Kabul House 4949 W. Oakton St. Skokie IL 60077 www.kabulhouse.com
It’s my wife’s birthday, and our son is joining us for dinner. I had made a reservation at a new bistro in the city, but J*** said she wanted to try something ethnic. D*** says “Hey, I know this very interesting Afghan restaurant from which I’ve gotten delivery food, and it is really good.” So we look on the web, see the menu, check WTTW’s checkplease, and all looks good (except that Check Please has not updated their site and has the restaurant listed as closed, but the restaurant moved from Dempster to the current location on Oakton).
I called the restaurant to make a reservation, and was told that reservations are taken for parties of 6 or more, but they thought there should be no problem for Sunday evening. The Kabul House is located at the southwest corner of Niles Ave. and Oakton St. in Skokie, in an attractive new building. We arrived at about 7 pm, and the restaurant was full, with one couple waiting for a table. There are booths along windows facing both Niles and Oakton, and tables comprise the rest of the seating. Afghan music played softly in the background.
We started with Aurshak, a thin doughed dumpling filled with scallions and leeks, and topped with a meat and tomato sauce, with a yogurt mint sauce adjacent to the dumplings. Mantoo was very similar, but with ground beef mixed with spices, carrots and onions in the dumplings, but plated in the same way. We also had Boranee Baunjan, a mix of eggplant tomatoes and garlic that is similar to the Indian Baigan Bharta in taste and appearance. All 3 appetizers were excellent. Entrees came with soup. I had the Aush-Rishta, a thick combination of chickpeas, lentils, red kidney beans in a puree with a few noodles that tasted wonderful. I tried the tomato lentil soup that J*** and D*** had, which was very good as well.
For entrees, we had Murgh, 2 skewers of broiled chicken done perfectly, with a tandoor red exterior and moist interior. Koubideh, 2 skewers of ground beef with afghan spices, was also delicious. For the 3rd entrée, we had Kabuli Palau, pieces of lamb shank meat, covered with Afghan rice (carrots, raisins, cumin and other seasonings). The rice also was served at the sides of the meat in the other 2 entrees. I enjoyed the Palau, but not as much as the other two entrees. The lamb had mutton overtones, with a fatty consistency often found in braised lamb shank, and although worthwhile, I would try other menu offerings first. Rice accompanies most of the entrees, but of the 3 rice choices, afghan, white saffron or dill-lima bean, I would pick the Afghan for its wonderful flavor.
We will definitely return to Kabul House and try more of their excellent preparations. They also have a takeout restaurant on Devon Avenue with some sandwich options as well.