A week or so ago Meesh asked me if I wanted to try out the new Sabzi in Arlington for a sampling of traditional Persian dishes along with a few of our food-blogging friends. Food? Friends? Adventure to Arlington? How many seconds do you think it took me to say yes? (hint – if you guessed more than seven… you’re wrong.)
At the time, I knew nothing about Persian food, and I still don’t know a TON, but if you know the meaning of at least one word in the name Sabzi Chelow Kabab, you’re already half way there. Chelow Kabab is the National food of Iran; It’s essentially a skewered kabab grilled over an open flame served with steamed rice, most commonly steamed basmati saffroned rice. Sign me up!
After a short ride on the red line, followed by another short ride on the 77 bus, we arrived at the adorably small and uniquely decorated Sabzi. It was nice to see familiar faces (Rachel, Kathy and Daisy) as well as one new one (Kevin). We all sat down and started sipping Rioja as we let the owner Cyrus do the ordering for us.
Starting with a few aps like the Salad Shirazi – a simple mix of diced tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions and mint tossed in fresh lime juice and olive oil. Like the bruschetta of the Middle East, it was light and full of refreshing flavor. Drizzle it with a little Mast-O-Musir (a Persian yogurt sauce mixed with shallots) and enjoy.
Next up was the Ash-e Reshteh, another popular dish created with traditional Persian flavors, it’s a noodle soup served with spinach, kidney beans, and lots’ o herbs like chives, scallions, and dill weed. On top you’ll find kashk aka whey. So not your mom’s traditional chicken noodle soup — unless you’re mom’s Iranian or course — the noodles (Reshteh) are long and slippery, similar to Udon and it’s made to be eaten as more of a dip. Served with hot pita, it was a total delight. As was the Kashk-e Bademjan, a sautéed eggplant spread with caramelized onions and kashk. If you know the pronunciation of either of these dishes, please don’t hesitate to advise. I have a feeling I’ll be verbally praising and butchering these two words simultaneously, shaming my name amongst Persian friends forever.
Oh man, the next one’s a doozy. Rounding out the last of the appetizers, behold the Seer Torshi…
Gorgeous, I know. I adore her. I adore garlic period, but this was just beyond my comprehension. Whoever thought of pickling garlic, soaking it in balsamic, and serving it whole … marry me? I felt like angels started to cry when I was the first to break into her. Thank god I have this photo to remind me of her beauty, which I can’t help but stare at for more than twenty seconds every time it comes into my line of vision. Perfect for smashing into warm pita, my dream world involves me on a beach surrounded by Seer Torshi. What, yours doesn’t?
Now we move into the entrée’s, the real Chelow Kabab, the star of the supper. We ended up trying a slew of combo platters that included steamed saffroned basmati rice with a variety of skewered meats and veggies. Each platter came accompanied by sides of tangy pickled cabbage and tender roasted tomatoes.
Above is my favorite, the Kabab-e Jujeh, a skewer of saffron and citrus marinated cornish hen. Earlier on we’d asked our server Angelica what the best dish was and without hesitation she’d replied “cornish hen, definitely.” I would have to 100% agree with that statement. So tender and juicy, we ate it right off the bone. If they want to start hosting buffalo cornish hen drumstick nights I’m totally there.
Additional skewers included select cuts of meat and ground beef seasoned with sumac, onion and a homemade blend. Grilled over an open flame and cooked to perfection, everything was juicy and tender. Prepared similarly to the hen, the Kebab-e Jujeh Barg included saffron and citrus marinated medallions of chicken breast. Another crowd pleaser was the Sabzi Kabab, a vegetarian friendly skewer stocked with peppers, onions, squash and zucchini.
With just enough room for dessert, we sipped hot tea and indulged in small bites of homemade baklava. Love that sweet, rich, crunchy, flakey goodness YUM! As I left Sabzi, rolling myself out the front door, I felt beyond satisfied and totally elated that I’d ventured out to Arlington for such a great dinner. An entirely different experience from anything I’d tried before, thanks so much to Sabzi for introducing me to the wonderful world of Persian food, the warmth and hospitality was greatly appreciated 🙂
352A Massachusetts Ave.