If you think of one iconic foodstuff of Los Angeles, the first thing that likely comes to mind is the taco, and for good reason. There’s probably so single more beloved food in the city, except perhaps for sushi. But tacos are the everyperson’s dish, the kind of street corner snack and late night meal that gets served on any odd street corner of town. But before I fell in love with tacos, I actually loved another flat food: lahmajune.
If you’ve haven’t had this wonderful thing before, it’s an Armenian flatbread that can be found in numerous bakeries and restaurants across the city, thanks in part to the LA’s large Armenian population, which rivals that of the home country’s largest city, Yerevan.
Now if you’ve wondering how I came upon the lahmajune before tacos, let me explain. I grew up in Glendale, which has a sizable Armenian community. In elementary school, they’d often have these Friday mini food festivals whereupon children would bring some of their ethnicity’s food items. And among the carnival of delights was the simple lahmajune, stacked by the dozens and basically room temperature. I enjoyed the limp quesadilla-like snack, topped with a tomato and meat swear that was about a millimeter thick. I fell in love. Over time, I found myself grabbing a lahmajune whenever I drove by a shop around town, mostly on the Eastside.
Back to Sasoun Bakery in particular, which is one of the most bare bones bakeries in Los Angeles. It’s a simple counter with a brief menu of a half dozen items, including cheese and spinach boerek, both of which work well to bust any hunger for about $2. The bakery was originally founded about 30 years ago by David Yeretsian in Hollywood before expanding to numerous locations around L.A.
The lahmajune here run a paltry $1.50 each, which I love pairing with an apple-shaped Martinelli’s apple juice (hey, I want to feel like a kid again, and I loved drinking those juice bottles). So for $4.50 I’m basically full enough to make it to dinner.
It eventually dries into a kind of umami-riddled veneer
What’s great about Sasoun is their gentle spices blended with nearly disintegrated meat against the tomato-y sauce. I love what happens with this sauce when it’s smeared on so delicately, so thinly that it eventually dries into a kind of umami-riddled veneer. The effect is something that resembles pizza, but without the distraction of cheese. You just get bread and sauce. But oh that flatbread! When made perfectly and then re-heated just before serving, it gets that slight crisp and crunch on the edges, with a gilding of the oven floor to keep it interesting with every bite.
Sasoun might make the most likeable lahmajune in town, if for its all around quality and dirt cheap price. I get two and scarf them down immediately, though if I had more time I might even order one at a time to maximize the short life span of the heat. As the weeks come by, I’ll be sharing more of my lahmajune finds in Los Angeles, culminating in a map that’ll guide you to my favorite ones around town. Until this, hit up Sasoun and save a few bucks for lunch.
Note: I realize that the spelling of lahmajune varies widely, but this is the one that I’ve seen mostly commonly in Los Angeles. Officially on Wikipedia, they favor lahmacun, with lahmajoon as an alternative.
Sasoun Bakery (numerous locations)
625 E. Colorado Blvd, Glendale, CA