Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Lahore Kabob House

I don't understand why Mount Vernon was so much more swamped this Saturday than most, but it was. It was so swamped that I gave up after about 45 minutes of circling the neighborhood, and headed up Charles Street. Along the way I found a spot right in front of Lahore Kabob House, just minutes away from "Little Korea" and the neighborhood gay leather bar by foot. This place is unique among South Asian restaurants in that it has a dinner ($10) as well as a lunch ($8) buffet. The proprietor who seated me failed to tell me there was anything but a buffet. I wish I had seen a menu, like the folks had who were seated across the very tiny (but still not packed) room. It's a very yellow and beige, sparsely decorated room, with only generic decorations of flowers. The only inkling that this is a Pakistani restaurant are the TV blaring 24-hour news in Urdu, and the psychedelic picture framing (perhaps a) short Koranic passage posted behind the buffet.

But I wasn't here for decor. I was here for food. And the sparse choices in the buffet were surprisingly good. I say "surprisingly" because, again, the place was a little dinky, and the selections in the buffet didn't look that promising. There is a big steamer filled with chicken biryani - which was a little dry "chicken-wise", but that was the only thing I really didn't really care for, and even that was okay. Rice-wise, the biryani was pretty good.

I used my camera phone. Not a very good photo.

I don't remember most of what else was on my plate. The lack of labels really didn't help me out either. A few that I do remember:
  • the chicken tandoori was, again, okay. Most chicken tandoori I've eaten is "okay" so it's pretty on par with most I've eaten, maybe a little less juicy
  • I hate to say, but most of the stuff I did really like I just can't identify to save my life. There were various curries in chicken and beef (no lamb or goat, at least I didn't taste any). They were all pretty good. So too were the chickpeas.
  • Nothing actually on a skewer, though that's not necessarily de rigeur for a kabob house; some kabob houses sell stuff that was merely cooked on a skewer, one that you will never ever see.
  • I will say that the heaping plate of naan that they brought out was one of the dullest I have ever eaten.
  • Plus: you receive a free pitcher of water with your meal!
I can't say this is the best Indian or Pakistani meal I have had, but it was better than I was expecting when I sat down with my steaming plate of biryani in hand. Since there are obviously non-buffet menu items, I will venture back to try some of those. There is indeed goat on the menu. And when the place closes down for the night, they send some of their leftovers to the Baltimore Halal Meat & Grocery a few doors down, on the corner of 21st and Charles. Here you can buy Lahore's buffet items until they close late at night. It's an average buffet as far as buffets go, though the home-cooked feel of the food makes it seem better.

I've always thought it strange that a halal market, a gay leather bar and at least four different Korean restaurants just flowing with soju were all so close to each other.