Restaurant: Azeen’s Afghani [1, 2, 3]
Location: 110 East Union Street, Pasadena, Ca, 911103. 626-683-3310
Date: January 31, 2013
Another week and another Hedonist dinner. We braved traffic to take on Azeen’s Afghani in Pasadena, dominating the restaurant as usual with a giant table.
The elegant room is covered in murals.
We aren’t the only ones who love Azeen’s.
The menu. This place is amazing AND will not break the bank.
Billecart-Salmon Champagne to open.
Pakawra-e-badenjan. Batter dipped, sautéed slices of eggplant topped with yogurt and meat sauce.
This 25 year-old white Burgundy had a cork so dry that it popped down into the bottle at the slightest touch of the screw – still, it wasn’t in bad shape for it’s age. Perhaps it was a tad thin, although it opened up nicely in the 10-20 minute (after uncorking) time frame, then shut down again.
Aushak. Leek and scallion filled dumplings, topped with yogurt and meat sauce, sprinkled with mint.
From my cellar, Parker 93, “This estate’s Corton-Bressandes is a wine I search out in vintages with good ripeness. It is never huge, muscular, or a blockbuster but can often be sultry, seductive, detailed, and simply lovely. A recently tasted 1990, while at least three years from maturity, was fabulous. The 1996 displays sweet red cherry and Asian spice aromatics as well as a gorgeously refined character filled with candied and delineated cherries. This elegant, sexy, and feminine offering is medium-to-full-bodied, silky-textured, and possesses a long and refreshing finish.”
Mantu. Steamed dumplings filled with chopped beef, onions and herbs topped with yogurt and sautéed Mixed vegetables.
Parker 91-93, “The 2007 Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast displays plenty of raspberry and floral notes, has a deep ruby/purple color, nicely integrated wood, medium to full body, and a spicy finish.”
Bulanee. Turnover filled with leek, scallions and herbs.
This other new world pinot gets about a 91 online.
Bulanee-e-katchalu. Turnover filled with potatoes, ground beef and herbs.
Parker 94-97, “The saturated ruby/purple-colored 2002 Pinot Noir Three Sisters-Lambing Barn Vineyard reveals a powerful, complex bouquet of blackberry and black cherry liqueur intertwined with notions of framboise, violets, and loamy soil. Plum, fig, and pure red and black fruit aromas soar from the glass of this full-bodied blockbuster.”
Parker sure loves these. It was still too oaked for my Burgundian taste, although smoother than the 2003 we had the previous week. All that oak is hiding some gorgeous fruit.
Aush. Vegetable, noodle and yogurt soup sprinkled with dill topped with meat sauce.
Aush has many of the same ingredients as some of the other dishes, but the soup factor really works. Great stuff.
Parker 94, “Still one of the most backward wines of the vintage, Leoville-Barton’s 1982 is a wine of huge extract, high tannin, and a somewhat ancient style that recalls some of the Bordeaux of the late forties. The color is still a dense, even murky, opaque ruby/garnet. The wine offers up notes of licorice, cedar, black truffles, and sweet currant fruit. I had the wine twice in 2002, and my tasting note was almost identical to the last time I had it, in 1997, showing just how slowly this wine is evolving. The wine is enormous in the mouth, but still has some rather gritty, high tannins. It is a classic St.-Julien, with meat and black currants, great structure, and an amazingly youthful, vigorous feel.”
This wine was really drinking VERY nicely.
Smarooq challaw. Tender pieces of breast of chicken sautéed with mushrooms, onions, tomatoes and green peppers.
From my cellar, Parker 92, “The 1996 Hermitage La Sizeranne exhibits a saturated dense purple color, a classic, smoky, cassis-scented nose, and fresh acidity nicely meshed with the wine’s rich, concentrated black fruit character and high tannin. This full-bodied, muscular, backward La Sizeranne requires patience. It is aged all in cask, of which 50% were new.”
Kabob-e-gousfand and kabob-e-tika. Tender cubes of lamb and beef respectively.
A very nice Syrah. Parker high 90s, “There are 400+ cases of Kongsgaard’s distinctive Syrah. Aged in 50% new French oak, it is fashioned from a special parcel of Hudson Vineyard vines planted in volcanic soils. The wine possesses striking blackberry, ground pepper, fried bacon fat, barbecue spice, and underbrush/composty characteristics that are also meaty and primordial. The volcanic soils may give this wine a more smoky, scorched, meaty character than other Northern California Syrahs. As the wine sits in the glass, notes of melted licorice also emerge. Extremely layered and long. This cuvee always benefits from 2-3 hours of decanting, and a young vintage might even be better if decanted 24 hours in advance. It is unquestionably the most singular expression of Syrah in Northern California.”
Kabob-e-murgh. Tender chunks of breast of chicken.
Parker 95, “The 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, which comes from multiple fruit sources in Rutherford, Oakville, Yountville, Coombsville, Oak Knoll and Carneros, was aged in 100% new French oak. A blend of 95% Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, it exhibits an opaque purple color, great intensity and a sweet nose of blue and black fruits intermixed with toasty oak, lead pencil shavings and forest floor. Rich, layered and full-bodied with silky tannins.”
Vegetarian dishes. In the back is some Katchalu. Potatoes cooked with onions, tomatoes, cilantro and garlic.
Sabsi. Sautéed spinach cooked with onions and garlic.
This cilantro chile sauce is awesome.
Parker was not a fan, 75 points! “One of the thinner, leaner, more malnourished Cabernet Sauvignons in my tasting, this primarily Cabernet Sauvignon blended with touches of Merlot and Cabernet Franc did not perform well. It is under-fruited and medium-bodied with a short finish.”
Kadu. Sautéed butternut squash topped with yogurt and meat sauce. Incredibly succulent.
The flat bread goes great dipped in the green sauce – or the Aush!
I’m always a big fan of old Madeira’s and this didn’t disappoint. Parker has his “technical” opinion below, but this was an extremely enjoyable treat.
Parker 88, “The 1875 Malvasia is showing a little flabbiness on the nose, with smudged notes of brown sugar, nougat and coconut. The palate is sweet and a little saccharine on the entry. It shows good weight and substance, but it feels a little cloying towards the finish. There are better bottles out there and, indeed, returning to the same bottle after two weeks it had gained more composure.”
Baghlava. hin layers of pastry with walnuts and pistachios, syrup soaked.
Firnee. A light pudding with almonds and pistachios served chilled. Yum, yum! This was creamy and saturated with rose water, which I love.
Gelabee. Fried Pastry Dipped in Sugar Syrup.
Yarom, the owner Abdul, and I.
Annik didn’t get enough food (haha), so she popped next door for some ice cream!
This was another amazing Hedonist blow out. The food is so tasty here. Afghan is a really delectable cuisine. Middle eastern with a hint of China, Persia, and India. It’s not spicy but is packed with flavor. Growing up, we used to frequently enjoy this cuisine in the Washington suburbs. You can check that out here.
The service at Azeen’s is fantastic. Abdul really makes you feel welcome. And Azeen’s is probably the best kitchen execution I’ve experienced in an Afghan restaurant I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s better than 99% of the places in Kabul.
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