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Kolbeh of Kabob - Persian in Cambridge

This place hasn't gotten much attention here lately and had dropped right off my radar after I had read a few of Limster's reports years ago. Reports of Persian in Arlington reminded me I wanted to check it out and since I was feeling kaboby and decided to give it a whirl.

Kubideh plate featured a nice char-grilled kabob of spiced ground chicken over a mountain of Basmati rice with a small chopped salad, humus and pita. A charred tomato was also included. At $7.95 for this lunch special it was the best deal of the day. Delicious juicy meat and excellent rice, it was hard not to eat the whole thing and save room for the other dishes.

Kask-bademjoon is a warm eggplant dip with onions, garlic and fried mint. It was supposed to be served with special house-made taftoon bread, but unfortunately that didn't make it into the bag. I liked the dip well enough but actually preferred it cold later in the evening for a snack. Fried mint has a bitter edge to it that mellowed out with sitting.

Tadik is a Persian specialty of the crackly bits of rice that stick to the bottom of the pan and is served with crispy pita bits and a choice of stew (gheymeh or sabzi; beef with split peas or vegetable stew). I'm no expert but I'm pretty sure this is not a "great" version of tadik, but it hit the spot and the stew was wonderful -- chunks of sirloin with a tomato sauce.

Pretty little restaurant with sumac to sprinkle to your liking on the tables and a sweet server who offered me tea while I waited for my order. The flavors of Persian food are subtle, and nothing hit me with a WOW! or a KAPOW! but everything was tasty and comforting and I'll return to try more of the specialties (and see about that taftoon bread).

Kolbeh of Kabob
1500 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

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  1. Thanks yumyum for the reminder on this place. I enjoyed it and your review is spot on but also haven't been since it opened. Gee, with good reports on Moroccan, SriLankan and Persian, I'm positively giddy like a schoolgirl for our new ethnic cuisine choices.

    1. Thanks from me too, yumyum, for the reminder. We were looking for something relatively light for dinner and got the chicken kubideh plate and a tabouli last night to go. It was exactly what we were looking for to compliment the veggies from our CSA. The chicken was a little dry, but excellent flavor - two long skewers such that we were able to split one and saved the other for lunch today. The rice was complimented by the sumac, which they happily supplied for take-out on request. Tabouli was oilier than other versions, which is to say I liked it more than other versions. Probably will work them into the rotation.

      1. Hey Yum,

        I'd have to agree, on just about everything in your post about Kolbeh,
        I like them a lot, and most everything I have tried there is either very good or excellent....

        You're most likely correct about the tadiq too, its not my personal favorite, but friends of mine
        who grew up with this food say that having mom give you some tadiq was pretty much the Persian
        equivalent of getting to lick the toll house cookie bowl, and somehow, (I'm no expert) tadiq
        made up as a menu item for customers just doesn't seem to compare with the one single layer at the bottom of a long simmering pot of chello,
        An absurdly houndish discussion of the topic, replete with links to methods and techniques
        exists here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/284520

        Nota Bene: Kolbeh of Kabab would go from Fine Neighborhood Joint to Destination Restaurant
        IF they can convince the building owner to allow them to use their patio space for outdoor
        dining, it has amazing potential, if it comes together. Check it out next time you are there.

        The Dude

        2 Replies
        1. re: abgooshtdude

          Dude! I'm super psyched you weighed in. Please keep posting.

          1. re: abgooshtdude

            Dropped by for lunch, had the chick kubideh plate and brag (tenderloin tips) plate. The chick was excellent, I liked the sides of hummus and shirazi salad, made for good texture and taste contrasty for the chick. The barg was a disappointment, the meat, not more than a couple of small bites, was over done but, for 8.95 still an OK value. I should have ordered the beef kubidieh instead. The plates are loaded with basmati rice both white and saffrron yellow and a grilled tomato. I need to get back and try some of their speciality dishes, particularily the bagahali polo, rice, lima beans with a lamb shank in a tomato sauce.

          2. Thanks, yumyum. I remember hearing this place had closed for a long time (fire?), and was never sure if it reopened, or did and closed again. It struck me as odd that it never got a mention here. It probably does not help that their signage makes them look like a realtor; terrible logo.

            Your meal sounds like one I enjoyed recently at Jasmine Taste of Persia in Watertown, another Iranian place I'd recommend.


            1. This place holds a special place in my heart. I had their takeout right after my second son was born over 5 years ago and remember it being one of the most delicious meals I've ever eaten (I suppose anything tastes excellent to a woman who's just birthed an 8 1/2 lb baby!). I think I polished off both a falafel platter and a couple kubideh kabobs, but neither my DH nor I can remember exactly. We have not had their food since then even though we liked it because the place burned down and fell off our radar. Thanks to your post we revisited them friday with our 3 chowpups and were very pleased. We liked the new interior (it used to be more of a hole in the wall), and the food was very good. We shared a falafel plate, kask bademjoon, mast khiar, portobello ghemeh, and khoresht fesenjoon. The taftoon bread is delicious when hot out of the oven, but hardens quickly by the end of the meal (consider yourselves warned...that might also be why they didn't put it in your takeout, yumyum). My DS1 has many food allergies (nuts, eggs, dairy, fish and shellfish) and the waitress was very nice about answering all our questions. He had some falafel and ate almost all of the portobello ghemeh (mushrooms in a tomato based stew). The falafels were good, hot and tasty, with a nice green colour inside (parsley maybe?) and came with a cucumber/tomato/onion salad, tahini and a heap of rice. The fesenjoon was delicious (full disclosure: I have always loved this dish and probably never met one I didn't like, and it was the very first Persian dish I tried when a Persian hole in the wall opened near our old apartment in Montreal with a "khoresht of the day" special). The chicken was tender and the pomegranate walnut sauce was nicely smooth and not overly sweet. My second son (who has no food allergies) loved it too. kask bademjoon was very rich and smokey and quickly scooped up by the 4 of us who can eat it. The mast khiar was nothing special (whole milk yogourt with cucumber and mint...I am not sure if the yogourt was homemade, but we make our own yogourt and this wasn't one where I thought "OMG! I must ask for some of the culture" ), but we mixed it with the leftover rice and that was a good way to end the meal.

              I'm no expert on Persian food, but DH and I have always liked it whenever we've had it. This is a nice friendly place for a family with young kids to eat (there are high chairs), and I love that there is something my kid with the food allergies can have and enjoy. Would definitely visit again.

              1. We had wanted to try Bosphorus last night but it was closed for the holiday, so we went to Kolbeh of Kabob instead. What a wonderful meal we had. DC's lamb kebab was delcious, and I could eat plates and plates of their fragrant rice. I enjoyed the lentil soup (sadly, barley soup was not available last night), and the falafels were perfectly fried. Another DC had a chicken dish but I thought the chicken tasted dry.

                Kolbeh of Kabob
                1500 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                5 Replies
                1. re: opinionatedchef

                  Kolbeh of Kabob is a middle eastern restaurant which is on Cambridge St. They do have some pizzas on their lunch menu, though I have never seen anyone order or eat a pizza there. I certainly wouldn't call it a pizza shop. Did you try anything other than the pizza?

                  Kolbeh of Kabob
                  1500 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                  1. re: Gabatta

                    on a corner, yes? feels like a pizza shop/ has a tall counter in the backYep, that's the place we ate and no we had no pizza, just overcooked and unimpressive persian food, after reading some CH raves. I'd take Lala rokh in a heartbeat. But since many of you like it, it must have improved.

                    1. re: opinionatedchef

                      To be fair, Kolbeh of Kabob and Lala Rokh are in two completely different categories of formality, price and service. This is like saying, "Damn, but Prezza kicks Artu's ass." A fairer comparison would be with more modest, informal Persian restaurants, like Jasmine Taste of Persia, Molana or Moby Dick.


                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                        I am not comparing formality, price and service. I am only talking about the food.
                        Certainly this could cause great outcry , but as a chef, and from what i see, persian food is not terrifically complex. grilled meats, stew type dishes; eggplant, lamb, eggplant, lamb, some beef and chicken, yoghurt,yoghurt,yoghurt,tomato, spices rice etc.

                        That doesn't mean that it's easy to make wonderful Persian food- obviously it is not easy or all the restnts you mentioned would be doing it. But what i mean is, take away the service, atmosphere, price- of lala rokh- and many/most of the same dishes are prepared at most Persian restaurants. But the talent of the Lala Rokh chefs- makes it the only worthwhile Boston Persian restnt- to eat those dishes-- imo of course.
                        And I would be thrilled if that were not the case. (i.e. the 7 jewel rice at that place on harv st in brookline- is sublime, but that's the only thing there that is.) Sigh.

                        Lala Rokh
                        97 Mount Vernon Street, Boston, MA 02108

                        1. re: opinionatedchef

                          Okay, so leave service and ambiance out of the equation. I'm still surprised at this notion that there is no significant difference in the cuisine between a more formal, expensive Persian restaurant like Lala Rokh and a more casual, modest one like Kolbeh of Kabob.

                          Even if one grants the notion that Persian cuisine is very simple -- one I reject, incidentally, though I can see how someone might mistake subtlety for simplicity -- one would at least have to consider differences in quality of ingredients, the use of house-made vs. commercial bakery breads, the use of kitchen shortcuts, the ability to prepare certain dishes (like grilled ones) a la minute, etc.

                          I stand by that Prezza / Artu analogy.