THE BITE: Stuffed flat bread. How can you go wrong? It seems to appear in every cuisine in some form or another. Be it pizza, the wrap, the taco, burrito, naan, aaloo paratha (a personal favorite), the kutab, roti, the bourek, khachapuri; I could go on and on. Every culture seems to have mastered this simple dish.
Memo Shish Kebab (1821 Kings Highway on the corner of East 19th Street) has it down with the lahmachun. What is lahmcahun you ask? Well, at the restaurant, it’s commonly refered to as a “meat pie,” or “Turkish pizza,” but it’s a plain, pizza liked dough, topped with minced lamb, tomatoes and onions.
I have to admit, I have a strong curiosity as to what other people are eating whenever I enter a restaurant. I look around and try to take in what’s being consumed before I order. I’m also drawn to anything on the menu that hasn’t been translated to English. The lahmachun, filed both those requirements beautifully As we were being handed our menus, a plate of intriguing looking food passed our table. It looked good, and different from anything I ever had in a gyro place – that was the lahmachun, or meat pie.
When the waitress asked for our order, I immediately pointed to the next table – yes, I know it’s rude – and asked, “What’s that?”
“Meat pie,” was her response.
I then asked, “What is lahmachun? It’s the only thing not translated on the menu.”
She laughed and said, “It’s the meat pie, Turkish pizza.”
That was it; that’s what I was having for lunch. I ordered the meat pie, and the waitress returned with, “Let me see if it’s available,” which seems to be the standard response when ordering. Every time I’ve been to Memo’s, I’ve gotten the same response. Luckily, they’ve never let me down.
Memo’s serves up three meat pies, for $9 accompanied by sliced ripe tomatoes, chopped lettuce, sliced onion and lemon wedges. When it first arrived, I picked up the lahmachun and took a bite. I wasn’t impressed. My ever friendly waitress, laughed and came by and showed me the proper way to eat it. The first step is to squeeze the lemon over the entire dish. Top it with the parsley, lettuce and onions, fold it over and take a bite.
Fold it over? Now I understood the “pizza” connection.
It’s amazing how much food can come alive with the proper seasonings. The lemon added a much needed acidity to the dish that awakened the subtle flavors of the meat and made the tomato sing. The fresh parsley and crispy iceberg lettuce added a much needed snap and crunch to an otherwise slightly soft dish.
The only complaint I can find with this dish, is that the crust gets tough as it cools. Eat this quickly and eat it hot. And get it before I go back for more!
Memo Shish Kebab, 1821 Kings Highway on the corner of East 19th Street, (718) 339-8001.
The Bite is Sheepshead Bites’ weekly column where we explore the foodstuffs of Sheepshead Bay. Each week we check out a different offering from one of the many restaurants, delis, food carts, bakeries, butchers, fish mongers, or grocers in our neighborhood. If it’s edible, we’ll take a bite.