Where the Chefs Eat will be an ongoing series in which we ask a local chef to give us his or her favorite spots for everyday or cheap dining options. This week, Vartan Abgaryan, chef at Hollywood's Public Kitchen and Bar, tells us his favorite spots in L.A.
On eating and cooking with his family: "I grew up in a traditional Armenian household [Abgaryan's family moved to the States when he was 10], so food was a huge part of our lives; we celebrated with food. If someone came to our house, there was no way that they would leave without having eaten. If I had to pick my favorite thing to eat on my day off, it'd be my dad's home cooking. I have one day off a week with my family and I look forward to it every Sunday."
On where to get the best plates of mezza: "I like Carousel in Glendale, where because they have a great selection, like fresh tabbuleh and sambousek (miniature fried beef pies). I love how they pile your table with, like, 12 different appetizers -- it's so impressive."
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On Zankou and its secret garlic sauce: "I love the beef tarna sandwich at the Zankou Chicken in East Hollywood," says Abgaryan. "Tarna is the Armenian version of shawarma and here it's incredibly tasty and super-fast, since they just shave it right off the spit. You have to make sure to get some extra of the special creamy garlic sauce they have, too. I've tried a couple times to re-create it in my kitchen, and it's just not the same."
On his favorite spot for Persian kebabs: " I go to Raffi's Place in Glendale a lot, too. They have these massive lamb kebabs and an herbed rice pilaf (sabzi polo) that is so simple but has the perfect flavor and texture to it."
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