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Mar 17, 2008 02:57 PM

Mohsen, Kensington/Chelsea, London

There's already been much said about Mohsen's delicious abgoosht, a Persian soup/stew of lamb, beans and other good things; it's their Sunday special (they have a special for each day of the week).

The best part of this dish is the soup -- after long cooking, the ingredients are separated from the liquid, which is served as soup, and in it, the essences of meat and vegetables are rich, oily and immensely deep.

With abgoosht, after the meat and beans etc. are taken out of the soup, the meat is deboned, and then typically mashed with the beans to form a paste, thus allowing the mushy softness to contrast the slightly firmer threads of tender meat. (Think of it as falooda in a savoury way.) Mohsen's approach is different in this regard. The supple meat is deboned and set aside, and the beans and other ingredients are mashed. The meat is excellent, great flavour, tender, but I found the mashed beans to be only good not great. Will have to order this with herbs and torshi (pickles) next time.

The thin sesame pita that they serve is outstanding - crisp, aromatic.

Their doogh is one of the most rich, tangy yogurty versions I've come across. There wasn't much of the carbonated water beneath that and no trace of dried mint or other herbs. This version is good, but bears a stronger semblance to a basic lassi.

Falooda is ok, good threads of vermicelli in this rose flavoured granita. I love the fresh squeeze of lemon, but the rose flavour could have been more pronounced.

Heartwarming Persian tea, flavoured with cardamom; best taken sweet. I like to have mine with a cube of sugar under the tongue, allowing the tea to dissolve the sugar as I drink it.

From the next table, the aroma of dill from the lamb with rice flavoured with dill and beans was intoxicating. Given the Persian devotion to rice, will have to try that soon, as well as their "regular" rice. Perhaps in time I will qualify for some tah-dig (crispy rice from the bottom of the pot, typically reserved for honoured guests).

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  1. You drink tea like my Russian great-grandmother did! Do they serve the Persian chicken dish with pomegranate molasses? I think it's called Fensenjen.

    16 Replies
    1. re: zuriga1

      No, unfortunately they don't have fensenjen/fesenjoon, which is one of my favourites. I read somewhere that games birds are sometimes used instead of chicken, but have never encountered that version. Do you have a favourite place for this Persian signature dish? I was told that some places near Gloucester serve good versions, but have yet to explore that area.

      1. re: limster

        Actually they do serve fensenjen, it's a favourite of mine and I specifically asked Mrs Mohsen about it when I was there a few Sundays back. She said that she cooks it on Mondays but to call ahead on the morning of the Monday you plan on visiting to ensure that she has it that day.

        1. re: oonth

          Great! That's good to know; must be an off the menu thing or I somehow missed it -- I had made a mental to come back for zereshk polo as it was listed as the Monday special.

          1. re: limster

            yes off menu and mrs mohsen's face lit up when i enquired about it!!

        2. re: limster

          I make my own fensenjen... and it's probably not as good as Mrs. Mohsen's, but we enjoy it. I know where to get the pomagranate stuff here now, but I still have a supply brought back from my last trip to Seattle. It's really not all that complicated, but I'd love to try hers!!

        3. re: zuriga1

          Zuriga, I was going to post a comment on your recent thread about the nice French place in Kingston. But it fits just as well here seeing as we are discussing Persian food.

          Please be reminded of this previous post of mine when you're next Kingston way. The grocery store in question really is rather good and you can get lots of goodies to take back home with you. The kebabs in question are frozen and I think that you have to ask specially for them but they are superb, heated up in the oven and served with toasted barbari nan, some chopped salad and maybe one or two accompanying condiments (I love sweet tamarind sauce either home made or bottled).

          As for the French restaurant, maybe I will give it a go at some point (I go to Kingston a couple of times a year when my parents are visiting, they have close friends there) although generally these days I am much less enthusiastic about French cuisine than I used to be and prices are definitely on a par with the West End which overall makes it a less attractive proposition.

          1. re: oonth

            Thanks very much for that grocery store tip, oonth. I'm in Kingston fairly often... easy bus ride from here or we drive over. The kebab suggestion will vary our menu a bit!

            I'm not as enthralled with French cooking as I was years ago. I guess I'm growing up. :-) That was the epitome of cuisine when I was young - but one had to know my mother's cooking. This place was lovely, and the owners and staff try so hard to please. My husband wanted steamed potatoes (not on the menu), and they didn't blink an eye and served that with no problem. I am still dreaming about the suckling pig I had and the onion confit under it. Just make sure you book way in advance if you do want to go.

            1. re: zuriga1

              oonth - checked the Google Map. That is quite aways from Kingston proper but easy by car. It's just at the end of the A3 which is very easy to reach from my house. Thanks again!

              1. re: zuriga1

                yes it is, it is at the other end of kingston hill from kingston central (so to speak) and in quite a strange location, very close to the dual carriageway.

                one correction to my post above, i grill those kebabs more often than not in the George Foreman :-)

                i spent a year studying in france (strasbourg) in the early 90s and that was enlightening on the food front (was also the year when i first started cooking properly) and i still visit paris/france every year but i'm much more of a spanophile these days and get very excited at the prospect of eating in places like Castilla La Mancha, Catalunya and the whole of northern Spain comprising the Basque Country, Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia. I know you love your weekends in Paris/France but I would wholeheartedly recommend more food oriented weekends in Spain starting with San Sebastian.

                1. re: oonth

                  My Georgie Foreman didn't like British 220V. :-) I do miss it and should buy another.

                  We were in Barcelona last year but it was a work thing and we didn't get to any of the really good places to eat that time. I want to go back and will. I've become a real fan of chorizio and try to use it when I can. Our new, renovated Sainsbury's has a good selection, so that made me happy.

                  1. re: zuriga1

                    Dear hounds, sorry to interrupt the chow talk, but we'd like to request that discussions about chow in other parts of the world be discussed on the relevant boards. That way, we can keep this board focused on chow in the UK/Ireland. We really appreciate your expertise and would also be really bummed if other hounds could not take advantage of that because it was buried here. Thanks!

                    1. re: The Chowhound Team

                      2 other very good Persian restaurants are Pars, on Harrow Road (W9), and Behesht, also on Harrow Road (this one is closer to Willesden though).

                      1. re: fifi

                        Just wanted to thank people who've mentioned Mohsen on the board. I just tried it and it was really fabulous. The lamb skewers were moist and lots of olive oil. the cheese and herbs with naan was great--I really liked getting such a huge plate of herbs--kind of brightened up the whole meal. We also tried the chicken liver and mushrooms that had a great kind of soul food feel and the egg and herb Iranian tortilla-like starter with nuts was delicious. This was way more exciting and well executed Iranian food than I've had. I'm certainly no expert on Iranian cuisine (as you can probably gather from the fact that I don't recall what things are called) but it was just delicious, interesting and beautifully prepared food. We went to Patogh as well and though I enjoyed it (and would go back) the grilled food now seems dry by comparison. Oh--also the yogurt drink at Mohsen is super tart and salty in a most refreshing way.

                        1. re: lowandslow

                          Many thanks for your post! If you have been to Alounak, how wold you compare them?

                          1. re: limster

                            I haven't been, but Alounak is the place that an Iranian colleague always takes people to when he's in London. I must go next time!

                            1. re: greedygirl

                              I haven't tried Alounak yet either but I will now.

        4. Have you tried Simurgh near Covent Garden? It was highly recommended to me by a Sicillian lady of my acquaintance, and I tried it a couple of years ago. I remember we didn't like the cocktails too much but the (to me) unusual food was good - lots of berries, nuts etc. My then 11 yo son was mesmerised by the belly dancer. I would be interested in knowing how it compares with Mohsen, not being an expert on Persian food.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Lord Brazing

            Is it still correct that Mohsen is BYO? I am looking for a BYO place for next weekend and fanc a change from Indian. Are there any other recommended BYO middle eastern places?

          2. Had a disappointing experience here tonight. Went with my parents and brother, ordered a couple of Sunday specials and chello koubideh, as well as a salad I don't remember the name of (a bunch of leaves, to be perfectly honest) and kashk e bademjan. The good: the special was fantastic. Haven't tried it before but I'm still thinking about it. The kashk e bademjan was also brilliant, but quite a small portion. The price was pretty nice.

            The bad: my lamb kebab was seriously undercooked. It was raw in the middle. I guess the temperature of the grills was wrong or something, as the outside was pretty well done. It wasn't even rare, it was mushy and raw. The flavour of the kebab was also really poor, very bland. Paying for bread is also bad. Bread should be free, in my opinion. Service wasn't very warm, even though there was hardly anyone else in there. One of the waiters was having a go at a lady for enquiring whether her kebab came with both rice and bread. Seemed quite agitated. The rice also seemed a bit stale.

            I'm not sure I'll give it another chance; the high notes were relatively high but there was too much wrong, for me.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Ibrahim.Salha

              funnily enough i was at mohsen tonight as well with a bunch of relatives (we were the party downstairs).

              and our meal was its usual spectacular self - we had every variety of kebab and every special they had on offer (i think the special you are referring to is the sunday special abgoosht, but they had some of the other specials of the week as well on offer). and fyi, the salad you are referring to is undoubtedly sabzi, which is a bunch of fresh green herbs (tarragon, parsley, mint etc) that are meant to to be combined with the slab of cheese and radishes wrapped in the fresh bread. delicious.

              i can't speak for your lamb kebab - ours was wonderfully cooked - but i can speak for the service: the folks at mohsen are warm and gracious to a fault.

              and "Bread should be free" ... really? it cost the seven of us 120 pounds for our meal and that included 7 bread orders and 3 rices. find me better value for this superb quality in kensington and i'll forever hold my peace.

              1. re: howler

                You're quite clearly a fan, but surely you can understand that that was my experience (well, shared between four disappointed people). Not everyone agrees on everything, that's why we have this message board.

                Yeah that's the salad. We did that. It was ok, it worked well with the cheese and the bread, but it was just fine. Nothing to blow my top about.

                My experience of the service was not similar to yours. Our main server tutted when we said we needed a couple more minutes to decide what to eat. I don't even care about the service usually, I'm there to eat nice food, but I don't like servers to be rude, so it stood out.

                Yes, bread should be free. I know how good the value is, I pointed it out in my earlier post, but paying for bread irks me. Every Turkish restaurant I go to, the bread is free, I can't see why it's not the same here. Better value for this superb quality in Kensington? In terms of Persian, I don't know, but Best Mangal in West Kensington beats this place for me, but it's not the same cuisine so I don't know how useful it is to compare the two.