Mini Kabob is small, but mighty on a Glendale side street.
Even with tiny neighborhood restaurants, there’s such a thing as critical mass. Mini Kebab is a tiny three-table restaurant situated on a Glendale side street that I visited nearly 10 years ago, inspired by Charles Perry’s LA Times article, long before The Americana opened around the corner. It seemed good at the time, but there are a lot of Armenian restaurants to try, so I kept sampling and forgot about the restaurant. However, when multiple friends told me how much they enjoy Mini Kabob, the hint was impossible to ignore, and I returned with Matthew “Mattatouille” Kang.
Alvard “Alla” Martirosyan and husband Ovakim “Hovik” Martirosyan hail from Yerevan, Armenia’s capital.
The do-it-all couple’s been putting in sweat equity for 12 and 14 years, respectively, in the 22-year-old restaurant. When I say sweat, believe it. They work 363 days per year, taking off only January 1 and April 24 – the anniversary of the Armenian genocide – though this year they’ll close on for their son’s wedding day.
Mini kebab ($1.50) is the house specialty, featuring lavash rolled with parsley, raw onion and either a ground beef or chicken skewer (pictured).
Mini kabobs are flavorful, fresh quick-hitters that fill the 20 minutes it takes for full-sized kabobs to cook on the special gas grill lined with ceramic tiles.
The Combination Plate ($12.95) is a great way to try different meats, with two pieces each of marinated pork tenderloin, chicken thigh, and the ridged casing-free ground meat sausage known as lule. In the case of the combo plate, it’s chicken, though they also offer beef. Each plate comes with steamed white rice, a thatch of parsley and raw white onion a grilled tomato and pepper, both singed black.
Beef Shish Kabob ($12.95) was a good way to incorporate another animal into our omnivorous meal, featuring thick slices of somewhat chewy flap meat. Lamb chops and chicken breast are the only meats that will have to wait.
Hovik was practically offended when I asked if the dusting of red spice that topped their Hommus ($5.95) was paprika. He quickly and emphatically clarified that it was Aleppo pepper, “much better than paprika.” This was indeed good hommus, especially when spread on lavash, the thin, floppy Armenian bread.
We also ordered a bowl of Eggplant Caviar ($7), smoky, spicy roasted eggplant folded with “secrets.”
One of the first things that Hovik said to me, upon arrival, is to never ask a restaurant employee for suggestions, because they have to earn your trust. They might push a dish that they want to unload before it spoils. However, when it came time to order drinks, he said to trust him, which was funny turnabout. Of course we did, and it worked out well.
Matt ordered a bottle of Jermuk ($3), a practically flinty Armenian mineral water, and for me, Hovik suggested Gazoz pear soda, which ended up being dry and not too sweet.
They don’t offer dessert at Mini Kabob, and considering all of the food that we consumed, that was probably a good thing. After our meal, it was easy to see why Mini Kabob continues to build word of mouth, and their showing will ensure that they don’t slip through the cracks for another decade.