764 9th Avenue
New York, NY
(212) 307-1612 | Map
One of my girlfriends from college, Jena, told me back in January that she had set a goal for herself -- to explore the city more. And one of the ways she wanted to do that was to try cuisines from around the world that she wouldn't normally try or that she didn't have access to in her neighborhood. Knowing that I'm a foodie, Jena challenged me to find a place where we could eat Afghan food.
To the computer I went! And, wouldn't you know it? There's actually a place in Manhattan called the Afghan Kebab House 1! (There is an Afghan Kebab House 2, but the first one received better reviews, so that's the one I picked.) So, Jena and I met up with two more college girlfriends, Linda (of Dim Sum and Ice Cream in Chinatown fame) and Sarah, a few weeks ago to see what the Afghan Kebab House #1 had to offer for lunch.
I arrived at the restaurant first and was pleasantly surprised to see that it was neither completely empty, suggesting that I quite possibly made the wrong choice in restaurants, nor completely full. The restaurant was on the small side and dimly lit, but the people who were already dining there looked cozy and happy, so I wouldn't necessarily put the restaurant's size and lighting situation in the negative column.
When I sat down to wait for the other girls, my stomach started growling as the aromas of the food being prepared in the kitchen began to reach my nose. A very good sign. After everyone had arrived and we had a chance to look over the menu, we decided to split everything -- lighter on the stomach and lighter on the wallet!
To start, we had the Bulanee Pumpkin ($3) and the Sambosa ($3), conveniently presented to us in four portions of each. The Sambosa, which are, according to the menu, stuffed deep-fried dumplings of ground beef, peas, and spices, were served with a bowl of minted yogurt sauce. I liked that the appetizers weren't too greasy, but I think the pumpkin puree in the Bulanee Pumpkin could have been seasoned a little bit more to bring out more of the pumpkin flavor. And, I actually didn't get around to eating my piece of the Sambosa until after it had already turned cold, but even then, I thought it was delicious. The Sambosa reminded me of Indian Samosas without the potato.
For our main meal, we shared the Combo Kabuli Palow ($15.95). The combo allowed us to try three different kinds of kebabs -- lamb, beef, and chicken -- along with brown rice, topped with sliced almonds, pistachios, carrot strips, and raisins. The kebabs were also served with bread and salad. Okay, you'd think I'd know better than to take a picture of food covered with other food... But we were too hungry for me to take multiple shots of the plate!
The kebab you can see is the lamb kebab, which was cooked perfectly but suffered, like the Bulanee Pumpkin, from being slightly under-seasoned. The beef kebab way overcooked, resulting in pieces of meat that were incredibly tough and hard to eat. But the chicken kebab was juuuust right -- juicy, tender, with excellent flavor. By the end of the meal, we were split on whether we'd go back to the Afghan Kebab House 1: two yeses and two maybes. I wonder whether all four of us would have agreed to go back if we had sprung for some Baklava ($3) for dessert...
And, because I just couldn't resist, here's a video for you to enjoy!