Beyond Kebabs

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?

—Mailan Cao

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.­ Mon.–Fri. 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m., daily 5:30–9:30 p.m.

Got a burning culinary question?  E-mail

Sponsor Content


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >