11923 Santa Monica Blvd., West Los Angeles, (310) 478-9464
A great find thanks to Gold and Chowhound, Mama Voula's
continues the unfortunate Westside-centric trend in my blog. If minimal car usage coexists with Greek food this good, I can reconcile my environmentalism and gastronomic anthropology until the next dim sum craving.
We made a good run at the menu starting with spanakopita
and three dips. Taramosalata
especially notable but a nice mix with tzatziki
and the eggplant
one. Among the mains, loukaniko/sausage
are tops, with soft mashed-potato topped moussaka
the comfort food option. Best dessert is the phyllo pie thing with custard inside called bugatsa
. Greek coffee
is very fine, swirl the grinds in the cup and Ron the waiter will tell your fortune. Price is surprisingly low-end for the quality, generous portions and friendly service.
Thanks to Theo for culinary expertise and May for the hats.
One simply has to order the marides/fried smelt
at Mama Voula's. They are tiny whole fish about the size of your middle finger, fried intact so the fins stick out in an adorable way. Bite off the head first, it contains a hint of bitterness which isn't all bad. Then eat the body, succulent white fish inside a delicately crispy exterior. If you're a recombiner like Ian, make a sammidge with pita and dip of choice. Or combine with dip, bread and a morsel of saganaki/flaming cheese
like Theo did. The saganaki is also superb, flambed in ouzo and squirted with lemon juice.
Which leads to the unavoidable conclusion - perhaps one is better off ordering nothing but appetizers at Mama Voula's. The main dishes are good, and particularly in the case of the Greek plate
(gyro meat, dolmas, the funny Greek hummus, tzatziki, spuds, brocolli) very filling. But a meal made entirely of small dishes could maximize what the restaurant does best. Clearly future experimentation is required.