Posts Tagged With: Best Middle Eastern in NYC

Flavor of the Month – Gazala’s Place

Gazala's HummusI will have more about Sicily soon, but meanwhile…

This is a new monthly feature on EWZ that simply features a NYC establishment that I like right now.  Not a full blown post as I will spare you the unnecessary details and jokes and simply say GO, and why.  And yes, I’m changing the meaning of the conventional usage of “Flavor of the Month” and making it my own

There aren’t that many places more deserving to kick this thing off than Gazala’s.  I’ve been going to Gazala’s in Hell’s Kitchen for many years, and only met Gazala a handful of times.  Thats partly because for a while Gazala was cooking at the bigger Gazala near the Natural History Museum until she was forced to close it.  As a result she spends more time in Hell’s Kitchen these days, especially during lunch time making dinner preparations.  Middle Eastern is the proper way of categorizing Gazala’s, but its more than that

At the moment Gazala is in Israel, visiting her family at the Druze village of Daliat el-Carmel, in the north near Haifa.  The village where years ago as a young girl she had to make a decision that would shape the rest of her life.  The decision to whether follow the religious path or not, as every Druze boy and girl requires to decide.  Sacrifices surround each decision, and luckily for us New Yorkers she chose the non-religious path (as most do).  This essentially allowed her to travel, and bring us a taste of that druze culture.  This may be the only Druze restaurant in the country

Gazala’s Place is not a particularly sexy place.  For that go to Room Service across the street where you can swing by their many chandeliers.  But if you want some of the best and freshest Hummus in NYC, a Bourekas (like Bourek, flaky pastry stuffed with cheese and other goodies) popular with food tours, and fantastic falafel the size of a small monkey head, come to Gazala’s Place.  Her $10 lunch specials alone like the Kafta kebab with outragously delicious chicken, hummus, salad, rice, and Baba ghanoush is the best deal in Hell’s Kitchen.  Like the gift that keeps on givingGazala's Gazala's Bourekas Gazala's Meat Cigars Gazala'a Place Bourekas Gazala's Osh Al-Saria

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Categories: Midtown West, New York City | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Walk in the Park Part 3 – Dinner at Gazala’s

Gazala's HummusThe trilogy conclusion you were so anxiously waiting for.  Part 1 is here.  Part 2 is here

****Spoiler Alert****:  The killer is the hummus!

Although I’ve been to Gazala’s Place in Hell’s Kitchen probably more than 20 times, I never actually met Gazala herself, the hardest working woman in showbiz.  That’s because she is hardly ever there.  A few years after opening tiny Gazala’s Place she opened this Upper West Side flagship where she spends most of the time.  To finally meet her and see her in action was as thrilling to me as meeting Michael White, or Bobby Flay.  She is a woman of few words, and all business in that kitchen.

Gazala'sThankfully for us, Gazala chose the al-Juhhāl  (loosely translates to “the Ignorant”) way of life in the Druze village near Haifa, Israel where she grew up.  It essentially means she chose the non-religious way, which meant among other things, she is free to travel and in this case, spread the word about the Druze.  The word is Hospitality.  When you visit a Druze village like we did in Israel a few years ago (coincidentally Gazala’s sister village), you are welcomed and greeted with warmth warmer than your aunt Sally.  And so much of that welcome is conveyed via what I can only describe as Trays of heaven.  No way aunt Sally can cook like this

Treys of heaven started flowing in very quickly at Gazala’s by the usual army of Russian waiters/waitresses I’ve come to know over the years.  Don’t be fooled by the “Asian” looking waitresses, as they are also Russian.  For some reason, perhaps a misunderstanding with the agency Gazala works with, other than the cooks, she only employs Russian workers at both branches.  A fine Labneh (goat cheese) with Zaat’ar spices to start the party.  The Bourekas (flaky pastry) is top notch as usual.  They call it the “Boureka of the day” but we all know they always have the Cheese/Sun Dried Tomato which is what I usually get, Cheese/Spinach, and on occasion the Cheese/Mushroom.  This is the only place where I order this as I’m not normally fond of the Bourek/Bourekas.  Fresh Israeli salad, and surprisingly punchy meat cigars were in the starters mix.Gazala's Bourekas

Here me now and listen to me yesterday (an old SNL joke for the uninformed, or “Ignorant”).  As I’ve said before many times, this is my favorite Hummus in town.  Freshly made daily, it has that perfect creamy texture and that extra oomph that I’ve only had in Israel.  Nish Nush makes a fine rendition, the Hummus Kitchen chain produces a good one, but this is still the one.  I can taste it as I’m writing this.

The big meat platter, Moshokal, with lamb, chicken & kafta kebab with rice delivered strong flavors, perhaps with the exception of the slightly bland lamb.  The Date cookies and the Baklava we got by mistake were fine but perhaps the biggest discovery this time was a pair of Yogurt puddings charged with oranges and rosewater called Osh Al-Saraia.  A heavenly finish at heavenly Gazala’s

Gazala’s
380 Columbus Ave
$$
Recommended Dishes: Hummus (plain or with chickpeas), falafel, Bourekas, grilled chicken, Osh Al-Saraia

Gazala's Meat Cigars Gazala's Israeli Salad Gazala's Moshakal Gazala's Osh Al-Saria

 

 

 

Categories: New York City, Upper West Side | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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