Bethany Clough

New restaurant with familiar name opens in Fresno with ‘mom recipes,’ Armenian pizza 

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You know the old saying, “If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all”?

You might be tempted to think that about newly opened Kabab City in Fresno, since it also has restaurants in Fowler, Reedley, Hanford and Visalia.

Don’t.

This restaurant is definitely different than its brothers and sisters. Between an expanded menu and a design firm hired from Dubai, this restaurant has a little something extra going on.

Kabab City is at 682 E. Nees Ave., in a new building near First Street that’s also home to a Starbucks and Rollie Rollie Thai Rolled Ice Cream.

The restaurant

The first thing that will strike you at the restaurant is its design.

It’s a perfect example of how Fresno restaurants have been stepping it up lately when it comes to appearance.

Hanging from the ceiling are 182 pieces of cloth, each a little different, designed to look like an undulating wave.

There’s an artificial olive tree in the dining room and a wall full of real houseplants overlooking one booth. Another wall of live plants is outside on the patio. Creative light fixtures squiggle across the ceiling, inspired by the Middle Eastern designer.

“Everything inside this (place) is custom made,” said owner Abdallah Qawadri.

The food

The food here comes from a mix of cultures that includes Armenian, Greek, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean, said Qawadri, who was born in Jordan.

He calls his dishes “mom recipes.”

It’s not that his mom made them necessarily, but it’s the type of food a mom would make in a home kitchen, not something learned in culinary school.

“I really like the real, authentic way,” he said. “I don’t Americanize my food.”

You’ll find beef and chicken kebabs on the menu and kafta kebab, which is ground beef mixed with ground lamb. There are lamb chops, a salmon fatoush salad and chicken pasta, along with lots of hummus, pilaf and falafel.

This location also has a specialty menu with dishes you won’t find at all the other restaurants.

kababTHUMB1.jpg
Chicken kabob, served at Kabob City, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019 in Fresno. ERIC PAUL ZAMORA ezamora@fresnobee.com

It includes the chicken shawarma skewer. Order this dish and a metal contraption is brought to your table. At the bottom is a plate of pilaf, hummus, salad and pita bread, with the chicken on a large vertical skewer attached to a metal arm above the plate.

You’ll also find pizza with halal pepperoni (meaning the pepperoni is made in an acceptable way under Islamic dietary laws), vegetarian pizza and a low-carb plate.

Lahmajoon is also on the menu. It’s an Armenian favorite, a sort of pizza topped with ground beef.

The pizza here is baked in a brick pizza oven that gets up to 900 to 1,000 degrees, Qawadri

said. The pita bread is baked in it too. It’s an old school way of cooking it that puffs up the bread to give it an eye-catching appearance.

Another surprising menu item: Nutella pizza.

It’s a dessert pizza with a creamy sauce baked with the bananas already on it.

“People are obsessed with it,” Qawadri said. “It’s really good.”

Another Fresno location

Yet another Kabab City location is in the works for Fresno, this time in the northwest.

Work has started on the restaurant at 6095 N. Figarden Drive. That’s between Bullard and Santa Fe avenues, across the street from AutoZone.

It should open in a few months, Qawadri said.

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