In Beirut there is a manaish restaurant about every fourth apartment building, says Shaunt Adessian, chef and owner of Shanto’s Bakery. Lebanese residents have these savory flatbreads pretty much every morning. I can see why. After trying Shanto’s various offerings, I’m totally hooked. I am now on a mission to try each and every manaish and wrap. I’ve tried 10 so far. Told you I love this place.
The secret to their beguiling appeal is in the oven. Shaunt brought his iron, spindly legged contraption over from Lebanon. It gets super-hot and bakes the freshly made dough into fragrant, slightly crispy, eight-inch flat rounds that smell of earth, wood and ancient history.
The toppings are beautifully simple — baby spinach and Syrian cheese with a sprinkling of sumac ($2.99), zaatar (a blend of herbs and spices) with copious amounts of creamy, tangy lebni ($1.99), or lahmajoun, a thick paste of ground beef, tomatoes, garlic, onions, parsley and spices ($1.49). Those are my personal favorites so far, but the jambon and cheese ($2.99), spicy soujouk sausage and egg ($2.99), and the Beirut esfiha, which is like lahmajoun but with the tartness of pomegranate, ($2.29), are running close seconds.