Shamshiry Chelo Kabob

Written by on March 19, 2011 in I Eat America, I Eat...Out with 0 Comments

( – Tyson’s Corner, Virginia

How I heard of this place: My sister, Mojgan, first introduced me to Shamshiry, and it quickly took first place for best Persian kabob served at a restaurant! Each time I would visit her in Arlington, Northern Virginia, we would venture out to Tyson’s Corner for a take-away order of kabobs and rice. Tonight, after years away, Andra suggested it as a post-fasting dinner spot.

Type of cuisine: Traditional Persian fare: plenty of rice, either white with saffron-infused grains atop or with a combination of fresh herbs, served with a side of grilled ground beef, filet mignon, or boneless chicken. Other dishes include stews with beans, meat and fresh herbs, pomegranite sauce with walnuts, as well as beans and tomato sauce, among other options. The fresh herb rice is also served with grilled salmon and coo-coo sabzi (a quiche-like patty of fresh herbs and egg).

Ambiance: The restaurant is found in a somewhat corporate-seeming building, on the ground floor of the executive park. The small space is enhanced in size by the floor to ceiling mirror at the far end of the establishment, opposite the floor-to-ceiling windows at the entryway. Chairs and tables, covered in white linen are crammed together in the small space, as diners and wait-staff squeeze their way through to find seats and serve patrons. Wire sculptures from the Dominican Republic line the shelf along the left side wall (from entrrance), and thick, plastic tie-dyed bowls and plates are set at each table for the bread and butter. Warm pita bread, cut in triangles and placed in a small Ziploc bag are set in a black, plastic basket, and small packets of butter in a tie-dye-colored bowl are at each setting. A large pitcher of water, a carafe of warm, Persian black tea ($1.99) and a small jar of sugar cubes are also available (for ordering). “Tea is the national drink of Persia and as soon as visitors step over the threshold, a small glass of tea with three lumps of sugar and a teaspoon are handed to them. Persians serve tea in a glass in order to be able to appreciate its color. The color and fragrance of the tea is very important to Persians since they believe the pleasures of sight and smell come before that of taste. It is always served very hot.” Square, plastic, Mexican-themed plates, that hardly fit three per table without bleeding off of the table edge are used to serve the moutain of food in each order. A busy, bustling space, with eclectic, mismatched paintings and artwork lining walls and shelves around the space, make this a truly special in-house dining experience.

What I ordered: We started with our carafe of Persian tea ($1.99 per person), followed by a large pitcher of doogh ($7.99), “This delightfully refreshing yogurt drink is very popular in Persia. It is always on hand at home to serve to family and guests. Vendors who sell Doogh on street corners are familiar sights. Very often they advertise their products with a poem or two from Omar Khayyam and replace Omar’s “jug of wine” with a “jug of Doogh”, all consumed by the one in our party who likes the taste of salty yogurt and mint, diluted with club soda. For dinner, the dining companion to my left, ordered the Chelo Kabob Kubideh ($9.99). “Kabob is the Persian word for meat or fowl cooked over a charcoal fire. There delicious strips of charcoal broiled ground meat are served with a snowy mound of rice topped with saffron. All the beef dishes achieve greatness when you add a raw egg yolk on the side, which you rapidly pour into the hot rice, continuing to toss it so that the egg coats all the grains as the heat cooks it. Stir in as much butter as you dare, and sprinkle in the brown powdered sumac that’s in a shaker on the table. It’s tart spiciness is irresistible.” To my right, my dining companion ordered the Mahi Kabob ($14.99), “fresh salmon bursting with juices, the grill having seared the surface so that the inside virtually steams. A mild fish that is pleasant in flavor and enjoyable to savor. The rice, which comes with the salmon, is tinted an intriguing greenish beige and seductively flavored by dill, and soft delicious fava beans. You’ll fancy, love, and delight in this meal. Some say it’s spectacular.” I selected the Chelo Kabob Shamshiry ($16.99), “Chelo Kabob is derived from two words: Chelo meaning cooked rice, and Kabob meaning open-flame broiled meat. The best Chelo Kabob was served at the Shamshiry restaurant in the Tehran bazaar. Whether it was the secret of the owner, nobody knows. But anybody who has tried this dish at the bazaar has never forgotten it. Now it’s your chance to enjoy a combination of Chelo Kabob Kubideh and Chelo Kabob Barg. As it was prepared inTehran, where Shamshiry was the hallmark for quality Kabob – THE BEST.” We also ordered a Mast-o Khiar ($3.50), “Mast, known as yogurt in America, is used extensively in Persia. It is the food of the rich as well as the poor. It is said that Genghis Khan lived on it during his long marches throughMongolia and the Persian Empire when he couldn’t obtain other food. This yogurt appetizer is served with diced cucumbers, chopped fresh dill and other herbs.”

What I loved: I always LOVE the food at Shamshiry. Of the two kabob’s, I most enjoyed the flavor of the kubideh (ground beef), moist and buttery. The roasted tomato and the fresh, sliced onions served on the side of the each dish, area also a favorite of mine. The Persian tea, while I normally stray from the caffeinated beverage in the late evening hours, added the most perfect combination of sweetness and lightness to start and end the meal.

Why I loved it: The food is consistently good, the portions huge and the flavors authentic. The bustle of the environment and the loud chatter, clinking and clanking of dishes add to the enjoyable experience.

Cost: Low to average ($9.99 – $16.99 per dinner entree)

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