Scooping Up Syrian Food in the Heights

Scoop Café serves dishes with hummus, vegetables and grilled meat. (Photo by Robin Elisabeth Kilmer via Manhattan Times)

Scoop Café serves hummus, vegetables and grilled meat. (Photo by Robin Elisabeth Kilmer via Manhattan Times)

A new eatery in Upper Manhattan will add some Syrian and Middle Eastern flavors to Washington Heights. Manhattan Times‘ Robin Elisabeth Kilmer profiles Scoop Café – one of only a handful of restaurants   “where Arabic is the de facto language”  in that neighborhood – whose menu reflects manager and chef John Dadourian’s familial roots. A Washington Heights resident for 18 years, his New York roots lie in the Bronx where he first arrived in the U.S. from Syria in 1992.

Much like his fellow residents in Northern Manhattan, Dadourian speaks several languages, and his story is one of many migrations. He was born to Armenian parents living in Aleppo, Syria. His father’s family came from Turkey, and immigrated to avoid genocide.

He speaks Turkish, Arabic, Armenian and English.

Scoop Café manager and chef John Dadourian. (Photo by Robin Elisabeth Kilmer via Manhattan Times)

Scoop Café manager and chef John Dadourian. (Photo by Robin Elisabeth Kilmer via Manhattan Times)

It’s no surprise that Scoop Café’s menu is dominated by, but not limited to, Syrian specialties.

Of all these cultures and countries, the one most reflected in Scoop Café’s menu is the Syrian influence.

Syria is known as the kebab’s country of provenance, insisted Dadourian during a recent chat. The menu boasts a number of other Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes, including falafel and pizza.

Out of all the dishes on the menu, shish kebab is Dadourian’s favorite.

“We ate shish kebabs every Sunday when I was a kid.” The shish kebab, either chicken or beef, is marinated in a red pepper sauce, resulting in a zesty and gently tart flavor.

The dish is served with a creamy hummus, grilled onions and tomatoes and warm pieces of pita bread. The components are arranged in a neutral formation on your plate, inviting you to construct or deconstruct each forkful as you please, allowing you to develop a preferred combination.

Scoop Café is located at 659 West 181st Street between Wadsworth Avenue and Broadway in Manhattan.

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