Restaurant Review: OB Kabob

by on March 13, 2013 · 13 comments

in Culture, Ocean Beach, The Widder Curry

OB Kabob 03 OB Kabob
4994 Newport Ave
San Diego, CA 92107
619-222-9700

 Driving down Bacon Street the other day, I happened to see the “OB KABOB” restaurant near the corner at Newport. I was surprised that I hadn’t seen it before, but I later found out that it had just opened in February of 2013 – only a few weeks ago.

I called Scott, my friend from the Beacon, and asked him if he would like to go with me to try it out, since he has accompanied me three times already to review restaurants. He jumped at the chance.

We went on a Tuesday for several reasons. It is “Taco Tuesday” and I felt that it would not be crowded because of the specials being offered at other neighboring restaurants.

I was unprepared at how small the restaurant is – 4 tables; 4 high tables; and a variety of counter space. (It was big enough to house 7 television sets, however!)  The first thing I noticed was a statue of Jesus on the counter. I have eaten at many Mid-Eastern restaurants; this was the first time I ever noticed any religious symbol. It unnerved me at first; but I let it pass without comment.

OB Kabob 02

3 types of kabobs. (All photos by Judi Curry)

The menu was extensive – 9 appetizers; 6 salads; 9 entrees; 2 soups – lentil and chicken; 9 sandwiches, including a hamburger; 5 beverages and 4 desserts. Additionally they offer wine, craft and draft beer, both domestic and imported.

As we waited an inordinately long time to be asked for our order, I got colder and colder. Air just seemed to rush in from everywhere, and I found that even with my wool sweater on I was uncomfortably cold.

We had arrived at 7:25 pm and it wasn’t until 8:00 that we placed our order. Scott ordered the Shish Kabob Mix ($12.99) that included a chicken kabob, lamb kabob, and a ground beef kabob (Koufta) mixed with onions, parsley, and seven spices. We had trouble understanding how this was served because the waitress told us that the lamb and beef were mixed together, but I think that on the skewer was some lamb and some beef. But even after tasting everything we were not sure of how it was fixed.

Suffice it to say that all of the kabob’s were tasty and tender. On the plate was also pickled beets; a salad mixture of cauliflower and cabbage that was somewhat spicy; hummus with a green olive with the pit in it, and served with pita bread .

OB Kabob 01

The offending cup.

Scott asked for a cup of coffee but it was 15 minutes before it was served to him. He asked for cream also and it took another few minutes before it was delivered. However, when he drank the coffee – which he said was very good – and tipped the cup, the price tag was still on the bottom of the cup. It is hard to believe that he was the first one to drink coffee out of that cup, and it made us wonder just how clean the cups were.

The waitress then served me chicken kabobs – which was NOT what I ordered. I ordered the Beef Tika Kabob ($11.99) and she apologized and said it would take 5 minutes to get me the right thing. It took 12 minutes. I did not get my order of pita bread and had to ask for it half-way through the meal.

Scot was not served silverware – it was at the end of the counter that we were sitting, and he had to get up and physically get his own. There was not a spoon in the already wrapped knife, fork and napkin. He stirred his coffee with a knife, and got the job done.

The noise inside the restaurant, however, was a real detractor from a relaxing meal. Besides the 7 televisions playing, there was also back-ground music; the din was constant throughout the entire time we were there.

OB Kabob 04

The beef kabob.

Towards the end of the meal Scott asked for another cup of coffee and it was brought to him almost immediately. He still had to wait a few minutes for the cream.

If I were to rate the meal with an “A-F” ranking, I would give it a “B”. If I were to rate the service with the same kind of ranking I would give it an “F”. It was 9:15 pm before we finished our meal – way too long to wait for any meal in a neighborhood restaurant.

Scott visited the restroom and came back saying it was very clean and well kept up.

Would I go there again? Probably not. Not because the food wasn’t good – it was and there was a lot of it. But I was cold; the service was horrendous. And, even after paying the bill and leaving my OB Rag card with the money, no one came to us and asked how we liked the meal; no one said “come back” – although we heard them say it to a couple and a child that left right after us. I didn’t feel that they even cared we had been there. Maybe in a few months they will have things running smoothly, but I do not want to be a guinea pig for their success or failure.

Here’s the Widder Curry’s Grades: “B” for Food and “F” for Service

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Frank Gormlie March 13, 2013 at 11:16 am

OMG! My mouth is watering.

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avatar 92107 March 13, 2013 at 11:33 am

I recently went in for dinner with my boyfriend. Food was decent tasting, although my chicken kabob came to me in a white bowl, no stick, just 5 pieces of meat there. AND 30 minutes late. My boyfriend was done with his entire meal before my ‘kabob’ came. I have Celiac and have to avoid gluten. So I ordered hummus and a chicken kabob. Hummus came with cucumbers on side AND crackers. Yay, cross-contamination! Then had to sit and stare at it waiting for my kabob. Was singly the worst service and dining we’ve had in a long time. Will probably NEVER go back , even though, we LOVE middle eastern food. The wraps are small, the portions were small and it was expensive. Took way too long. Unfortunate, because we were anxiously waiting for this place to open. Now, were just sad, disappointed and hungry. It’s gonna be a place were tourists go and locals stay away. Too bad.

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avatar judi Curry March 13, 2013 at 11:39 am

I hope that the service improves as they gain more experience. There were no sticks with any of the kabobs we ordered, but in a way that was good. With the seating as it is, sitting up on a high chair makes it awkward to remove the sticks.
But you are right – the service was horrendous!

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avatar Seth March 13, 2013 at 3:39 pm

Been there a few times now and loved it. Yeah, they are brand new and haven’t totally nailed down the service thing, but shouldn’t that be expected from a new mom and pop restaurant? It’s a hard thing to do to open a restaurant and I think your expectations for some of these brand new places in OB are a bit on the unreasonable side, no offense. For me, I think the food was great and that they are a welcome addition (although it should be noted that they also own Newport Farms and have been in OB a long time now). I’m always rooting for a local business to do well, and would take this place over a franchise restaurant any day of the week.

As a sidenote, not that it really matters, but of the “Mid-Eastern” people you might meet in OB — or Greater San Diego in general, especially in Rancho San Diego and El Cajon — many if not most are Chaldean Catholics from Iraq, who had to flee that country after rather brutal persecution, both during and especially after the end of Saddam’s regime. Most still have family there now. If they want to pray, I’m cool with that, no matter what the religion. For whatever it is worth, many Chaldeans have also been running businesses in OB for over 30 years now and some are very active as community leaders in OB and our region.

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avatar OB Dude March 13, 2013 at 4:34 pm

Who opens a restaurant that does not have experience? The failure rate of new restaurant ventures is extremely high. I would expect that anyone who opens a restaurant has at minimum worked in the industry. And if never cooked or server food surely they have eaten in a restaurant and able to know good from bad! IMO, service, cleanliness, presence of owners and reputation will make or break this restaurant. There is never excuse for poor service!

Judi, as always thank you for the review.

PS I see on yelp photos there is at least on television….Boo!

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avatar judi Curry March 13, 2013 at 4:39 pm

Try 7 televisions! And I agree. They should have practiced serving before they opened up. To have service be so bad -regardless of the food – is a no-brainer. And they should have had one of the many people behind the counter ask us how things were going.

I have always sympathized with the Chaldean’s and their plight of survival. But there is a place for everything, and a mid-eastern restaurant is not a place of worship. If they are trying to send a message, so be it. But not as blatant as a statue on the counter top.

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avatar Brian March 13, 2013 at 9:11 pm

OB Kabob had a coupon for 2 for 1 dinners I received in the mail. We ordered the mixed Kabob and since I am vegetarian, the only offering was the vegetarian “appetizer” (11.99) same price range as all the other entrees. After our meal, the blond waitress with very little personality, refuse to accept the coupon. She stated it was for 2 entrees not the appetizer. I explained there was no vegetarian offerings on the entrée section and that the vegetarian “appetizer” was just as expensive and smaller than a entrée. She adamantly refused to accept the coupon. You would think a new restaurant that wants to get local business and send out coupons only to 92107 residents would not be so strict. Odd way of doing business

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avatar judi Curry March 14, 2013 at 10:32 am

I think they have a lot to learn if they are going to be successful. None of waitresses I dealt with had much of a personality.

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avatar Jon March 14, 2013 at 2:24 pm

This is a tough one. I agree with Seth on most of his points. It’s tough being new to the restaurant business. Maybe they should have hired a consultant, or made sure they were hiring experienced staff. But it’s so much better than having an Applebee’s or a panera or some other god-forsaken chain there.

I thought the food was excellent, but ran into the same problem as Brian with the coupon. All “entrees” are meat. So if you wanna use that coupon but you have diet restrictions, you’re SOL.

The beer selection was also pretty good, and I really like the fact that the owner(s) have been around a while, know the community, and are investing in the future of the community.

The joint really stumbled out of the gate when they first opened, but we kept supporting them, they appeared to take locals suggestions to heart, and now they’re one of my favorite spots in town. Hopefully the kabob place will work out the kinks. They’re still really fresh.

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avatar Kenloc March 16, 2013 at 9:19 pm

We have been waiting for Kabob to open for awhile,so when it did we ordered a few different items to share.(I got it to go) Stopped in and ordered,went to the farmers market for a few things and picked it up after.
Food was great.Kabobs and shawarma beef tasty(they were out of shawarma chicken).
Can’t speak to the service.Honestly I don’t know why they have service.They should serve BBQ house style in a place that small and save money on the staff.

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avatar ransam March 19, 2013 at 12:49 pm

Great middle eastern food. We are very picky when it come to food but this place us definitely great,Food Excellent Decor Very good Service Excellent , I love the professional servers and bartender,Cheap, AWESOME food,I like everything.

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avatar rafel March 19, 2013 at 1:03 pm

I’ve been here 3X now, and it is delish! The food is very flavorful. Recommend the hummus, lentil soup (one cup is enough for 2, and they will split it for you)Kabobs are good, and within a reasonable price range. It comes with a huge pita bread and the portions are very very generous….
amazing tabouli, shawarma, baba ganoush, and baklava. The hummus and giant FRESH I could eat the freshly made bread and hummus daily for the rest of my life and die happy.loool
it was tasty and not expensive,The chicken pieces were tender and flavorful
The decor is also nice,I ate lunch and wanted to go back for dinner the same night.

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avatar zena May 7, 2013 at 10:37 pm

Love the Baba Ghannouj” The food here is delicious. BYOB.
went for a lunch here The food is always fresh and good The Super Duper Fallafel dish is very tasty The food was excellent and the service was great.Chicken Shwarma puree is one of the best,this place has a lot to offer.
The lunch and dinner entrees are excellent, but make sure you come hungry. i”m very sure i come back every day.

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