Friday, December 3, 2010

Aria Kabob Cafe

I had an errand to run in this peculiar block of Clairemont Mesa Blvd and visiting Pho Fusion for a revisit lunch meal was one option but I then remembered Kirk's recent post on Aria Kabob Cafe and decided to check them out instead.

There was a wonderful smell of grilled aromatics inside as I entered. I honestly don't know much about Afghan cuisine but I had a good feeling I'd be eating well the day. I ordered the Lamb Chops entree ($10.99)..

Maybe I've just been seriously deprived from properly prepared lamb in my lifetime, but these were so tender, moist. Had also a nice light marinade and the distinct gaminess was pretty mild in these.

I was perfectly happy at that point but there were also a mouthwatering band of highly charred crispy lamb fat on each end. These chops were about a half inch thick, individually smaller but I thought overall decently portioned for the price. I could've easily eaten twice that though as tasty as they were. ;)

If you've read Kirk's linked post you'd know about a lunch special from the smaller steamed buffet area (sorry no photo). Since 'the Cauliflower dish' wasn't present (I love Indian Aloo Gobi!) I had asked if I can sample just the beef meatballs I saw ($2.95).

These were medium golf ball sized, fairly light in seasoning but super moist and tender. Pretty garlicky though but in a good fresh grated garlic way (not powder). Came with some of the bread that was great to sop up the rest of the stew liquid.

So some immediate revisits followed. The eggplant with yogurt sauce Borani Bonjan ($3.49).

The side dish is now easily one of my favorites. My oversimplified description would maybe be a chunky oily Baba Ganoush (without the flavor of tahini). The Borani Bonjan also has roasted red bell peppers, onions, yogurt, mint spice (so it's really nothing like Baba Ganoush maybe, haha). Perfect with the bread.

I did manage to finish the plate but it's quite rich and so best to share probably.

I had to have more lamb. The Lamb Tika Kabob ($8.99) was equally as good as the lamb chops.

Leaner less fatty pieces but man were they tender. Equally moist and had that nice light seasoning. Very fresh tasting and also had the important awesome char bits on the edges.

By the way the rice cooked in broth is well seasoned and very good too. The salad was basic but extremely fresh the times I visited.

I also tried the Qurma chicken curry side ($3.49) and really enjoyed it. A medium spicy lighter tomato flavored curry with plentiful chunks of tender thigh meat. The yellow lentils still had a bite to them and I liked that.

They also have standard American flared fast foods such as nachos and fried hot dogs, bagels, smoothies and also omelets for breakfast.

I asked about their Afghan Omelet but supposedly it's a standard veggie omelet. Oh well, but I really want to go back for more of the lamb anyway. Succulent marinated lamb skewered and broiled over flames with nice crispy char bits. I don't think I ever craved lamb so much.

Aria Kabob Cafe menu here.

Aria Kabob Cafe, 8010 Clairemont Mesa Blvd, San Diego, CA 92111


KirkK said...

Hey Dennis - We've been hitting up this place every couple of days.... so I'm surprised we didn't run into you! They do a real nice job with lamb, don't they?

Wandering Chopsticks said...

The pictures look so good. After yours and Kirk's experiences, now I want to try. My only time trying Afghan cuisine was at a restaurant in Madison, Wisconsin, and I've been eager to find another place.

BTW, I was in your neck of the woods the other night. Took my nephew out for his birthday and we had a pretty good Azeri dinner at Cafe 21.

Junichi said...

Kirk mentioned the food taking a while to come out. Was this the case for your visit too? I want to check it out for lunch, but only have an hour to spare.

K and S said...

sounds and looked like good food!

Dennis K. said...

Hi Kirk, yeah they sure know how to broil up some tasty succulent lamb here! :)

Hi WC, not surprisingly there were a lot of familiar middle eastern flavors. I still need to try the Palao here, Afghan's national dish.
Glad you enjoyed Cafe 21! So I guess they do serve some Azeri dishes... ;) Let me know when you're down here next time! (I'll PM you with my contact)

Hi Junichi, I think Kirk's first experience was a fluke. The grilling does take a few minutes but nothing abnormal and in my opinion totally worth it. My visits were all half an hour max. Let me know what you think!

Hi K&S, the lamb was especially tasty! :)

Darwin D said...

Ange and I were there last night. We did wait around 15 minutes as Kirk did but our food was amazing and well worth the wait. Cant beat that lamb!

Sawyer said...

great writeup. i'm going to have to tell my friends down there about this and see how they like it. it all looks so wonderful. i'm not even sure if i've really had lamb before (maybe in curry), but that looks soo delicious!

Dennis K. said...

Hi Darwin, I think Kirk had to wait 30 the first time. 15 mins sounds pretty fair though no? Yeah really like the lamb here. It's hard for me to order anything else now.. :)

Hi Sawyer, the flavor of the lamb is pretty mild here so I think it's easy on first timers. It's hard for me to handle the level of gaminess of goat though.(!)

caninecologne said...

hi dennis - nice posts (both yours and kirk's) - bert, tc and i need to go here and try this out. lots of interesting items on their menu that i've never had before...

Dennis K. said...

Hi CC! Yeah like Kirk said the bread served is off the shelf stuff but otherwise I don't have much to complain. For the price good stuff! :)

Michael said...

Oh my, Is there nothing better than crispy lamb fat? great pics and post. I have to go there.

Mary said...

I love lamb. Must visit!

Dennis K. said...

Hi Michael, crispy lamb fat is indeed super delicious! Currently it just may trump pork for me.. :)

Hi Mary, looking forward in reading about it! :)