Kay's is worth the traffic battle


October 08, 2003|By Tom Waldron | Tom Waldron,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Trying not to play bumper cars as I poked my way up torturous York Road recently, I did a double take. Could it be? Yes, indeed, another kebab restaurant has opened in this area, right there next to a cleaners just south of downtown Towson. Is there a market for yet another kebab place? Time will tell but, based on my visit, it appears that Kay's Kabobbi has a good chance of making it.

The small space has several tables with white tablecloths and a vase of silk flowers on each. A television blares from one corner, tuned to a station broadcasting in Farsi.

Big mirrors on one wall open up the yellow-walled space. Kay's has been open only a few weeks, and the management is adding new dishes to the menu as it goes along.

For now, the focus is on six kinds of kebabs. We tried three. The chelo kabob Jujeh -- chicken kebab ($7.95) -- was the best, featuring nicely grilled pieces of white meat seasoned with saffron. The chicken was served with a sizable portion of basmati rice and grilled tomatoes and peppers. The staff included a small container of burgundy-colored sumac to sprinkle on the food.

A salmon kebab ($9.95) also did the job, with charcoal-flavored chunks of fish. Less successful was the ground-beef kebab ($6.95), which had a bit too much onion flavor. Kay's also serves steak, lamb and shrimp-and-scallop kebabs. All come with two good sauces -- one using yogurt and dill and another with chopped cucumbers, tomatoes and onions in a vinegary dressing.

Appetizers were interesting and tasty. Pani sabzi ($2.95) featured fresh vegetable and herbs -- mint, parsley, scallion and radish -- with pieces of feta. Torshi ($2.95), or pickled vegetables, came straight out of a jar, but produced an exceedingly tangy, but not unpleasant, jolt.

We also tried one of the few non-Persian dishes on the menu: chicken tenders ($3.45), which were deemed "pretty good" by one of my tasters. There are no desserts on the menu yet. Parking is out front in a small lot. However, turning across traffic from York Road can require nerves of steel.

Kay's Kabobbi

Food: ***

Service: *** 1/2

Waiting area: ***

Parking: **

Where: 123 York Road, Towson

Phone: 410-823-4545

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday

Prices: Persian appetizers and entrees, from $2.95 to $14.95; salads, $2.95 to $7.95; credit cards accepted

Outstanding: ****; Good: ***; Fair or uneven: **; Poor: *

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