Before Shanto’s Bakery arrived, we associated La Crescenta with hiking Mt. Lukens and mountain lions, since we scaled the former, and distant cousins who live in the neighborhood described frequent appearances from the latter. Squid Ink contributor Liana Aghajanian gave us a reason to eat in the suburban community for the first time in years, so we powered up the 2 freeway to visit Shanto’s Bakery, Shaunt Adessian’s establishment in a La Crescenta strip mall, which touts the tell-tale image of a cedar, Lebanon’s national tree.
My meal with Matthew “Mattatouille” Kang and his sister Michelle started with a bialy-like creation studded with sesame seeds, split and filled with zaatar, an aromatic spice blend of thyme, oregano, sesame and sumac
They top thin, crispy lahmajuoun with smoky roasted eggplant for an additional $0.99, which contributed a smoky element. Shanto’s Bakery provides two nice touches with their lahmajounes: chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon, which both enlighten the flatbread.
Falafel ($4.99) turned out to be a multi-faceted, folded over sandwich filled with a layer of ground, baked garbanzo beans, tart pickle spears, creamy tahini, firm tomato slices and crispy, blistered bread. Baked falafel might take a little getting used to, since it lacks crisp crunch, but it was a pretty good sandwich, especially with the house-made bread.
Sahlip ($2.99) amounted to a milky, chai-like creation served over ice in a Coke cup, flavored with fragrant orange blossom water and sprinkled with cinnamon. This particular beverage is bound to be dessert friendly, and Shanto’s has Ashtalieh, Namura and Sphoof to spare.
According to news reports, mountain lions are apparently still roaming La Crescenta, and the community even added a meatball-loving black bear, but at least residents can take some comfort in knowing they have savory and solid Lebanese flatbreads at their disposal.