QUESTION: You would think, in a city with almost as many Middle Eastern bakeries as Jack in the Box drive-thrus there would be someplace to get decent baklawa. (Baklawa, I insist, not baklava: w-w-w-w-w — baklawa. There’s all the difference in the world.) But I have gone to your famous Beirut bakeries, I have gone to your Lebanese restaurants, I have even gone (heaven help me) to Greek bakeries, but all I find are those damnable damp wads of dough, oversweetened with second-rate honey, filled with stale pistachios that are demonstrably inferior even to the dusty generic-brand nuts available at outlying AM/PM minimarts. So: Where is the baklawa? Tell me. Tell me!
ANSWER: I happen to believe that the baklava — baklawa, whatever — at the Armenian bakeries in Hollywood and Pasadena are pretty good. Panos Pastry, which is descended from a well-known bakery in Beirut, makes especially tasty examples of the breed, although the pastries made from ketaif, that weirdly crunchy shredded wheat–looking stuff, are probably better. But Oasis Pastry, a mammoth mini-mall operation that also sells sandwiches, deli meats and elaborate wedding cakes, has probably the best baklawa I’ve ever tasted: fantastically crisp, subtly honeyed, overstuffed with freshly roasted pistachios or walnuts or cashews — yet elegant, even delicate in appearance. It’s one of the few baklawas that I ever wanted more than a few bites of. Oasis may or may not be related to the famous Shatila bakery in Dearborn, whose excellent baklawa jump-started the great Warren Avenue Arab commercial strip — a sign outside the café credits an M. Shatila as the baklawa master — but in a way it doesn’t matter.
Try the bird’s-nest baklawa, which is practically overwhelmed by its crisp, fragrant nuts. It has the most pistachios of all. 801 S. Glendale Ave., Glendale, (818) 241-0304.