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Kabul Serve rare afghan cuisine
By Charles W. Halleck
Valley Journal staff

Last August, Ali Taheri opened the Kabul restaurant in Sunnyvale.  My wife and I were well acquainted with the cuisine of Afghanistan, and Taheri’s ability as a restaurateur since we had often dined at Kabul West in Bethesda, Maryland.           

Before starting Kabul West in 1981, Taheri worked at Bamiyan – the first restaurant in the United States to serve only Afghan cuisine – located in the Georgetown section of Washington, D.C.

In 1987, Taheri sent his brother, Farid, and his cousin, Najib Naimi, to California to for a location for an Afghan restaurant.

Eight months later, they found the present Sunnyvale spot at 833 West El Camino Real.  The restaurant took another eight months to build.

A warm, inviting restaurant beckons the diner to unusual taste treats.  White walls are adorned with rugs and weavings sent from family members in Afghanistan, while tables are set with linen cloths and napkins that could grace a dining room in a private home.

Taheri and Chef Adib Naimi prepare the mildly spiced authentic dishes from basic recipes that he learned by watching his mother cook at home.  In addition to several lamb dishes – which Taheri said are the most popular – the restaurant offers three beef dishes, one chicken, and a combination kabab.

Taheri noted that his recipes come from all over the country and not just the Kabul area of Afghanistan.  Afghan cooking is also influenced by the cuisine of bordering countries – China, Russia and Pakistan. This diversity is reflected in Kabul’s menu.

The rice, both white and brown, is cooked fresh twice a day for lunch and dinner.  So too is the Afghan bread – a delicious, yeasty addition served at every meal.

Soft Afghan music plays in the background and the service is both prompt and congenial.  This is a family-run restaurant – a custom in Afghanistan – and knowledge of the menu items is easily conveyed to diners.

On our last visit, we had the Quabili Pallaw – delicately cooked pieces of lamb under brown rice and topped with finely shredded carrot slices and raisins.  The delicate seasoning of this dish makes it a meal to remember.

The beef dish Shish Leek features tender pieces of beef served with sautéed onions, green peppers and tomatoes in an intricately flavored sauce. A number of appetizers are available, but the Aushak – dumplings filled with leek and spring onions and topped with yogurt, meat sauce and mint – is particularly irresistible.

For dessert we had the baklava and firnee, a splendid cool cornstarch pudding topped with ground pistachios.

Metro - 1989

Kabul Afghan Cuisine - 833 W. El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA. 94086