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Albania is for Lovers.
And they have dumplings...
I mentioned last week that I started a new project that I was excited about. This new project revolves around food, of course, but not just any food - ALL Food. I am fully vaxxed + ready to enjoy my crazy, kooky delicious city again. I’ve decided to task myself with eating through every country A-Z in New York. It’s not an easy feat or a quick one. It will take months, lots of Prilosec/vanilla milkshakes, writing, photographing, and perseverance, but I’m so excited to do it! I’m sure other people have done it (mainly those with Yelp Elite accounts...I dunno why that is even a thing) but this will be my take on it. Ready to go around the world with me? Let’s start with Albania…(don’t worry I’m not skipping Afghanistan. I just so happened to get to Albania first since it’s near where I live!)
Cha ka Qellu is a quaint traditional Albanian restaurant near Arthur Ave in the Bronx. The restaurant is chock full of character. With traditional ancestral clothes and items all over the brick-walled restaurant, you feel like you've stepped into a small Albanian village.
I had zero expectations of anything + was open to everything.
We ordered two appetizers: pepper dip + tarator.
They were small dips (enough for 2 ppl to share).
The pepper dip is a salty creamy dip with bits of sauteed green peppers. Very tasty and is slightly warm. The tarator is a chilled yogurt sauce mix with minced cucumber and garlic sprinkled with parsley. It's very reminiscent of tzatziki but a bit garlickier in a very good way. Dips are accompanied by hot puffy soft grilled bread. Beware bread is so hot you can definitely burn yourself like I did (impatience got the best of me).
For our mains, we ordered: mantia + a mixed grilled platter.
Mantia is baked veal dumplings in a ceramic tava dish. The dumplings are baked with a creamy white sauce that resembles ricotta in texture. The filling of the dumplings is well spiced + the dumpling skin is super thin.
The mixed grilled platter comes with qofte, quebapa, sausage, coleslaw, and feta cheese square + tomato.
Qofte are traditional Albanian meatballs that is made with ground veal, onions, crushed red pepper + herbs.
Quebapa are finger-sized sausages made with ground veal, onions, garlic, and seasoning. They resemble breakfast sausage links but taste far superior.
The Albanian sausage had a very mild spicy taste to it + had the texture of chorizo.
The coleslaw isn't your typical bbq side of coleslaw. It's still the slaw of cabbage + carrot but instead of a mayo base, it's zippy vinaigrette which is actually refreshing when you're eating such a meaty meal accompanied with dairy.
All in all, I'd say Albanian is right up my alley! This place screams authenticity from decor to food to the actual customers who go there-actual Albanians.
Loved the experience + hope to go again.
Cook. Eat. Repeat.
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