First of all, save this address:
1208 S Brookhurst St. Anaheim, CA 92804
I got the opportunity to taste some home style Middle Eastern food in Anaheim. What's special about Kareem's, is the history. They've been opened for 20 years with the same owner. The father of the restaurant, named it after his son, Kareem. Over the years, a few other Arab restaurants opened up. About 20. Though some closed, Kareem's still stands as one of the flagships landed on Brookhurst.
I've had plenty of Middle Eastern food, but I never know what to expect. I know there are small regions all over the place that serves the same food, differently. Kind of like Asia. From Chinese dumplings, to Taiwanese, to more Southern, it's all similar but different. What was special about Kareem's was not just their family recipe, but how the mom still cooks in the kitchen. But that will be saved for later. There are a lot of intimidating dishes that I'm sure a lot of people won't be too comfortable eating. Like, lamb liver. I am definitely going to come back to try this.
With that said, I left the choices up to Kareem himself.
This is my favorite salad to order at a Middle Eastern Restaurant. I love the vinegar and the tanginess of the Sumak which was doused pretty liberally, just the way I like it. The pita was nice and crunchy. The greens, tomatoes, Persian cucumbers, were all extremely fresh and crisp. The amount of salad that you get are pretty generous, so I would recommend sharing this.
Falafel Plate with Hummus
These home made bad boys are vegan. And boy OH boy are they bad to the bone in the best way possible. I've had my fair share of falafel, but never quite like the ones here. They are piping hot, and is forgivable even after eating them cold. They were very crispy on the outside. But on the inside? you be the judge:
Super moist and seasoned perfectly. Their falafels is the same original recipe that Kareem's father created 20 years ago. These will even make your forget you are eating something that is vegan. I highly recommend getting these when you arrive. And if you would like to take some home, they are sold in local markets like Super King, Irvine Ranch Market, and a few others.
They must know I've been craving fries. These were perfect. Soft and slightly crispy, sprinkled with Sumak. I would order these again, and dip them in whatever I can. I was even eating these with the chicken instead of the rice. And I was also eating these together with the pita, falafel and hummus.
Grilled chicken Kabob was served with hummus and rice. The chicken was very juicy. Goes so well with the charred tomatoes and onions. Don't forget the hummus and pita. Extremely fresh and jaw dropping deliciousness.
You must order their hummus. If it already comes with your plate, fine. But this was one of the best hummus I've had. Creamy and slightly nutty, doused with paprika. The olive oil and paprika just swims in the hummus. It was a beautiful sight.
Going back to Kareem's mother. She was more than a sweetheart, she is exactly what she was, a mom. I felt her energy. The "Hi" to the "thank you for eating my food". I wanted to hold her hand. No I wanted to hug her. And give her a kiss on her cheek. She is the cook in their kitchen. And if this was my last meal, I would be content and happy. Because I know a loving mother made this meal for us. She told us to wait, as she brings us mint tea which was huge in their culture. But for me, I felt like it was my own mom telling me to drink some tea to digest the food. In no time, she comes out with:
Ceylon black tea with fresh mint. Ceylon is a tea from Sri Lanka. It has a very robust flavor and works well with creamers if you love english tea. To some, this is familiar to the Moroccan mint tea. The tea though, is different in a Moroccan mint which is normally used with Gunpowder green tea. This was soothing, and cleansing after eating all that food.
At the end of the meal, we were extremely pleased not just with the food, but the service. We were the only asians in there. To everyone else, it's like going to moms. I am definitely coming back. I'm really tempted to order the same things again, but will try my best to order something else. Everything was too delicious.
This is what it's all about. If you want a hole in the wall, a good one, a restaurant with history, family oriented, this is the place you should definitely check out. I live 17 miles away, and will drive out to have home made Middle Eastern food.
1208 S Brookhurst St. Anaheim, CA 92804
Make sure you say hi to the mom. It doesn't get any better than that.