BY KAREN YOUNG
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—some of the best food in the San Fernando Valley can be found in strip malls off the beaten path.
This time my wanderings landed me at Lusy’s International Cuisine at Woodman and Victory in Valley Glen. I was informed about it by a reader who relayed a heartwarming story about how the business neighbors in this strip mall helped to make over the five year old eatery with a new interior, including tableware, plants and wall décor. Everything is spotless.
Lusy’s is a family owned restaurant with an emphasis on mediterranean cuisine with an Armenian/Lebanese influence. On the evening I walked in, husband Avedis Koshkaryan greeted us from the kitchen. A few minutes later, his wife Lusik Gradzhyan, known as Lusy, arrived and asked to take our order. Their son was parked in the back corner of the restaurant doing homework.
We started with Falafel Bites made from garbanzo beans crushed with garlic, onions, parsley and herbs. Six pieces arrived with tahini sauce in a glass layered with chopped tomatoes. Instead of calling these “bites,” I’d add the word “puffs” because the texture is fluffier and lighter than the dense falafels you usually find—and positively addicting. Next up came the Fattoush Salad, a refreshing Lebanese salad made with chopped lettuce, tomatoes, persian cucumbers, feta cheese, mint and pita croutons, topped with a lemon and olive oil dressing.
Ordinarily I would order Tzatziki, but didn’t this time because we ordered Babaganoush which had that perfect just smoked eggplant flavor. However, Lusy must have read my mind because she brought us an order and said we had to try it because it is a favorite of the reader who recommended the eatery. And I’m glad she did—Lusy’s version prepared with yogurt, mint, garlic and chopped persian cucumbers is about the best I’ve had.
For the entrée we split the Combination Kebab Plate which came with chicken and beef kebabs and a beef lula kebab (made with ground beef and spices). I’m usually not a chicken fan because it’s often dry, but I take exception with this kebob which was quite juicy and tender. The meat was perfectly seasoned with just the right amount of kick. The plate came with rice, grilled tomato, hummus a green salad and pita — all for $10.99 and big enough to share.
Other menu items include borscht, tabouleh, Greek salad, various wraps (pesto chicken, lula kebab, gyros, shwarma, falafel vegetarian and more). Entrée plates include a selection of kebabs, shwarma and ribs.
Instead of sitting in a restaurant, I felt like we were in Lusy’s home. She chatted with us and we learned that many of her recipes came from her grandmother, including the chicken soup with leeks and the rice pudding. I told her we were stuffed and we’d be sure to get both next time. Lusy wouldn’t hear of that, so she added a quart of soup and two containers of rice pudding to our leftover bag.
Upon arriving home, we gave in and cracked open the rice pudding. Made with milk and rice and sweet topped with cinnamon, it’s a mouth watering must eat treat. A little later in the evening, temptation won us over again and we heated up the soup. One word — sublime—hands down the best version of a chicken soup I have ever eaten. It’s a bit creamy because it’s made with yogurt—and the combination of leeks and mint combined with shredded chicken gives it a sensational taste.
There’s nothing fancy at Lusy’s — it’s as casual as can be with just good old world home cooking made from the heart. The prices are incredibly reasonable and the portions are quite generous. I recommend sharing a few dishes, so you can try more of Lusy’s offerings. It won’t dent your wallet.
Entrees run $8.99-$10.99, wraps $5.99-$7.99, salads $3.99-$7.99, appetizers $4.50 – $7.99, soups $3.99 -$4.99. Don’t miss the rice pudding — $1.50 for a small and $2.50 for a large. They also provide catering.
Karen Young is the Founder/Editor of My Daily Find. Got news? Email firstname.lastname@example.org