Su Beoreg & Monta Factory, a tiny family-run business in the Armenian-American stronghold of north Pasadena, is about as far away from a factory than the mind can wander. Yerevan native Evelina Yegiazaryan makes almost every morsel of food by hand. The space hosts only three tables. Husband Grant and son Jack are her only co-workers. Yet despite all the limitations, they make the situation work well.
The restaurant has experienced a seriously slow build. The family's been selling the food of their youth for over a decade, but only decided to open a grab-and-go option a year ago. Now you'll find a single half-moon shaped table, along with a pair of high-top tables that a tan umbrella shades. Soft music emanates from the small kitchen, including songs like Edith Piaf's rendition of "La Vie en Rose." A red sign marks your arrival, reading, "Better that your grandma's — she'll agree!" That's right, the Yegiazaryans are calling out your grandma, for good reason.
There's a strong likelihood that your nana can't touch Evelina's two signature dishes. The chef, who has shoulder length black hair and has been known to wear a yellow Los Pollos Hermanos apron inspired by "Breaking Bad," prepares su beoreg like great lasagna. She layers thin, house-made dough with savory feta, mozzarella, and chopped parsley. You can buy a whole pan or snag a slice for $1.50 that is crispy outside, and soft inside.
Sini-monta are open-faced, ship-shaped beef dumplings that are available in sheets starting at $8. Interconnected dumplings are seasoned with sumac and red pepper before getting slathered with spicy pepper paste and tangy yogurt-based garlic cream sauce. Grant Yegiazaryan joked, "In Armenia, this is every child's favorite food. When you say monta, they start to shake."
You're definitely going to want to raid the family's fridge. That's where you'll find containers of soup like tomato herb, garlic cream and borsche, along with packages of stuffed pickled cabbage leaves ($5). These cool, bracing bundles come wrapped in cabbage leaves pickled simply in-house with salt. Inside, expect an al dente blend of green lentils, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, black-eyed peas, and aromatics. Evelina Yegiazaryan said this dish is popular in western Armenia around New Year's since pickled cabbage is good for aiding digestion.
Jack Yegiazaryan explained why they have wild Alaskan salmon sandwiches and beef-based "street tacos" on the menu, saying, "It's something I thought people could relate to. If they like this, maybe they'll come back and try some of our specialty dishes." That said, the wild Alaskan salmon sandwich ($10) is no throwaway item. A juicy slab of pink fish arrives on toasted ciabatta with spring mix and house tahini spread. Squeeze on lemon and pair with an included bag of kettle chips, possibly sea salt & vinegar.
On the wall inside Su Beoreg & Monta Factory, you'll find a black and white photo of Grant Yegiazaryan and two friends on the banks of the Black Sea in the Soviet Union, at the height of the Cold War. They're wearing Soviet Army hats sporting USA patches. Son Jack said, "If they got caught, I probably wouldn't be here today." Pasadena is clearly fortunate that fateful trip went according to plan.
Su Beoreg & Monta Factory
1531 E. Washington Blvd