Destination Melbourne is one that offers a lot to the visiting ‘foodie’, as I mentioned before, we have restaurants featuring cuisine from all over the world here. Seriously there can’t be many countries that are not represented on a full Melbourne Culinary tour – although I don’t know of an Andorran restaurant or one that celebrates the tastes of the Federated States of Micronesia. But that doesn’t mean they are not out there somewhere!
There are a number of options if you’re looking for a restaurant featuring the tastes of Afghanistan. I used to go, a very long time ago now, to one in Oakleigh which also closed down a long time ago. It was brilliant! But my wife and I found another that we really liked a couple of years back now in the reasonably ‘well-to-do’ suburb of Camberwell. Camberwell station is located on the Lilydale, Belgrave and Alamein lines here in Melbourne and the restaurant in question today is only a ‘stone’s throw’ from it – basically a minute’s walk if not less.
The restaurant in question is called ‘Afghan Village’, and we recently dined there with friend of the blog and keen naked tobogganist (okay I may have made that bit up) Tim Blight of urdbanduniya.com fame. The first thing you notice as you enter is that’s a small restaurant but with quite a bit of charm. It’s cosy and feels authentic, with carpets hung from the ceiling. Service – well we went on a Tuesday night and there was only one waiter that night but he was friendly and attentive.
The menu is a good size, but not too big that they try to over-extend themselves and offer everything under the sun, and big enough that there was a good selection of meals to choose from. In particular there is a vegetarian section, which you don’t always find in Afghan restaurants or restaurants featuring Central Asian cuisine.
Unlike a restaurant in Kabul (as one imagines at least) there is a small wine list, and it seemed like a Shiraz was the best choice to go with the meal.
We decided to go the ‘Mixed Chef’s’ for entrée, which was a platter of four different entrees including the Bourani Kachaloo – sort of potato in pastry fried which was my least favourite although it was fine, just a little spicy, the Badenjon Bourani which was eggplant with tomato on top, quite nice, the Ashak was a dumpling with leek inside which I think was actually my favourite, and Mantoo Steamed Dumpling which were also great. The plate had three of each on it, and as we were three it was the perfect start to the meal.
For mains I went with the Kebab Barg which was marinated lamb backstrap in Afghan spices. What they were I don’t know exactly, but they were nice and not ‘hot’, flavoursome, I would hazard a guess that there was some saffron in there somewhere. Tim had the mixed kebab which featured one Barg and another chicken kebab. On both our plates the meat was pulled off the skewer and served with some naan bread – a bit thicker and quite different from Indian naan, and a salad. We also ordered some extra rice.
My wife had the Gulpee Korma – cauliflower in a tomato sort of curry. The menu featured a number of kormas, which are sometimes offered in Indian restaurants and are generally the least spicy (hot) of the curries there. I think the ones served here are rather different though from what I’ve experienced at Indian restaurants where I usually look for the less spicy options.
All in all we really liked our food and were not disappointed. We knew it was a good place to eat but we hadn’t been for 18 months or more so you never know how things change. It was great to see they are still serving fantastic food.
To finish off we just had to try Turkish Delight. And they were good enough to serve it with just the icing sugar and not the pistachio powder – pistachio being the other nut that I am allergic to (the first being the peanut). And they were a really nice flavour. Not too much taste of rose as sometimes you get.
Well. Great food, great company. What else does one need? If you are in Melbourne one day and want to try some really good Afghani food, it’s only a 20 minute train trip from the CBD to Camberwell. The prices are pretty reasonable, especially considering you are in Camberwell, and the ambience is great there too!
Thanks for reading today, take care – and May the Journey Never End!