If anyone in Yerevan is looking for authentic lahmajune (i.e., not 'lamajo') look no further than a tiny place called Gaydz. It's the real deal.
Lahmajune is sometimes known as "Armenian pizza" although you can eat it throughout the Middle East. A mixture of ground beef (or lamb, depending on the recipe), tomatoes, onions and parsley is spread on round thin dough, similar in shape and size of a large flour tortilla, about 8 inches in diameter. Bake it for five minutes, take a bite and indulge in a wonderful melange of flavors bursting in your mouth, if it's done right. Wash it down with cold tan
, the perfect, forever fun snack.
Except it is extremely hard to find lahmajune in Yerevan. Had not a friend of mine, Hrant, checked Gaydz out yesterday I would still be clueless about where to go. There is a famous place on Tumanian Street mostly frequented by tourists that claims to offer "Aintab-style" lahmajune, it's been there for over a decade. But there's something not quite right about it, the consistency, look and feel are all off. The meat is too greasy for one thing, and the expected savoriness is just not there. But the proprietors of Gaydz are from Aleppo, and the place has been in business for about 6 months.
|Here's a photo of what the ideal lahmajune looks like. I didn't have a chance to photograph what I ate. This is what to expect at Gaydz. Photo courtesy of armenianfood.com.|
What is found in abundant supply in Yerevan is something known as "lamajo," which is basically imitation lahmajune. The crust is thin and round, but instead of ground beef, salted pureed fat is used. They also sprinkle a little chopped cilantro for some color, since it's usually lifelessly gray. I've had it about five or six times in my life, and it was never anything special. It's actually kind of gross.
To get to Gaydz, drive or walk down Khorenatsi Street from Mashtots. Just before you get to the Zakyan intersection on your left you will see a supermarket and some other storefronts and then an archway will be visible that leads to the courtyard behind the building. At the end make a left and on the right beside a garage you'll see the unobtrusive place. It looks like a shack basically. There is zero ambience, but the food is fantastic. They also offer lahmajune with some pomegranate molasses (what they call Arabic lahmajune) and the Yerevan lahmajune has a kebab ground beef topping, neither of which I've tried, yet. And the people there are very friendly.
The official address of Gaydz is Khorenatsi 9/4. Place your order ahead of time by calling 094-27-84-90 or 077-33-21-18. If you love lahmajune you will certainly not be disappointed.
Labels: Food and Drink, Personal Experiences