For a delicious and upscale dining experience, have lunch or dinner at Azeen’s Afghani Restaurant (110 E. Union St., 626/683-3310, www.azeensafghanirestaurant.com, Mon.–Fri. 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m., 5:30–9:30 p.m., $20–30). Inside, you’ll find white tablecloths, black furniture, and unusual paintings. On the menu, the offerings take you into another world—one largely mysterious to denizens of the West. Trade routes, invasions, religion, tribal culture, and lots and lots of sand all contribute to the way Afghanistan and its cuisine have evolved.
Vegetarians, be aware that while you will find some limited options, Afghani food tends heavily toward meat. Kabobs of all kinds are a regional specialty, and the country’s proximity to India brings with it a love for truly spicy (and incredibly flavorful) dishes. At Azeen’s, you can get kabobs, spicy lamb dishes, dumplings, and traditional desserts.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition