Sunday, November 07, 2010

Wraps Xpress - Irvine

Wraps Xpress might just be the most ambiguous restaurant name to have appeared in Irvine since Asian Tapas. It does not foretell of what's actually made inside the store in this innocuous Albertsons-anchored neighborhood shopping center called Quail Hill.

Every customer who strolled in from the cold had no idea that this place is, in fact, a lahmajoun specialist. Lahmajoun (also spelled lahmacun) is a Turkish pizza of sorts: dough stretched to a thinness of a crepe, baked with minced meat.

Greeted by a jolly, bald man with the pent-up enthusiasm of a car salesman, these customers come in meekly, not knowing exactly what they will be eating. The man explains, quite joyfully, that when you choose your "pizza", it's baked to order with either meat (beef or chicken), cheese, spinach or zaatar (herbs). After the oven, it's topped with a variety of veggies, sauces and condiments before being rolled up and eaten like a burrito, or yes, a wrap.

Behind him, you see a sparse and streamlined operation with two employees. The process is quite mesmerizing to observe. The first employee feeds a ball of dough through an upright contraption that flattens it thinner and thinner under a series of motor-driven rollers.

Once the overgrown pasta machine is done, she dots the now tortilla-flat dough disk to prevent puffing. A spiced minced meat, onion and tomato mixture is applied by an ice cream scoop and summarily spread thin across the surface. The "pizza" is then sent down a conveyor-belted oven to bake, fusing the meat onto the dough and blistering the edges.

When it comes out, the second employee intercepts it at the exit, whereupon he will ask what toppings you want added before it is folded, and yes, wrapped.

I chose parsley, olives, a bit more shredded cheese, yogurt, a special sauce he said would taste like chipotle mayo (he was right), some lettuce, and a side of hummus. From start to finish, the whole thing took about five minutes.

Eating the burrito-cum-pizza-cum-calzone took less than ten. The crispy crust is akin to, well, a thin-crusted pizza. The subtly spicy ground beef topping had hints of cumin. The yogurt was as coolly refreshing as the leaves of parsley was cleansing. Like its catch phrase says "It is more than a wrap". It is lahmajoun.

On second thought, perhaps the generic title of "wrap" is perfect. "Lahmajoun Xpress" would have those Irvine heads scratching, never daring to step even a foot inside. A little ambiguity works once in a while.

Wraps Xpress
6779 Quail Hill Pkwy
Irvine, CA 92603
(949) 464-8448

The Capital Grille - Costa Mesa


At 2:08 PM, Anonymous Mads said...

I think I would need to eat this in order to fully understand the concept, but it looks delicious.

At 7:48 AM, Blogger christoofat said...

whoa, this really sounds interesting.
Lahmajoun made to order, with topping options...I like it!

At 9:41 AM, Blogger Diamond Dog said...

I bet its good but I doubt this business will survive as its to hard for the masses to grasp the "concept" and how its different than just a normal "wrap"

At 10:10 AM, Blogger digkv said...

That sounds damn good. Never heard of quail hill parkway until now but I guess it's near the district kind of? at least that's what google maps tells me. It sounds like something different. btw edwin were you at the bruery this weekend getting crepes or was it just another random guy named edwin who took pics of his crepes?

At 2:21 PM, Blogger christoofat said...

Quail Hill Center is off the 405 & Sand Canyon. Home to Albertson's, Lucca Cafe, etc , etc.
Will have to jam over there for lunch this week.

At 8:56 PM, Blogger Chubbypanda said...

ZOMG. Must go! It can be really hard to find this in the States.

At 8:46 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Quite true. I did take a skeptic with me. Someone who's a meat and potatoes guy, and he liked it, though being the big eater he is, he was still hungry after.


Geez, your new avatar is creepy. Cool but creepy!


I hope for their sake it catches on. There was a steady stream of looky-loos who became customers that day.


Right off the 405 and Sand Canyon! Next to the only traffic circle in OC beside the one in Orange (I think). And what the what?! There's an another Edwin taking food porn shots at restaurants?! And to top it off crepes?! Bizarre! No, that wasn't me. But if it was I'd tell you! Keep looking! HAHA!


I like it that you guys are self-policing! I was too swamped yesterday to answer timely.


So true. I haven't seen lahmajoun anywhere in OC. Not even in Anaheim. I hope I'm wrong though. I hope this isn't the ONLY lahmajoun joint in OC.

At 9:40 AM, Blogger christoofat said...

You can usually find it in the Middle Eastern markets, prepackaged.
Even Trader Joe's offers it from time to time.
But the fresh baked to order thang is a new twist.
I think this place has a chance to build a following if they can promote it the right way. Yelpers are starting to high 5 it, and they do have a website (tho' it's kinda lame & 1/2 finished)
Another plus is that they aren't stuck in a location that has tons of competition like w/ Diamond etc where there are almost too many choices to choose from.

All the better to keep my eye on you! =)

At 12:32 PM, Blogger christoofat said...

Just got back from here. Ordered the chicken one , and toppings of course.
Tasted really good! Oh, & one of the pistachio dessert things, also very good.
It seems in a good location for a lot of walk by business, though only open about a month , so not much traffic yet.
Hope the Irvineites who walk by open their peepers & give it a shot.
I'll be back!

At 6:14 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Chris, great tips on where to find this stuff. I'm convinced now that Trader Joe's has some interestng stuff in frozen aisle!

Also glad you tried WX. More glad you liked it!

At 6:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The comment by Sushi Naples does not make any sense and I am not sure if it even applies to this place. They are a fast food restaurant and when the purchase is charged there is no option for tip! Perhaps Sushi Naple has them confused with another restaurant?

At 11:27 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...


That previous comment wad a Spambot. I deleted it.

At 11:30 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...

"was" not "wad"


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