Zoey’s Bistro – “Afghan Fusion” on Grand Ave (Oakland)
This is a fairly new place on Grand Ave – I couldn’t really figure out what made the food “fusion”, other than that pub standards like calamari and chicken wings coexisted on the menu with mantoo and ashak. The Afghan dishes we ordered seemed pretty straightforward Afghan (although prettied up a bit on presentation). We didn’t order any of the non-Afghan dishes – maybe they put an Afghan spin on those?
In any case, the badenjan buranee, meltingly soft eggplant with yogurt and tomato sauce, was delicious. The mantoo and ashak tasted similar, so much so that I can’t remember which one I liked better (I suspect it was the mantoo - the wrapper on the one with less filling was a little too firm for my taste). The kofta kebab and the chabli kebab were both very good (the chabli was basically a spicier, flattened version of the kofta). I wasn’t a fan of the Afghan burger, which tasted bland after the two kebabs. The qabeli (lamb shank) was ok, but I found the carrot and raisin spiked pilaf to have a slightly musty flavor. Grand Tavern used to have a really good lamb shank, but I think they may have taken it off the menu – I don’t see it on the online version.
Service was friendly, if a little loopy, with numerous references made to our meal as a “journey”. Prices are high, compared to other Afghan restaurants, with kebabs at $15 a plate, and mantoo at $9 (I think there were 5 dumplings), but there aren’t any other Afghan restaurants in the immediate area that I know of, and I'm not likely to drive to SF or Fremont if I'm craving mantoo.
388 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA 94610
Not sure if they still are, but I think they're on restaurant.com. We used a coupon there and our server commented on how happy she was that we used the coupon to allow us to try more things, rather than to try to get out the door for the minimum. I know that sounds awkward, but she was nice and trying hard.
The straight pub fare is nothing to write home about, but I concur on the other dishes.