Long Island has long been a hub for second generation Mediterraneans, but those craving food from the motherland will find a second home at Kabobshak in Selden.
Owner/founder Alia Yassen is about to celebrate Kabobshak’s one year anniversary. Kabobshak, which opened on April 22, 2016, received rave reviews from the start for its authentic take on Middle Eastern cuisine. Outside of Manhattan, it’s difficult to find the perfect falafel and shawarma, but Yassen and her family serve up these mainstays as well as baba ganoush, tabbouleh, halvah, harissa, grilled pita sandwiches and souvlaki. Since each dish is made fresh daily by Yassen, her family and staff, it’s hard to get more authentic this side of the Atlantic.
“Every single aspect and detail on our menu is made from scratch and we always choose fresh, local produce. Every morning the aroma of the pita bread baking fills the restaurant—it’s very hard not to have a piece,” said Yassen.
Yassen’s current position in foodservice was not one she would have guessed during her decade-plus career as a makeup artist. “Both sides of my family are of Mediterranean background and we always made everything fresh and healthy. I was always very comfortable in the kitchen, and I absolutely love cooking and creating new recipes.”
Turns out, she had plenty of transferrable skills. “I am very naturally a creative person, and I like to work with my hands.”
About six years ago, Yassen decided to attend culinary school and enroll in a full-time cooking program. After graduation, she went on to work at Rare 650, Oheka Castle and Ocean Restaurant in Bayville. “I learned so much, I did everything from salad station to line cook to creating desserts for multiple locations.”
Itching to open her own business, Yassen teamed up with her uncle, the former chef at Crescent Beach Club in Bayville, Greek Village in Commack, It’s Greek to Me in Syosset and Roberto’s in Commack, and father to open Kabobshak. Through its open-kitchen concept and focus on healthy dining, it has quickly become a favorite for Long Islanders. Members of the local vegetarian and vegan communities also frequent Kabobshak for its extensive list of meat and dairy free options, including grilled chickpea sandwiches and vegetarian kabobs.
Now with one year under its belt, Kabobshak promises to expand its vegan and vegetarian offerings again. Warm lentils over salad with veggies and the classic mujadara, a lentil and basmati rice dish topped with grilled onions will make their appearance. Plus, Yassen and her family will also promote a “tasting spread” for the weekend of April 21 and 22 to celebrate the restaurant’s anniversary.
“Our customers have been amazing, constantly helping us spread the word through social media, suggestions and writing reviews. We want to do something great for them.”