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South Asian Standout: A Review of Wrap n'Roll Kabob House
© 2012 by Aurelio Locsin.
If you’re unlucky enough to visit the Wrap n’Roll Kabob House at around noon on a normal business day, you may not find a free space among the packed 15 or so square wooden tables that seat from two to four people. The restaurant has become popular with the workers that staff the surrounding offices and industrial buildings in Brea, California.
The preponderance of South Asian faces among the patrons tells you that the food is authentic and might lead you to believe that this is an Indian restaurant. But the appearance of beef in burgers, kabobs and the spicy dahl quickly dispels that assumption.
Upon moving to the United States, Chef Sameer was disappointed that he could find no restaurants serving the cuisine of his beloved Pakistan. So he returned to Karachi for training under local chefs, so he could bring his favorite foods back to Orange County, California. His culture has no qualms about including beef in its dishes, unlike the neighboring Indians who hold cows sacred. In fact, Chef Sameer confesses, one favorite repast of his countrymen is the Shanghai Steak Sandwich, which appears on the menu as pieces of steak with onions, bell peppers and melted Swiss cheese on a French roll.
I’ve had many of the menu selections for dinner. Despite their uniform deliciousness, I advise you to eschew the regular choices for the lunchtime specialty: the all-you-can-eat buffet, which costs under $10, not including drinks. It’s an excellent way for those unfamiliar with Pakistani cuisine to gain a quick introduction to the culture’s flavors.
To those familiar with South Asian food, I’ll enumerate some of the favorites that have appeared on the buffet:
- Garlic Naan – a wedge of tandoori bread stuffed with fresh garlic. Chef Sameer cooks this staple just 90 seconds before serving it, although the flour-based bread easily disappears in that interval during the buffet. He offered samples of a new cheese version during one lunch, adding mozzarella to bump up the flavor factor.
- Vegetable Korma, which primarily consists of button mushrooms and peas in a sauce containing cloves, ginger and a dozen other spices.
- Lamb Curry. The chef did not serve lamb for the longest time, citing lack of a reliable supply. Fortunately, he’s found a regular source, so he can offer my favorite dish, with just a hint of lamb flavor in the slightly spicy sauce.
- Chicken Shashlik Kabob, which marinates chicken breast pieces in a blend of yogurt and cheese, and then grills the remainder in bell peppers, onions, tomatoes and cucumbers.
- Potato Somosas. Golden-brown puff pastries packed with a fluffy potato curry mixture.
- Chicken Tikka Masala. Arguably the dish we most associate with the Indian subcontinent, this version boasts a “signature tomato and butter cream sauce” with cashews.
- Gulab Jamon – donut holes swimming in slightly sweet rosewater flavored with coconut flakes.
For the adventurous, the Wrap N’Roll Kabob House is worthy of a trial just because it’s the only Pakistani restaurant in Orange County. For the rest of us, the tasty ingredients, inventive selections and low prices warrant repeat visits with friends, especially during lunch.
- Wrap n' Roll Kabob House | Brea, CA | About us
Pakistani Cuisine located in Brea, CA. Serving special wraps and dishes. We also offer catering for events.