After speaking with Alain, it didn’t take long to understand the birth of the restaurant. Born in Tunisia, Alain immigrated to Paris, France, where his father opened a Kosher Tunisian restaurant, which he later transformed into a French Tunisian "fusion" restaurant that still exists. Alain’s love for movies brought him to Hollywood, and it was there that he felt a need for an international Kosher cuisine establishment with French Tunisian dishes. According to Alain, “North African cuisine ingredients add ‘spice’ to the concept of Kosher cuisine, often thought of as Eastern European Ashkenazi style, based on root vegetables because of the many restrictions, and lacking spices, which were scarce. Our dishes have a base in North Africa, with its abundance and variety of vegetables and which ‘brings to the table’ the incorporation of French cuisine.”
Tunisian cuisine is different from any other North African cuisine because it is quite spicy. Tunisian fare is a blend of neighboring Mediterranean countries and includes influences from the many civilizations that have ruled over the land, including Roman, Phoenician, Arab, Turkish, French and native Berber people.
A very popular condiment that is used commonly in Tunisian cooking is calledTunisian olives(In Photo). There was a trio of olive types, which included Kalamata, green Spanish and Turkish olives. The olives were marinated in harissa, fresh lemon, chili red pepper pods, bay leaf and sprigs of marjoram. Delicious. The spiciness from the harissa added a nice heat that didn’t overpower the various textures and taste of the different olives. harissa, a red pepper sauce that includes red chili peppers, garlic, tomatoes, coriander and cumin. The first item served on my visit was
The next dish presented to me was Matboucha, a traditional Moroccan dish that is a cooked relish consisting of peppers, tomatoes, and garlic. It was served cold with pita bread, but it can also be eaten hot. This is a very popular dish in Israel and can also be served on sandwiches as a dip or with eggs. The lovely cooked tomatoes in a palatable rhythm balanced well with the other vegetables and spices. The taste was simply divine.
The Tunisian Baba Ghanoush was an exceptional and surprising appetizer served with pita bread. Baba Ghanoush is a roasted aubergine or eggplant dip. Unlike many of its Tunisian food counterparts that are spicy, Tunisian Baba Ghanoush is very mild. I eat Arabic, Egyptian and Persian Baba Ghanoush and love them all. The Tunisian Baba Ghanoush was very light in color and had a wonderful light smoky flavor, which is typical of this savory dish. The lemon tahini paste and roasted eggplant melded well. The element of surprise for me was that this Baba Ghanoush reminded me of a cool cucumber salad more than an eggplant dip.
The finale of my food adventure at Got Kosher? consisted of two mesmerizing sandwiches. I was served the all-natural glatt kosher Moroccan Merguez (sausage) Parisian-style sandwich. This particular beef and lamb sausage is seasoned with cumin and served on the restaurant’s famous pretzel challah roll. It is topped with parsley, onion and harissa sauce. Scrumptious. The next sandwich provides a culinary exposé of where Paris meets Tunisia and is street food. Delectable. This is called Alain’s Tunisian Tuna Sandwich and was served on a stirato roll. The sandwich consists of tuna in olive oil, hard boiled egg, capers, olives, potatoes, British cucumbers, harissa sauce and mechouia. Mechouia is a spicy Tunisian grilled vegetable salad. When I took one bite of this sandwich, it took me back to Cannes, France, when I sat in an outdoor café eating a wonderful nicoise salad for the first time. This salad’s components are similar to those in Alain’s Tunisian Tuna Sandwich. It’s clear to see how Alain has so cleverly combined French and Tunisian cuisines.
(Tunisian Tuna Sandwich)
I would be remiss by not mentioning some of the other exceptional qualities of Got Kosher? As this restaurant superbly blends Kosher French Tunisian cuisine can you believe Alain makes sure that they still include food Americana? On Sundays, they serve barbeque that includes beef ribs, pulled beef brisket, baked beans, cole slaw, roasted corn on the cob and potato salad. Got Kosher? also has a great provisions Shabbat take-home menu. The restaurant has a catering kitchen and an impressive online menu to accommodate any occasion. They cater for Wolfgang Puck, Patina and just recently, their savory cuisine was elegantly featured at A Taste of Beverly Hills. As I was flipping through the online menus, I saw such items as couscous (which is king in Tunisia), and lamb and I even noticed one of my all time favorite French dishes, Coq Au Vin!
This eatery just isn’t your everyday café. That’s actually an understatement. They have great Kosher cuisine and so much more! From French Tunisian to fresh healthy gourmet sandwiches, salads, grill items, entrees and even sushi, Got Kosher? should definitely be on your to do list of places to eat whether you live in Los Angeles or are just visiting.
One thing is for sure. Chef Alain Cohen’s wonderfully diverse travels, multicultural upbringing and exposure have clearly made its way to Los Angeles, California, via the Got Kosher? café.
Location: 8914 W. Pico Blvd. (1 block west of Robertson)
Los Angeles, California 90035
Telephone: (310) 858-1920
Hours of Operation: Sun-Thurs. 11 a.m.– 8 p.m., Fri 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Catering: 1410 S. Livonia Avenue (at Pico)
Los Angeles, CA 90035
Telephone: (310) 858-3123
Off-site and take-away catering, 4 to 4,000
Airline, vacation, special occasion, institution; fine dining at take-out prices.
Article ©2010 Carla Crudup. All Rights Reserved.
Like this? Check out Carla's Tropical Bagel Recipe with Lender's Bagels