May 6, 2009 > Restaurant Review: Afghan Village
Restaurant Review: Afghan Village
By J.D. Wolfe
Fremont and the surrounding area have many wonderful people who came here from around the world. Along with people from various cultures come restaurants featuring their food. They are out there.
I found one that has been around for ten years and it is terrific - Afghan Village on Thornton Avenue in Newark. There is plenty of parking. Omar Amari has owned this restaurant for the entire time it has been here. It is a family affair so even if Omar is off running errands, Flora, his sister-in-law, a truly a sweet person, greets you. Every restaurant needs a special person like Flora.
The building exterior hides what is inside. The few photos with this review give a slight hint about just how beautiful the interior is but you really need to see for yourself. I would define it as understated elegance. Some of the decorative furniture is worthy of being in a museum. Since I like to eat, let's chat about the food from appetizers to dessert.
We started off with two appetizers. One was roasted eggplant, a bit spicy, just the way I like it. The other was Mantu, which in Chinese means pot stickers. Mantu is ground beef mixed with onion and other spices wrapped in a pasta-type noodle and steamed to perfection. It is covered with a sauce that I only dreamed existed in the real world. You can make a meal of this alone with some fresh Afghan bread. Both appetizers are highly recommended.
Flora offered us a unique drink common in Afghanistan. Salty and tart but refreshing - and healthy! It is made with fresh homemade yogurt with mint, cucumbers and spices. I won't tell you it was my favorite drink but I can say that it has a flavor for which one can easily acquire a taste. It mediates the impact of hot spices in some of the foods. You should try it with your meal.
In addition to the salt and pepper shakers Afghan Village serves a chili spice blend that is great to sprinkle on your food. Better yet there is a shaker of Sumak - a special spice blend of dried grape leaves. I love this job! Who knew such things existed?
For our main course we ordered kebobs of lamb, chicken and beef. Along with the kebobs come rice and salad and Afghan bread. It was after the first bite of the kebobs that it began to dawn on me why America is so great. When people come here from all over the world the melting pot gets richer. Our exposure to so many different ways to prepare and eat food along with all the other cultural aspects is the greatest blessing of all in living here.
Eating this food cannot and must not be done at any faster pace than dial-up internet at The Slowsky's house (the turtles in the Comcast commercials). You need to savor every bite. Flavors impact the palate in a wonderful explosion of taste. What is truly awesome is you are eating healthy foods. With each bite you no longer wonder how countries and their cultures in some parts of the world survived thousands of years. You know. The food is delicious and nourishing.
After we ate about half of the portions served with the rest going home, Flora insisted we try a special dessert. I saw someone eating it earlier and to me it just looked like a scoop of ice cream. I was polite and accepted her kind offer (anyone who knows me knows I rarely refuse food). Well, let me tell you about ice cream at Afghan Village. It is served on a bed of crushed ice soaked in a rice noodle sugary liquid, sprinkled with crushed, powdery Pistachios on top. Wow! Thank you, Flora!
As usual I had to check the restroom and kitchen. Both got a passing grade. I would have liked to see the restroom a little fresher but it was clean and nowadays that is super important. Folks, I truly hope you enjoy reading these reviews. I love doing them and when I find a place like Afghan Village I feel very good in recommending them to you.
5981 Thornton Avenue, Newark