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Dinner at Shalizaar

Our party of eight had dinner at Shalizaar in Belmont the day before Thanksgiving. We ordered family style and most of the food came on one giant platter so I wasn’t always sure what I was eating, but it was all good.

The usual complimentary Persian flat bread wrap with herbs, walnuts and cheese has never done much for me but the flat bread here (baked on the premises) is really good.

My prior kebob experiences have generally been unexciting so I usually avoid ordering kebabs in favor of more complex sounding dishes. Big mistake! Shalizaar demolished that prejudice with some excellent kebobs—my favorites were the salmon kebab and one of our two chicken kebabs which was especially juicy and flavorful (sorry, I’m not sure which one it was and our other chicken kebob was merely pretty good). I am partial to lamb especially in Middle Eastern restaurants but the lamb kebob was less interesting than most of the others and not as juicy.

I had high hopes for the ghormeh sabzi (beef stew with spinach and kidney beans) but while good it was not quite as intense as I had hoped. It tasted more interesting on the Tah Dig appetizer where the crispy rice added nice texture and flavor that complemented the stew more effectively than regular rice. The other stew on the Tah Dig (beef with split peas) was even better.

The other stew item we had was the fesenjan (chicken with pomegranate sauce). It was interesting but it didn’t quite work for me. I only got a couple of bites of this one and would definitely try it again to see if I might acquire a taste for it with a little more exposure.

I prefer Shalizaar’s doogh to the version at nearby Afghan Kabul.

The service was generally gracious but declined in attentiveness as the evening progressed. The décor is very nice and the lighting low. The setting is elegant enough for a romantic date but most of the diners were very casually dressed.

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Shalizaar
300 El Camino Real, Belmont, CA 94002

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  1. Service on Sunday evening was well-paced and gracious; we were early diners. The flat bread with a light spread of butter, a sprinkle of fresh herb, walnuts, radish, and feta cheese is most delectable - made my taste buds jump for more. The doogh is refreshingly tart - perfect to my palate. The lamb shank as a "side" order for $9.95 gave us a generous and satisfying taste of long-cooked well-flavored tenderness. The rice is absolutely fragrant and green with dill and with a squeeze of fresh lemon. The lentil soup is hearty and warming in the chill of the evening with a splash of lemon and oil. The Joojeh chicken kabob can be either thigh or breast - marinated and juicy. We had two stews on the Tah Dig. The reheated leftovers were even more enjoyed the next day. These are tantalizing flavors for me and I would be very happy to return.

    1. That area's rather a hotspot now - how would you compare the food (not just the doogh) to:

      Kabul
      Istanbul (san carlos)
      Pilita (san carlos)

      6 Replies
      1. re: bbulkow

        Shalizaar is the best of the bunch, but the others are diferent cuisines. The bread at Kabul doesn't compare well to Shalizaar. Pilita is good, the best dish is the cherries and meatballs. Pilita seems to be dying, it's nearly always empty.

        1. re: Shane Greenwood

          Based on my one trip to Shalizaar and several to Kabul Afghan I would give the nod to Kabul Afghan at least for the types of dishes that I tend to prefer in Middle Eastern restaurants.

          None of the stews I had at Shalizaar satisfied me as much Kabul’s aushak or vegetarian plates. Kabul’s kadu (pumpkin) is wonderful—I often get it in the vegetarian combo with the sabsi (spinach) and gulpi (cauliflower) which I prefer to the badenjah (eggplant) in spite of my general fondness for eggplant. The aushak (leek and green onion dumplings topped with a yogurt meat sauce and ground meat) never fails to please me. Perhaps I just prefer Afghan dishes to Persian.

          I haven’t tried the full variety of dishes at both places. We avoided dishes at Shalizaar like the lamb shank which couldn’t easily be shared by 8 people. The kebabs at Shalizaar were excellent but I haven’t had them at Kabul. (For one hound’s praise of Kabul’s kebabs see http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5075... ). The lentil soup at Kabul is very good but I haven’t tried Shalizaar’s soup.

          I note from their website that Kabul Afghan has opened a new location in Burlingame, which raises questions of whether they can maintain quality with two restaurants to manage

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          Kabul Afghan Cuisine
          135 El Camino Real, San Carlos, CA 94070

          Shalizaar
          300 El Camino Real, Belmont, CA 94002

          1. re: charliemyboy

            Yes, it sounds like you prefer Afghan food to Persian. Personally I prefer the food at Shalizaar.

            Unless something's changed, Kabul also has a branch in Sunnyvale.

            1. re: Windy

              Yes, it's difficult to compare those four restaurants. Afgani food is very different.

              1. re: Windy

                Kabul Afghan in Sunnyvale is not related to the San Carlos Kabul Afghan. I have eaten at the Sunnyvale one a couple of times and it's fairly similar to the San Carlos restaurant in offerings. My first time there I thought it wasn't as good as at San Carlos, my second time it seemed very similar in quality.

            2. re: Shane Greenwood

              FYI. I got cut short before I could finish my post. Meant to elaborate on the different cuisines:

              Shalizaar=Persian
              Istanbul=Turkish
              Pilita=Turkish, traditional home cooking recipes
              Kabul=Afgani

          2. I guess I forgot to post about my lunch at Shalizar earlier this year, or somehow it got dropped from the system.

            Sabzi, kashk-e-bademjan (eggplant salad), and aush reshteh (vegetarian soup) were all good. The constant supply of fresh hot bread was a nice touch. I'd go back.

            1. I finaly went to Shalizaar last night instead of Chelokababi in Sunnyvale. I've been on a Persian food kick lately and the kabobs at Shalizaar were much more delicious than those I tried at Lavash in San Francisco a few weeks ago. Like others mentioned above, I was so impressed with the bread baked in house. I haven't been to a Persian restaurant that bakes their own bread. It came with a chunk of feta, walnuts and fresh herbs. We ordered the Shalizaar for two plate with four kabobs: 2 ground beef, 1 lamb chops and 1 chicken. There were about 6 lamb chops in the skewer and they were so tender and juicy. The chicken thighs were just as good. The ground beef was less exciting. I did note that they serve less rice than other Persian restaurants where a huge mound of rice seems to be the norm, but that's not a bad thing considering I ate so much bread. Service was fine on a busy Saturday night. It's definitely worth a drive from SF. Dinner for two with one yogurt/garlic dip, Shalizaar for Two, beer and wine was $73.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Mari

                If you're on a Persian kick, and you like a good bread, you should make a special trip to Cafe Silan in Menlo Park. Their little wood fired oven seems to turn out an endless supply of little breadlets that keep coming to your table as fast as you eat them. The menu is apparently more Kurdish than Persian, although I'm not sure I can tell the difference. Tiny little place (8 tables?), cozy, mom and pop, friendly people, great food, unusual dishes, moderate prices, what's not to like?

              2. With high expectations i returned to Shalizaar, but either they've slipped a lot or we just hit them on a bad night. When we arrived around 6 pm there was only one other table of diners so they should have been able to give our order their full attention. I was especially looking forward to their wonderful flatbread. Last time it was warm and soft, apparently just out of the oven. This time it was cold and part of each piece was dried out and hard. Much of the crisped rice in the Tah Dig appetizer was burnt and imparted an unpleasant taste. On the other hand the Koobideh Morgh (ground chicken kebab) was very good and the salmon kebab even better. After my first visit I had Shalizaar pegged as a great place for a special occasion but now I'm not so sure. It still has great decor and romantic lighting but the decline in food and casual attitude of the server made it seemed a less sure choice for a hot date than I had previously thought. Hopefully it was just an off night. It was too good the first time not to try again, so I'll be back.

                1 Reply
                1. re: charliemyboy

                  Hi, Charlie! The koobideh murgh is one of my favorites, too, though I usually find ground poultry less than appetizing. I haven't been to Shalizaar lately, but we've been going there for years, and along with the ground chicken, we have always enjoyed the lamb chops and Cornish game hen kebabs. Oh, and the shireen polo (rice with candied orange peel, saffron, and pistachios) is also delicious.

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                  Shalizaar
                  300 El Camino Real, Belmont, CA 94002