Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sultan's: Taste Over Glitz in a Lansing Strip Mall

When I walked to my elementary school in winter, I used to hold my breath. I was convinced that the steam I exhaled was a limited quantity, that I might run out of it if I was too careless. This is basically the same reason I don't spend more time at Sultans that I already do. I don't want to run out of the pleasure of it.

Sultans occupies the back corner of My Favorite Parking Lot, and has a sort of neglected charm. Where Chapelure and Sansu are slick, up-to-the-minute establishments, Sultan's is a little dated and a little dusty. But what it lacks in glitz, it makes up for in taste.

Start with the cocktails. Or rather, start with the absence of cocktails. Sultan's is a no-alcohol establishment. Instead of mixed drinks, there's mixed juices, all fresh squeezed. I generally opt for the Sunset - strawberries, apple juice, grapefruit juice, and honey. This is not a smoothie - it's juice, light, frothy, and sweet, and it compliments the middle-eastern tang of the marinades and sauces nicely.

And then with the rolls. If you're lucky. The rolls are these little pillows of bread, so airy, they're nearly hollow. They are addictive, which is a bad thing, since they often run out, leaving late-comers with dry, bland triangles of pita bread. The first time I encountered the pita, I nearly cried.

And then with the massive quantity of goodness that constitutes a Sultan's entree. I ususally stick with the chicken kabobs - grilled until they're almost crispy, and full of some fantastic marinade that I can't even start to figure out. Skip the tzatziki-like sauce (it's sort of bland), but make haste for the rice and the grilled tomato. I've also had the kibbeh (heavenly) and the schwarma (so-so). The Kabob, though, that's my go-to dish.

The hummus and tabbouleh, both beautiful, are overkill. It looks like you might want a little extra bit when you're checking out the menu, but once the bread comes out and the food starts piling up, you realize that this is not a place you'll leave hungry.

It should be noted that I found this place through its cousin downtown, a complete dive that goes by the same name. If the strip-mall Sultan's is a little dusty, the downtown one is downright meager. Of course, the food is amazing there too, and the place is packed to the door every lunch hour. A couple more food finds to add to the Lansing repertoire.

Sultan's Place on Urbanspoon

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