A rainbow spread on the table and the smell of mouthwatering fare in the air — this is how Iranian tables spread their love of food. All food is homely, well-made and tastes like heaven. Food is a major part of Persian culture; however, it is far less known over the world than it deserves. We believe Iranian cuisine is the mother of all cuisines, sophisticated yet simple. A subtle balance of sweet and sour, hot and cold with the use of fresh herbs and spices. The gastronomy is rich and diverse with countless local dishes, from meat to vegetables, fish, street foods, pickles, bread and sweets.
What makes it so unique is the use of many local ingredients, which give its characteristic taste: pomegranate, saffron, turmeric, rose water, cardamom, pistachio, walnuts, mint, orange and so much more. Along with these fresh ingredients, Persians take their time to cook. The best place to discover these truly divine flavours are by sharing a meal in an Iranian house, as the secrets of all these delicious recipes are transmitted over generations as a precious legacy. As we didn’t have the luxury of that, we chose the next best thing. An Iranian restaurant that could mimic those authentic Persian flavours.
We decided on a relatively unknown place, wanting to explore some. We came across the Kish Island Restaurant, located inside the Parkside Plaza Hotel. As these reviews go, we picked two appetisers and two mains and the lovely gentleman serving us, brought us, complimentary dessert and tea. Nooshe Jan!
HE SAID: For our appetisers, we picked the Shirazi Salad and the Kashke Badenjan. Shirazi salad is a traditional salad made of diced cucumber, onion and tomato marinated with lemon juice, salt and dry mint. It was well prepared and with balanced flavours. On the other hand, kashke Badenjan is a dish made of Kashke (dry yoghurt) and eggplant. Basically, it is mashed fried eggplant, onion and garlic mixed with Kashke and then garnished with fried onion, garlic, mint and sesame paste. It was yummy. Both of those starters can be also side dishes for grills.
SHE SAID: I loved the Shirazi Salad. It wasn’t overpoweringly sour or salty. Just the right bite of both with evenly diced veggies. A standard fare very well executed. The Kashke Badenjan, I felt like it lacked seasoning and could do with a little more salt. The addition of fried onions, roasted garlic and the sesame paste is a smart move. These elements work to enhance flavours even more.
HE SAID: For our mains, we ordered the mixed grill platter (for two) and okra stew with meat. The mixed grill consisted of skewers of grilled minced meat, minced chicken and meat kebab served with three types of rice (white rice, saffron rice and saffron with dried barberry rice). Wow, I don’t think it can get better than this, well seasoned and the meat just melted in the mouth like butter. The Okra stew was not any less, it was flavourful and the meat was very soft, the okra was juicy and cooked to perfection. No wonder we were confused were to end our last bite; with the stew or the grill.
SHE SAID: For our mains, we picked the okra stew with meat and the mixed grill for two, both served with rice. I was honestly blown away by both dishes. Each competing for the top spot on this review. The okra stew with meat was tangy, earthy and the meat just melted in your mouth. Mixed in with rice, this stew is just out of this world. The mixed grill for two was an absolute delight. Each skewer of meat was tender, whether it was their tikka or kebabs. Each piece was meticulously marinated and cooked to perfection.
HE SAID: We were lucky that evening as the menu had no dessert section. However, somebody preordered some Bamiyeh. It is an Iranian version of the Balah el sham as it is well-known in the Arab world (though it’s originally a Turkish dessert). A crispy fried dough soaked for some time in special sugar syrup and then garnished with coconut shreds. It was well balanced in sweetness level the inside was very soft. Very well prepared.
SHE SAID: They have no dessert on the menu, unfortunately, but they do make an Iranian sweet called Bamiyeh by order. A fried dough sweetened with sugar syrup cooked in Ramadhan commonly. We were lucky enough to be there on a day when they had it. it was crisp yet soft on the inside and not cloyingly so. A perfect end and accompaniment to the Iranian tea they served us. Did you know the origin of this dish goes back to Levant city where they prepared Ottoman cuisine’s desserts? Iranians call this sweet Bamiyeh because it looked like an orange version of the vegetable okra.
WE SAID: What a fantastic journey this meal was, we are glad we picked a new place to experience different facets of this vast and rich cuisine. Service was efficient but the ambience needs work. Would we go back? Yes, that’s a definitive yes!
Taste of food: 5/5
Value for money: 4/5
The ORR team reviews anonymously and pays for their own meals. The opinion of the team does not reflect the opinion of the newspaper or its editors.