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NEIGHBORHOOD EATERY

Oral Oasis

July 17, 1994|MICHAEL KRIKORIAN

On the back wall at Ara's is a mural of a desert caravan doubtlessly in need of an oasis. Too bad the camel riders couldn't just step off the wall and into Ara's, which is something of an oasis from the hectic nearby intersection of La Brea and Melrose. The desert travelers, like the customers, would enjoy the relaxed setting and Armenian food prepared here by Said and Zabel Boghosian.

Named for the couple's son, Ara's is a familiar name in Hollywood's large Armenian community even though the restaurant is only 4 months old. The Boghosians owned another Ara's on Hollywood Boulevard for nine years before selling it in 1992 to open a pastry shop. However, Said Boghosian, 49, grew bored with that venture: "All I did was collect money. I needed to cook again and see the smiles of satisfied customers." So the Boghosians sold the pastry shop.

To begin your meal, there are such appetizers as baba ghannouj ($3.50), or the extremely refreshing jajik ($3), a homemade yogurt mixed with cucumber and dried mint.

One of the most popular main courses is the chicken kebab ($7.95), marinated overnight in a concoction of lemon, garlic, red pepper, paprika, cilantro, curry, cumin and cinnamon, then cooked over an open flame. Two other kebabs, one of leg of lamb, the other filet mignon, get a simpler treatment of salt, red pepper, onions and olive oil.

*

Ara's, 7015 Melrose Ave.; open noon to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, noon to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, closed Sunday; (213) 939-5577.

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