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RESTAURANT OF THE WEEK
A PERSONAL REVIEW OF RESTAURANTS AROUND THE WORLD

LA SAJ
STERLING HEIGHTS, MICHIGAN

With a huge population of Lebanese and other people from the Middle East who call the Detroit area home, we are blessed with some of the best cuisine of this type in the entire U.S.

La Saj is a very good restaurant found in a strip mall near a popular mall on the east side of town called Lakeside Mall.  It is popular for lunch and dinner.

You know how you get a bowl of chips and salsa when you are seated at a Mexican joint?  Well at Lebanese restaurants you are served freshly baked "circles" of bread and some out of this world garlic sauce.  The sauce is usually plain white in color and extremely and I mean extremely strong with garlic essence.  It's delicious.  Here it's a little greener in color than at most other Lebanese restaurants in the Detroit area.  I've asked folks how this sauce is made and they all tell me the same thing.  It consists only of tons of fresh garlic cloves and olive oil.  The key to getting it creamy smooth is to blend it at a high speed.  Some also tell me a little ice or water is included to make the consistency just right.  I've tried to recreate it a home and have failed.  Maybe my blender or food processor doesn't have enough horse power, I don't know!  When you eat this delicious sauce or spread, you'd swear that Crisco or lard was involved because it's so smooth.  But if they're being straight with me about ingredients, what could be healthier than olive oil and garlic?

Most meals include a choice of soup or salad to begin with. Our favorite soup there is crushed lentil.  The standard salad is Lebanese all the way with lettuce, some bits of tomatoes, some sort of zucchini type squash, parsley and lemon juice and a little oil.

They have everything from Lebanese sandwiches like Shwarmas (chicken or beef) to Kafta (seasoned ground lamb) to more hearty fare like kabobs (chicken, beef or lamb) to boneless chicken.  Of course you should order some delicious dips, too, like Hommus (creamy, ground chip peas) and Baba Ghanouge (creamy blended roasted egg plant).  Of course you'll find stuffed grape leaves and fresh juices, too.

Most meals come with delicious rice with bits of shredded coconut on top and roasted veggies like carrots, potatoes and peppers.

While we enjoy La Saj a lot, our all time favorite in the Detroit area was La Shish.  It was so traditional including the Lebanese music in the background that you felt like you were in Beruit and might be kidnapped at any moment!  Sadly La Shish is no more due to a mega drama involving the owner and allegations of international skull duggelry.  A new La Shish with a new owner is open in Dearborn.   We haven't gotten over there yet.

In the meantime we will continue to enjoy our meals at La Saj.  Details on the restaurant and menu on their website here.