California

Forn Al Hara: Baking Deluxe Baklava and Flatbreads by Disney

By Joshua Lurie | May 17, 2010 6 comments
Forn Al Hara: Baking Deluxe Baklava and Flatbreads by Disney
Forn Al Hara
512 South Brookhurst Street
Anaheim, CA 92804
714 758 3777

Date of Visit: February 27, 2010

Middle Eastern Bakery Orange County
Life happily involves continuous bar raising. My 2008 visit to Al Sanabel Bakery consisted of eye-opening exposure to over 20 different Lebanese flatbreads. However, more doesn’t always mean better, as evidenced by my initial visit to nearby Forn Al Hara. The name roughly translates as neighborhood bakery, with “forn” meaning bakery in Arabic, but owner Mo Alam’s cafe holds appeal that should extend beyond Little Arabia’s Brookhurst Plaza.

Alam is a Tripoli native who has filled his six-table space with plenty of eye candy, particularly the counters and display cases, which are lined and packed with pastries.

Middle Eastern Bakery Orange County
Roy Herwick’s murals of Lebanon consist of a couple enjoying a hookah, a baker sliding a flatbread into a stone oven, a town square with a man carrying a tray of flatbreads on his head and a donkey hauling a wagon of fruit

A wall-mounted flatbread menu to the right of the register lists more options than any single table can possibly accommodate. Lebanese baker Ali Farhat worked at Al Sanabel for over eight years before sliding down Brookhurst Street.

Farhat makes 19 different flatbreads, with variations on certain varieties. For example, you can get a cheese flatbread topped with chicken, spinach, soujouk or eggs; zatar flatbread is available with labni, cheese or vegetables; and the spifa (ground beef flatbread) is available three ways.

Middle Eastern Food Orange County
Kishk ($2.75) is topped with a mix of yogurt powder, olive oil and paprika, which is reconstituted as powdery paste on bubbly bread. Even with toppings of diced tomato and uncooked onion, the kishk is an acquired taste. Yes, that’s a euphemism. Fortunately, Forn Al Hara only got better.

Middle Eastern Food Orange County
It was interesting how the texture of Forn Al Hara’s flatbreads varied. For example, the Zatar with Labni ($2) was a fluffy flatbread lined with zatar – oregano, thyme, sumac and sesame seeds – and topped with tangy labni, Middle Eastern cream cheese. At Forn Al Hara, eat it rolled up with butcher paper bundled at the bottom, so the labni doesn’t spill out.

Middle Eastern Food Orange County
Sfiha Shamie ($2.75) was a crispy flatbread topped with ground Halal beef, tangy pomegranate molasses, pine nuts, and bits of caramelized onion. This was a highlight.

Middle Eastern Food Orange County
Still, my favorite flatbread from Forn Al Fara was undoubtedly Cheese with Spinach ($2.75), topped with a mix of goat cheese and white cheese, piled with baby spinach leaves and dusted with zatar.

Middle Eastern Food Orange County
Spinach Fatayer ($1) was a little too intense for me, with a powerful kick generated by the spinach and sumac that no amount of onion could have overcome.

Middle Eastern Food Orange County
We couldn’t resist transitioning to dessert with a flaky phyllo pocket filled with ashta – house-made cream – and drizzled with simple syrup for sweetness’ sake.

Middle Eastern Food Orange County
It’s worth seeing a close-up of the phyllo pocket, where you can see the distinct layers of phyllo and molten cream.

Middle Eastern Food Orange County
Knafeh was exceptional, a dense, gritty “pie” crafted from roasted fresh-ground flour, filled with creamy goat cheese and topped with crushed pistachio.

Middle Eastern Food Orange County
Forn Al Hara also makes several varieties of of baklava and mamoul, with generous fillings like walnut, pistachio and date paste.

Forn Al Hara is a corner gem that won’t make me completely forget about Al Sanabel Bakery. However, it’s hard to imagine another trip to Little Arabia without stopping by for at least a couple nibbles.

Related Categories: California, Middle Eastern, Orange County, Southern California

Comments

  1. Das Ubergeek says:

    At the risk of sounding redundant, one of the things that draws me to Form al-Hara is their tea setup. Yes, it’s tea bags, but they seem to be better than the usual floor-sweepings. They have sugar lumps and lots of fresh mint, and you can make your own tea to your minty liking. Drink it the Middle Eastern way, with a lump of sugar tucked behind your teeth.

    While al-Amir is the most user-friendly, I think this place has the friendliest owners and will make the first-time flatbreader feel most welcome.

    • Joshua Lurie says:

      Das Ubergeek,

      I didn’t even know about Forn Al Hara’s tea service. Sounds very good. It’s really a win-win situation whether people choose Forn Al Hara or Al-Amir. They’re both good, just different.

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  4. mattatouille says:

    oh man, this place will tempt any carb lover. love that LA has so many great flatbread places..I still feel like I’ve only scratched the surface, even after growing up in Glendale.

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