Jannah – Iraqi cuisine
On Sunday, March 27, the League assaulted Jannah in the Nopa neighborhood. Formerly Yaya Cuisine in Burlingame (thus the confusing domain name), Jannah serves Iraqi specialties and unique takes on dishes from around the middle east.
First up are their “middle eastern pizzas”:
The falafel pizza was great and unique, but I don’t think many people were thrilled by the Urook pizza – it didn’t taste particularly middle-eastern.
The Kelecha were very unique: raviolis with sweet date paste filling. I’ve never seen anything like them, and they were the only item featured as both an appetizer and dessert. Everyone loved them so much we ordered them at both those times.
This was a total surprise on the menu, and it was fabulous! The eggplant itself has the texture of a good japanese eggplant dengaku, but the sauce is just an amazing elaboration on pomegranate molasses. Definitely recommended.
Unfortunately I only got a picture after this was almost gone. I thought this might be more like the Persian Bademjan pureed eggplant dip I’ve had before, but it was not pureed at all. It was good and interesting but not a favorite.
They had 6 different dips, including muhamara, which I’ve never seen in a San Francisco restaurant before. Unfortunately, the muhamara didn’t quite live up to my expectations (I think it should have had pomegranate molasses in it), but these dips were all quite tasty in their own right.
On our server’s recommendation, we tried the grape leaves appetizer. I have to agree that these are in the top 5% of grape leaves I’ve tried.
After these appetizers, we started ordering entrees, starting with 2 phyllo-wrapped items:
The Kuzi was our server’s favorite dish in the menu, and I think most of us agreed with him. It was outstanding! The sambosak was wonderful also, but not quite as inspiring.
Then we had 2 “maklooba” dishes:
The sabzze sauce that led the flavors in these dishes was very unique to my palate. Perhaps it might be a little more familiar to Persians, but while these weren’t my favorite dishes, I would strongly recommend trying one.
The Fesenjoon was another dish that some of us had preconceived notions of from knowledge of Persian cuisine. Again, the dish was completely unlike what we expected – in Persian cuisine, it’s a stew! This was still delicious, though, but perhaps a little one-dimensional compared to some of the other dishes.
They have 4 different sauce/topping combinations for their lamb shanks, and I was very excited to try the mensef in case it was similar to the Jordanian Mansaf/Beriani I’ve had at restaurants like Dish Dash and Fattoush. It was indeed somewhat similar, and satisfied my craving, but I don’t think it’s quite the same. On the other hand, the lamb shank itself was probably higher quality than the meats in the other dishes I’m comparing this to.
The dessert menu looked exciting in that it took similarly unique twists on several middle eastern staples and threw in a couple totally new dishes. So we tried one of everything! Unpictured is the repeat order of the above Kelecha.
The Muhalabia that the baklava came in was a fabulous complement to the standard sticky sweetness of baklava. I was impressed.
I’ve never seen a Kenafa be stuffed with cheese before, and it turned out to be almost everyone’s favorite dessert. You need to try this.
This was most people’s 2nd favorite dessert, and quite unlike any other middle eastern dessert I’ve tried.
This was very unique, but most people thought it was a bit too starchy and fairly heavy on the rose water. It was the only dish of the night we didn’t finish, but I was still happy to have tried it.
In summary, here is my graded breakdown.
- Japanese eggplant
- Safeehat Falafel
- Yaya’s Grape Leaves
- Vegeterian Maklooba
- Lamb shank with Mensef
If you’re in the mood:
- Badengan Parmesan
- Appetizer Dips
- Scallop Maklooba
- Safeehat Urook
- Layallie Baghdad
See you next time!