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Best Baba Ghannouj

  • Wafa’s

    100-05 Metropolitan Ave., nr. 70th Ave., Forest Hills; 718-880-2055

    Mayonnaise is the very worst thing that can happen to an unsuspecting baba ghannouj. The second worst? Undersmokiness. That’s not an issue at Wafa’s, where chef-owner Wafa Chami and her apprentice sons light an eggplant-dedicated wood fire and char-grill jumbo specimens until they turn black on the outside and fall-apart-tender within. Skinned and put through a grinder, the melting flesh gets blended with fresh lemon, salt, and a touch more tahini and garlic than a meeker palate would deem appropriate. The result is a textbook-perfect Lebanese take on the classic eggplant purée, and a highlight of Chami’s meze selection. Perhaps one out of every 50 customers finds the smoke level off-putting, says Chami’s eldest, Youssef, “but we would never consider changing the recipe.” Or, perish the thought, adding Hellmann’s.

From the 2012 Best of New York issue of New York Magazine