Bamiyan, Oct. 21, 2005

358 Third Ave. (at 26th St.)

Danna and I had planned on going to Wallse tonight, but after a very long and trying week, we both decided to order in and post-pone our Austrian dinner. So, staying at the top part of the alphabet of cuisines, we went for Afghan from Bamiyan.

I confess, this was a new but much anticipated dining experience for me. I'd never had Afghan cuisine before, at least not knowingly, and had been growing more curious about the local restaurant as of late.

In fact, I almost went last night but steered north to Park Bistro.

Bamiyan, for those like me who didn't know, is the location where the remarkably tall and beautiful Buddhas were scupted into the mountain sides of Afganistan. These religious artifacts were, unfortunately, destroyed by the Taliban in the early 2000s. I'm happy to report that the restaurant of the same name does justice to the lost sculptures.

So here's what we ordered with descriptions from the menu:

Sambusa - crispy deep-fried dumplings stuffed with beef, split pea and herbs, with yogurt.

Barg - tender pieces of filet mignon, marinated with saffron with white basmati rice.

Combination Kabob - one skewer of Koobideh (minced, lean beef), half a skewer of Bareh (lamb) and half a skewer of Morg (chicken).

Herb salad with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers topped with watercress and yogurt house dressing.

The sambusa was essentially a flatter, less crispy samosa. Pretty good but I wouldn't say as good as a samosa from Curry Leaf or Curry in a Hurry. Went very well with the yogurt it came with.

The Barg was quite good. One piece was better than another that I tried. The second piece being quite tender. The saffron marinade came through nicely and evenly.

The Koobideh was also good and had a somewhat gamey flavor to it as did the Bareh. Both were full of flavor but didn't completely mask its gaminess, which is fine for me. It was certainly not overpowering gamey...just naturally so. The Morg, yellow dyed for looks (as opposed to the red you get in Indian cuisine I'm assuming), was the least favorite item of the group, however it was still flavorful. Perhaps drier than I'd have liked.

The salad reminded me of the stuff that falls out of a taco you make at home after you bite into it. A big pile of lettuce, spice, yogurt (okay, I don't put yogurt in my tacos, but the sour cream would provide the white color), tomatoes, cucumbers and the like. Very good, especially at first, but became overpowering toward the end.

Overall, I loved this place and look forward to staying there to eat. I like to pick up my food instead of relying on delivery. It makes me feel like I get it home quicker, I cut out a middle man thereby getting it to the table warmer than by delivery guy and it also allows me to get inside the restaurant to see what the "terroir" of the food might be.

And the terroir, if you will, is one of warmth, hospitality and calm. I immediately thought of who I would like to take there (Wes, Margaret and Jed) if and when they pay a visit to the city. But I won't wait for them to get up here before heading back to Bamiyan.


Blogger Mona said...

VEry cool and exotic. I've never had Aghan food before either. And fun way to do it, goin through the alphabet! I'll have to add this to my "to go" list.

2:24 PM  

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