Afghan Pamir Restaurant
03 9792 0197
195 Lonsdale St
Dandenong, VIC 3175
Afghan Pamir Online
I like learning about new cuisines and new cultures. But I do admit a tendency to lean towards either East Asian or European foods. So when it was brought to my attention that a really good Afghan restaurant was reopening its doors in Dandenong after a relocation, I decided to head on down.
I know next to nothing about Afghan food. So I can’t tell you whether or not it is authentic. Judging from the reviews of Afghan Pamir Restaurant however, it seems that it is quite authentic. All I know is, I went with no expectations, an open mind and a hungry stomach, ready to experience a cuisine and a culture that was new to me.
Afghan Pamir Restaurant had relocated from an inner street to the main street of Dandenong. The trade off seems to be that instead of being front and center on the ground floor location, it is now housed upstairs with a tiny sign above a dodgy looking stairways. As I started climbing up the stairs, I was starting to worry about my decision to visit… where was the staircase leading me to? Would I meet a guy with an axe!?
Instead, I was met with a beautifully vibrant restaurant that was incredibly lively with people. All but two of the tables in the room were filled and from the sounds of it, if you were to walk in, you’d have a few issues getting a table right away.
The restaurant isn’t huge, but there is a nice spaciousness to it. The tables and chairs are impossibly ornate and everywhere you looked you’d see an explosion of details. I couldn’t help looking here, there, everywhere. There was too much to take in!
We settled in with the menus but service was slow. This remained a constant through the night but it is understandable as the kitchen and the wait staff are swamped by the orders. After a fair wait, our waitress came by and we made our order. We decided to go with the Banquet as we were unsure on what to order and having an array of dishes to start our very first Afghan meal with seemed like a good idea.
Our educational dinner started off with naan, yoghurt dips and salad chatni. I tried really hard not to eat too much of the very yummy naan as I knew this was merely the start, but it was such a battle! I was hungry, plus it was yummy. A lose-lose situation!
Then came Mantu (bottom left) that had been steamed cooked. These were the best dumplings I’ve ever eaten, and I’ve eaten a lot. They were different from your typical chinese dumpling and if I dare admit it, better. The dumpling skin was melt in your mouth soft and the fillings were little explosions of flavours. I was sad to see that the portion was such a tiny one since it was an entree, I could have eaten another dozen!
The top picture shows Meat ball Kofta that were swimming in a bowl of curry. These were moist and had a good texture and good bite to them. But it was the curry that really caught my attention with its spiciness and beautiful flavours cutting through.
The bottom right corner shows the boy being a rather unimpressed model of how big the serving spoons were. As big as my face!! I giggled like a little girl everytime I had to serve myself or him with the serving spoons. Huge!!
For me, the pièce de résistance was the very simply named: Afghani Rice. I lack the words to describe just how good this was. I’ve been cutting down on my rice intake for quite awhile now as I find that I work best with low carbs but that went straight out the window after I tasted this rice. The word ‘tasty’ is nowhere near sufficient to describe it and I inhaled plate after plate of this rice only to ask for more and proceeded to inhale that too. The rice was beautifully cooked, not soggy nor hard. The little sultanas added punches of sweetness and overall it was paradise on a plate and then some.
Needless to say, after all that shovelling of rice down my throat, by the time the chicken and lamb mince skewers came by, I was nowhere near capable of eating them. I did manage one or two and while I adored them, the boy didn’t. That’s okay, more for me. The wait staff were very accommodating and even packed away our leftovers into takeaway containers for us. I was a very happy person the next day at lunch time, lemme tell you that! The meat while flavourful, lacked a wow factor to it. Especially having come along after the very packed-with-wow rice, the skewers paled in comparison.
By this point, I was ready to roll out of the door. The official banquet menu ends here but I was fortunate enough to have gotten chatting with the chef/owner of Afghan Pamir Restaurant and he offered to add on dessert to the menu. So out came dessert and I was perplexed.
Vanilla ice cream and a flour ball? What?
The wait staff came by to explain it to me. This dish was called Gulab Jamun and it was deep fried dough balls soaked in sugar syrup. Now, that really doesn’t sound all that exciting and after the very exciting few courses before, I was ready to be disappointed.
I had to eat my words, as this was the best dessert I’ve had all year. Such simplicity! Such ingenuity! And such amazing flavours! I just could not wrap my head around the tastes. It had hints of caramel, toffee and it was not the sickly sugary concoction that I had feared it’d be. Taken with ice cream, it took on a beautiful caramelly flavour that just melts and fills your whole mouth. An absolute delight. I did not know it at the time, but after this dinner, I have been craving Gulab Jamun like a maniac and pleaded unashamedly with the PR company to obtain the recipe from the chef. Luckily for me, he agreed. And for those of you who are playing at home, you can find it here along with other recipes to the beautiful dishes you can find at Afghan Pamir Restaurant.
All in all, a fabulous meal. The banquet is priced at $35 per head and originally I had been worried that it was on the pricier side. But having eaten through the entire banquet, I am convinced that $35 per head is a bargain. The quality of the food is outstanding and the flavours are intense and blow-your-mind awesome. If I have the chance, I’d be back there in a heartbeat.
** I dined at Afghan Pamir Restaurant as a guest of the chef.