The Top 5 Dishes in Woodland Hills

Discover five must-try dishes from sushi to Italian and Persian

Cornish game hen at Asal Bakery & Kabob | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Woodland Hills is an upscale neighborhood in the southwest San Fernando Valley that spans nearly 15 square miles and extends from the Warner Center business park to the wilds of Topanga State Park. Much of the action centers on Ventura and Topanga Canyon Boulevards. The area is a hotbed for Middle Eastern and Indian restaurants, though you’ll find a fairly wide spectrum. Start by eating these five standout dishes.

 

Sand Dabs Fiorentina at Adagio | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Adagio



In Italian (and music), adagio implies taking your time and gradually getting things done. Diners certainly are in no rush at Adagio, an ivy-coated restaurant from Claudio Gontier with art-lined walls and grey booths that frame a dining room full of neighborhood denizens. The menu features tableside Caesar salad and pasta dishes galore, but don’t sleep on sand dabs Fiorentina. Delicate, flaky fillets from the Pacific Ocean are sautéed with bright white wine, lemon, chopped tomatoes, and spinach. Each order comes plated with carrots, broccoli, roasted potatoes, a squeezable lemon wedge, and parsley garnish.

Cornish game hen at Asal Bakery & Kabob | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Asal Bakery and Kabob



Tehran born cousins Mike Riazati and Reza Abdollahi founded Asal Bakery & Kabob in 2010, centering their Persian business on a rotating oven with a ridged base that produces chewy, sesame studded sangak bread. However, this restaurant with pink Plexiglas tables and tantalizing pastry cases delve far deeper than sangak. Kabobs also stand out, especially Cornish game hen. Each small bird’s marinated in a blend of yogurt, ketchup, onion and saffron and charbroiled to a beautiful orange hue. Accompaniments include rice and/or salad, grilled tomato and pepper, “fresh vegetables” like mint and raw onion, and a pat of Darigold butter. Upgrade to flavored rice like zereshk polo, fluffy basmati grains dressed with tart barberries, sweet caramelized shallots and fragrant saffron.

Black and White Donuts at Blinkie's Donut Emporium | Photo: @ned.gill, Instagram

Blinkie's Donut



Blinkie’s has been a boon to Woodland Hills donut lovers since 2003, when Teresa Ngo and father Hugh took over the humble strip mall shop. They’ve become a destination for raised and cake donuts, and starting in 2017, Teresa really kicked her creativity into high gear, parlaying favorite global flavors into donut form. Weekends bring especially tantalizing options to the case that may include mango Tajín, Thai tea showered with toasted coconut, and horchata dusted with cinnamon. Still, it’s hard to surpass the simple, ingenious pleasure of a black and white donut. This supple raised ring sports both chocolate and vanilla glazes, meaning customers don’t have to choose. This riff on a longtime deli fave, the black and white cookie, reimagines the idea in a fun new form.

Sautéed shrimp roll at Brothers Sushi

 |  Photo: Joshua Lurie

Brothers Sushi



Brothers and Little Brother Sushi operate three blocks apart in Woodland Hills, and while Little Brother (born in 2005) has plenty of reasons to visit, they aren’t as large or have quite as many offerings as Brothers Sushi, which Goro Uehara founded over 30 years ago. The oceanic design scheme features colorful fish decorations and sea blue carpet. Specials written on blackboards and posted papers supplement a large menu. Sautéed shrimp roll features butterflied shrimp sautéed in butter garlic sauce. Sweet crustaceans join cooling cucumber, tiny tobiko (flying fish roe) and black sesame seeds in soy paper wrappers in a shallow pool of more sauce. Lobster is available for a bit more money.

Vegetarian combo at Mazar Mediterranean Restaurant

 |  Photo: Joshua Lurie

Mazar Mediterranean Restaurant



Mazar is a multi-faceted, family-run café with a big back patio where people can blaze up hookahs, plus a dining room with mottled walls with 3-D stonework, frescoes and wine imagery. Their vegetarian combo platter is in no way unique to Mazar – you’ll find them in many Mediterranean restaurants - but this version is well executed and a joy to eat. This mix-and-match plate stars five key elements that pair well with pita. Hummus is a creamy chickpea dip blended with nutty tahini, olive oil, and lemon juice, dressed with Aleppo pepper, diced tomato, olive oil, and parsley. Baba Ganoush mixes smoky roasted eggplant, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, and herbs and arrives dressed with matching accompaniments. Tabbouleh is a tangy salad crafted with bulgur, chopped parsley, tomatoes, mint, scallions, and olive oil. Stuffed grape leaves contain similarly punchy rice, parsley, tomatoes, onions, lemon juice, and spices. Crispy fried falafel rings crafted with chickpeas, parsley, onions, garlic, cilantro and spices seamlessly dip in tahini.