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By Linda Burum, Los Angeles Times 1/13/2011

At the heart of every meal is warm sangak, a sesame-encrusted flatbread fresh out of the restaurant's huge oven.


Strangers chatting in the fast-moving line outside Asal Bakery & Kabob are all jonesing for a taste of the same thing: warm sangak, a floppy chewy yard-long sesame-encrusted flatbread pulled from the fiery depths of a floor-to-ceiling oven whose constant muted roar dominates the Woodland Hills Persian cafe and bakery.

Whether soaked with kebab juices at dinner or slathered with cultured cream and honey for breakfast, the lightly singed sourdough breads, slightly puffy with steam, serve as the heart of every meal here (sangak is to Iranians what baguettes are to the French). It sounds traditional, but Asal is also riding the new culinary wave that unites disappearing kitchen crafts (like butchering or making butter, pickles or jams) with au courant tastes. Read More







This kitchen pays exquisite attention to the deceptively simple kebab: Meat quality, seasoning balance and time spent on the grill show disciplined precision. Saffron-kissed marinated whole game hen comes out moist and crisp. Koobideh, a sausage-shaped length of onion and garlic-infused ground beef, bests the greatest hot dog while the lightly marinated boneless chicken or salmon wrapped in swaths of sangak make celestial Persian sliders.