Friday, February 18, 2011


Last week while searching for an appropriate restaurant for a friend’s birthday dinner, I came across ‘Kabul’ in a Philadelphia BYOB Guide dated back to 2007 when I was just graduating from high school. After a little digging, I discovered that the Old City Afghan restaurant was awarded Best of Philly in 1999 and 2000 and Zagat’s Survey Award 1999-2001 and 2005-2007. I was skeptical of the out-of-date awards, but, being an avid bargain-hunter, the 20% off coupon on the Kabul website convinced me that the restaurant was worth trying.

Upon entering the restaurant my friends and I noticed the clientele was older than the usual crowd we encounter at many of the BYOs we frequent. We took in the ambiance of the small, unpretentious restaurant with traditional Afghan décor and comfortable furniture. The back corner of the restaurant featured a small sitting area with pillows where large groups could eat their meals. Although we regretted missing out on the novelty of eating in this area, we were thankful when a conscientious staff member noticed we were wearing skirts and directed us to another table.

Kabul had a large menu with something for anyone who enjoys South Asian cuisine. The Norenge Palaw, featuring chicken under a heap of saffron rice with orange, almonds, pistachios, and cardamom, was a perfect slightly sweet entrée. For those looking more interested in the savory, the Bandenjan Chalaw, featuring simmered eggplant and well-seasoned lamb, was delicious. We enjoyed our meal so much that we ordered dessert: Afghan style carrot cake with raisins and nuts and ice cream with saffron syrup, pistachios, almonds, and cardamom. The saffron syrup made the dish and we were not disappointed.

Why Kabul seems to have fallen off the map in recent years is a mystery because it was a gem. The journey out to Old City was absolutely worth the ambrosial food and congenial atmosphere at Kabul.

106 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106

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