In a neighborhood as heavy on Persian culture and cuisine as the Kosher Corridor, it shouldn't be so hard to find a good kebab. It shouldn't be, but it often is. The small and grubby Livonia Glatt Market grills up kebabs you can smell from half-a-block away, but they only do it on Sundays. What about the rest of the week?
Tucked unprepossessingly between a rug store and a Walgreen's, Kabab Mahaleh, which opened a few months ago, is fast becoming a neighborhood favorite. Locals flock to the Glatt Kosher eatery for its its koobideh, skewers of ground beef or chicken served with grilled tomatoes, onions, sprigs of lemony basil and a generous helping of freshly baked sangak. At $5.99 for a hearty one-skewer plate, it's a killer deal.
Pop into Kabab Mahaleh during any weekday lunch, and you'll find crowds of people digging into turmeric-laced skewers of grilled meat. That's the specialty at Kabab Mahaleh. Really, it's the only thing on the menu: chicken or beef koobideh, chicken kebab ($9.99) or beef barg ($10.99). The meat is juicy and tender, especially the minced and seasoned koobideh, which is the cheapest but probably the most popular item on the menu. It's a simple dish — salt, pepper and turmeric being the main seasonings — but no less delicious for it.
Everything at Kabab Mahaleh comes with grilled vegetables and sangak. The only other item on the menu is shirazi ($1.99), a salad of chopped tomato and cucumber, in case you need a little green on your plate.
The not-so-hidden secret here is the sangak, a sourdough flatbread that's served with everything. At peak hours, two men constantly oversee Kabab Mahaleh's mammoth rotating oven, pounding out the pale dough into oblong discs, waiting and watching until it begins to blister before it's yanked off the hot iron. A three-foot long tongue of dough, the sangak is soft and chewy and warm, studded with sesame seeds and large enough to swaddle a baby. You get plenty of it with your order, but if that isn't enough — and considering how good it is, it likely may not be — you can take home “loaves” of the stuff, wrapped in brown butcher paper, for $3 each. The sangak alone is worth the price of admission, but happily, Kabab Mahaleh also makes kebabs that are worth an extended visit.
*Note: Closes early on Friday; closed Saturday.