Restaurant menu

What’s on the Middle Eastern restaurant menu

“How would you like your tenderloin cooked?”

Now there’s a question you don’t expect to hear at the counter of a gyroscope store. Especially when the filet mignon comes to you in a polystyrene container with plastic forks and a bottle of water for the road.

But Mohammad Menassera is a thorough waiter, even if that mainly means passing take-out boxes from the kitchen of the Hana House Middle Eastern restaurant to the counter, which is full of flyers and business cards in Arabic.

Recently, Menassera teamed up with his uncle Mustafa Manassra, who opened the restaurant in a low-key strip mall on Northern Avenue off I-17. Mustafa is originally from the West Bank of Jerusalem and has lived in the United States since the early 90s, the last 17 years in Arizona.

It opened its first restaurant in January at the former Mexican restaurant Los Compadres, which operated for 34 years until it closed in 2019. The large dining room is the focal point of an eclectic mall filled with a restaurant Jamaican, animal ophthalmologist and a liquor store. To make his space special, Mustafa adorned the marquee with a photo of his first daughter Hana wearing a traditional Middle Eastern dress with a cloth headpiece and gold coins.

Unlike his nephew, who left a management position at Nordstrom to come to work with his family, Mustafa is a no frills guy. But he lit up when he started talking about Middle Eastern cuisine.

What to expect at Hana House

Even in its early stages, you can tell Hana House holds itself to a high standard of presentation and quality, with colorful plates of vegetables and spiced meats with bright dustings of paprika and sumac.

Meat pies at Hana House restaurant in Phoenix are rubbed with ground beef on May 5, 2021.

Hana mostly sticks to standard Middle Eastern dishes like gyro and shawarma which play well in a takeout box. You may have noticed the restaurant on several popular delivery apps like Uber Eats, Grubhub, and Postmates.

But the gorgeous skewers, grilled over an open fire and cooked to order, a rare juicy medium, are the star. Even if your side dishes are basmati rice rather than mashed potatoes, you still feel like you’re splurging on a steakhouse.

Interestingly, Hana House has an extensive menu of appetizers, with spinach pies and ground beef croquettes and four types of hummus, including one called fattet which is served with shredded pita bread mixed with the spread. You might think of it as a cousin of the famous fattoush salad, which also includes pieces of broken pita bread tossed in with the vegetables. Both dishes are part of the same fattat family, which refers to broken pieces of flatbread.

Hana House also offers rare Levantine and Egyptian dishes that aren’t on the menu, but you can call ahead. Their Instagram page features a photo of the huge pile of rice called makloobah, which is cooked upside down layered with fried vegetables and then scattered in a decadent assortment. Google’s shopping page features a mouth-watering plate of koshari, a popular midnight street food in Egypt, consisting essentially of performance-enhancing drug macaroni tossed with a flurry of rice and lentils and thick slices of fried onions .

Importantly, Hana House is also a hookah bar and features some interesting flavors like Safari Melon Dew, Irish Peach, and Samba Lemon Mint. But since it’s also a community center, Hana used to host a popular Iftar buffet during the month of Ramadan, when watchers broke their fast over plates of hummus and tabbouleh and the aforementioned makloobah. Mustafa said that in the future he would like to maintain the Middle Eastern buffet during the daily lunch service.

Based on my visit, I currently recommend going for take out rather than dine in. You’ll probably have a better experience, as the empty dining room was a bit drab and the servers weren’t wearing masks. My visit this week turned into an impromptu picnic in a parking lot, with take-out boxes spread out on the leafy grass of a rolling mound that straddled 23rd Avenue. We’ll just call it al fresco dining.

Here’s what to order when you go

Savory meat pies and Hana special mix plate for one at the Hana House restaurant in Phoenix on May 5, 2021.

Here’s what I suggest you get: The Hana Special Mix for 1. (There’s also a larger combo plate for two with twice the meat.) At $19.99, this plate comes with skewers and a half full of each of the three Hana skewer offerings.

First is the chicken, chunks of fat that have been rubbed in yogurt and lemon juice with a few fiery charcoal marks from the grill. They aren’t complete until you dip them in the wallopy garlic cream sauce they give you on the side. Wow, does this zing stuff. And zang.

The plate also comes with a skewer of kofta, the Middle Eastern meatloaf kebab that tastes like a spicy burger without the bun. Their version is made with ground beef and lamb for extra tenderness, and shaped into a long, dense patty that you prick with your fork or tear with your fingers.

Finally, the top-of-the-range kebab model, the filet mignon, cut into bite-size pieces sprinkled with parsley. I was supposed to take the leftovers home to my family, but I had a hard time not eating all the juicy bits on my own. The skewers were accompanied by a clever salad and placed on a delicate bed of basmati rice, the grains so long and tender they reminded me of orzo pasta.

Since they take up such a big part of the menu, my meal consisted mostly of entrees: a box of crispy falafels, which had little thumbprints in the middle like a chickpea cracker; soft meat pies called sfeeha that were rubbed with ground beef and pine nuts; and my favorite, the beef hummus and shawarma appetizer, which was stained red with sumac and glistening with olive oil piling up the sides of the takeout box.

The shawarma itself was thinly sliced ​​which almost gave the beef the texture of little strands of sausage fried in a pan. But mixed with the thick hummus, it was pure comfort. The kind of food you snatch from the fridge later at night, which I did, using the meat pastries to soak up the hummus. The perfect bite.

The interior of the Hana House restaurant in Phoenix on May 5, 2021.

Hana House Restaurant

Or: 2350 W. Northern Ave., Phoenix.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday.

Price: Entrees $4.99 – $19.99; soups and salads $4.99 to $8.99; entrees $14.99 to $38.99.

Details: 602-354-3416, hanahouserestaurant.com.