Within “Tehrangeles,” the local Iranian diaspora of an estimated 600,000 sprawled across Los Angeles, Westwood’s tiny Attari Sandwich Shop may be its most beloved restaurant. Attari is a gourmand’s retreat that captures the unusual nuances of Persian cuisine and demonstrates that it is right at home in the warm California climes. Moreover, Attari does not invite religious discord, as it is neither obviously halal nor kosher, though it does not offer pork.
During a recent lunch, I loved their roasted eggplant – the unpronounceable kashk-e-bademjan – which was simple and sophisticated, yet utterly exotic. Attari roasts their eggplant in grilled mint oil that, together with the addition of assorted fresh herbs, gives the dish a lush green appearance. This seemingly simple eggplant dish is unique in that its texture boasts a natural creaminess, and its flavor is pure aubergine, judiciously accentuated by the herbs. Deliciously crispy caramelized onions and dollops of yogurt-like kashk, or fermented whey, provide the requisite balance.
I also enjoyed the sosis bandari, essentially a cut-up hot dog sandwich studded with small chunks of potatoes in a spicy tomato sauce. Based on its etymology, it would seem to have roots in the southern city of Bandar ʿAbbās, whose denizens speak the dialect Bandari. The sosis bears a close resemblance to my Bubby’s weiner goulash, my favorite stew from childhood. Since a lifelong Clevelander’s channeling of ancestral Vienna should have nothing in common with an Iranian standard, maybe there is a historical link between the two. Or could the similarity be proof of the Jewish conspiracy to defeat the Islamic Republic by stealing its culinary heritage? Shall I blame Britain?
As much as I posture about not travelling west of Doheny, I freely confess that a lunch at Attari followed by an espresso at Euro Caffé, which is a mere block from Rodeo Drive, makes for a perfectly pleasant afternoon. (Hypocrisy is underrated.) I’ll be back soon for the tongue and brain.
Attari Sandwich Shop
1388 Westwood Blvd.