Laziza house

I remember asking a fellow blogger (you must check out her blog at mumchic) if I couldn’t get a home cooked Pakistani meal, where could I go out and eat Pakistani food? She suggested Laziza house in Melba, I had remembered seeing the name in the Entertainment book so off I went with some friends to try some Pakistani food.

We arrived around 7pm-ish and we were only one of two tables with 6 patrons all up, it seemed very quiet for a Friday night. The room was exotically decorated with lots of staff on hand to give efficient service.I was a bit nervous about ordering, I didn’t know what I was looking for, I just knew I wanted to try Pakistani food and avoid the typical Indian dishes. Conveniently, there were ‘Pakistani specials’ and ‘Afghan specials’ headings and underneath was several menu items; we just stuck to that list.

The menu has spelling errors consistently throughout the pages but we knew what they were saying when they had ‘Laziza Charcoal Owen Specials’. We were keen to try things from the oven and ordered the Lahori Tandoori Murghah chicken marinated in yoghurt, spices, grilled in charcoal oven ($19.50 full). It didn’t taste great and some pieces were a bit dry, we should have only ordered the half serve.

Pakistani Specials~

LAZIZA Nihair (Pakistani traditional dish) Shinbone of the beef used for this curry. Very tasty and delicious ($15.50). I thought that the bowl was particularly shallow but I later found that the spoon kept on hitting a piece of bone with a slither of bone marrow that my friend’s happily enjoyed amongst themselves. The curry itself was very flavoursome with very tender beef, I would happily have this again. It had lots of fennel seeds in it and green chillis but it wasn’t too hot if you had lassi on hand with lots of rice.Afghan Specials~

Kabuli Pulao a mound of basmati rice topped with cooked carrot strips and raisins ($15.50). I had had this dish from Koochi when it used to be open and I thought this would be just as good but it wasn’t. I wouldn’t recommend ordering this rice dish, it was very dry and bland by comparison.

Mango lassi ($4.50). I could make this better at home but it did relieve some of the chilli that was building up in my mouth from the curry.Garlic naan plain flour bread with crushed garlic ($3.20). I didn’t like how the crushed garlic was from a bottle, you could taste the sweetness from the garlic.I didn’t listen to my own advice and ended up ordering outside of the Pakistani menu realm. The dishes and the sides that were Afghan and Indian were very underwhelming but I really did enjoy that shinbone curry. I wouldn’t rush back to try this restaurant but if I was to go with someone who knew what they were ordering it would really help a lot.

Venue: Laziza house

Address: 12 Chinner Crescent, Melba ACT 2615

Phone(02) 6259 8033

Entertainment book: yes, don’t forget your voucher!

Laziza House on Urbanspoon

 

Persian Mawlana Restaurant

When we sat down in the unlit room with nothing but the bright afternoon sun filtering in through the front window, I didn’t know if I had made a huge mistake in coming to Persian Mawlana restaurant in Dickson, which had only been open for a few months where Firestone used to be. My two plates in front of me had multiple stains on it, as soon as I sat down my shoe slipped on a wedge of tomato that was under the table and the drinking glasses were a bit dirty and not matching. I’d hate to be ‘that annoying customer’ but I had a lot of things changed and taken away before all the other guests arrived.

After things had been replaced and they eventually turned on the light, I decided not to let that affect the meal that we were about to try. We didn’t know what to expect as none of us had eaten Persian food before.

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I really liked their cutlery, very unusual.

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The menu was in a weird format, it starts off (if you read from left to right) with mains and then hot starters underneath followed by cold starters. We ordered a couple of entrees and main meals to share between the 5 of us. I wanted to try their yoghurt drink too as I wanted to try as much as possible and not many cultures have their own unique drink.

Doogh yoghurt drink ($7.00 jug or $3.00 for a glass). The sour yoghurt drink was not for everyone. I dislike sparkling water and it tastes like someone added sparkling water to some sour yoghurt/milk and added some dry herbs. We ordered a jug because it was more economical but we really could have all shared one glass.

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Main meals~ “All our main meals are served on NAN bread and dips. All served with Saffron Rice, Grilled Tomato and salad.”

NAN bread and dips. This must be their version of NAN bread, but I was surprised it came out so early. It was a bit curious when we asked what the dip flavours were, the waiter had no idea nor did he try to ask anyone. It turns out one was a chickpea which was very garlicky and the other was carrot. The bread was a bit hard but we made do. They took the bread away before we were finished and before the actual main meals but I thought the bread was supposed to accompany the main meal?

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Entrees~

Potato skin grilled potato with skin, cheese and topping of onion and capsicum ($7.00). I don’t know why but I somehow thought ordering a baked potato with its skin on with melted cheese would be an interesting tasting dish with a Persian twist to it. Nope this was just a potato with its skin on with a mild cheese melted on top with a bit of capsicum that wasn’t salty enough and we added more table salt ourselves. Do not waste your time with this underwhelming dish.

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Must-o-khiar creamy yoghurt with chopped cucumber and mint ($5.00). A lot like raita, we wanted something cooling to take the edge off what was a very hot day. The bread that was taken away would have been very handy right about now…

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Kashk-o-bademjan pan fried eggplant mixed with garlic,mint, onion and kashk ($6.00). I wasn’t expecting a ‘minced away beyond recognition’ eggplant so I was quite surprised when they put this down. This has a very short sharp eggplant taste finished off with an overpowering garlic aftertaste. The yoghurt looking topping tasted like a potent blue vein cheese. All these strong flavours were a bit too much for me, so I often went back to the cucumber dip.20131226-180850.jpg

Actual mains~

Mahie Polaw marinated and grilled snapper fish, served with saffron rice and BBQ tomato ($20.00). The whole fish was surprisingly really nice and not too many bones. The salad was very fresh and well dressed. It was a promising start to the mains.

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Jujeh marinated chicken in saffron, lemon juice on skewer served with saffron rice and BBQ tomato ($18.00). It made it easier to share that the meat was not attached to a skewer, the meat was very tender and moist.

20131226-180912.jpgLamb tikka marinated lamb fillet capsicum, onion on skewer served with saffron rice and BBQ tomato ($19.00). Not as tender as the chicken but a lovely lamb taste. Sharing these mains were more than sufficient because they all come with so much rice and salad. We were a bit confused as to why there was butter on every plate, were we supposed to add it to the meat or the rice? We just left it on the plate.

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Qabuli palaw lamb pieces topped with basmati rice, raisins and carrots served with two (koftah) mead (?) balls in a tomato based sauce ($19.00). I wasn’t particularly fond of the rice I chose, but I was keen to try this as I ate something similar at Koochi restaurant and really enjoyed it. The meatballs didn’t really add much to the dish, the rice was rather dry and it just didn’t really have the same vibrant colour as I was used to.

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Two koftah balls in a tomato based sauce to accompany the  qabuli palaw.

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So it turns out that Persian food has very similar elements to Afghan food but I felt that Koochi in Gungahlin did their rice dish much better and their skewered meat was much more moist and flavoursome.

It was nice that they honoured both our entertainment cards considering a lot of businesses get confused when you give them more than one card. Our dinner was heavily discounted but still I don’t think I would be coming here again.

Venue: Persian Mawlana Restaurant

Address: 14 Woolley St, Dickson, ACT

Phone: 02 6247 4447

Persian Mawlana on Urbanspoon

Koochi

I meet up with other food enthusiasts every two months, last time was ordering from the ‘48hrs advanced notice’ menu at Malaysian Chapter, this month was Afghan food at KoochiI had never eaten Afghan food before and I didn’t know what to expect but with a quick browse of the menu I could tell that they like eating lamb.

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The whole place was colourfully decorated with tradition clothing, lanterns, beautiful material and rugs.

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I am in love with this wall. The colours, the dried clay, the lanterns. It made me forget that I was in the G.

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Kabul style fresh homemade lemonade ($5.00). I don’t usually get beverages but since I was trying out a whole new cuisine, there had to be something I had never had before on their drinks menu.

The perfect amount of lemon sourness and sweetness and it was great that it wasn’t fizzy. I thought it was odd though that we ordered two lemonades and when my friend who had arrived late ordered one, they said that they had ran out so she ordered a fresh mint tea instead.

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Fresh mint tea ($4.50).

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Our famous Koochi tasting plate for 2’: Mantu, Chablee kabab, Tikah, Shamee, Chicken served with chutney and Afghani bread ($32).

Chutney and Afghani bread – the bread was served hot and delicious; the ‘chutney’ was very runny but had lots of spice, chili and coriander goodness.

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Chickenchargrilled chicken cubes, marinated in a heirloom secret recipe, lightly powdered with sumac. Could this be the most delicious tender chicken in Canberra? *drool*

Tikahchargrilled lamb cubes, marinated in a heirloom secret recipe, lightly powdered with sumac. A bit tougher than the chicken but still very good.

Shameechargrilled lamb mince, marinated in a heirloom secret recipe, lightly powdered with sumac. Although these were all marinated the same, the flavours and textures were very unique to each dish.

Mantulamb mince, herbs and spices and onion dumplings, topped with home-made yoghurt and dried mint. It had a nice thin layer of pastry which meant that there was a good pastry to filling ratio. The filling itself was little bit dry but luckily it was topped with yoghurt.

Chablee kabablightly fried lamb mince, tomato, capsicum patties mixed in herbs and spices. A great use of spices. Very different texture to the rest of the plate, felt almost like a Thai crab cake.

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A look inside the mantu.

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Kabulee Pallowlamb cubes, marinated in traditional Afghani korma, covered with Afghani rice, topped with sliced carrots, barberries and almonds ($26.00). I was amazed by all the vibrant colour that I almost forgot that there was very tender, very flavoursome lamb hiding in the rice. The lamb was very sporadic in the dish but I didn’t mind because the rice and extras could have held on its own.

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Sides~

Potato Korma ($6.50). It was ok, nothing special, the potato was very tender but because everything else surpassed all expectations, this in comparison was very mediocre.

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Borrani bonjonpan-fried eggplant, topped with tomato puree, onions, drizzled with yoghurt and dried mint ($8.00). I’m a sucker for eggplant so when my friends asked to have something different from all the meat, I was very keen to order this. Not much in the way of texture but the salty flavours from the eggplant, tomato puree and onions was soooo good especially when it was balanced by the yoghurt on top.

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Dessert~

I had my eye on a few desserts that I haven’t seen before but coincidentally the person who makes the desserts (every Monday and Friday) hadn’t come in to make them the previous day, so we had to go with ‘plan B’. image

Chef’s selectionselection of Beklawa mix, served with Afghani tea. Serving for two ($17.90). I wasn’t going to have the Afghani tea (you can choose either black or green) but they were nice enough to give us another cup so I could try. It had a lovely taste of cardamom and it was very refreshing from the syrups and sweetness of the dessert platter.

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A lot of nuts, syrups and textures but there wasn’t much difference between them all, my favourite was the baklava.

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Friendly attentive staff that wasn’t afraid to tell me that I wouldn’t be full after the ‘platter for 2’ and that’s why I ordered everything else (and then some). Although it seemed like I had eaten lamb in 5 ways, it was all so different, tasty and interesting. It just really proves that they know how to cook lamb! Oh and that chicken… You must try the chicken.

It is sad to see that this place isn’t very busy (I had walked past it again after visiting) considering it is a lot better than most of the surrounding restaurants. Don’t be afraid to try something different, it may surprise you and you’ll be left wondering why you didn’t try it sooner.

Venue: Koochi Cafe

AddressShop 33/46 Hibberson St Gungahlin place, Gungahlin, ACT 2612

Phone: (02) 6262 2341

Opening hours:

Monday 5pm – 9pm

Tues/Wed 11am – 9pm

Thurs/Fri 11am – 9:30pm

Saturday 10am – 9:30pm

Sunday 10am – 9pm

Closed between 2 – 5pm Monday-Friday

Koochi Afghan Cafe on Urbanspoon