I wasn’t sure what to expect with Afghan food having no previous exposure to the cuisine. Afghan Kitchen offers modernized versions of their home recipes in a space split between a standard dining room and a traditional floorspace.
I was seated in the carpeted area where you sit on cushions on the floor making for a more intimate dining space. It felt almost as if you were dining in someone’s home, an inviting atmosphere for a wholesome feast.
We started with some naan bread which were cut into strips, and a red pepper hummus as well as a yogurt dip (not pictured). These were a nice contrast as the hummus has a richer flavour while the yogurt was light and had a bit of tanginess.
Afghan Kitchen also offers a wide variety of cocktails and juices as part of their drinks menu. I had the Shararah : tequila, basil, passionfruit, agave, chili ($10), which was very refreshing. The sweetness of the passionfruit balanced out the tequila and there was just a slight lingering heat from the chili.
To get a taste of everything we had the KBL to YVR (Platter for Two) ($52)
The left side is composed of Potato Borani, Aushak, Eggplant Borani
The potato borani was very tender with the caramelized potatoes nearly melting into the dish. The pan seared eggplant borani was also very soft, nearly to the point it became a bit stringy.
Aushak is a veggie dumpling filled with leeks and spinach. This resembled boiled Chinese dumplings as they had a similar wrapper.
This side of the plate was topped with a garlic tomato sauce and drizzled with yogurt, making for a rich saucy plate which went well with the rice or the warm naan served with the platter.
The Qabuli Palaw forms a divide between the vegetable dishes and the meats. This delicious fluffy rice pilaf is a mixture of basmati rice cooked in a broth and mixed with carrots and raisins.
Next to the rice were Chicken, Lamb, Beef Kebabs. These were all cooked well with my favourite being the lamb. The chicken was quite good as well, despite it being white meat it was fairly juicy.
Rounding out the platter was the Lamb Shank and Lamb Shoulder. Both cuts were excellent, the meat remaining tender and exuding rich flavours without the gaminess often associated with lamb.
Served with the platter is a chopped salad of tomatoes, onions and cucumbers, which provides some brightness and acidity to offset the meat heavy platter. The basket of naan was warm and crispy, a perfect vehicle for the saucy vegetables with an addictive quality that had me reaching for more.
I was really impressed with the dining experience at Afghan Kitchen, the platter is plenty for two and the service was attentive and friendly. They strike a great balance between preserving their culture and presenting it in an elegant way to make their cuisine approachable to a neophyte like myself.