Q&A With Mini Kabob’s Ovakim Martirosyan
Armenian food is a big part of Los Angeles — and the city of Glendale, which is best known for having the largest Armenian population in the U.S. So naturally, it’s home to the best Armenian food in city. Recently, my foodie friend Armen Martirosyan of @EatBearded invited me and @Grubfiend to try out Mini Kabob in Glendale, the Martirosyan family’s awesome authentic Armenian kabob place. We had the highly-recommended Combination Plate, which has an assortment of chicken lule, pork tenderloin, chicken thigh, and so much more. Are you drooling yet? Well, here’s a visual.
Armen’s parents Ovakim and Alvard cook up these delicious recipes in a small three-table space on Vine Street with a whole lotta heart. After hearing about my love/obsession with falafel, they cooked up a superb batch of their own falafel. Many thanks to the Martirosyans for an incredible meal and to Ovakim for answering a few questions for a short Q&A below.
Did you always want to be a chef?
Yes, very much. I love this job. This is my favorite job. I’ve been doing it for 47 years and 19 years in this space. I was always cooking somewhere. Always cooking.
How have you seen the neighborhood change in the past 19 years?
The neighborhood has so much traffic now. Too much traffic. It’s crazy now. It’s good for business and more opportunity, but not for living.
Are there any challenges working in a smaller space?
It doesn’t matter if your place is big or small. It only matters how you cook. If you love your job, you will cook good food. That’s what’s important. It doesn’t mean you need a big place.
What is your favorite dish on the menu?
Chicken lule kabob — ground chicken, that’s my favorite. I make the ground chicken myself. Or the mini kabob. I love it.
What inspired your recipes?
Mostly, I learned it when I was studying in class, practice, learning from my parents — it’s a combination. Mostly, though, from studying and from my mom. Of course, I also learned from other places I worked. You learn something from every experience.