My tastes run to little ethnic "hole in the wall" places in industrial; parks or in back of shopping centers, and Bamiyam (Rte 7 at Columbia Pike, Bailey's Crossroads VA) is definitely a big step above such haunts. But because of my humble tastes, I may be more awed by a nicer restaurant than many of you are.
The missus and I needed a break from our usual, and for the first time went to Bamiyan late (9pm) Thursday night. It was almost empty, but the nice decor let me know I was in for something good, and the single live musician set the mood with a haunting background of keyboard and electric violin (I almost thought he was channeling the "Blade Runner" soundtrack)
Service was just right, and the menu offered upscale versions of Afghan favorites I was used to ordering on foam plates from a counter. But the first taste wowed us both ... after a basket of naan with a "chimichurri-like" dip, we ordered a vegetable platter and a platter of 3 different kebabs to share. We tasted the rice first, and (forgive my enthusiasm) just floated away! I would kill to be able to make rice like that, with a harmony of spice flavors!
Veg platter: I'm used to greasy spinach in this cuisine, but there wasn't a hint of oiliness to this "subzi". Also "baunjan" (stir-fried eggplant), very nice, and kadu (sauteed pumpkin). I'm not a pumpkin fan, but this was special. I could happily have dined on a larger portion of any single one of these alone.
Kebabs: Lamb, chicken and shami (shawarma???), each delicately seasoned and perfectly cooked. Not a "stuff you full" portion, but we left very satisfied. We will definitely be back!
Prices were about double what we're used to at storefront "kebab joints", $13 for the veg platter and $18 for the kebabs.