Noah’s Ark: A Sinking Feeling

noah’s dinnerRyan,

I regret to inform you that I will be unable to complete my assignment this week. I visited “Noah’s Ark” in Van Nuys, as promised, but there is just nothing much to say about it. Nothing good, anyway. Also, God drained my camera battery upon entering this place, so the attached pics were taken with my camera phone.

Let me start off by saying that I really, really wanted to like this place. I had envisioned a restaurant full of religious images, possibly of tragic stuffed animals crammed two-by-two into ark stables. I wanted kitsch or deadpanned devotion. I got…blah. The decor is a hodge-podge of “country chic”, Spanish monasteries and party-rental furniture. Each table is graced with a Chinese-styled vase and dying flowers. The place DOES have a mural depicting Noah and a line of ark passengers, but it’s mostly an expanse of grey…perhaps to convey the grim circumstances under which the ark was built. In retrospect, that mural prophesied my bleak meal to come.

It’s 8:00 p.m. on a Friday and the place is empty. There is one other table of two, but they don’t appear to be eating. One of the employees has set up camp on another table and is deep into a game of Monopoly on her laptop. The music playing reminds me of a Mexican gay disco circa 1990. I choose a table in the center of the room, in order to take in whatever excitement jumps off any…minute…now.

tongueI order too much food for two people, but I am hoping to find a reason to rave. The lamb tongue appetizer skeeved me out, but I am never fond of tongue that’s not been peeled. The bumpy outer layer is just creepy. It is served cold on a pile of lettuce, drowned in lemon juice and dried herbs. Bumps aside, it had an overwhelming metallic taste to it, like they had somehow managed to infuse the dressing with aluminum foil. I also order the “Arayes-Maria”, ground beef and pine nuts baked into a pita bread, which was alright, but nothing to freak out about.

The main courses arrive together, all three of them. I got the “Lule Kabob”, because the waitress said it was the house specialty, the “Beef Kabob” because she said it was the most popular, and the “Chicken Shawarma” because she said it was her favorite. Each plate comes with a choice of side: french fries, rice or grilled vegetables. I asked for one of each.

I wish that I could now discuss the merits of each plate, but I just…can’t. Each plate came with a pile of thick-sliced onions and parsley, and pita bread. The meats all taste similar, and rather bland. There are no sauces to bump up the flavor (it should be noted that garlic sauce, hummus and baba ganoush can be ordered on the side, but I have estimated that this meal is already costing me at least $55, and am in no mood to order more). The grilled vegetables consist of a whole roma tomato, two crimini mushrooms and three large chunks of eggplant–all unseasoned. The fries come from a freezer bag, and I actually eat quite a few of these. The rice is the one delicious item I’ve tried so far, and a fork fight ensues over who gets to eat it.

In the end, there are mountains of food to take home, and I’m not so eager to have it around as leftovers. The meal costs $67.80, with tip. I don’t even get a Chick tract with my bill.

I feel really bad about the whole experience. I am a terrible food reviewer because I only want to say nice things, or at least SOMETHING nice. They’ve only recently opened…maybe they will improve. Can I just write about someplace else?

-Samosa Mel

Noah’s Ark
(818) 786-1202
13641 Burbank Blvd. Van Nuys, CA 91401
Open Tues-Sun., 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. for lunch and dinner

a samosa mel exclusive