish, beef, chicken, mutton or a mixture of eggs and vegetables; all the options are available at Apey Kade in Tarzana. To make vegetarian kottu rotti, owner Lalith Rodrigo stretches three balls of dough into disks, sears them on a flat-top griddle until they blister and puff up, then rolls each into a cylinder to cut into ribbons. She sautés vegetables and eggs, then combines the mixture with the rotti. The results are similar to a fried rice: the perfect foil for any of the curry options offered with the kottu rotti meal. Sambols and chutneys line the counter. A spoonful of kottu rotti smothered with a bit of curry and a dollop of coconut sambol is a potent taste of what is so good and unique about Sri Lankan cuisine. 19622 Ventura Blvd., Tarzana; 818-609-7683.
3. Mutton biryani at Zam Zam Market:
Susan Ji-Young Park Mutton biryani
For the first year or so of business, Zam Zam kept limited hours during Thursday-Sunday and sporadically answered the phone even when it was open. Even at its busiest times, Fridays just after Jumu'ah prayers at nearby King Fahad mosque, the restaurant looked closed or under renovation from the outside. Boosted by loyal patrons who would drive 40-50 miles for their Zam Zam fix, it finally expanded its hours. The owners hail from Karachi and show little restraint in seasoning. Every grain of rice in this biryani is infused with mutton juice and lubricated with gamey fat. A potpourri of hot, sweet, pungent, earthy and astringent spices is used ground, whole and tempered for a classically bold Pakistani flavor profile. 11028 Washington Blvd., Culver City; 310-841-2504.
2. Turkish doner kebap at New Anatolia Cafe:
Susan Ji-Young Park Turkish doner
Turkish doner, though common in Europe, is a rarity in Los Angeles. So much so that the owners of Anatolia Mediterranean Cafe have it listed on the menu as the more commonly known Arabic showarma. Chef Ahmet Alcay doesn't use commercially manufactured gyro meat and he doesn't add cloves to his spice blend; he makes doner using a mixture of hand-cut slabs of beef and lamb, which he carves off the spit into thin wisps. The meat is spiced the Turkish way, which is to say, very lightly and judiciously. You can have the doner as a wrap or a plate, both served with tzatziki sauce. Either way, they don't skimp on the meat. And Esin Bulut, who runs the front of house for her mother, Mualla, who owns the restaurant, ensures you'll feel like close friends or family after just a couple of visits. 1942 Westwood Blvd., Los Angeles; (310) 446-0055.
137 W. Arbor Vitae St., Inglewood, CA