Gariy Ambartsumyan said he was thrilled when he learned an Armenian BBQ food truck was opening for business not far from his Noblesville home.
“It’s not like you can go just anywhere and get Armenian,” said Ambartsumyan, a 45-year-old truck driver of Armenian descent.
Ambartsumyan has become a regular at DavAni Armenian BBQ, open for takeout or delivery in a parking lot at 105 W. Carmel Dr. and laying claim to being the only takeout restaurant specializing in Armenian cuisine in the state. Armen Abrahamyan, a native of Armenia, opened the business in October and is the head chef. He operates the food truck, with a business model that more closely resembles a takeout restaurant, with help from his family, including his wife Seda Arzumanyan.
Customers have been receptive to DavAni’s distinctive offerings.
“So far, we’ve received a lot of positive feedback about our Armenian BBQ,” Arzumanyan said. “Many people are not familiar with Armenian cuisine and culture, but as they try our food, they fall in love with the flavors and unique tastes.”
Abrahamyan learned to prepare Armenian dishes at a young age. When he moved to Indiana six years ago, he noticed there was a scarcity of Armenian cuisine offered locally. He catered for small events and gatherings before opening DavAni – which offers hefty portions of pork, lamb, chicken and beef kebabs and wraps, along with sides including grilled vegetable salad, tahini sauce and hummus – in the fall.
“For Armen, cooking Armenian BBQ and kebab is more than just a job. It’s a passion that he loves to share with the people of Indiana,” Arzumanyan said.
Cuisine in Armenia, a nation of less than 3 million people in the mountainous Caucasus region between Asia and Europe, is defined by a blend of flavors and ingredients that reflect the country’s rich history and cultural influences.
The meat, often cut into large chunks, is marinated in a mixture of herbs and spices for several hours before Armen cooks it to just the right tenderness in the truck, sometimes chatting with customers as he does his work. Visitors to DavAni are liable to catch a whiff of the aroma of barbecued meats even before noticing the food truck’s bright red paint scheme.
DavAni is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays. Wraps start at $9.50, BBQ kebabs start at $11.50, and plates including sides range from $16 to $20. Customers can order at the window, utilize DoorDash or UberEats, or order ahead online for takeout at davanibbq.com.
Ambartsumyan and his wife, Elena, get food from DavAni most Saturdays, usually through DoorDash, though sometimes Gariy parks his big rig in a nearby parking lot to pick up his meals in-person. His favorite is the beef lula kebab, and he raves about Abrahamyan’s way of preparing DavAni’s meats.
“No one can make it the way Armen does,” Ambartsumyan said. “He knows how to make it right. Everything’s perfect.”