From now until our Best Of issue, we are counting down our 100 favorite dishes of the past year. If you've missed some, we've included a linked list at the end.
#74. Whole Lamb with Kabsa at Olive Tree
Crisp on the outside, wonderfully moist on the inside, and enough for a feast: this is what you get when you order an entire lamb at Olive Tree in Anaheim's Little Gaza neighborhood.
It comes atop and stuffed with a (primarily) Saudi rice called kabsa; long-grain rice cooked with seventeen spices, currants and almonds. The rice is excellent on its own, with its heady aromas of cardamom, cinnamon and saffron, but it is even better taken from the cavity of the lamb, where the juices have dripped onto it during roasting. It will come with a gong-sized bowl of yoghurt cut with cucumbers, mint, garlic and salt; use the dip as a spread on pita before layering the lamb inside.
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The lamb with all that rice and yoghurt costs $300 and requires three days' notice, but bring twenty of your closest friends and you might get through half of it. If you're not interested in an entire domestic beast, you can often order kabsa with lamb shank as a special.
Olive Tree, 512 S. Brookhurst St. #3, Anaheim; (714) 535-2878.
The list so far:
#100. Jerk Carnitas Torta at The Crosby
#99. Nem Nuong Cuon at Brodard
#98. Pork Chop Anything at Nice Time Deli
#97. Flying Saucer at Alberto's
#96. Frozen Custard at Marc Burger's in Macy's Signature Kitchen
#95. Collard Greens at Johnny Reb's
#94. Strawberry Shortcake from Job's Daughters
#93. Cuban Sandwich at DeSimone's Deli
#92. Lamb with Preserved Cabbage at Mas Islamic Chinese
#91. Baked Rice at Luc Dinh Ky
#90. Beans on Toast at The Olde Ship
#89. Midnight Al Pastor Burrito or Taco at Taqueria Tapatia
#88. Budino di Cioccolato, Pizzeria Ortica
#87. Beef Teriyaki Bowl, Teriyami
#86. Salmon Onigiri at Cream Pan
#85. Beef Fat Fries at SideDoor
#84. Silken Tofu & Thousand Year Old Egg at Asian Tapas
#83. Cambodian Beef Jerky at Sophy's
#82. Com Tam at Com Tam Tran Quy Cap
#81. Chipotle-Piloncillo Goat Cheese at SOL Cocina
#80. Nem Nuong Cuon at Au Lac Restaurant
#79. Blackened Mushroom & Tofu Burger at Taco Loco
#78. Fried Veggie Fish Fillet at Dong Phuong Tofu
#77. Tofu Vegetable Salad at BCD Tofu House
#76. Che Ba Mau at Thach Che Hien Khanh
#75. Barracuda Sushi at Ohshima