+
Fatemeh | Sep 17, 200106:36 PM     7

This weekend, amidst all the turmoil and sadness, I had a profound craving for the most Persian comfort food - Chel-o-Kabab (keep reading).

Now, had I been in LA, I would have gone immediately to Shamshiri. But in SF? Where to turn?

I landed at the only Persian restaurant in the city, hoping against hope that they hadn't bastardized traditional cuisine, and that they would have traditional chel-o-kabab....

We started with "mast-o-khiar", a yogurt dip with cucumbers and dill - very similar to tzatziki - and "tah dig", which literally means "bottom of the pot". It's the carmelized, crispy, buttery rice at the bottom, and we Persians consider this a delicacy. At Alborz, it's served with the stew of the day on top. In this case, it was "gheymeh" -- tomato-based with lentils and beef. They did a great job with it.

Now, a word about this "chel-o-kabab" stuff -- no self-respecting Persian goes to a persian restaurant for the fragrant rice mixtures and stews. We go for that delectable treat that never tastes the same when you make it at home:

mounds of fluffy basmati rice, delicately scented with saffron alongside grilled tomatoes and a crisp onion. Topping it all -- skewers of ground beef, filet mignon, and boneless breast of chicken.

The ground beef was intensely flavored with onions, garlic, and other tasty spices, and was cooked to perfection -- juicy and delicious.

The filet was also delicious -- very tender cut of meat, marinated just right. A great contrast to the texture of the ground beef.

And finally, the true test: the chicken kabob. Marinated in lemon juice, yogurt, saffron and more spices, it was close to perfect. Just a touch overcooked, but not enough to dry it out.

The proper way to eat Chel-o-kabab: Put a pat of butter on your rice. Smush some of the grilled tomatoes into it, letting it aborb all the juices. Sprinkle just a bit of sumac powder (sumac berries are tart, and we grind them into a powder) over the rice, and dig in.

Because we went with a couple of American friends, I also ordered fesenjan, a stew of walnuts and pomegranates to eat over rice. Some people find this dish too sweet, but it's truly a wonderful representation of the diversity of Persian cooking. Alborz does a great job with this stuff -- definitely in the Tehran style (a bit sweeter than the N. Iranian style where it's more tart).

Of course, after dinner, we ordered hot tea to go around, and shared a pastry (zoolbiah), which I could have gone without. It tasted a bit freezer-burned and didn't do much for me. I might have tried the Persian Ice Cream, but frankly, I just don't care for it -- never have. However, many people find it a treat, and it should at least be tried - rosewater ice cream, usually with pistachios.

So, Alborz is definitely a great, authentic Persian restaurant. with a prime location at Van Ness & Sutter. But it seems to have trouble filling up... I just think most people wouldn't know what to order in a Persian restaurant.

Oh, and by the way, we ordered a bottle of Australian Shiraz which was lovely -- Shiraz, of course, is a grape that originated in Iran, and seems to go best with the foods.

Want to stay up to date with this post? Sign Up Now ›

More from Chowhound

Marie Kondo's Guide to Bento Box Lunches Your Kids Will Love
Guides

Marie Kondo's Guide to Bento Box Lunches Your Kids Will Love

by Grace Gonzalez | Marie Kondo is famous for her helpful organization hacks, and now—just in time for back to school...

Quick and Healthy Summer Recipes You Can Make with Your Kids
Recipe Round-Ups

Quick and Healthy Summer Recipes You Can Make with Your Kids

by Joey Skladany | Summer is the season of activity. Whether it's a cross-country vacation, hiking a local trail, or...

Salute Summer with these 15 Gin and Tonic Variations
Drink

Salute Summer with these 15 Gin and Tonic Variations

by Amy Sowder | Looking for some interesting spins on the classic gin and tonic? Rosé and the Aperol Spritz may be...

These Wine Coolers Are Not the Ones You Drank in College
Recipe Round-Ups

These Wine Coolers Are Not the Ones You Drank in College

by Chowhound Editors | One upon a time, the wine cooler—a pour of Chablis from the jug, topped off with fizzy water—was the...

See what's new!

View latest discussions ›

Get fresh food news delivered to your inbox

Sign up for our newsletter to receive the latest tips, tricks, recipes and more, sent twice a week.