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« Mitsuwa Marketplace | Main | Lee's, Um No It's, Ly's Garden, Or Is It? »

Thursday, 23 February 2006

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santos.

hey kirk! i know precious little about persian food, but i would love to try it some time. i'm wondering if the panir sabzi actually came not with feta, but something more like the indian cheese, paneer, which is kinda like mexican panela or queso blanco--made with cow's milk so it's bland, a bit springy but firm.

Andrew

Hi Kirk. I've been reading your blog for about a month now and noticed you have some good calls on places to eat. I'll comment on Alborz because I have been there several times. I do like their food, but unfortunately, they can't compete with restaurants like Shamshiri in Westwood. I have tried the koobideh combination, the chicken barg, and chicken soltani, as well as the shirazi salad. I haven't had problems with these dishes in the past. Most times they come out juicy and well seasoned. Since I'm a huge rice fan, I love the basmati rice with the saffron liquid sprinkled on top. It adds a nice flavor, although saffron is so expensive you can hardly taste it in the dish (they probably have to dilute it a lot to save money).
The service at the restaurant is indeed efficient. I have never had problems with friendliness or efficiency. It does get crowded on weekend evenings, so arrive early if you do go then.
I recently went there on a Saturday night and they had a live pianist. It was a nice touch, but he played hava nagila which was a bit unusual for a Persian restaurant. In case you didn't know, hava nagila is neither Persian nor Arabic. It's Israeli (Jewish).
Having also eaten at Bandar and Sadaf, I think Alborz is the place I would go to mainly because it's closer for me and the food is just as good. I can also recommend Marketplace Grill (two locations, one in Mira Mesa and one in La Jolla). They serve the similar kebabs but in a more casual environment. Their herb basmati rice is hit or miss, but when they're on, it's really delicious.
I hear there is quite a large Persian community in San Diego, but if you want the best stuff, take a drive up to Westwood in LA. You won't be disappointed, although you may end up waiting in line for some really good stuff.

elmomonster

That herbiage "looked" like salad...but the fact that you had to roll it like a cigar to eat is hilarious! Gotta try that myself!

Liza

Kirk,

My husband is Persian, so we have made the circuit of the Persian restaurants in San Diego. I personally am not a big fan of Alborz. Their plain rice doesn't have the same flavor that the plain rice at better Persian restaurants has. It's hard to describe what I'm talking about, but my best attempt is to say that the basmati at Alborz is not as nutty in flavor as the rice at Bandar, for example.

For cheap, delicious Persian food, try International Market and Grill on Villa La Jolla Drive. (It's in the same plaza as a Domino's Pizza and the St. Germain liquor store.) The chicken kabob sandwich is my personal favorite, but the chelo kabob plates also are very good. You place your order, and the owner throws a kabob on the fire for you. You also get a side order of must-o-khiar (cucumber yogurt). They also have daily specials of various stews, but I have never tried them.

I've been reading your blog for a while now - it's the first thing I read in the morning! You have taught me how to order dim sum - my husband is now a big fan of sticky rice in lotus leaf.

Kathy

Hi Kirk!
I don't think I've had actual Persian food before, for it seems too often mixed with with all the other indian and middle eastern cuisines. I for once would like to sit down and catagorize everything! One thing the majority of Asian ethnic food lacks is a variety of savory bread (no one does it quite like the Indians, eh?)!

Kirk

Hi santos - Sounds like you know more then I do about Persian Food. The Panir in Persian food that I know is usually a goat cheese.

Hi Andrew - Thanks for taking the time out to comment, I appreciate it. Hava Nagila, eh? I would have been rolling.... I think We still prefer Bandar to Alborz. You know, we lived in LA for almost 5 years, yet never really ventured to Westwood/Hollywood (other then Thai Town) for Food. Something that we truly regret. Thanks for the recommendation, i'll make sure to remember Shamshiri. As for the Persian population, we have 5 that I work with on a regular basis.

Hi Elmo - I was truly thrown off by the Sabzi.

Hi Liza - Thanks for commenting and the kind words. since it looks like both you and Andrew recommend International Market and Grill, i'll try to make it there in the near future. I'm also glad that you've found some of my posts somewhat helpful. There is much more to Dim Sum then SiuMai and Hargow.

Hi Kathy - Persian is a bit different then other Middle Eastern Food I've had, at least for me. I don't think the use of garlic is very prevalent. BTW, all those savory bread like Nan-o Babari and such are soooo very good!

Hi DCCF - Thanks for the invite! Let me check out my schedule and I'll give you a call.

milgwimper

Kirk,

I would love to try persian food sometime, but the one restaurant that we tried to eat at, would ignore us, while the restaurant was open, and only one table taken. I wonder if I scared them or something. *sigh* I will have to look some up. Too bad the food wasn't as good, but photogenically they look tasty!

milgwimper

photgenically tasty...er Well they photograph well! ;)

Kirk

Hi Mills - That's terrible! Why would they do that! I'm glad the food is so "photogenic".....smile kabob, smile!!! :o)

milgwimper

Kirk,

Yeah I couldn't figure it out. I went as far as ask the kabab cook, and he talked to the waitress, telling her to serve us. She totally dragged her feet, and we waited for 1/2 an hour before Dh became angry and we ate somewhere else. I thought maybe we came at the wrong time, but double checked, yup they had been open for 2 hrs. Ahhh well I will have to try they place again, since some friends had a great dinner there. Hmmm I wonder if it was because we came during lunch...*shrug* Oh well.

howie

Hi, All,

Kirk, I'm sorry you didn't have a better experience at Alborz. It's been a while since I've been there, but I really like it. One thing to note is that amongst all the Persian places I've been to, Alborz is by far the greatest bargain. If you go for lunch, you can get soup, salad, a big pile of rice, and a generous portion of kabobs for $5-6. Not bad.

It's nice to get all these other Persian recs from the commenters. I like Bandar (sometimes more than Alborz, sometimes not), but it's much more expensive compared to the lunch specials at Alborz.

It sounds like I'm going to have to make a trip to International Market and Grill soon!

Kirk

Hi Mills - I dunno if I'd give that place another shot.

Hi Howie - The food isn't bad, and it wasn't a bad experience - just very uneven. The portions are large, and the service great. I don't know if they have raised their prices, but the most inexpensive lunch is $7.99 - still cheap though.

milgwimper

Kirk,

Yeah I am not so sure, either but other friends just think it was the waitress, and to give it another shot. I will have to think about it, DH is still not willing.

Kirk

Hi Mills - Good luck, and I hope it works out well.

Liza

Just to clarify - the Marketplace Grill that Andrew mentioned is in La Jolla at Torrey Pines Road and Herschel. International Market & Grill is at Villa La Jolla Drive and Holiday Court. Both restaurants are much more casual than Alborz, Sadaf, or Bandar. International Market & Grill is just what its name implies - both a market where you can buy basic Persian groceries and a grill.

Kirk

Hi Liza - Thanks for the info. I'm wondering how they compare with Parsian on Convoy.....

Liza

Kirk,

International Market is much smaller than Parsian and does not carry the broad range of groceries that Parsian does. The menu also is smaller. If I need Persian groceries, I go to Parsian or to the new Persian market where Parsian used to be. For kabob, though, I prefer International Market.

Kirk

Hi Liza - Thanks so much for taking the time to clarify all of this!

Andy

Hello Everyone, I JUST ATE at PARSIAN INTERNATIONAL MARKET AND GRILL ON CONVOY STREET!! WOW!! What a place, Its like a TRADER JOES MARKET and GRILL. I had thier Filet Kabob and it was better than any other Persian place I have been. I can't believe how nice the patio seating was too. Prices are just right, not expensive at all, they give lots of food and the people there are so nice.

I highly reccomend you all to check it out, its 4020 convoy street, right across Home Expo on Convoy.

THEY EVEN BAKE FRESH PERSIAN NAAN BREAD DAILY!! only 1dollar for a huge loaf of bread.

Roxanne

Hi, I just had lunch for the first time at Parsian Market and Grill. I got the chicken kabobs and I thought it was fabuous. I thought the price was real good as well. For dessert I got tea and cream puffs and they were soooo good. Im not persian, but the persian people there were very nice to me. Its also a food market so I got some shopping done as well. I give it a 10 out of 10.

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