Sunday, December 14, 2008
Hot Off the Grill in Tehrangeles
Angelenos on the West Side are fortunate enough to have Tehrangeles, that enclave of Little Iran where stores sell books in Farsi and ice-cream parlors have saffron or rosewater ice-cream that some naysayers say tastes like soap (but I like). I finally ventured to Shamshiri Grill after frequenting Shahrzad a few doors away for years. I couldn't resist the fresh-out-of-the-oven breads at Shahrzad that came with butter that I would bury between breads to melt and later spread on the slightly toasted bread (not sure what this bread is called but it's a type of flat bread like nan). I would always have to pace myself since the pending koobideh portions were quite massive. I'm glad I tried Shamshiri. Its fish kebab (pictured above) was excellent and lamb shank fantastic. The fish was sea bass, I think, and very fresh. It came with herb rice, a nice variation from the standard saffron basmati rice. We can't forget the usual accompaniments of perfectly charred tomato, green pepper and onion. It's grilled right in front of you in the kitchen that's separated from patrons by glass. Seeing rows of tomatoes and peppers on huge metal skewers on the grill only add to the anticipation when waiting for our food.
Fortunately, my eating partner had ordered some baba ghanoush as a starter so we dipped away with the bread. I liked that the fish kebab came with a choice of tabuli or a cucumber and tomato salad called shirazi (pictured below) that was very refreshing. The mint and tang in the vinegary dressing was a good counterbalance to the meats, although the fish was definitely lighter than the lamb shank dish (Shirin Polo, which came rice mixed with slivered almonds, pistachios and orange peel that added sweetness -- delicious).
I also tried the bamieh (pictured below), which is a stew with okra, onions, potatoes and mushrooms in a saffron tomato sauce. Buried inside the red mass of goodies was a sizable chunk of lamb shank, just like the Afghan treasure I had in Tempe, AZ. As you may know, I'm a huge fan of Persian cuisine. So much, in fact, that I made a Persian feast with my cooking buddy for the Persian New Year. I will keep on cooking but in the meantime, I'll be stopping by these neighborhood joints that have the kind of atmosphere you only get around the Westwood Blvd. stretch between Wilshire and Santa Monica/Olympic. Service was also very good and one order could easily last at least two subsequent meals because of the portions.
1712 Westwood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90024