The illusion starts before you enter, that is, if you parked in back. To reach the restaurant, you have to pass through a market stocked with Middle Eastern breads and other essentials from that part of the world.
What should you eat? Kababs, of course. They come on plates with rice, salad and pita bread or in wraps or sandwiches. The lamb kabab sandwich above was as notable for the soft fresh roll--the bread is delivered daily--as for the meat.
A salad option lets you create a combination from the assortment on hand. The standouts in the plate above were the eggplant dip baba ghanoush (at left) and the rosy bulgur salad called kisir (in the foreground).
I loved the smokiness of the eggplant, which is sprinkled with pinkish red sumac. And it was nice to run into kisir again after tasting it at the Anatolian Festival in Costa Mesa.
Behind them are tabbouleh, made with more parsley than bulgur (at right) and a chopped Israeli salad.
Sofra's menu is extensive, with vegetarian options and a few desserts. Notice the care the restaurant took in decorating a pastry made with the shredded dough kadayif. The strands and flowers are made of raspberry and chocolate sauces.
The other desserts are Turkish ice cream, baklava and brownies, which are definitely not Turkish, but customers have asked for them.
Sofra Kabab Express, 10821 Venice Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90034. Tel: (310) 838-8833.