Since I am off work today (Monday), I groggily flipped through my list of things I would like to do should I have a weekday off.
All I could think of were places to eat with lunch specials. Sittoo's business special is a fantastic deal, $3 off the normal price. In the mood for some Middle Eastern food, I remembered reading about Kan Zaman's weekday buffet several months ago.
I looked through online reviews, which I expected to be weighted on the negative side, online human behavior being what they are. Skimming through a few, there were complaints about service, food quality toward the end of the buffet period (11:00-15:00), and gratuity automatically calculated into the check.
My hopes weren't very high mostly due to the cost. How much could I expect for only $5.99?
Just a couple of blocks away from the buzzing and revitalized West Side Market end of Ohio City, this end next to Lutheran Hospital is a bit run down. The structure looks bleak, like a convenience store or take-out pizza place. After stepping through the take-out area, the cavernous interior has a lush appearance from the mahogany toned furniture, small tapestries of Middle East flags, and drapes.
Raised open booths furnish the perimeter of the dining room with velour pillows and long seat cushions, almost welcoming someone to lounge. The ceiling was decorated throughout in dark ornate tiles with circular faux fur secured to the ceiling every few feet. Soccer announced in Arabic played on several television screens. The two men glued to one of the screens were quiet, so I presume their team lost.
The buffet is housed along the entire ~12' length of the semicircular bar. The service trays were sunken into the bar so the food was flush to the surface. Pita in plastic bags were stacked in a basket. Cold items included a regular green leaf salad; Mediterranean salad with chopped cucumbers, red onions, and parsley; tabbouleh; pickles - olives, cucumbers, and cauliflower; baba ghanoush; hummus; and crispy pita chips.
Hot items offered were long grain fluffy rice with saffron and peppercorns; chicken stew with tomatoes and onions; baked chicken; stuffed eggplant with beef, similar to moussaka; Mediterranean style green beans similar to Greek style, spiced with tomatoes and onions; and peas and carrots, spiced with tomatoes. Lentil soup and chicken soup with mushrooms were also available.
The smokiness of the baba ghanoush, fresh tabbouleh, and the crispy pita chips were an addictive combination. The hummus was a very nice creamy consistency, but the baba ghanoush spoke to me so I returned for a second serving along with a generous portion of tabbouleh and pita chips.
Another dish that I returned for seconds was their lentil soup, a tan colored blended soup with a depth and sweetness only a profuse amount of onions can create.
There were three desserts -- haystack, similar to baklava, with a cream filling; honey cake; and chocolate cake with coconut. I enjoyed the honey cake, moist and sweet, with an orange blossom honey flavor.
Another attraction to this place from what I've read is the availability of hookahs, $10 and a choice of flavors. In the take-out area, different colored hookah are displayed wrapped in plastic. While we were there, there were customers at 4 other tables, none of whom ordered one.
The fare served for the buffet was pretty decent and the service was fine. Factor in the price, the buffet is a good deal. Bug and I will return. On our next trip, I would like to try their kibbeh and chicken shawarma.
1616 W 25th St
Cleveland, OH 44113
Tel: (216) 621-2222
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