The House of Kabobs
REPORTERS TACKLE ARMENIAN EATERY By Lauren Phillips And Kris Turner
The State News, MI Sept 23 2005
JOSH GRASSO The State News
The House of Kabobs, 1825 E. Michigan Ave., serves Armenian fare, including Armenian Cheese Bouregh and Kutabi, House Kabob Delight, foreground, and the Red Bean Bon Apetit, center.
Editor's note: State News reporters Lauren Phillips and Kris Turner set out to review an Armenian restaurant, House of Kabobs, 1825 E.
Michigan Ave., in Lansing. The restaurant is owned by two Armenian families - one of which owned a large restaurant in Moscow. House of Kabobs has plans to introduce a "student day," which will be the last Friday of every month and feature discounts on food and an opportunity to learn about Armenian culture, co-owner Elmira Govorkyan said.
Blinded by the sunset as we drove down Michigan Avenue, we passed House of Kabobs on the right, despite its noticeable exterior with pink accents. The small size of the restaurant, perched on the edge of a neighborhood in Lansing's East side, makes the eatery look like a cozy deli or diner. We finally make it into the small parking lot and walk inside.
Lauren Phillips: It looks like a deli. I don't like the fluorescent lighting, but the wood chairs give it a homemade touch.
Kris Turner: It looks like Valentine's Day exploded in here. The bright reds and pinks (on the walls) are slightly nauseating. And there are knickknacks everywhere.
We sat at a table, covered in trinkets and red cloth. We started with appetizers, potato piroshki, $3.50, and blinchikee, $3.75.
LP: This soft meat-filled thing is called a "blinchikee." I like the little pancake wrap.
KT: Now that's what I like. It's in your mouth and all of a sudden it kind of explodes with flavor. (The meat's) kind of like Hamburger Helper.
LP: What's Hamburger Helper?
KT: You don't know what Hamburger Helper is?
LP: No ...
KT: Do you remember the little glove thing from when we were kids on TV? It's like hamburger and you put all this stuff in it and it's like a meal. Did you never eat Hamburger Helper in your whole life?
LP: Um, no.
KT: (dead silence, open-mouthed stare.)
LP: This potato piroshki (an order comes with two) is like a soggy ball of bread, about the size of a potato, stuffed with mashed potatoes and spices. I kind of like it.
KT: It's mushy in your mouth and has a weird consistency, but it's kind of hard to cut with a knife. I'd say it's OK in my book.
Turner leans in closer to the remaining potato piroshki.
KT: There's a hair on it!
LP: (leans in too) No! Oh geez...
For dinner, Turner had a chicken shish kabob wrap, which has seasoned and marinated cubes of grilled chicken breast with green peppers, tomatoes and onions, for $5.75. It comes with a side of marinated cabbage and a pickle.
KT: My wrap arrived warm, which is always good. It's sprinkled with some kind of seasoning - not spicy, a little like Lawry's salt, but good.
KT: I can taste tomato and the vegetable. It's enjoyable, but not soggy, which is nice. But, it got a little messy, leaking onto the plate.
LP: The grilled chicken is really good. It is what you would expect from a wrap from Caf-II-Go, but grilled and marinated.
Tasting Turner's side of marinated cabbage:
KT: Just say no to cabbage! Ick.
LP: Tasting that cabbage reminds me of the time my dad took me to his friend's cow farm.
Phillips gets her meal, a house "Luleh" shish kabob plate, $8.75. The kabob meat is a grilled mixture of ground lamb and beef. It comes with two types of rice pilaf with imported basmati rice, tossed green salad, homemade tomato sauce and homemade Armenian bread.
LP: There's two sausage-sized meat things on the kabob and a side of marinated veggies and rice with some kind of seasoning.
LP: How do you eat a kabob, Turner?
KT: Don't you just pull it off the stick and shove it all in your mouth?
LP: It's one of those Popsicle conundrums.
LP: Back to my meat on a stick. It's sizzling steak and lamb at the same time... interesting to have the two flavors in your mouth like that at once. It's a little tough to chew.
KT: I wasn't that impressed. It didn't make me go "wow."
LP: The rice is really spicy.
KT: It doesn't bother me, really. My one concern with the rice is, well, some of the granules are hard.
LP: Yeah. It's not hot, either.
We pay and on the ride home, reflect on our meals, which notably didn't give us indigestion.
LP: So Turner, what'd you think?
KT: Overall, a gross experience. The hair in the food was really a turn-off. While the food was OK, it lacked a certain something. I won't be coming back anytime soon.
LP: Yeah, I'm definitely kind of broke right now, so I wouldn't be able to afford driving out here and paying this kind of money. The plus side, though, is the appeal of the opportunity to learn about another culture and to taste food from it. I just wish the food was better.
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