The Kubideh @ Kamdesh Afghan Kabab House, Oakland Chinatown

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The Kubideh @ Kamdesh Afghan Kabab House, Oakland Chinatown.

I might argue that the best restaurant in Oakland Chinatown isn’t actually Chinese, but is in fact, Afghan. I suppose that Afghan cuisine might be a tough sell in this political climate, especially since Afghanistan has been portrayed rather (shall we say) negatively in the Western media. Of course, the same exact thing can be said for Syria, or just about any other country in the Greater Middle East. It’s a shame that this region has become the epicenter of so much upheaval, although it’s hardly anything new. Religious wars have been waged in this area since the Crusades.

From a culinary standpoint, the Greater Middle East boasts tremendous historical importance as the site of the Silk Road, the earliest commercial link between Europe and Asia. Cities such as Kanduhar and Kabul occupied key positions on the Silk Road’s [… read more …]

Eight Los Angeles Food Photos

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Tonkotsu Ramen @ Daikokuya, West Los Angeles. This bowl of ramen contends for the best bowl of ramen that I’ve ever tasted. I still have a strong allegiance to Ramen Dojo in San Mateo, but Daikokuya is equally sublime, if not a bit more simple. The perfectly-cooked egg reveals a keen attention to detail, and the broth is amazingly good. I ate ramen almost every day when I was in Los Angeles, but this bowl (my first of the trip) really resonated with me, and it continues to do so.

I’ve finally uploaded my photos from my trip to Los Angeles earlier this month. It’s a little strange to go back to a place where I once lived for about 10 years, now that it’s also been about 10 years since I’ve lived there. Though the city’s main infrastructure remains familiar, the details have become a [… read more …]

Chicken Pomegranate @ Cafe La Mediterranee, San Francisco Fillmore

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Chicken Pomegranate @ Cafe la Mediterranee, San Francisco Fillmore District.

I rarely ever order chicken at a restaurant unless, of course, it’s been deep fried. As a chef, I suppose that I’m far too aware of “food cost” to view poultry as anything other than the perennial high-margin protein. Whether or not this bias is justified, I tend to feel that ordering chicken is unadventurous and, in some cases, an outright sucker bet. I make an exception for fried chicken only because it’s one of my main culinary weaknesses (also, frying anything at home is a huge hassle, so I appreciate the convenience of ordering out).

Since you won’t see much (non-fried) chicken on these pages, you can take the following recommendation to heart: The Chicken Pomegranate at Cafe La Mediterranee, pictured above, is easily one of the best chicken dishes in the city. The skeptical reader might [… read more …]

The Combo Plate @ De Afghanan Kabob House, Berkeley

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Kabob Trifecta: Chicken Kabob, Teka Beef, and Chaplee (spiced ground sirloin). Served with Pallow (brown basmati) and Challow (white basmati).

Although the busy corner of University and San Pablo is typically dominated by the smokey presence of Everett & Jones Barbecue, De Afghanan Kabob House offers the best food in the vicinity. I will admit, comparing Middle Eastern cuisine to American Southern cuisine is an apple-versus-orange proposition. But despite the inherent differences (and similarities) between barbecue and kabob, De Afghanan always earns my top honors for its exquisite simplicity. It’s almost strange that I would arrive at this conclusion. I have deep respect and appreciation for barbecue, and Afghani food is far less familiar to me. But barbecue is finicky, and if it’s not spot-on in its execution, it’s just not very good. Everett & Jones has good days and great days; De Afghanan is always [… read more …]