Sherman's Food Adventures: Afghan Kitchen

Afghan Kitchen

Here I am out in South Surrey again visiting one of my favourite restaurants - Afghan Kitchen.  I've actually been here a half-dozen times but have only blogged about it once.  I had an updated post planned for last year, but never got around to writing it.  This time around, I was invited for a tasting along with Vic & Winnie, Alex & Jen and Craig.  So why is this one of my favourite spots?  Well, the food is really flavourful and well-prepared.  Most importantly, I think you get good value for the money (prices are not cheap, but you get a tonne of food) and the people are nice too (even before this tasting!).

One of their tastiest items in my opinion is the classic Bolani.  This stuffed-Afghani flatbread is crispy and nutty on the outside while giving way to light chewiness and then pillowy softness.  Inside, the delicate potatoes are seasoned well with herbs and spices.  In particular, the cumin and black pepper stand out giving an earthy pepperiness.  Found on the side is Afghan chutney and yogurt.  Good combination of some spice cooled down with the whipped yogurt.

Another simple, yet delicious item is the Pakawras that resemble large potato chips.  Yah, nothing complex about that, yet these thinly-sliced potatoes are coated with a spiced batter that is super crunchy.  Not only that, but they are not very greasy either.  The chips alone are plenty tasty by themselves, but add in the same fluffy spiced yogurt, then we have a cooling dip that offers up creaminess and flavour too.

Sneakily, the Afghan Chicken Nuggets are one of the best appies on the menu.  So what makes these different than any other chicken nugget?  Well, once again, it is all about the spiced batter.  It is aggressively crunchy and nicely seasoned.  Also, they use white meat that stays tender and moist (which is not always a given).  Just like the previous dishes, this came with the whipped yogurt as well as the chutney.

Drizzled with beet vinaigrette, the deep fried Brussels Sprouts will make believers out of those who don't like Brussels sprouts.  Similar to many versions out there, the sprouts are fried until crispy.  This ensures the usual mushy texture and odd flavour of Brussels sprouts are eliminated.  Completing the dish is roasted red pepper hummus that adds creamy sweetness.

Another one of my favourite dishes at Afghan Kitchen is the Mantu stuffed with minced beef and onions.  Love the texture of the dumpling wrapper as it is chewy, yet tender with appealing elasticity.  The meat is tender while the diced onions add sweetness and texture.  Each dumpling is topped with split peas, tomato sauce and yogurt.  The result is tanginess, creaminess and bite from the split peas.

There are plenty of share platters to choose from (and I've had a few of them), but we went with the KBL to YVR Platter.  This includes chicken kebab, potato, eggplant, spinach, Afghan rice and lamb shank (in the next picture).  This is actually for 2 people and if you add the lamb shank, this is a lot of food.  Now it is also tasty with tender nuggets of white meat chicken, buttery soft eggplant and spinach as well as soft spiced potatoes.  Heck, even the rice is excellent being chewy and nutty with sweet raisins and carrots.

Now about that Lamb Shank, it is fairly large and sits in a fragrant and aromatic tomato-based gravy.  Definitely can pick the earthiness of the spices including the usual cumin.  Naturally, this goes well with the rice where the raisins and carrots pair well with the spices.  As for the lamb itself, it is cooked beautifully where the meat falls off the bone and is uniformly tender and gelatinous.  Another one of my favs here.

Sticking with the same type of meat, the Lamb Shoulder offers up a completely different texture experience.  Unlike the fall-off-the-bone shank, the meat here is more robust and firm.  However, since it is roasted and then seared, there is caramelization and smokiness.  Much more depth and meatiness.  With 2 pieces of lamb shoulder, this dish would be enough for more than one person.

Moving away from lamb, their Afghan Chicken is also quite good.  It features 2 bone-in chicken legs that are cooked until they fall off the bone.  The garlic tomato gravy penetrates the meat offering up sweetness and tanginess.  For me, the trick is to shred the tender chicken and mix it with the gravy and then add it to rice.  Normally, chicken is pretty neutral-tasting, but this one is full-flavoured and rich.

For dessert, we shared a selection of Mum's Secret, Shir Yakh and Firni.  Essentially a sponge cake, mum's secret is moist and lightly-sweet.  However, when doused with the sweet milk, then things are amped up. The shir yakh or Afghan ice cream is super creamy and rich.  It also helps that they top it with dense cream and pistachios.It was aromatic and sweet with richness and creaminess.  The firni resembles a panna cotta in terms of texture and this one is mildly-sweet with the flavour of cardamom.  So once again, I had an excellent meal at Afghan Kitchen.  The food is always plentiful and delicious.  I just wished it was located closer to me!

*All food and beverages were complimentary*

The Good:
- Solid eats
- Good portions
- Friendly service

The Bad:
- Best to come with friends, sharing is better than trying to order one plate for yourself
- Prices aren't cheap, but portions are large


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