Laila’s Kitchen

I should know by now to never trust the weather.

It was 49F and the forecast was for 55F, which is more than warm enough weather to ride in, so I decided to ride the bike up to Laila’s Kitchen in Hagerstown, MD to check it out. It was cold, but I took the back way, avoiding the highway, with the expectation that it would warm up a bit more and everything would be right in the world.

After a longer than normal trip to Hagerstown from home, I was searching for this restaurant on the dual highway. It wasn’t difficult to find as it was on the corner of East Franklin and North Potomac, which is right on the dual highway. I’ve passed this place many times before with no idea of what it was. The outside of the restaurant and the name gave no indication of the type of food they serve. I thought it just your typical mom and pop sandwich shop and had no desire to go in until I realized that they served kabobs.

Upon entering I was immediately impressed. The interior was spacious and clean. It was well lit without being overly bright or so dim that I was afraid of tripping over the lines in the tiles on the floor. The interior color scheme was all black and white except for some light green walls.

As you walk in the menu is in front of you on the wall. You just make a selection from there and then go order at the counter. I ordered the combination Chicken & Koobidah platter with a hot tea to try and warm up from the unexpectedly frigid ride. The total was only $12.08, which is not a bad price at all compared to the only other Kabob restraint I’ve tried in the past, Moby Dick’s House of Kabob. From there I seated myself near one of the large front windows so that I could have adequate lighting for some photographs. Even though the light may be more than sufficient to a person’s eyes, photos usually take a lot more light to turn out right. This is especially true with a variable aperture kit lens, which is the only lens I have for a new Olympus E-P3 camera I was testing out. Anyone with a bit of photography knowledge will know why and if you don’t have any photography knowledge than this is more or a discussion for a photography website and not a food and travel website.

Shortly after getting situated and messing with different settings on my new camera, my tea was brought out to me with a glass of water. The tea was good and wasn’t too weak or too strong or burnt. I don’t know if anyone else has had the pleasure of forgetting that your tea is steeping to find it thirty to forty-five minutes later. Even better than that is being dumb enough to taste it. I’ve had my share of bad cups of tea. It was also good to get something warm. Cold from riding doesn’t go away easily.

My Chicken & Koobidah combination platter was brought out next and man did it look good. Koobidah is seasoned ground beef and I’m expecting some of you to automatically say, “I can make mini hamburger balls without having to go to some restaurant to pay for them!” and I’m sure you can, but I’d wager you can’t make them as good as these. The flavor was intense. It was spicy, sour, and sweet all at the same time with all flavors melding together and none overpowering the others. The meat was extremely juicy and not dry at all. That’s a fear I always have of entrees that contain ground beef is that it’ll have all the juices cooked out of it. The chicken was also perfectly cooked as well, being extremely tender and juicy with the same flavor and not dry or god forbid, undercooked.

The meal also came with a side of naan, which is bread like pita but not as hard and not cut with a pocket, and basmati rice. The bread was soft and delicious and the rice was cooked perfectly so it was not mushy or dry. They also had sumac! This isn’t the sumac you’re probably thinking of. Sumac is a shrub or tree that has the fruit ground into a reddish or purple powder. It’s a very citrusy flavor but not so much that I would compare it to lemon or lime. I love the flavor of sumac spice but personally can’t stand lemons or limes; I don’t even like 7up or Sprite.

So in a tradition I have of eating rice, I put a large quantity of sumac on it. It’s a great combination in my opinion and if you think I’m overdoing the sumac use, you can go eat your basmati rice elsewhere.

The food and atmospheres at Laila’s Kitchen is great and I have to give props to the cook for being able to cook so well. The price was right and the location is good as well. I definitely have this one marked up as a place to share with friends and family in the future and if you’re ever in the Hagerstown area and want to try a unique experience for this region, go visit Laila’s Kitchen. You won’t be disappointed.

Oh, and it never did get about 49F, which made for a cold ride home.

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