Sunday, April 29, 2007

Bamian (Falls Church, VA)

5634 Leesburg Pike
Falls Church, VA 22041

When I think of Afghanistan, I think of a war-torn country, its people oppressed by years of tyrannical leadership. Until tonight, that is the only image I had of Afghanistan. After eating at Bamian, I am left with another impression, that of delicious, heavily-spiced, wonderfully exotic food.

Located in a strip mall on Route 7/Leesburg Pike, Bamian looks nondescript on the outside. But once you pass the doors of the lobby into the main dining area, you wouldn't think you were on Route 7 anymore except for the occasional glimpse of the cars rushing by through the windows. With its high ceilings, dim lighting, and white cloth tabletops, Bamian's decor and attentive service make you wonder how expensive Afghan food can get. But then you see the menu.

With appetizers all under $5 and entrees averaging $13, it is possible to sample a variety of the tasty offerings on the menu. For my first visit (rest assured, there will be more!), Tom and I started with the sambosay goshti, a fried pastry stuffed with ground beef, chick peas, and herbs. Shortly after ordering, four of them arrived at the table, very much resembling crab rangoons. Crispy on the outside, well-flavored and curry-like on the inside, they were the perfect treat as we awaited the main courses. We didn't have long to wait. Almost immediately following our consumption of the sambosay, the waitress brought forth my boneless chicken thigh kabobs, lined up around a bed of seasoned rice and accompanied by a basket of fresh nan (bread). She also brought Tom's Qaubili Palau, lamb and rice topped with a sweet heap of shredded carrots and raisins, with a small bowl of "meat sauce" on the side. Everything was incredible. From the nan dipped in meat sauce (shredded lamb in a sweetly spicy red sauce) to the perfect pairing of sweet raisins, crunchy carrot, delicate grains of rice, and tender lamb, to the juicy grilled chicken dipped in a green sauce reminiscent of salsa verde. Delicious.

We tried to order the Goshe Feel (elephant ears topped with ground sugar and pistachios) for dessert but unfortunately they were all out. But I'm sure I will be back soon because it won't be long before I hear something about Afghanistan and this time, I won't be thinking so much of war and terrorists, but I will be envisioning lamb kabobs and warm, toasty nan.

Food: 8
Service: 9
Decor: 7

Overall: 8

Cross-posted on Well Fed On the Town