This week LA Weekly restaurant critic Besha Rodell explains and examines the work at Mh Zh (pronounced mah zeh) in Silver Lake, a new Israeli restaurant on the corner of one of Silver Lake’s most popular corners. Located next to the popular Millie’s and around the corner from the likes of Trois Familia and Pine & Crane, the new Middle Eastern restaurant has been drawing crowds.
The place, however, has plenty of its own quirks, from a menu written on brown paper bags, a BYOB policy, and a non-functional website. Chef/owner Conor Chemtov grew up in L.A. but has an Israeli father and spent time eating in his father’s homeland. The food is, needless to say, oddly presented:
A round of cardboard stands in for a plate underneath the lovely house salad "molto benne [sic] style," which indeed takes its cues from Italy: peppery arugula, a shower of sharp cheese, a light but pert dressing and a section of ripe avocado. A $6 dish of potato comes on brown paper — the large, basic Idaho potatoes have been cooked through, then cut into quarters and finished in the coal-fired oven that burns hot and forms the heart of this kitchen.
B-Rod raves about the lamb dish too:
That lamb dish, advertised as "lamb ragooooooo" (length of the "ooooo" dependent on the day and the enthusiasm of the menu writer), is Mh Zh's most elemental don't-miss item. The lamb is unapologetically funky, and the tahini base gives it a savory tang that — along with sumac and preserved lemon — creates a level of crave-ability rarely encountered. I want to eat it all the time, every day, forever.
And so while the experience can be a bit maddening here, with paper bag plates, it’s all kind of worth it, as Rodell wraps up her three-star review with a note on the price:
It's hard to keep up any façade of annoyance. If you do manage to maintain some ambivalence throughout your meal, the last vestiges will likely dissipate when you get your check. I have stuffed myself silly here numerous times and have never yet cracked $50 (pre-tip) for two people. Mh Zh is cheap, cheap enough to warrant the wait and the grease-stained menus and the impossible trendiness of it all.