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Pakistani food isn’t an internationally popular cuisine but Zam Zam Market is a diamond in the rough showcasing a small, well executed menu of delicious dishes. Los Angeles, where it is located is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world, and thus the options for authentic food from around the globe are immense. From taco trucks to Michelin starred restaurants LA is a booming food city, so how one tiny hole-in-the-wall Pakistani restaurant in Culver City came to be a foodie’s paradise is an interesting story.

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Unfortunately the restaurant is now indefinitely closed. Its location on Washington Blvd. has recently seen other trendy shops and restaurants popping up, thus an increase in rent for such prime real estate which Zam Zam could simply not afford. Its last day of operation was in mid-November but it will hopefully reopen soon either in Hawthorne or in the same neighborhood which has come to love and embrace it.

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Qualifying Zam Zam as either a restaurant or market could be considered a stretch; the space is a stark area with a few practically empty shelves, outdated chairs staked in a corner, a handful of tables, and a makeshift kitchen. There was no sign outside or any menu; guests are expected to know what to order when they arrive. The entire place felt like a family kitchen’s spillover into an attempt at commercially producing food. Furthermore, their hours seemed arbitrary, including 2 hour closures in the afternoons for lunch that was not posted on Yelp; of course this little place wouldn’t even dream of having its own website. If this didn’t seem frustrating enough, Zam Zam was chronically guilty of running out of food. Yet the halal dishes were a favorite of patrons of the nearby¬†King Fahad mosque and word of mouth kept the place alive as other Angelenos soon caught on.

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Zam Zam Market is continually touted as the best Pakistani food in all of Los Angeles and many people described it as Indo/Pakistani food as the two country’s cuisines are so similar despite their political and cultural issues with one another. What kept people coming back to this odd little kitchen are the intensely flavorful and unbelievably well priced dishes. An unquestionable favorite is the biryani, a spicy rice dish cooked with bay leaves, potatoes, cardamom pods and served with either chicken or lamb. Other options include cumin seasoned seekh kabobs, tandori chicken, lamb pulau and fresh baked naan bread. The serving sizes are overwhelmingly large; placed on simple styrofoam boxes or plates they don’t look like much but the meats are unbelievably moist and the rice is aromatically flavorful. Enough food for 2 meals is under $10 but truly the best deal would be the combo plate for $9 which offers a sampling of curries, kebab and tandoori plus naan. The meal wouldn’t be complete without a delicious spicy green sauce that the staff pours into plastic containers from a large pitcher.

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Zam Zam Market’s apathy to customer service is almost comical. It seemed to blatantly operate against all tenants of a well-run restaurant yet gained a loyal and fervent following. The unparalleled deliciousness of the home cooked food and devastatingly cheap prices seemed to be worth any inconvenience. Many people are waiting hopefully for the day that this funky little spot reopens its doors.