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Kabul City Report

chaddict Jun 15, 2007 05:44 PM

A few hounds took up last week's offer to check out the lunch buffet at the new Afghan restaurant at Fisherman's Wharf (off all places...). Well, first, NO LUNCH BUFFET! It has changed to "lunch specials" which are essentially smaller portions of the dinner menu. I swear I will type up the menu when I get a chance. The incredibly nice owner said they tried the buffet but it didn't work because the item most people were interested in were the kabobs and kabobs dry out after about 20 minutes. Le sigh!

So here's what we had:

Appetizer sized portions of Kadu Burani (pumpkin) and Badinjon Burani (eggplant). Chow Fun asked if we could get smaller sizes as these were entrees (someone please teach how to do the control stroke right for accent, I am so lame, and yes I have looked in Word) and the nice man said yes. Can't remember the charge for that...

All lunch items are $6.99. You can't have the lamp chops or the big platter o' kabobs (spelling from menu) but everything else is open season.

-Tekka Kabob (lamb)
-Mantu (think Afghan ravioli in yogurt sauce)
-Qabely Pallow

Total bill with a very generous tip was $40 for 3 (no drinks). The other 2 can comment, will add more later.

I'll

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  1. Cynsa Jun 15, 2007 10:24 PM

    Two of us are lamb lovers; and will request "medium-rare" kabobs next time. It's reassuring that the kabobs are prepared to order and won't be dried out from long-standing. The portion was enough for three of us to share tastes of the Tekka Kabob, plated with rice and a crisp lettuce-tomato-onion garnish.
    The Kadu Burani was just a tiny bit too sweet for my tastes; but still a lovely bright flavor lapped with yogurt.
    The Badinjon Burani (eggplant) was smooth and silky; a palate-pleaser as a starter.
    Qabely Pallow rolls off the tongue in a Jabberwocky rhyme; it added to the tapestry of textures and colors on our table with its braised lamb chunks and raisin-sweetened rice.
    The Mantu was my fave; hugely satisfying, in a delicate wrapper; lightly sauced.
    Note: parking in the garage is $2 for the first hour and $3 for each hour thereafter - but, directly across the street from Kabul City is an open lot that is reasonable, according to our restaurateur.
    The Wharf seldom pops into my consciousness as a lunch destination. Yet, it proved to be a pleasant outing on a sunny day and chow-worthy of a return; thanks to chaddict. (maybe it is like falling down a rabbit's hole and through-the-looking-glass, afterall?)

    1. ChowFun_derek Jun 16, 2007 02:08 AM

      A very attractive space with pleasant owner...I was disappointed that there was no buffet ...missing Helmand...but the food was good and I also especially enjoyed the Mantu ...the Afghan version of Turkish Manti..though larger...I would return for a whole order of these...thanks to Chaddict for finding this place and arranging for a lunch....
      I hope Helmand finds a new location quickly...... may I offer my neighborhood???!

      2 Replies
      1. re: ChowFun_derek
        Cynsa Jun 16, 2007 02:30 AM

        Excellent offer; I would love to have the Helmand relocate to your/my neighborhood...mostly on solid bedrock...at the hub of convenient transportation from everywhere!
        Kabul City's lunch special at $6.99 is a value meal. Let's taste more!

        1. re: Cynsa
          chaddict Jun 16, 2007 10:51 AM

          No, I get Helmand in the Mission because there is NOTHING here. ; )

          My only real complaint is that I felt the portion sizes were a little on the small size. The appetizer sizes were very small indeed and if I had gone alone and ordered the Mantu alone, I would have left hungry.

          I don't eat lamb and guess what? I ate the lamb! And would eat more here (if it were a little less done). I think it was beef though in the Pallow. I wouldn't order this again at all. It was ok but not interesting.

          Mantu-yup, all over this dish. Loved it. Just as good as Helmand's (from my limited memory).

          The pumpkin was not as good as Helmand's; it was a little too soft and sweet. But still tasty. The eggplant left no impression for me. Maybe I needed to eat more of it to appreciate. What I really liked (besides mantu) were the dips that accompany the bread.

          The decor is fine but there is one elevated area I thought fun: it is covered with Afghan rugs and you eat on pillows with low-to-the-groung tables. Would be fun at night.

          Definitely worth going back and checking out some other items. And maybe we will finally have more than a couple options when someone asks where to eat on the wharf!

      2. chaddict Jun 16, 2007 04:52 PM

        As promised, from the menu he gave me (which varied from the one we had)...

        Appetizers
        -Pakowra $4.99
        Sliced potatoes covered with special floured dip and spices deep fried

        -House Special Salad $5.99
        Romaine lettuce topped with garbanzo beans, kidney beans, tomatoes

        -Badinjon Burani $4.99
        Pan-fried eggplant seasoned with spices, then baked with fresh tomatoes and green bell peppers; topped with garlic yogurt, mint, and spices

        -Kadu Burani $4.99
        Pan-fried pumpkin seasoned with spices, then baked with fresh tomatoes and green bell peppers; topped with garlic yogurt, mint, and spices

        -Badinjon Pekwora $4.99
        Sliced eggplant covered with special floured dip and spices deep fried

        -Aush $4.99
        Homemade noodle soup with ground beef, yogurt, mint, and spices
        [the last 4 items were not on the menu we were given]

        Kabul City Kabobs
        -Chopan Kabob $16.99
        Charbroiled lamp chops marinated with Afghan seasonings, served with salad and Afghan bread

        -Tekka Kabob $12.99
        Charbroiled shish kabob marinated with Afghan seasonings, served with salad and Afghan bread

        -Shami Kabob $12.99
        Charbroiled ground beef mixed with onoin, salt, and seasonings, served with salad and Afghan bread

        -Chicken Kabob $12.99
        Charbroiled chicken breast marinated with Afghan seasonings, served with salad and Afghan bread

        -Chapil Kabob $12.99
        Sliced eggplant covered with special floured dip and spices deep fried [I think this is a mistake as this is exactly like the appetizers; I believe this was a spiced ground beef patty IIRC]

        -Kabul City Special Combo $19.99
        Single skewer of Tekka, Shami, and Chicken kabob on a platter served with brown rice, salad, and bread

        Kabul City Platters
        -Qabely Pallow $14.99
        Basmati rice special baked and seasoned (brown) [?] with chunks of beef shanks, raisins, and glazed carrots, served with salad and bread

        -Sabzi Pallow $12.99
        Spinach mixed with chunks of beef over white rice, served with salad and bread (also available as a veggie platter)

        -Bamia Chollow $12.99
        Okra mixed with chunks of beef and special sauce over white rice, served with salad and bread (also available as a veggie platter)

        -Mantu $12.99
        Eight steamed dough shells filled with ground beef, onion, and spices, topped with ground beef [ours wasn't], yogurt, and mint

        -Bolani $11.99
        Homemade dough pockets filled with your choice of leeks or potatoes mixed with spices, baked on a flat pan

        -Ashak $12.99
        Homemade noodle soup with ground beef, yogurt, mint, and spices [how this differs from Aush, I have no idea...]

        -Badinjon Burani $7.99
        Pan-fried eggplant seasoned with spices, then baked with fresh tomatoes and green bell peppers; topped with garlic yogurt, mint, and spices

        -Kadu Burani $7.99
        Pan-fried pumpkin seasoned with spices, then baked with fresh tomatoes and green bell peppers; topped with garlic yogurt, mint, and spices

        Desserts
        -Firnee $3.99
        Milk, sugar, and starch mixed together with pistachios, served chilled

        -Shola Zard $3.99
        Long grain rice with saffron, sugar, and almonds

        -Alwha $3.99
        Flour, sugar, water, and almonds

        1. Melanie Wong Jun 17, 2007 12:01 AM

          Sorry I couldn't join the lunch on Friday. I was down in Salinas again to get the reactions on the street about the NY Times article, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/15/us/15taco.html . But I did walk over there yesterday to check it out.

          The setting is actually quite inviting when you step inside with artifacts and momentos of the owners' homeland. I was the only one there at 1pm and I asked if I could take some photos.

          Kabul City photos,
          http://flickr.com/search/?q=kabul+city&w=19407295%40N00&z=t

          The printed menu didn't list lunch specials (M-F anyway) or appetizer portions, but I asked, saying that I wanted to try two items. The owner, Syed Ahmadi, said that I could order a lunch size mantu, $6.99, and the appetizer size of kadu, $4.99. I also ordered daugh, the herbed yogurt drink. That was actually my favorite thing. The yogurt here, used in the drink and as sauce for the savory items, is rich and tangy. The daugh was strongly herbed with mint, coriander, and some cubes of cucumber. I'm glad I had something cold and milky, as the "medium" spice on the kadu was hotter than expected and this helped cool me down. The cucumber condiment was quite good too with a strong punch of garlic. Like you, I thought the green mint-cilantro chutney and the very hot red sauce were good, but the bread was a little stale. The shola zand, $3.99, rice pudding with almonds, saffron and pistachios was excellent (and I'd been steered away from the firnee). The style of cooking is more like the homestayle places I've tried in Fremont and less refined than Helmand's.

          I asked the owner which place he had run in Fremont, as I've been to them all. He said he had Metropole which was a catering hall. He's been open at FW for 2 months, and explained that he'd talked to Helmand's Karzai about coming to the City who told him that having another Afghan place in SF would raise visibility and improve the market for both. He confessed that he hadn't been aware that locals avoid the Wharf, and he seemed pleased when I told him that I was local and had walked there. The permit to have sidewalk seating has just been approved and he can have one table seating six on each side of the door. Meats are halal and wine and beer are available. For now, the restaurant is open between lunch and dinner, convenient for tourists walking by.

          Afghan at the Wharf thread -
          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/406657

          2 Replies
          1. re: Melanie Wong
            chaddict Jun 17, 2007 06:04 AM

            First, tht article really made me sad. But seeing Melanie's name in the NYT made me smile.

            Second, yay for the photos! By dips, I was including what sounds suspiciously close to your drink-yogurt with chuncks of cucumber and garlic. I guess I am referring to the cucumber condiment? Loved it! Now if one could pair that with Troya's bread...

            The owner gave a very sad story of how he lost Metropole (anyone remember this restaurant?). He lost it because the entire building was taken over via imminent domain years ago. The building still sits there, empty.

            Nothing on the menu gives a clue about the lunch special, only a sandwich board outside, easy to miss. I only asked because of the ads. Glad to hear about the sidewalk seating. It will be fun on sunny days.

            1. re: chaddict
              Melanie Wong Jul 14, 2007 08:22 PM

              Yes, the yogurt drink and the cucumber-yogurt dip are not that far apart other than the garlic in the dip.

          2. hhc Nov 15, 2007 09:21 PM

            I read online that it's Closed for business, Beach Street Grill will open in it's place in a few month.

            http://sf.eater.com/archives/2007/11/...

            1 Reply
            1. re: hhc
              tara Nov 17, 2007 11:36 AM

              I can confirm that it's closed -- I walked by yesterday. I have to say, I was surprised that Kabul City lasted as long as it did, given its location and its approach. I love Afghani food and got take-out from there a couple of times (I work nearby), and it was good. The restaurant seemed much more geared toward sit-down dining, though, and this didn't work well for local lunchers seeking a quick bite like myself. And I can't imagine it was easy to compete with the seafood joints for the tourist crowd.

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