Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Dishdash

I moved to Silicon Valley from Chicago about two months ago, and am on a continuous hunt for good food. Unfortunately, it’s somewhat hard to find amidst the high-tech corporate campuses and sprawling apartment complexes. I had all but lost hope when I stumbled upon Dishdash in Sunnyvale. My husband and I walked in for lunch on a weekday to a loud, but welcoming buzz of people. The fact that the restaurant was crowded was not necessarily telling, however, as most eateries in Silicon Valley are packed around lunch time with engineers hurrying to get a quick bite. Nevertheless, as I looked around, the diners seemed pleased and their food looked delicious.

Dishdash is a welcoming space with bright colored walls, high ceilings, and modern Mediterranean décor. Despite the rush-hour, we were seated immediately at a small table by the kitchen. Whereas in some restaurants this could be a turn-off, I found it exciting. The kitchen was a machine. I sat wide-eyed as the team of cooks zipped back and forth along their stations, from frying freshly mixed falafel to grilling an assortment of kebabs. Waiters seamlessly picked up the wonderfully presented food, added some freshly warmed pita, and scurried to their tables with not a moment missed.

My husband and I opted to begin with the Maza Sampler, an excellent option for diners like me who can never decide between the babaghanouge and tabouli and can’t leave without tasting the hummus. The Maza Sampler (which we ordered for two, but can be ordered for more depending on your party) was beautiful – seven enticing appetizers separated by strips of pink pickled turnips, cucumbers, and kalamata olives, and sprinkled with vibrant red sumac. After first trying and being pleasantly pleased with the hummus, the litmus test at any Mediterranean restaurant, I moved on to the babaghanouge, with its creamy texture, subtle smoky flavor, and slight zing of garlic. The tabouli, to my surprise, had curly parsley, which I always believed to be less flavorful than its flat-leaf counterpart. However, the tabouli was wonderfully refreshing and aromatic with lemon, and the curly parsley added a nice texture to the salad. Perhaps I should revisit curly parsley now that I’m in California. Next to the tabouli was the khyar b’laban, a cool yogurt-garlic sauce with grated cucumber and fresh dill. Beyond these staples, we were introduced to rihan and m’nazaleh. Rihan is a salad with fresh tomato and grilled eggplant that is dressed in what I considered a Middle eastern-style pesto made with basil and almonds, and topped with feta cheese. At first I was bit turned off by the pesto, wondering if it had lost its way to the Italian restaurant next door; however, I realized that I kept returning to the salad because of its freshness and wonderful balance of flavors. The m’nazaleh, more reflective of what I consider traditional middle-eastern flavors, with grilled eggplant, red bell pepper, walnuts, lemon and garlic, was simply delicious and brought a bit of spice to the platter.

The Maza Sampler served with warm pita could have been a meal in itself, however it’s hard to stop there knowing what Dishdash’s kitchen offers. Following a vegetarian diet, I ordered the falafel wrap. Rather than simply stuffed in a pita with tomato and tahini sauce, the homemade, perfectly crunchy falafel, along with cucumber, tomatoes, grilled eggplant, and tahini sauce, were wrapped in a grilled Tannour bread, warm to the touch. I could smell the fresh parsley, tahini, and eggplant with every bite.

We finished the lunch with m’halabieh, a traditional pudding with rosewater, cardamon, pistachio, and shaved almond, drizzled with a dark caramel sauce. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to eat rice pudding again after trying this rosewater infused, velvety, delectable dessert.

Dishdash is reasonably priced with quality food, efficient service, and pleasant ambiance. It’s a Mediterranean gem in Silicon Valley.

4 comments:

Elie said...

Wow. This does sound good. If I had to guess, it would be Palestinian owned. The use of red pepper is not so common in Lebanon. Also, Rihan is definitely unfamiliar as a dish name, and the salad seems more California fusion to me than Middle Eastern, as it is rare to use basil (or habak) in cooking. Now, mhalabieh is definitely, if made well, a delectable desert. I miss it!

How does this compare to the middle eastern standards in Chicago? pita inn? pomegranate, and some of the others on Kedzie?

Elie said...

Also, "Dishdash" is the arabic name for the a traditional dress worn by both women an men. May be, in this case, a more tahini infused dress.

Elena said...
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Elena said...

I would say food quality was on par with that in Chicago. The dishes may have been a bit more complex though, and the atmosphere was also more modern/upscale than what I've seen in Chicago, although prices are surprisingly comparable.