In Columbia, a taste of Iranian cuisine

Kabobs, in several forms, lure a lunch crowd

Restaurant profile

July 11, 2002|By Jody K. Vilschick | Jody K. Vilschick,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Some say that there are two kinds of Iranian cuisine: the kind you eat outside the home, and the kind you can eat only in private homes. The "public" Iranian food is what you usually find at Iranian restaurants in the West, and in Iran at the kababi or "kabob houses."

Shish Kabob, which opened about four months ago in the Columbia Market Place shopping center on Snowden River Parkway, is styled on one of these kabob houses, specializing, of course, in kabobs. "We are very similar to those kabob places," said Vahid Taghvaei, one of the restaurant's owners. "Our kabobs are what you would find in Iran."

The Iranian kabob is a long, thin strip of grilled meat, filleted or minced, usually flavored with a purplish-red herb called sumagh. Shish Kabob, like Iran's traditional kabob houses, serves the meat on a platter with grilled tomatoes and basmati rice drenched in butter.

There are four basic kinds of Iranian kabob - and Shish Kabob serves three of them. On the menu are kubideh (minced beef); barg (filet mignon); joojeh (chicken breast flavored with olive oil and saffron); it does not serve mahi, or fish, kebab. Shish Kabob also offers Barreh kabob (marinated and seasoned chunks of lamb).

The menu includes combinations of kabobs for those who want to try more than one. Vegetarians need not feel left out: A vegetarian kabob dish features grilled green pepper, tomato, mushrooms, onions and green squash. A kid-sized platter features one skewer of kubideh with rice and grilled tomato ($4.35).

The restaurant offers a daily special Tuesday through Friday: Zereshk Polo Tachin (sauteed barberry, sugar and saffron served on steamed Basmati rice and baked chicken) on Tuesday; Khoresh Bademjan (sauteed slices of eggplant, chunks of beef, onion and tomato served with steamed Basmati rice) on Wednesday; Baghala Polo Tachin (baked chicken served with steamed Basmati rice, fava beans and fresh dill weed) on Thursday; and Ghormeh Sabzi (sauteed chunks of beef, fresh cilantro, parsley, leeks and other spices) on Friday.

Shish Kabob caters to the lunch crowd, with shish kabob sandwiches. Try either the kubideh, barg, lamb kabob or chicken kabob sandwiches, which are served on pita bread. In addition, an all-you-can eat buffet is available from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday for $6.95. The buffet varies daily, but you will always find the daily special as well as other traditional Iranian dishes, Taghvaei says.

Of course, what's a kabob meal without dessert? Shish Kabob offers one: baklava.

Taghvaei says he and his partner, Payam Tehrany, chose to open a restaurant in Columbia because they believe there are a lot of people in Howard County who enjoy eating Middle Eastern food. In addition, they believe that Shish Kabob is Columbia's first Persian restaurant. "There aren't any other places like us," Taghvaei said.

Shish Kabob

Where: Columbia Market Place, 9400 Snowden River Parkway, Suite 111, Columbia; 410-381-6111

Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; noon to 8 p.m. Sunday

Prices: $5.85 to $11.35

Credit cards:Visa and MasterCard

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