Kabob Krazy (Kabul Restaurant - Davis, CA)

Thursday, August 3, 2006

When Hing's closed down in Davis, I was visibly upset. This was the very first restaurant I had ever been to in Davis, and in my opinion the best Chinese food to. Soon many years went by, and I never dropped by the old haunt.

"Let's go get Aghani food."

I sat a little dumbstruck for a moment. Afghani? First off, I had no idea what this style of cuisine consisted of. Second, there was a new Afghani restaurant in Davis? And I didn't know about it? "Sure, sounds good. What kind of food is Afghani food?"

"Afghani food." I could hear her smile over the phone, amused by her own little snap. "I'll see you at 6."

Apparently, Kabul Restaurant had moved into Hing's old place, and right away I was more than glad. The inside had been lavishly decked out in ornate and richly colored rugs, a slight ersatz, but enjoyable and garunteed to put a smile on your face. The smiling hostess led Sarah and I up stairs to the raised seating area. We left our shoes behind us and sat on the floor amongst some squishy pillows on another rustic rug.

Afghani food definetly stands out in my mind amongst the various styles of middle eastern food. Each ingredient has been cooked to leave it feeling light, allowing each flavor and texture to be delicately dissected by your mouth. No dish is to glitzy or esoteric, relying on only three or four complimentary flavors to bring the whole dish together. It's quite amazing really. Plus, many of the dishes were IBS okay, and the kitchen was more than happy to offer veggie dishes, or alter any they had for you veggies out there.

I decided to start my meal with sheer chai. I heart chai. I even grind my own once in a blue moon, and love to make chai chocolate cupcakes, and chai truffles. Of course I would have to try a different variety when presented with it. The full flavored black tea, milk, with hints of sugar and cardamom and sugar, it tastes like a drink only a child's imagination could create. Refreshing, cool, sweet, and *sigh* can I even go on?

The Kabul Special Fish was a perfect example. Cat fish that was lightly flavored with saffron and admittedly, a spice completely foreign to us both, but heavenly. Served with rice and light veggies, the whole experience transported you to a little Afghani grandma's kitchen.

The Quabuli Palau was awesome. It's a traditional meal of sauteed lamb underneath basmati rice with slivers of carrots and raisins. Mint and turmeric gave this a definite pop, with a slight cool undertaste waiting to surprise you in the back, only to calm you down with the sweet pulp of the raisins.

Service was quick, prices were perfect for generous and tasty portions, and the hostess was able to awnser any and all questions I threw at her about the food and the establishment. Props to the knowledgable staff.

One visit was not enough, I soon returned with Rob to sit down once again, this time to a full house and belly dancers. Lots of patrons and belly dancers do make this place a tad bit loud, and we had to struggle a bit to hear each other, but I had a feeling this was an exceptionally raucous evening.

The Bolani Grandana were delicious turnover and eggplant, filled with chopped leeks, cilantro, and "special seasoning" which I didn't bother to ask about as I doubt the waitress knew sign language and I wasn't about to shout out my inquisition.

The Shaami Kabob was a skewer of ground sirloin served with sauteed vegetables, yogurt, a cilantro sauce, and topped with sumac. Honestly I never had sumac before, and all I knew was that it could cause blindness if it gets in your eyes, but damn, there's no way to put it. It has a slightly tangy, fruity, tart flavor with a subtle undertone of pine.

Sarah was dead on the money with this place. The only real downside I found was the afghani bread. Dry, hard, and really flavorless. Adding just some herb, salt, or oil would dramatically improve this.

For a new flavor at a great price (between $8-$13) and great portions, I highly suggest you kick off your shoes, sit down with some sheer chai, and order yourself some kabobs from Kabul.

Kabul Restaurant: Afghan Cuisine
707 2nd Street
Davis, CA 95616
(530) 756-0666


  1. Mmm ... I love Afghani food, and haven't had it in a long time. Not sure if there's a Persian place up in Sacto, but if so, you'll probably love that at least as much,

  2. Hi, I live in Afghanistan, I"ve been here abut 9 months and i live with locals with local food. Take my word for it... you are lucky you are enjoying Afghani food in the comforts of California. Here- it ain't so grand. I don't think you want me to elaborate. And trust me- there are no belly dancers to be seen...Anywhere.
    Miriam Bialik van Wees

  3. Miriam - You make a very good point. I don't think that we Americans really ever appreciate the fact that we may enjoy ethnic or international foods on a greater level than those living in the areas the food came from.

    It's good to take a step back and reflect on the culture of food and it's circumstances. For example Ethiopian food's make up is based on a culture where refrigeration isn't so common, and dishes have to be easily prepared in one pot. In Iran, I've been told that food has taken a simpler approach and families have had to become creative in flavoring and creating dishes as trade has been so heavily impacted.

    Thanks Miriam. I think I'll have to think this one through and expand this idea to a post of it's own.


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