Saturday, January 26, 2008

Turkish for twelve

Mixed cold appetizer platter (large), Ali Baba Turkish Cuisine
For JSK and MH's 28th birthdays, I chose Ali Baba Turkish Cuisine for a celebratory meal. When I first discovered this place maybe six or seven years ago, it was a pizza joint selling Turkish food on the side. Then they ditched the pizza, opened up the back area, and expanded into a full restaurant. With spacious new digs and such a large group (twelve), Ali Baba seemed like a good choice.
Pide, Ali Baba Turkish Cuisine
We started with the large-sized mixed cold appetizer platter, which was served with baskets of fresh, warm, chewy pide (generously replenished throughout the meal). I thought the lebni, smoked eggplant salad, and babaghanush were tasty, but I found the hummus ho-hum (let's just call it ho-hummus), and the pilaki unremarkable. And the cucumber slice I nicked off the plate was bitter, which made me sad.
Lahmacun, Ali Baba Turkish Cuisine
We also split three orders of lahmacun, which due to a mix-up turned out to be enormous entree portions of three full-sized lahmacun each (so nine, total). These came with tomato slices, slivers of raw red onion, and sprigs of flat-leaf parsley to lay on top of or roll into the lahmacun (as I did). There were also lemon wedges for squeezin'. The tomatoes were tasteless and mealy, but the lemon and the fresh green note from the parsley nicely lightened up what could have been a heavy-tasting item.

I left out the red onion as I needed my breath to be smelling pretty for the festivities afterwards. Though who was I kidding, given the meal I was eating overall?
Manti, Ali Baba Turkish Cuisine
RL and I split an order of lamb-filled manti for our entree. This was tasty; chewy outer wrapper, flavorful, juicy filling. Could have benefited from a bit more acidity (hot sauce, lemon?) to cut through the yogurt sauce a bit, but no complaints.

I was enamored with the itty-bitty size of these little manti, which were like the tiny, round offspring of grown-up dumplings. Even the name is kind of cute. My heart will always belong to the Chinese variation, but I do want to eat every ethnicity of dumpling at least once. Next up: pelmeni.
Donerli pide, Ali Baba Turkish Cuisine
I snagged a wedge of donerli pide from LB, who had ordered it as his entree. Mine came sans tomato, which means I ended up with some minimalist doner-in-dough. Good, but about what you would expect.
They're turning five! (or fifty)
We ended the meal with a beautiful white velvet cake, baked by JL for our Aquarian guests of honor (she posts about it here). I dug the raspberry layer on top: tasty and attractive. The restaurant was really nice about cutting up and serving the cake, and no extra fee either.

They're turning five! Or fifty….

Ignore that pesky shadow at the bottom (sigh).

By the end, we were all stuffed—which didn't bode well for our partying plans later, but at least our stomachs were happy. Over the years I've relied on Ali Baba for well priced and consistently fresh, flavorful meals, and this place hasn't failed me yet!