My dad lives in Salem, Oregon. A very small city. So small that they don't have a Costsplus, Trader Joes, or other chain stores or restaurants that we have. So when he comes to visit he likes to eat out. It's from dad that I got my foodie ways. On Friday we had gone to L Wine Lounge, which I like and liked, but he was unimpressed with. (Probably cuz he just ordered a boring steak.)
I had offered to take him to an ethnic restaurant as well. He chose Afghani, so I took him over to Kabul Kabob on J Street. Boy, is downtown DEAD on a Sunday night! That is, any street lower than 15th. I was even concerned it would not be open, but it was, just very empty. I could see the owner way in the back, but the only person who worked the front the whole evening was his very Western teenage daughter. We chose a table and she brought out menus and water right away.
After we ordered we received a small salad with a cream dressing and herbs. Very simple. Then came samosas. This version was deep fried in a flaky crust, a bit on the greasy side. But that could be because it was completely filled with ground meat. There were no veggies in it. They were rather bland but were served with a cilantro chutney to add some spice.
We split our main dishes. The first was aushuk - raviolis stuffed with leeks and seasonings and topped with a ground meat and yogurt sauce. The half circle raviolis were very light. I really like this dish. My only complaint is that when they put the yogurt sauce over it, it cools it down. Cold yogurt on the hot raviolis. I'd rather the yogurt be room temperature so that it doesn't kill the heat in the dish so quickly. Our second dish was a chicken curry that came with a side of rice. Nothing special here. Just an Indian style curry. But it was a good choice to compliment the aushuk.
We then tried two Afghani desserts. First was ramalayee - Afghani cheesecake soaked in cream and cardamom syrup and topped with crushed pistachios. This was served in a goblet with little cut squares of their cheesecake. Their cheesecake is very firm and not that great on its own. But it is sitting in a goblet full of the cardamom cream, which was like sweet milk. You could drink the goblet down after finishing the few chunks of cheesecake.
The other dessert was firni - Afghani pudding with rosewater, cardamom and crushed pistachios. We both preferred this one. It was sweet and creamy with bits of cardamom and pistachio in it.
I will note that Kabul Kabob also has a weekday lunch buffet. Do not judge their dinner food based on this lunch buffet. The buffet is simply mediocre. I like Kabul for dinner and a friend keeps going for lunch and saying it stinks. I keep telling him that, yes, the buffet stinks. Go for dinner!