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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Open Sesame in Long Beach

Lamb Kabobs
Open Sesame, definitely one of the most popular restaurants in Long Beach.  Tasty, well priced, and located in the bustling 2nd Street.  Why wouldn't it be popular?  Now, Lebanese food...  First and foremost lets start with the disclaimer -- I am not, by any means, an expert (or even intermediately knowledgeable) about Middle Eastern food.  What does that mean?  Something that tastes good to me, may not be authentic.  Or, it means that something that tastes good, should taste much better, but I haven't had it before.  Okay, well, it seems to me that this place is highly popular, so it must be doing something right... right?  If you don't agree, read up on the 1,100+ Yelp reviews it has...

So what is so distinctive about Open Sesame?  The selection of wines (that also includes a few Lebanese wines)?  Or is it just the food.  Simple, authentic, and delicious.  What could go wrong with this combination?

Baba Ganoush
We started out with a couple starters -- the fried potatoes (which they are famous for) and the baba ganoush.  Both were delicious.  I wouldn't say they were the best things since sliced bread... but they were both amazing.  The fried potatoes were... well, fried... with spoonfuls of herbed and citrusy sauce poured over it.  Pretty good.  I wouldn't come here for just the fried potatoes though... a bit overrated in my opinion (that's not to take away from its excellence though.)  The baba ganoush was also pretty superb.  Tasty, fresh, well seasoned... it was a great way to start the meal.

Fried Potatoes
Is this the taste of Lebanon?  The invasion of France in its history doesn't seem very evident in the food, but the neighboring Arab countries does seem to have heavy influence on the food.  In fact, maybe this is a totally ignorant thing to say, but Lebanese food is quite similar to Persian and Iranian foods that I've tasted in the past.  The heavy touch of spices, the wonderful freshness and the ingredients are very familiar to my tongue.  And that's not to take anything away from the food -- it is wonderful.

I ordered the lamb kabob (shown above) medium rare and my dining partners both ordered chicken shawarma as our entrees.  My lamb kabobs were great.  Tender, juicy, and again (like everything else), very well seasoned.  It was not cooked medium rare as I ordered, but closer to well done.  Medium well, at the very least.  However, they were still very good.  The spicy hummus that came with it may even be better than the baba ganoush we started with.  Whichever you decide to order, you really can't go wrong.

Chicken Shawarma
The chicken shawarma was also delicious.  The chicken breast was very tender and not dry at all.  I only had a bite of this so I don't have too much to say about it.

The food here is amazing.  It's 2nd Street in Long Beach, so don't expect parking to be plentiful.  However, the server mentioned that there was a paid parking lot right down the strreet (we soooo missed this).  So don't be afraid, come try out the food.  It's delicious and a probably a new experience for many.  For three of us, we ordered two appetizers, three entrees, and a $30 bottle of pinot noir and the bill came out to just a bit over $90 (after tax and tip) per person.  With all that we were ordered, were were stuffed by the end of the meal.  STUFFED!

Oh yeah.  Lastly, that garlic paste was sooooo amazing!

Give Open Sesame a try if you haven't gone before, you'll definitely enjoy it.

Open Sesame
5215 E 2nd St
Long Beach, CA 90803