zam-zam market

Zam-Zam Market
11028 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA, USA

Somewhere deep in the Tora Bora Mountains—so deep that the location wasn't even discovered during Operation Enduring Freedom's most exhaustive hunts for Al Qaeda—an elderly man who I won't name ratchets up the generator on his Korean War-era field telephone.

Through the crackle of the barely-connected line, a female voice on the other end answers with a coded greeting, signifying the coast is clear. The elderly man rasps into the phone, his voice a mere whisper almost indistinguishible from the static.

"تشوگ اک یرکڊ," he says, immediately cutting the line.

Many thousands of miles away, a woman hangs up the receiver of a landline phone on the wall of a nondescript storefront market. It is done. Now all that remains is to do what she must.

She begins to make the day's featured special, mutton biryani.

zam-zam market

This all may be a long way to go just to maintain the menu at Zam-Zam in Culver City, but when you start out as a splinter cell, old habits die hard. Okay, so I may be making some wild presumptions based on the bare-bones look of this place, and I know appearances can be deceiving, but … come on! This joint ain't even tryin' to look like a restaurant, or a market!

zam-zam combo lunch & copious leftovers

Fortunately, it is trying to serve some of the most legit Pakistani food you can get this side of Abbottabad; hell, I hear even Robert James O'Neill swears by the biryani here. I guess you develop a taste for the local cuisine when you're en route to assassinating Osama Bin Laden, because this guy can assassinate a Zam-Zam combo plate like nobody's business. Allegedly.

The $10 lunch deal gets you an absolutely massive amount of food—you just choose a few dishes from whatever they're serving that day, and it comes to you with a Tora-Bora Mountain of decadent oily biryani and some naan. The portions are so big that the leftovers last two or three more meals, unless you eat like Robert James O'Neill, in which case I can properly zing you as follows: "My God, man, you eat like a trained SEAL!"

Review by Wimpempy Tarlisle, October 2012