A group of us dine together more-or-less monthly. Nothing fancy, more to socialize. But we like tasty food. One member suggested we meeet at Afghan Oasis on Addison in Berkeley. So we went there last night.
She tried to call to reserve space for 10 of us, but they never answer their phone.
They did push together three tables for us when i got there with two friends and requested a table for ten.
I've had Afghani food before and enjoyed it. Heck, back in the late 60s-early 70s there was a really nice Afghani restaurant on Telegraph in Berkeley where there is now a hairdresser. I miss the place. Charming, cheap, and the food was good. And I've eaten in some other Afghani restaurants in the Bay Area. I understand we have the biggest community of Afghans in the world outside Kabul, so i figured this restaurant should be decent.
Well, if someone ever suggests eating at Afghan Oasis, run, don't walk, in the *opposite* direction.
The appetizers were ok - a little bland but ok. The batter dipped and fried things were light and crispy as they should be, not soggy with oil.
They were accompanied by bowls of thin and insufficiently tangy tamarid sauce, and a green raita with chilis, mint, cilantro and something white - it was so watered down i couldn't tell if it was yogurt or coconut milk, although i suspect yogurt.
The server neglected to write down many of our orders. So no one in the kitchen was sure what we'd ordered.
The owner kept coming out of the kitchen to figure out what we were still missing. One woman at the table kept requesting a chai - took about a hour for them to finally bring it.
They were frequently confused as to whether food was for our table or another - and there were only two other tables with diners...
It took over an hour for them to *serve* us a simple meal of a few appetizers and a main dish for everyone.
Many of our main courses, however, were almost inedible - ok, completely inedible. Afghani food is usually not as complexly spiced as Indian, so that wasn't what bothered me. But my chicken tasted strange - it had clearly been boiled separately from the sauce, and there was something else odd about it. Not spoiled, but odd. I doubt it was because it was halal, since i often buy halal meats. After a few bites i shoved it to the side and ate nan dipped in the sauce, which was too salty, and had picked up an odd taste from the chicken.
What else was wrong? Well, there were maybe *three* Afghani dishes on the whole menu! Most of it was Indian and Pakistani. There are plenty of good Indian and Pakistani restaurants in Berkeley and, as far as i know, no other Afghani restaurants. Why serve bad Indian and Pakistani food and call yourself "Afghan Oasis"?
Then when we got the check, we noticed that we were charged a different price for most dishes than what was listed on the menu. When we asked, the owner said that what we had read was the lunch menu. Dinner was more expensive, but they didn't have a dinner menu. Yeah, right... because the menus were all just photocopied sheets of paper. They couldn't photocopy some "dinner" menus?
Everytime i'd walked past the place it was pretty empty... now i know why.
There's an Afghani place in the Emery*Bay*Market. One of my favorite Afghani dishes is Ashak. They have Ashak on their menu. Everytime i'm there i ask for it and they NEVER have it. Kebabs, sure, they've got them, but that's not what i want. Why have something on the menu *for years* that you NEVER have?
I'm still looking for an good Afghani restaurant in the Oakland-Berkeley-El Cerrito area...
But i can say unequivocably, avoid Afghan Oasis at all costs.