Suanne and I had a great time yesterday. We really did.
We felt so honored that there are so many of chowtimes readers who would sacrifice a Saturday evening to attend the dinner. The response was beyond our expectations. Having been blogging for so many years, it is events like this that we get to know the readers on a personal basis.
I had been flip-flopping on the location of the dinner. I found and made tentative arrangements with a restaurant which had the perfect setting — a very nice newly renovated private room AND a fantastic wrap-around balcony for the entire evening. Unfortunately, I was not sure of the food because it is traditional Japanese … i.e. lots of raw food. I did not want to put it up for a vote because you know how messy it could get when you put things like this up to a vote.
LotusRapper made an off the cuff suggestion to go to The Afghan Horsemen. Suanne and I checked out the place and thought it would be fun and will be an unique experience.
The Afghan Horsemen had two true Afghan style dining rooms with low tables and cushions on the floor. We managed to secure a room save for three tables. For all intents and purposes we got the place almost all to ourselves. The room sure was dark especially when one just walk in from the outside.
We were asked to take off our shoes before entering the dining room. They sure packed as many as they could so much so that it was an uncomfortable squeeze for all. It did not help because we had one extra person more than we had booked for.
The Afghan Room has a relaxing ambiance but because everyone was seated against the wall it does not allow us to mingle as much as we wanted. It was certainly not romantic as they advertised. I thought that if it is to be romantic, you should have the couple seated facing each other, not side by side … and certainly not facing other couples across the room. This morning I woke up with sore muscles because I had to get up from the floor so many times throughout the dinner … am getting old!
There was belly dancing as a bonus for us. This was unplanned for and unexpected. I think they have this on weekends. I can’t help but to notice how the belly dancer had strategically placed a $5 bill on her hips in clear view of everyone. I think it was a $10 on the bra — I dare not have a closer look because Suanne was there.
It was funny when the dancer was using her sword and poked Henry’s bum to get him seated. I think he panicked — LOL! He squeezed me out of my cushion so much that I had to move across the room. Or maybe he just wanted to have closer view of the dancing from my seat.
I knew it! I knew it would happen when the dancing started. The dancer was looking for “the director” of the dinner and everyone just had to point to me. I think everyone pointed to me not so much because I was the organizer but because they wanted all to be de-risked from being picked to dance. Agree?
On hindsight, I should have excused myself to the washroom and let Suanne be “the director”.
Some of the ladies were not spared either. They all had the easy part … dancing in a group. Let’s talk about the food …
Almost everyone ordered the Horsemen’s Special Platter. The platter costs $50 and is meant for two people. Suanne and I just ordered one platter to share with Anita. The starter consists of Humus and Sabzi Mast, Salata with Feta and whole wheat pita bread. The whole wheat pita bread was great with the humus. Rooskie certainly liked it a lot.
The main dish includes chicken breast shish kebab, lamb shish kebab, lamb shoulder, baked rice, baked eggplant, cabbage roll, pakawra and chaka (strained yogurt). This is a delightful platter full of enticing spices and flavours.
The Pakwra (batter fried potatoes patties above) was something that people seems to take note off. It was very crispy. Some of us was wondering how they managed to make the batter so firm. This reminded me of the Malaysian goreng pisang (banana fritters).
The centerpiece of this dish had to be the lamb shoulder. It was bursting with flavour and was so tender you can pull the meat apart easily with a fork. Unfortunately I did not manage to eat as much as I like because I was the busy bee moving from table to table. I am going to come back one day and properly savour this.
One thing that many of us seems to have noticed … it seems like the meal looks a lot like Greek. I just checked the map — Afghanistan is a good 5000 km from Greece. Anyone has a good explanation for this?
Suanne ordered Degcha (rice pudding) for dessert. This is $4.50. It was served cold.
I had Dough (pronounced as doo). It is a yogurty drink and sprinkled with flakes and flavored with salt. It came with ice cubes which I thought was kind of strange. Not many people like this … for some reason, I felt that it is the East Asians (Chinese particularly) does not take easily to this by nature. Can someone tell me why? It is a acquired taste. I like it but I recall that when I first had it, it did not agree with my stomach.
Suanne had the Turkish coffee. It is about $3 and served in a tiny cup. It was very black and Suanne said she can feel the powdery coffee grind.
There were 21 of us who attended this dinner and the total bill came up to $650 (tips and taxes included).
Suanne and I had a great time and appreciate it so much that there are people who cared for our little blog enough to make themselves available to get to know us. The feedback and words of encouragement meant a lot to Suanne and I — wanted to let you all know that.
Can I ask the attendees to help blog this event by commenting here? Tell us your perspective of the evening and dinner. Also send me your pictures and I will post it up on this blog too.
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I’ll be the first to jump in and, before all else, would like to give Ben & Suanne a big applause for organizing this event, taking the pics, noting all the details of the night and last but not least providing us with a good dose of entertainment (I think the dancer has some competition from you ….)
Hope you and Suanne are able to go back for a quiet evening (or not, with the boys) and savour the food and ambience more.
We had a lot of fun. And enjoyed meeting other Chowtimers. Too bad we couldn’t have the room to ourselves and re-arrange the tables to allow for easier conversations.
Thanks again for all your hardwork. Look forward to another Chowtimers event (soon) !
Bon appetit !
There is a similar place in Seattle (with the cushions, floor seating and dancing) called Marrakesh, which has Moroccan cuisine. It costs about $20 apiece to eat there on a non-holiday, and the food is pretty good. It is a favorite of most teens I know for a special place to go.
Morocco is nowhere near Afghanistan, but the places and even the food look similar! There’s one in Portland, OR too. I see there is even one (Marrakech) in the Gastown part of Vancouver, but I’ve never been there.
Your dinner looked like fun. I don’t live too far off, so maybe I’ll come up for the next one.
Ainwa – Le Marrakech Bistro in Vancouver recently closed.
Goodness, Ben. I’ve got to hit Vegas with you sometime. Looks like you really know how to party. 🙂
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Ah, the question is… does the food match KABUL in Seattle? 🙂 I’m surprised the Seattle poster mentioned Marrakesh (we thought it was alright but wouldn’t go back, and the drinks there were mediocre) when we DO have one of the most established and well-reviewed Afghan restaurants outside the middle east (not that there’s a lot of competition)…
I actually found this looking for a cookbook by the same name (there’s a regular book that is definitely not a cookbook with a photo their sign looks VERY based off, but no luck yet finding the elusive Afghan Horsemen cookbook. I’ve mastered borani (eggplant dish–it’s spelled a LOT of diff ways) and the owner here provided a recipe for ash that is delish, but there are so many other things to master… at least I can brew some cardamom tea and sit back and relax with my lovely eggplant atop a spicy marinara-esque moat, topped with freshly garlic’d up greek yogurt and mint, lotsa mint (I cheat by using a bag of mint tea that is in a sealed wrapper–ensures it’s totally “fresh!” dried mint)…