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Bamiyan Restaurant
317 NW Gilman Blvd.
Issaquah, WA
(425) 391-8081
Cost: $$$
Hours: Open Daily
22 Afghan & Persian Smoking: No Smoking
Alcohol: Beer, Wine
19-May-06 1
A restaurant with Afghan and Persian cuisine was too intriguing for me to not pay a visit, in addition to the fact that I had seen good reviews about it. I don't think I fully understood the story of the two types of cuisine being served--the owners are from Afghanistan with maps and decorations on the walls attesting to that fact. Iran, the modern version of ancient Persia, shares a border with the Afghan nation, and the two countries seem to have similar food. Patrons benefit by being able to experience both.

The restaurant is named after the Bamiyan Valley in Afghanistan, an area where "yogurt-based dishes, flame-broiled meat and an intricate use of various herbs and spices are common." This description was enough of an incentive to get me to try the Afghan side of the menu.

A dish that combined all of the described elements was Ashak, a plate of dumplings filled with scallions, parsley, and chives, and covered with Bamiyan tomato sauce and yogurt. A version with beef is also available, giving something that is probably more typical of the food commonly prepared in Afghanistan. The vegetarian version of the dish was quite delicious, as is the case with most ethnic food that is so heavily imbued with the flavor of garlic.

The down points of the meal included the fact that the dish had an uneven temperature, although from what I could tell it was cooked sufficiently. Yogurt cannot really be cooked or heated very much, and it was most likely added to the top of the dumplings at the end of the preparation process, possibly contributing to the sensation that portions of the plate were cold (although other portions of it seemed to be the proper temperature).

A small Salad came with the meal that seemed to have an olive oil and lemon base. It was not exceptional for Middle Eastern salads, but it was decent and enjoyable.

The Persian House Tea was not as good as similar teas I have ordered in other restaurants, and was not hot enough until I got a second pot (refills are free).

Other than the temperature of the food being somewhat variable, I think the biggest disappointment was that the food was so expensive and the portions were not large enough for the price levels being charged.

Given the good service, comfortable dining room, and strong flavors of the food, however, this remains one of my most memorable dining experiences despite the minor flaws in the food.

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