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Bamiyan Kabob - Afghani Restaurant

Against fear of turning yet another little treasure into another over crowded mediocre affair, I feel that Bamiyan Kabob is under exposed and deserves some respect.

Nestled amongst fast food joints and mini marts in a small-off-the-main-road plaza at 62 Overlea Blvd near Don Mills and Eglinton, Bamiyan is a definite chow pleaser. From the casual dining room and self serve atmosphere one would never guess than the staff behind the open kitchen and counter would cook up such a delicious assortment of Halal Kabobs. All the meats (lamb, beef and chicken breasts) are cooked tender and just right. Dinner portions are served with a generous amount of long grain rice which at first glance seems dry but is moist and delicious, salad and roti at a very reasonable price ($8-$15). One would find it difficult to finish everything on their plate.

While the meats are delicious, there are vegetarian options available and sometimes the rice and roti is enough to make me want to go back.

Try it.

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  1. Thanks - I have wondered about this place which I pass on the bus home from work. I will get off and pick dinner up someday soon.

    1. I first read about this place in the Toronto Star restaurant reviews. They got a great review from the food critic! I think this place is worth checking out..

      1. I tried Bamiyan last week for the first time, I absolutely concur. I was getting takeout, it was a little crowded and loud for eat-in for my tastes, but that was Friday around 6pm. We had lamb and chicken dinners, both good, they also had wraps on the menu for $4-5.

        1. I'd forgotten about Bamiyan. We went last year on the recommend from TorStar but this was pre-Chowhound postings for me.

          2 thumbs up indeed.

          1. Our favourite out-of-the-way ethnic place. Two more thumbs up!
            Also a great people-watching scene.

            1. Even in the last year, this place has become extremely busier. Superb Foods Period!!!! Jar

              1 Reply
              1. re: Jar

                I went for lunch yesterday I and it was excellent! I hadn't heard about this place but DH and I were in the area and decided to give it a go. It didn't look like much from the outside but it's actually quite pleasant inside. And the food was amazing! I had the tikka kabob and DH had the chicken. Definitely going back there.

              2. Went for the first time a couple of weeks ago and while the interior may be just this side of Mickey D's, the food was excellent! Fantastic kofta and Afghani naan. Healthy and tasty, what more could you ask for (oh and it's halal, natch)!

                1. They don't by any chance have those yummy afghan leek & beef dumplings with yoghurt sauce...

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: julesrules

                    No dumplings, but great kabobs and fresh, warm afghani bread/pita..mmmm. Cheap and very very good, though the decor (while clean and tidy) is reminiscent of a McDonalds (I hate tile floors in resturants)

                    1. re: Finnegan

                      They are called ashaks, and are more like a leek and meat ravioli than a dumpling (although I recall an Afghan restauarnt in Vancouver where the owner said he didn't bother with leeks, but just put in meat, since that was what his non-Afghan customers seemd to want). No, Bamyan doesn't have them.

                  2. Absolutely, excellent and there now is a location in the Dixie Rd. 401 area on the west side amongst other food places.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Jar

                      Has anyone been to the Mississauga (dixie) location? How does it compare?

                      1. re: apple_pie

                        I've only been to the Mississauga location and the quality of the food is excellent. fresh and tasty. It's a regular haunt of lots of co-workers as well since it's near our office.

                    2. Tried the half chicken at the Dixie/Eglinton Mississauga location (in same plaza as Jimbay). Pleasantly surprised by sheer popularity of the place (packed at 9 pm on a Thursday night) and the extra-spicy flavours of the mostly-moist chicken! Cilantro-flecked tomato salad and tomato-chile salsa were good sides. Wasn't impressed by the afghani naan (a bit overcooked). Would definitely return!

                      This place is the polar opposite of Taste of Afghanistan (i.e. no mantu, no samosa-like creations), and is more of a grill/wrap style casual spot.

                      1. Been going to the Thorncliff Park location for a long time... love it!

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: legourmettv

                          The last posting on this thread was a year ago but the place still rocks! I've only been a couple of times, but each visit provided delicious, generous, super-flavourful food for a great price. I dropped in today for a cheap and cheerful lunch. I had a kofta kabob wrap for $3.99. It was freshly grilled, and packed with lettuce, tomato, onion, sauce and hot sauce. A great, quick lunch.
                          Every posting in this thread is in agreement that Bamiyan is a great place to eat. I don't think that can be said about very many CH threads. Enjoy.

                          1. re: Yongeman

                            We've been to the newer location at Markham Road and 14th in Markham a few times. I wish I could say our experience was great. The chicken dinner that I had was dry. The rice was a bit dry as well. The afghani naan was good! The rice pudding, which is more like a creamy pudding was very good. The wraps were imo, not that great. They are a good price, but it's mostly lettuce and wrap. I wouldn't mind to pay more for more meat (I had the kofta, my friend had the chicken). The service at this location, is super, super slow. Three times we went at lunchtime (it was "not" busy) and we took over an hour!

                            I think with time, they might get their act together, but not sure I'd return just yet.

                            I wonder how they get their naan so nicely browned all over. It would seem like it was deep fried, which it's not, but baked wouldn't give that all over brown consistency? When I asked one of the staff, they confirmed it was baked. Been looking for the recipe, but none of the pictures looked like the naan at Bamiyan Kabob.

                            1. re: red dragon

                              Yeah, excellent food, but waiting 45 mins for a takeout kebab is plain crazy. I would only go back during deep off hours.

                              1. re: koknia

                                Tried it one more time, and this time, we even called in our order from the office. Got there and still had to wait 15 minutes, and no, the place wasn't busy. I hope they get their act together soon!!

                                BTW, the firnee (rice pudding) seems to be so inconsistent, one time it was great, the other time, not so great and a skin had formed on the pudding this time around.

                            2. re: Yongeman

                              And here's a posting a year later that agrees that this place rocks. We needed a place for dinner after the Body Worlds exhibit on Friday and decided to check out Bamiyan based on these postings. Service was very friendly. A bit slow but I liked how everything is made to order so the wait was fine. I had the Sultani Kabob (filet mignon & the kofta) on a gigantic pile of basmati rice with a side of the bamiyan mista salad on the side. My friend had the Chicken Breast & Kofta combo. The meat was perfectly cooked. Tender, juicy and flavourful. Portions were huge so we didn't have any room to try the boulagnee. We'll just have to try it next time. Will definitely return. Half the seating was taken when we sat down around 5pm and by 6, all the tables were full and the lineup for takeout was quite long. I can see why they're so busy, the place is a gem.

                          2. Bamiyan Markham ROCKS!
                            I have had the sultani kebab,tandoori kebab and the half chicken kebab. The sultani kebab is a total beef blast! Having only been to the Markham location i cannot speak of the others.The service was fast(friday at 830 pm) even though the joint was packed. If you get the tandoori kebab dinner tell them to give you two kebabs as one is not enough!
                            Bamiyan is my last vestage at that plaza- Tikka Tikka sells old food and SAAGAR(R.I.P) is gone .

                            1. Love the bread at Bamyan. Found an Afghan bakery at Markham Rd. and Lawrence (just south of Lawrence on the west side) - big sign on the front that say "Sfghan Bread" they cook into in ovens on premises and it comes out so hot that the server wears cotton gloves to handle it. Comes in 3 ft. lengths. Lots of people eat it right there at the little tables provided...sublime. They also sell lots of Afghan Goroceries, candies, etc

                              9 Replies
                              1. re: Finnegan

                                Oohhh la la, thanks for the tips! I shall have to check it out:) Is it non-Afghani friendly though?

                                1. re: satoorisme

                                  To answer is it friendly, well, everybody goes there and more than once I have had to skip lunch because the place is so good, it is crowded. You may not know what to order, so make up yoiur mind about spiciness and they will help, enjoy!!

                                  1. re: satoorisme

                                    The Afghan Bread place is very friendly...everyone sitting at tables picking at these hot fresh slabs of bread.

                                    Bamiyan Kabob is also very friendly. Them seem proud of their food and are happy to answer any questions.

                                    1. re: Finnegan

                                      There's also a place in the Flemingdon Park Plaza (Don Mills just north of Overlea)...can't remember the name...right in the front of the plaza next to the Shopper's Drug Mart...they also bake the Afghan bread and it's yummy...they supply a LOT of walk in customers and also serve it with their meals...like their Mantu dumplings...yum...

                                      1. re: tochowchick

                                        This is a good tip, I work up the street and I like mantu, which I don't think they have at Bamiyan. Now I just have to convince someone to drive me down for lunch :)

                                  2. re: Finnegan

                                    The grocery store is called Saleem Caravan, and though disorganized, it is good. The 3ft rotis sell for $1.50 I believe and the takeout food is very good for the price.

                                    1. re: pakmode

                                      Right you are Pakmode...I was a bit confused...there are two afgahn places in the same plaza...Saleem Caravan is the place I was thinking off...the bakwery at the south end of the plaza has a big sign the says Afghan Bread (I haven't tried this place though)

                                      1. re: Finnegan

                                        Is this place still open? Any suggestions for Afghan mantu in the GTA area? Mantu is an Afghan variation of dumplings..

                                        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manti_(d...

                                        1. re: pete k

                                          They have two kinds of mantu at the Flemingdon Park (Don Mills north of Overlea) place mentionned above. I didn't love them as much as my one previous mantu experience. The other food was decent, nothing amazing but good. At 6pm they had a steady trade of people I assume are Afghani picking up bread for dinner. They also sell some bulk dried goods such as excellent walnuts at a good price.

                                          This might be the place:

                                          http://foodpages.ca/riaz-restaurant

                                  3. I'll weigh in too, Bamiyan is an excellent place; excellent food, very reasonable prices.

                                    1. Put me down as a lover of this place too, I usually stick with the tikka kabob, but the tandoori chicken is a close second.

                                      10 Replies
                                      1. re: damonster

                                        I have to say that this post magically reappeared just as I was trying to decide what I'd get for take-out last night. I am soooooo glad that I went back to Bamiyan Kabob.

                                        I had the lamb kabob dinner with salad, rice, 'naan', and accompanying hot sauce. Wow...what an explosion of delicious flavours. Even the rice, which looked a boring beige colour, was delicious. The dinner was $11.99.
                                        On a side note, while I was waiting for my meal to be cooked (about 20 minutes), I crossed the parking lot to the Indian Sweets and Samosas place. I had 2 awesome chicken samosas for $1. Very light and flavourful, and a great appetizer too.

                                        1. re: Yongeman

                                          Anyone know what's in the special hot sauce. Tried looking up a recipe to try and duplicate it but didn't find anything.

                                          1. re: LUV_TO_EAT

                                            That's a great question LTE. I'd be very interested in knowing too. It's quite delicious.

                                            1. re: Yongeman

                                              I call this sauce salsa, mainly because i don't know the proper name. It reminds me of a pico de gallo but blended, I don't really taste anything different in it but the ingredients you would find in a pdg. I don't usually find it overly spicy (hot) but the odd batch it is definitely warmer than others. Thankfully one of my coworkers that orders it with me all the time never touches it leaves me his and I can use both take out containers with my meal.

                                              1. re: damonster

                                                damonster,

                                                the salad is called saalata, it's an Afghan salad without lettuce. it usually consists of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, cilantro, lime juice, and sometimes peppers.

                                                1. re: pete k

                                                  Hey pete k, I think that damonster was referring to the small side dish of what (s)he called "pico de gallo but blended", an apt description of the sauce. I had thought of it as reminiscent of gazpacho.
                                                  The salad to which you are referring was on the plate, but included lettuce as well. Both were excellent, by the way

                                                  1. re: Yongeman

                                                    very interesting...chutney's are also very popular in Afghan cuisine, I wonder if it was some version of a chutney?

                                          2. re: Yongeman

                                            We found Bamiyan totally by accident and have been back many, many times. The food NEVER disappoints.
                                            We noticed the Popeye's Chicken in the same strip mall and were headed there when passing Bamiyan, the door opened and these WONDERFUL aromas drifted out. We walked on to Popeye's, but on entering were hit with the aroma of hot fat! Retreated back out the door and into Bamiyan which fortunately had a printed menu explaining each dish in English. The half-chicken is great, the Choppan Kabob (seasoned beef), the lamb, the naan bread. Everything is great. If there are 2 of you, get 2 entres with just salad & naan, and split an order of Kabili rice. Basmati rice with carrots, almonds & raisins. Sensational and REALLY filing.

                                            1. re: bloggo

                                              Love your story about Popeye's being your destination, bloggo...perfect.

                                              1. re: bloggo

                                                Love your story too. And agreed on the Qabli rice, very good!! I just wanted to say that if you haven't tried Pamier Kebob in Brampton then you should, it's a simliar atmosphere but the food is actually better imho!

                                          3. I've tried Bamiyan Kebob (north york, markham), Pamier Kebob (bramptom) and now recently Afghan Kebob Cuisine in Mississauga.
                                            http://www.afghankebobcuisine.com/

                                            Bamiyan is a little on the pricey side and I love the dining room in Pamier (I hear there is a new location in mississauga too) Afghan kebob is our fav. now because the prices are great and the food is quite nice, the bread is very buttery. The Qabli rice is fantastic (meat hidden inside) and the beef korma is really really good.
                                            I like ground beef kebobs but found theirs a bit dry (the round flat burger like ones) so I recommend ordering the chicken or beef tikka or sultani platter.

                                            1. Just a heads up, they're opening a location right near my gf's house on Keele just south of Steeles. However I don't know what kind of morons they have renovating the place, I've never seen a slower opening in my life. Been like 2 months now and they're STILL not open.. Every time I drive by the "workers" inside are smoking cigarettes instead of doing any actual work.

                                              1. I am by no means an expert on Afghan cuisine but I must say I had an absolutely delicious Chaple Kabob at Afghan Village Restaurant, on Don Mills just south of the Ontario Science Centre. Wow, was it ever good.

                                                The staff were incredibly sweet and kind, the space was unique to say the least (but in a good way), and the food my family ordered was all delish.

                                                I look forward to trying Bamiyan very soon. But for anyone wanting an alternative to Bamyian, which I know gets busy, I'd head over to Afghan Village and trying the Chaple Kabab.

                                                (747 Don Mills Rd., east side next to Shoppers Drug Mart)

                                                -----
                                                Afghan Village
                                                747 Don Mills Rd, Toronto, ON M3C1T2, CA

                                                7 Replies
                                                1. re: magic

                                                  Do you know if Afghan Village does their buffet set-up for dinner? I'm curious now. I peeked in at lunchtime and it was buffet.

                                                  "...the space was unique to say the least (but in a good way)" So by good do you mean bizarre?

                                                  -----
                                                  Afghan Village
                                                  747 Don Mills Rd, Toronto, ON M3C1T2, CA

                                                  1. re: neighborguy

                                                    Yeah, absolutely bizarre. Hard to describe, so I won’t even start. But one of a kind, so I give it snaps. I kinda liked it.

                                                    I was there for dinner around 8pm on a Friday and it looked the buffet had been shut for some time, so I don't think the buffet runs at dinner. Don't quote me on it, but last night at least it was definitely not set up.

                                                    1. re: magic

                                                      Don't they have big murals on the walls, including one of the (now destroyed) Buddhas in the Bamiyan Valley?
                                                      I went once a couple of years ago. It was good, especially the bread.

                                                      1. re: hal2010

                                                        Yes, there is a huge mural covering one big wall. I can't recall what the mural depicted though (my back was facing it)......

                                                    2. re: neighborguy

                                                      I think what he means by Afghan Village's space being 'bizarre' is that it's 'Afghani extravagant' if that makes sense. The tables are done with chair covers and it looks similar to a banquet hall. Nothing wrong with that, but it makes some people giggle and some do a double take. They do a fair amount of private functions so that's why the decor and layout are such.

                                                      In terms of the buffet. I've had it twice.
                                                      The first time was phenomenal, they had the shawarma machine going, and you could slice your own chicken shawarma meat so it was kinda cool.
                                                      The second time, the food was good, but nothing to write home about.

                                                      I would describe it as Afghani homemade comfort food. Mostly veggie dishes and very few meat or chicken dishes. I think they usually have 3 or 4 veggie stewed dishes going. Things like cauliflower sauteed in tomatoes. Eggplants sauteed with garlic and onions. A spinach dish...etc. They bring out fresh Afghani naan for you and the rice dishes are good. 1 plain white basmati and another simplified Kabli pilau - ie. basmati rice with shredded carrots and raisins.
                                                      All the dishes are very simple and lightly spiced, but they do give a nice chutney for that extra kick.
                                                      Personally, I would only go back if they had the shawarma machine going.
                                                      From what I remember it's $8 and the buffet runs everyday until 5pm, including weekends.

                                                      -----
                                                      Afghan Village
                                                      747 Don Mills Rd, Toronto, ON M3C1T2, CA

                                                      1. re: pakmode

                                                        Exactly, nothing wrong with the decor at all. Very much an extravagant banquet hall feel, yes. Like I said though, even though it is not the average run of the mill space in terms of its design and feel, I liked it.

                                                        Have you tried the Chaple? Great stuff (by this novice's standards at any rate).

                                                      2. re: neighborguy

                                                        The Lamb at Afghan Village is surprisingly very good, and not overcooked as many other places we have encountered.
                                                        Prices are reasonable to cheap.
                                                        I think Banquet Hall or not the decor is weird considering the Plastic menu.
                                                        The Bread and gratis spicy dip are also very good.

                                                        -----
                                                        Afghan Village
                                                        747 Don Mills Rd, Toronto, ON M3C1T2, CA

                                                    3. I have 2 questions, not Bamiyan kabob specific but more "Afghani kabab place" specific..

                                                      1. What is the "Half chicken" ? I've had the tandoori kabob and the chicken breast kabob, or kofta, etc. but they are all chunks of grilled chicken. The "half chicken" is chicken pieces? Wing, leg, thigh, breast?

                                                      2. The dinners always come with the plain rice, but I've always been intrigued by the $4.99 rice with carrots and raisins and almonds (Forget the name, Qalbi or something like that). Can you upgrade the regular rice into that rice, or do you always have to order MORE rice on the side? Because there certainly is no shortage of rice in the box already

                                                      Cheers

                                                      9 Replies
                                                      1. re: duckdown

                                                        Bamiyan - and most Afghan places don't mention this on the menu - but you can order everything individually.

                                                        ie. Bamiyan charges $6.99 for the 1/2 chicken - which is a spicy tandoori chicken cut into pieces as you mentioned (wing, leg, breast, thigh). You can add plain rice for $2.99 and naan for $1. Kofta and chaplee kabobs are only $1.99/piece.

                                                        I usually find it cheaper to order what I want individually.

                                                        Bamiyan also does a dumbed down version of Qabli pilau - known as Kabli pilau for the city of it's origin, Kabul. The real version has lamb cooked with of aromatic basmati rice mixed with shredded carrots and raisins.
                                                        Bamiyan doesn't serve it with lamb and they simply place shredded carrots and raisins on top after. It's not the same if it's not cooked with lamb, lamb fat, carrots and raisins.

                                                        1. re: pakmode

                                                          Thanks for the info pakmode, good to know.

                                                          Let me ask this then, when you're at Pamier Kabob or Bamiyan Kabob (the two places I frequent most) do you usually get the regular rice or do you order the Qabli rice instead? Which one is better?

                                                          I am going to add a skewer of that half chicken to my next dinner. The kofta was OK but nothing special, is the chaplee better? What's your recommendations at Pamier/Bamiyan?

                                                          Cheers!

                                                          -----
                                                          Bamiyan Kabob
                                                          62 Overlea Blvd, Toronto, ON M4H1C4, CA

                                                          Pamier Kabob
                                                          200 County Court Blvd, Brampton, ON L6W4K7, CA

                                                          1. re: duckdown

                                                            how is pamier compared to bamiyan? there's a location opening up downtown by spadina/adelaide.

                                                            1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                              Pamier is a complete clone of Bamiyan, almost identical in every aspect. The tandoori kebab is definitely spicier at Bamiyan and you get more rice at Pamier, but other than that even the naan bread is the exact same (not good at all.) I do really like their rice though, albeit plain, so I'm gonna try the Qabli rice next time. The best part about Pamier IMO, and why they get so much more of my business than Bamiyan ever will, is because they're open way later (1am or even 2am it seems some nights) and also there's no Bamiyan kabob near west Brampton. Also Pamier seems much cleaner and their dining room is 20 times better

                                                              1. re: duckdown

                                                                good to know, thanks. they seem to be taking different parts of the city so their sameness at least makes the choice easier.

                                                                i actually like the bamiyan bread on occasion as long as i don't think of it as naan and more as bread cracker with sesame seeds.

                                                              2. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                                Here is my family's take on Bamiyan and Pamier since we go to both as well. My husband is Afghan and we prefer Bamiyan over Pamier. As someone else mentioned Bamiyan has nailed down the standard and is very consistent with their food while we found Pamier to be ok. We live closer to Pamier but we make the extra 10 min drive to Bamiyan on Dixie. And when we have dinner parties, we get our kabobs from there. And you can order the kabobs separately without the salad, rice and naan.

                                                                We went to Pamier once to eat and someone had cleaned the restaurant and the smell of what they used to clean it was very strong. We left right away and headed to Bamiyan. We even told the people behind the counter before we left. And as Duckdown mentioned it has a big dining room but everytime we have gone there, it is always empty while Bamiyan is always full.

                                                                My husband works downtown close to Spadina and Adelaide and is looking forward to Pamier coming close to him. He would prefer it to be Bamiyan but is willing to settle for Pamier. :)

                                                                And Duckdown, I tried the Chaplee once and it was very spicy! I usually order the chicken kabob dinner and get an extra skewer of Kofta Kabob so I get both. And it only costs an extra $1.99. And if you want to try something different, try their chicken korma, very spicy and tasty and really good to eat with their naan to soak in the sauce. And for dessert, the firnee. A nice custard dish to end your spicy meal. :)

                                                              3. re: duckdown

                                                                I haven't been to Pamier - but have heard that it's pretty good as well. Bamiyan has seemed to nail down the standard though.

                                                                I don't know if Pamier or Bamiyan have a platter where you can try all the kabobs, but that might be a good option for you to try everything. Tikka is usually a good choice. The Chaplee kabob is heavy but good, it's spicier then the kofta. Everything's worth a try at least once there as you can't really go wrong with meat and fire lol.

                                                                The Kabli rice is worth trying out. I'll find out if there are any Mom'n'Pop Afghan places out west - in Scarborough there is this place called Saleem Caravan on Markham/Lawrence that used to serve a good version of Qabli Pilau. There's also Afghan Village at 747 Don Mills Rd in North York.

                                                                -----
                                                                Afghan Village
                                                                747 Don Mills Rd, Toronto, ON M3C1T2, CA

                                                                1. re: pakmode

                                                                  I like the nan at Afghan Village better than at Bamiyan, and their plain rice is more interesting. The Bamiyan nan is fairly hard and dry, sort of like a giant Ritz cracker.

                                                                  -----
                                                                  Afghan Village
                                                                  747 Don Mills Rd, Toronto, ON M3C1T2, CA

                                                                  1. re: hal2010

                                                                    Yea, the Afghanis have started calling their bread naan as well for simplicity's sake. It's actually more like a 'roghni' style bread, pronounced row-gh-knee.
                                                                    Afghani and north Pakistani roghni is made in a flattened football shape, perforated to cook quickly, sometimes studded with sesame or black nigella seeds etc. Better bakers will use butter, and that combination is rich, flaky and lethally addictive. This isn't the case in Toronto, though you will find some supermarkets carrying Asia Bakery's Roghni bread priced higher then their 'naan' style bread.
                                                                    Naan has become the umbrella word for all breads South Asian - but there's no substitute for real, fresh baked, fluffy Tandoori naan.