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Pamir Kebob House (Poway) - Great Afghan restaurant

My wife and I had the chance to eat at Pamir Kebob House on Poway Rd. (in the same mall as North Park Produce) last Friday and are both very impressed by the excellent Afghan food and service.

As appetizer we ordered a large sampler plate with 6-7 different Afghan specialities as aushak, hummus etc.. All of them were very good and gave a nice overview of the different choices on their menu. As entrees we choose different types of kabobs: My wife had a sampler of chicken, lamb and beef kebob with three types of rice (plain basmati, spinach basmati and tomato basmati) and spinach and peas as the vegetables. I have never tasted such a tender chicken before but all three kebabs were outstanding. The vegetable were very flavorful as were the three different rice. I had the special lamb kebob made from three pieces of the rack of lamb and a large salad. Again a perfect dish which showed the skills of the chef. Dessert was afghan rice pudding (with pistachios and a nice cardamom taste) and baklava. I might sound too uncritical but again nothing to critize about the desserts.

Overall it was a very impressive dinner but it was also sad to see that they only had very few customers for a Friday evening even though they deliver high quality food. It is not very often thay you go to a new restaurant not expecting much and then got surprised by a great dinner (The last time this happened was at Punjabi Tandoor). This restaurant will be on our regular rotation (there are also many entrees on the menu beside kabob, e.g. kofta palow, qabeli chalow) and it will be interesting to see if they can deliver this kind of quality on a regular basis.

Pamir Kabob House
12378 Poway Rd. #C
Poway, CA 92064

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  1. Honkman, is the Pamir Kebob House in the same space that the Garden Bistro occupied? More along Pomerado Road than Poway Road (despite the address)? If so, that location really has bad luck. The Garden Bistro was a nice restaurant, but they never were able to get the necessary traffic to survive. All I can say is that you better put it in heavy rotation, because it may not be around long, unless it bucks the trend.

    I have some friends that live nearby that I'll try to steer there.

    5 Replies
    1. re: RB Hound

      I have never tried Garden Bistro but googled it and it has the same address and you are correct that Pamir is more along Pomerado Road than Poway Road.

      1. re: RB Hound

        No, Garden Bistro was replaced by House on the Hill (it used to be a house, and it's on a hill), which is still a nice restaurant and has more of a steak and seafood menu. When we went, it still wasn't very full, but they have good happy hour specials and Wednesday night jazz, so maybe it picks up then.

        Pamir is in the complex with Big Lots, North Park Produce, and CVS but along the Pomerado side rather than the Poway Rd side. It's across Pomerado Rd from where Garden Bistro was.

        They really do have good food at decent prices. Their dumplings are really tasty but make for a light dinner entree. I had the lamb and sour cherries and it was wonderful. They also have a really good lunch special Monday through Saturday.


        1. re: leanneabe

          I don't want to get too tangential, but the place I am thinking of (Bistro Garden, Garden Bistro, something like that) was in the same complex as Big Lots, CVS, etc. The place across the street was something else (there is a pizza place there too, right?).

          At any rate, Pamir sounds like a decent place, and I hope it hangs around, but...

          1. re: RB Hound

            North, South,East and West sides of the street help me to understand. I remember NPP being on the North side of that road, whatever the name of it is...it is the exit that when driving North on 15 has(or at least had) a giant "Sabre Springs" lettered on the NorthEast hill. Of course, if NPP moved then I don't know where you are talking about. :)

            1. re: Cathy

              Pamir is on the west side of Pomerado Road just north of Poway Road in a strip mall. They have a delivery van with their name parked out front most of the time. We loved the food, especially the pea side and the curry, and the restaurant is beautiful. A '10'!

      2. We, too enjoy Pamir but are mystified as to why the place is usually deserted. When we eat there, we are always glad to see other people come in. Most likely it's the location, because in my experience, it's not the food or the service. It's definately unique for Poway, and not the type of place that one might expect to find here.

        I have to say, I had a hard time getting my husband to go there the first time. He assumed that being a small family run place, the service would be slow. Not the case. After our first time there, he's a dedicated fan. Nice people there, and we've never been disappointed with the food either.
        My two kids love the chicken kabob plate, and oddly, even my picky eater asks to eat there. I'm addicted to the spicy chutney that they serve with the kebobs. It's probably the endorphin release. I hope that the place catches on, because there is nothing else like it around Poway.

        1. We've always had great food and service there. I usually get the green onion dumplings (I think it is the aushak) and love the sweet dugh. Their lamb is always very tender, too. I've only gone for late lunches and it seems like there are always about 3 other tables full and a number of people either coming in for to go orders. I'll have to make it in for dinner soon.

          1. The Mr. and I had lunch there today and everything was fantastic. We began with the sambosas, which were light, crisp and delicious. The cilantro chutney and yogurt sauce they were served with were both tasty. I had the combination plate (lamb stew, curry chicken & meatball w/ different types of rice & veggies) and he had the Pamir Special kebob (lamb, beef & chicken w/ various rice & veggies) and we shared bites so we could both try a wide variety of their offerings. All of the meat was tender and flavorful, although we both agree that the lamb stew was, by far, the most tender lamb either of us has tried. I'm no lamb expert, but he is and claims that it knocked his socks off. I loved both the chicken curry and the chicken kebob, marvelling at how tender they were. All of the various rice & veggie dishes were tasty and well prepared, and I really enjoyed the sour cherry rice. For dessert he asked if we could share a sampler of their offerings, which our hostess/owner/chef's wife happily obliged. We shared a cup of hot cherry blossom tea, the pistachio pudding, the rice pudding and a piece of baklava. Both of the puddings were outstanding, unique, creamy and quite rich. The baklava was still warm and to date, the best I have had. We were so stuffed we practically needed a crane to carry us out.

            Excellent service, great atmosphere and delicious food... I only hope the location doesn't keep them from succeeding. I know we plan to return and to pass the word along.

            1. We also LOVE this place. We've been here 3-4 times over the past year or so, even though it's far from where we live. We've traveled extensively in the Afghanistan region, so we often yearn for this type of cuisine and Pamir satisfies our cravings in the best way. Their dishes are so elegant and subtley flavored, yet also simple and kind of rustic in other ways.

              It's unfortunate that Pamir is in a strip mall, but the inside of the restaurant is as cozy and nice as it can be, and the food more than makes up for it, as does the kindness, care and expertise of its owners and chef, a husband/wife team. The husband cooks and the wife takes care of the front of the restaurant.

              Our kids love the mantu (similar to Russian manti but smaller), and we also love the lamb dishes and anything with the chicken kabob. I also recall having something similar to creamed spinach (but not made with heavy cream) that was so delicately and deliciously spiced. The baklava (called baghlawa here) is super yummy and fresh...I've never really loved baklava, but it's so worth having at Pamir.

              Go and enjoy!

              1. Went there today for dinner with a friend (Sat 6pm), and I'll definitely recommend it and take my wife next time. Service was great, and the kebabs were perfect - they definitely know what they're doing. I'll upload photos of today's dishes later.

                We shared a combo kebab plate and savored every piece. Each piece has a very suitable seasoning that's subtle. I tried beef, then lamb, then chicken, and despite my expectations each one was as good as the other. The beef was good steak quality, and what I like is that after having steak after steak over the years, this place has something uniquely different but just as good.

                On the combo plate they also serve vegetables including spinach, and different seasoned rice. These were well done on their own too. Me and my friend each ordered one of the two soups, and we liked both. I'd definitely order them again - I loved the bit of yogurt on top of mine and beef in the soup.

                I know I've only been here once but everything we ordered left us with the impression that they don't put anything on the menu they don't do really well. When I asked for recommendations they seemed confident we'd like everything, though they suggested one of the combos if we weren't sure.

                The place was half full when we were there, which isn't bad for a restaurant in a strip mall - the thing is we wouldn't know it was there unless we specifically looked for it since it's hidden around the corner. It was more full when we left, since as I said we entered around 6pm.

                I hope word of mouth keeps this place around, because I intend to go back. That's my motivation for writing this review. =)

                I thought the prices were more than reasonable considering we usually spend more for this kind of satisfaction. . The decor was very comfortable and a place I'd take people for business or pleasure - this isn't apparent from the outside especially due to its location next to a supermarket. Having been there, I consider this a plus because there's tons of parking and no wait. Other than being in Poway 30 minutes from UTC where I am which isn't a deterrent for me, I see no real cons in going here.

                1 Reply
                1. re: royaljester

                  "The place was half full when we were there, which isn't bad for a restaurant in a strip mall - the thing is we wouldn't know it was there unless we specifically looked for it since it's hidden around the corner. It was more full when we left, since as I said we entered around 6pm."

                  Many North County restaurants are in strip malls, especially in the Poway-Rancho Bernardo area (Bernardo's and the French Market Grille come to mind). That location has a few other things against it:

                  1. Like you way, it's around the corner, almost hidden

                  2. It's near a Big Lots as well as a few other bargainish stores. I like Big Lots as do many people here, but there are more than a few people that would see the array of stores and no think about stopping there.

                  The only way places can do well in that spot is good word of mouth. There was a place before called Bistro Garden, or something like that, which had good word of mouth. I don't think that was enough, though. You really need strong support from Poway - i.e. a crowd of regulars - to make places there work, I think.

                  Nonetheless, this place is always on my "I've got to try it out" list. It's a little intimate for my very active and sometimes not so quiet 2-year old, though.

                2. Photos as promised. First is the soup. The yogurt in the center is a great touch. The soup is nice but their signature dish would be the kebabs. These really make this place stand out and worth driving 30 minutes (from UTC) for.

                  From left to right the meats are beef, chicken, and lamb. If I recall, each had 3 pieces so 9 pieces in all. The chicken is better than what I expect from good tandoori - it's better than it looks. The same goes for the beef and lamb. I always prefer vegetables with my meat and and I appreciated the attention paid to the beans and spinach. They'd stand on their own as good dishes. You can see there are three types of rice. The lettuce and parsley were good quality.

                  I found this to be a nice place to chat with my friend over a good dinner. Tables are spaced well apart, and as I said it has a comfortable layout.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: royaljester

                    I also like their different meats but the chicken is outstanding. I never had chicken that is really melting in your mouth.

                    1. re: honkman

                      sounds and looks delicious. does anyone know how it compares to something like the kebab place downtown for that? it's a bit of a drive for me, but we've been known to travel for excellent kebabs.

                      1. re: keena

                        Are you talking about the Kebab Shop on 9th and Market ? The Kebab Shop is not bad but has a very limited menu mostly around Doner Kebabs which are related to something you would get in Berlin. Unfortunately the quality is not really good. In comparison, Pamir Kebob House is on a much, much higher quality level and you can easily see and taste that they know what they are doing. Their menu covers far more dishes than the Kebab Shop.


                        1. re: honkman

                          We finally got to try Pamir Kebob last night -- we loved it! We started with the sampler appetizer which was a fun introduction to Afghani cuisine and which we thoroughly enjoyed -- such an interesting play on sweet, sour, salty flavors. Hubby had the chicken tandoori and I had the lamb kebob. Both plates came with three types of rice: red (chile), green (cilantro?), and plain, and a couple of different veggies (the spinach was exceptionally good). Both the chicken and lamb were lean, but very moist and tender, and the lamb had a great char from the grill. One of our girls had the veggie plate -- an imaginative assortment of veggies (spinach, green beans, peas, squash, potatoes), each cooked separately in a different spice blend. The result was a vegetarian delight of varied textures and flavors, a nice change from the banality one usually encounters when ordering meatless. The other daughter ordered the chicken curry, which came with a couple of different veggies and fluffy basmati rice. Her chicken was also moist and tender and the curry was a well-balanced blend of sweet, bitter, salty, and hot. We very much enjoyed our meals, and the experience was made all the more fun by the new flavors we encountered (I found myself unable to identify many of the spices that were used) and not knowing what to expect with each new bite. Regretfully, we were all too full to order dessert, but we'll try to rectify that on another visit. Please support Pamir Kebob, a family-owned and operated gem in the culinary waste land of Poway. We definitely need more places like this in North County! Cheers!

                  2. I was at Pamir KH yesterday, and the owner and his wife informed us they are closing up the Poway location on July 12 and moving to Temecula. They will reopen there. He said to check the website for exact location.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: maestra

                      Why am I not very surprised about this? I think John Deacon wrote a little ditty that applies here.

                    2. Update on Pamir Kebob House:

                      I heard that they reopened end of November in Temecula. I guess it is time to drive up to Temecula to see if they still serve their outstanding Afghan Food.

                      I would be curious to know if anybody in Temecula already tried it.


                      3 Replies
                      1. re: honkman

                        I noticed them advertising in mail at my parents home up in Temecula. I am going up for Xmas and the following weekend. Maybe I can hit them up. - what would you reccomend I order?

                        1. re: kare_raisu

                          They have a nice combination platter for starters which covers several of their starters (Sambosa, Borta, Mantu etc.). If it doesn't include Aushak (Afghan style dumpling) ask them if they can also include it in the platter. We tried mainly their kabobs so far. Their Pamir Special is nice because it gives you the chance to try all of their meats (chicken, lamb, beef) and all of them are marinated and grilled that they are so tender like the meat was braised for hours. The Pamir special also includes 2-3 kind of rice and several vegetables (spinach is outstanding).
                          I would be very interested to hear what you think about this place.

                        2. re: honkman

                          We used to go regularly when they were in Poway, now we go whenever we go to BIg Bear as they are just a few minutes off the 15 (Winchester exit) in Temecula. Food is great like always. This guy was the chef at Kyber Pass down in Hillcrest, and he makes the stuff better than the current chef at Kyber Pass in my opinion. Support these small mom and pop restaurants so they can stay around, they still have the $6.95 lunch special, a great deal.