Hold The Toum At Toum
Last month, Flatiron Lunch reporter Sarah tried a new family-run Lebanese truck called Toum. As I read her review, I couldn’t wait for the truck to start making stops in Midtown, because the menu reflected many familiar foods from my childhood. Yep, as I’ve mentioned before, I grew up in Japan, but what you don’t know is that while there I enjoyed not only Japanese food, but also my grandmother’s amazing middle eastern recipes. The truth is always stranger than fiction. Anyway, Toum’s menu, plus the fact that the truck is family-run, gave me high hopes for authentic recipes in some way reminiscent of those days making Syrian food in Japan.
I ordered the gigantic Makanek sandwich ($7), which was a Lebanese beef sausage mixed with pine nuts sauteed in a lemon sauce, served with French fries, garlic sauce, tomatoes and pickles.
The makanek sounded a lot like merguez, a flavor explosion in the form of a handmade sausage we used to eat at the first ever Moroccan restaurant in Japan, which happened to be run by a good friend of my grandfather. (Simon now runs Simon’s Cafe in Sherman Oaks, California, for all you Midtown LA readers.) So … I admit that I had impossibly high standards for this dish. Although Andrea seemed to enjoy the sausage sandwich Downtown a few weeks ago, I found these pine nut-studded sausages to be a little charred/dry and not as spiced as what I remember.
The fries in the sandwich were not crisp, but they don’t need to be, really. This could have been a really well-balanced sandwich, but you’d never know, because the Toum (garlic sauce) was so strong, that garlic overpowered everything. In fact, I became so conscious of my breath that I had to go out a second time to purchase gum. Next time, I would definitely order this with the Toum on the side and use it sparingly. Although if you hate your co-workers … dig right in!
At $11, the beef kebab platter is not a Midtown Lunch, and for the amount of meat you get for the price, I’d recommend sticking with the sandwich and staying in budget. The beef comes over rice with taboule and hummus, plus a ziplock of pita and a small container of Toum on the side.
The meat, itself, was tender with a nice sear on the outside. They make a good hummus, and the ziplock bag of pita was great for dipping. Unfortunately the taboule was like eating a bunch of parsley.
Next time I’m definitely going for that amazing-looking kafta sandwich Sarah loved in her Flatiron review, plus some of the smaller dishes I grew up with like fried kibbeh, lahem b’ajeen and stuffed grape leaves. Ok, maybe that’ll have to be two lunches.