Linda Burum is a culinary marksman who does a great job of identifying excellent ethnic eateries. Her reviews recently led me to successful Indonesian food in Rowland Heights and to this four-month-old shipudia, an Israeli skewer house that sprouted from the Jaffa original and features foie gras kebab.
Itzik Luzon and son Amos helped to replicate their long-successful concept in L.A.’s West Valley, home to a thriving Israeli population. They made sure to keep a remembrance of home, installing a 3-D mural that depicts Jaffa.
As long as you order a main course, the bottomless salads cost $9 per person. If you don’t want any skewers, you probably shouldn’t eat here, but the salads cost $18 per person in that case. According to our waitress, the salads never change, but that’s okay given the variety and quality. Highlights included creamy mint-studded mushroom chunks; crispy cole slaw studded with carrots and golden raisins; a tangy Israeli salad hosting diced cucumber and tomato; quarter-sized carrot slices dressed with olive oil and tomato sauce; and red pepper dip topped with scallions.
Itzik Hagadol Grill also specializes in eggplant. We received several different preparations, including creamy babaghanoush folded with tahini and hot roasted eggplant layered with bell peppers.
We still hadn’t received our kebabs when our waitress brought a plate of supple, thin-sheathed eggplant strips that could help to revolutionize eggplant Parmigiana. We also scored three golf ball sized falafels with crisp coatings and green cores that were seasoned and colored with parsley and cilantro.
The salads were all pretty good to great, but we didn’t drive to the West Valley to eat salads. We came for “Grade A” Foie Gras Kebab. A single skewer cost $28.99 (inexplicably discounted from $34.99) and covered a foot of plate real estate. The chunks were seared on the grill, studded with black peppercorns and dripping with oil. The liver was so rich and unctuous that I could only handle one chunk.
We also ordered a skewer of lamb ($15.99), which was dry, fibrous and completely unappetizing. Inexcusable considering Elena’s Greek Armenian Cuisine produces double the lamb (that actually tastes good) for only half the price. The lamb was a major letdown, but it’s hard to stay disappointed when foie gras kebab is available.