Fourbites leads us to Amira's Kitchen


I look forward to Andrew Galarneau’s Four Bites because he leads us to places like Amira’s Kitchen at 894 Tonawanda St.

Andrew collects food experiences like we collect birds. For Beth and I, a prothonotary warbler is really, really special.

For Andrew, it is entering a Chinese or Middle Eastern restaurant and finding food that isn’t on the wall.

So it is the “Mansaf” a dish of lamb braised in yogurt sauce made from a dried yogurt called jameed. Jameed soaks pita as the base layer so it almost doesn’t seem like bread. It is topped by rice pilaf, lamb and toasted almonds.

Andrew describes it on Substack in better detail. Her recommended calling ahead and asking if Amira Khalil had any mansaf left. She doesn’t make it all of the time.

I called.

“Do you have mansaf?” I asked.

“I have one plate left” she said.

“We will be there at 6:30. Please save it for us.”

“Are you sure?” she asked.

It was an odd reaction but human nature likely leads people to be unreliable.

We arrived as planned. The place was brightly lit and spotlessly clean.

“Sit wherever you like,” she said.

“I called about the mansaf,” she said.

She went to the cooler and took out a plastic container and carried it to the kitchen.

We ordered kibbi as well. Think of it as arancini only made with chickpea flour (falafel) and filled with beef.

The mansaf came first and was as advertised with a deliciously tangy lemon yogurt sauce on the side. Kibbi came later. They seemed uncomfortably busy and our service seemed a bit disjointed because of it but it’s OK. I am always happy to see a small business slamming.

“All the day nobody comes,” Amira said. “Then they come at once.”

$25 got us a full plate of mansaf with enough leftover for Saturday lunch.

After we chatted before departing, Amira held up a finger and asked us to wait a minute. Then she walked to the cooler on the right side of the room and came back with a small container, “Rice pudding for you” she said. “I make it differently.”

We will eat it in a bit for breakfast. Even if she doesn’t have mansaf, it is worth going. I am positive everything on the menu will be equally delicious. For us, the gold standard for a menu like Amira’s has always been a Transit Road Lebanese place called Teta’s gone for about 20 years now.

Amira just one-upped it. Please subscribe to Andrew’s page because he’s sure to bring you experiences like the one we enjoyed last night.

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