Monday, July 2, 2012

Kamdesh Afgan Kabab House @ 14th St. Oakland

I don't know about you, but I fell in love with Afgani cuisine the moment my lips touched the wonderful spiced dishes with an unforgettable subtle sweetness. my first experience was in Baltimore at the Helmand; a relatively small, quant restaurant that served some of the most amazing dishes ever eaten.  It's there that I found my fondness for the cuisine that I describe as soft; food that comforts you, with no intention to assault your senses. 

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So the Downtown/ Chinatown Oakland area is a bustling area of town with some Landmark Architecture, and that's where Kamdesh is located; on a prominent corner with a bright tangerine storefront and colorful Arabic mosaic trim.  And as you enter, you immediately notice the great aromas wafting from the open grill where all the Kebabs are laid out for grilling,
ready at moment's notice to be consumed.

Menu Roundup:
Drinks:         Doogh: Yogurt with Cucumber & Mint
Appetizers:  Mantoo
                    Eggplant (Bon Jon) Borani
Mains:         Quabili Pilaw

Starting off our Lunch, we begin with the drink, Doogh: a Yoghurt drink with Cucumber and Mint.  This drink is definitely and acquired taste, due to it's more salty flavor and watery consistency....the cucumber doesn't help either, (it's similar to the Salty Lassi in Indian cuisine) When you're used to a  sweetened version (like Mango Lassi) it does take some getting used to, but I will say that it does go well with the food.  

There were two appetizers that immediately brought me back to that restaurant in Baltimore and just knew it would be good; the first one being the Eggplant Borani-with chunks of Eggplant, Onions and Garlic accompanied with a tangy yoghurt on the side, it's a great to spread with Afgani Naan

The other to-get dish is the Mantoo: razor thin Dumplings filled with ground Beef, Onion and seasonings topped with sautéed Vegetables and Yoghurt can't find a more subtle, sophisticated dish that blends ingredients and herbs together in perfect synch.

For the Main Course, we decided to go big and order the Qualibi Pallaw, Braised Lamb Shank with Flavored Brown Basmati Rice on top, it was an incredible dish more than enough for two!  The lamb meat just fell right off the bone, it was tender and just right with the sweet flavored rice with Carrots, Rasins, Cumin, Cardamom, Cinnamon and Saffron.  Rick says it's one of the best dishes he's had in a while!

Kamdesh Afghan Kabab House on UrbanspoonRating (Out of Five Stars)

Food:          4.5
Ambience:  3.25
Service:      4