The fish, a whole tilapia, is deep fried until the skin is golden and crisp, while the white flesh remains moist and soft. The photo at top shows how It's served with containers of tahina sauce and a searingly spicy cilantro sauce. The name of the dish is sayadiyet samak.
The rice on the plate is brown rice flavored with an amazing 22 spices and cooked with fish fillets so that it complements the tilapia.
The lentil soup that comes with these dishes is as delicious as it is plain. A bowl of yogurt with cucumbers, similar to an Indian raita, also appears. Wonderfully creamy, it's flavored with dill.
The servings are so large that you either have to share with a companion or leave with takeout cartons.
Abu Ahmad, who owns the Olive Tree, is from Palestine. He's everywhere, greeting new arrivals, cooking on the grill, checking how people like their food, passing around a tin of chocolates. In the photo above, he's the man in the dark shirt behind the counter.
The restaurant is small and modest, but the atmosphere is so pleasant you'll probably be back. Each day, there's a different special along with a full menu of kebabs, shawerma plates, hommus, falafel, stuffed grape leaves and many other Middle Eastern dishes.
Olive Tree Restaurant, 512 S. Brookhurst St., # 3, Anaheim, CA 92804. Tel: (714) 535-2878.