Dear Mr. Gold:
I miss the soul-warming homemade Afghan food in Fremont up in the Bay Area and the amazing Afghan haute cuisine at Helmand in Boston. Does L.A. have any good options?
Dear Mailan Cao:
The Los Angeles area was once fairly rich in Afghan restaurants of the rough-and-ready type with great kebabs, heroic rice dishes and mantu, the yogurt-laced Afghan beef dumplings that are about the most delicious thing on Earth. These days, Azeen’s Afghani Restaurant, on a side street in Old Town Pasadena, is, as far as I know, the only Afghan restaurant in the area at the moment, but it is a pretty good one. If you like the elegant Helmand restaurants in San Francisco and Cambridge, I suspect you will find Azeen’s — which is refined, even a little subdued compared to the old places in the San Fernando Valley — pretty close. It’s a nice place for the baked dumplings called sambosas, for mantu, for the thick, Persian-style soup called aush, and for pallaw, the kissing cousin to Indian pilafs and Uzbek plov. It is not halal, if that’s a consideration — as at Helmand, there is even a wine list — but the flavors, based on my experiences in Fremont and in Queens, are true enough. 110 E. Union St., Pasadena, (626) 683-3310 or www.azeensafghanirestaurant.com. Mon.–Fri. 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m., daily 5:30–9:30 p.m.
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