Day 96: Yemen
I caught wind of a kosher restaurant not too far from my house called Haifa, that serves a “Yemenite beef soup.” So guess where I’m going today? After a particularly long and exhausting weekend, I head out with the equally tired GirlfriendBites to meet MamaBites and the newest addition to our team of foodventurers (and a fellow blogger), Grace. I’ve heard good things about Haifa, and GFB is excited to eat some food that God won’t frown on, so we sit down at a nice corner table and start looking over the menu.
Grace kindly brought a bottle of wine for dinner, but our waitress, after discovering that it isn’t kosher, tells us that we can’t open it. She suggests a kosher market across the street, but we decide to be content with water and soda. We order the “salad sampler”, which includes hummus, tahini, falafel, taboule and cabbage salad, which turns out to be rather big, and quite good. I’ve had a lot of dry, mealy falafel in my life, and am very happy to find the version here to be moist and crispy. But my favorite thing so far has to be a spicy eggplant sauce that came out at the beginning of the meal, which sort of tastes like what would happen if eggplants were really common in Mexico and everyone had been making fiery eggplant salsas for years. It’s a great addition to our makeshift falafel pitas and is a really comforting start to the meal— especially after three straight days of northern European food.
Grace and I are each served the Yemenite beef soup, while mom goes for the matzo ball variety and GFB gets a grilled chicken pita. Grace and I disagree slightly on the beef soup, which she finds somewhat boring. We do agree that it tastes similar to most other dark, thick beef and potato soups in the world (albeit with a few Middle Eastern spices), but we soon realize that the reason I’m enjoying it so much is because I haven’t had a simple, comforting beef soup in a really long time. So take that into consideration. The beef though, I must say, is a fairly dry and tough. If I came back here, which I very well might, would I order the soup again? Probably not. Mom’s matzo ball soup, meanwhile, is pleasant, although tastes a lot more of herbs than chicken. “I like my sandwich,” says GFB. “The chicken is really tender, but every other ingredient was part of the sampler plate. In the future, I’d be happy to just order the sampler plate for the table and a side of grilled chicken.” I try her food and agree rather quickly, then go on to eat the rest of her sandwich.
As we wrap up a really pleasant and casual Monday night dinner, we hear about the great non-profit work that Grace does for the homeless, to which I say, “Wow, you must sleep really well at night. I do not.” But even though she’s a nicer person than me or most of my friends, I think we’ll let her stick around and join for some other meals. Now it’s time to return to my natural position— curled up in a ball on my couch at home.
8717 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90035
Food Breakdown: 4 non-alcoholic beverages, 1 appeteizer sampler, 1 sandwich, 3 soups
Distance From My House: 2.4 miles