Open Sesame, a small Lebanese restaurant where there's almost always a wait. Not this Sunday though... the stars were aligned, and we were immediately sat at a small table for two on the patio. It was a little chilly outside, but with the heaters and the anticipation of the deliciousness to come, I was perfectly content!
They have some unusual drink choices, and my favorite is the Jalab. I don't know what would possess a person to put pine nuts in a drink, but with the combination of rose water and grape syrup, it seems to work. My friend, Keri, says it tastes like turpentine... I, of course, have never had turpentine (sophisticated palette, you know), but if that is what it tastes like, then I like it. Dear Ben ordered the Tamarind - "Authentic beverage with date syrup." The Tamarind is not going to be a repeat for us - He'll go back to the Moroccan iced tea on our next visit.
We couldn't let our waitress, Jaime, escape with just our drink orders... we needed their ever-so-popular fried potatoes! The potatoes are the perfect contrast of crispy on the outside and melt in your month on the inside. If that wasn't perfect enough, Open Sesame takes it to another level by adding more layers of flavor: cilantro, garlic, roasted chili, and lemon juice. Be sure to work your way to the bottom of the bowl to reach the extra sauce - you won't want to miss a drop of tangy goodness! It's a far cry from its hum-drum name, "Fried Potatoes."
For my main dish, I always order the same thing. Literally, I've dined here several times, and I've ordered the Chicken Tawook every single time. The Chicken Tawook is comprised of eight delectable cubes of charbroiled, all white-meat chicken served with hummus, garlic sauce, pita, and your choice of a salad. I always pick the Tabouleh - makes me feel healthy. The hummus is usually a hit, but on this trip, it seemed a little bland or even too thick. I can't put my finger on what was missing, but it's easy to overlook this flaw when the chicken is just so good. It is oh, so juicy and tender, and if you're a saucy eater like me, you'll want to order extra garlic sauce on the side.
You might think an adventurous eater like me wouldn't order the same thing every time. That's where dear Ben enters the picture. I actually considered calling him "Mikie" on these posts because he'll eat anything! ("Give it to Mikie, he'll eat it!"). Dear Ben doesn't mind if I decide what he orders. In contrast to my wreckless style, he usually is the sensible diner, rarely ordering more than he can eat.
Today, dear Ben ordered the Chicken Shawarma Pita. It doesn't come with anything extra, just the sandwich. He loves the combination of chicken breast and thigh meat, and he loves that smokey taste that the meat gets from the upright spit. It's wrapped up with that yummy garlic sauce, fresh tomatoes, and wild cucumber pickles.
We didn't order dessert. Remember my wreckless ordering-style? Well, it got the best of me once again. It's just impossible for me leave any little morsel on my plate. In fact, I've never ordered dessert at Open Sesame at all. I can be persuaded however, so send your suggestions if you have them.
... and those are my Notes from the Napkin!
5215 East 2nd Street
Long Beach CA 90803