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Zarak, dinner

I have visited Zarak for the first time only recently and was hooked. We stopped by for brunch and it was so unique that I proceeded to book for dinner as well. Hearing that their weekend brunch is more fusion cuisine, whereas dinner service is a more traditional Afghani experience. So we were back here today for that.

Where brunch weeks before was rainy and cold, dinner today was sunny and warm. I was tempted to take advantage of the clear day and sit outside. Their patio is a little nook carved out from their front stoop. A hedge of trees help to dampen any noise from the steady flow of traffic from the busy street out front. Here, would have been the ideal set up for our girls catch up, but we receded indoors nonetheless.

We began our evening with drinks. I liked the update to the menu, which included avant-garde sketches on each. It certainly made ordering easier.

Dr. Damji’s Negroni 2.0 is named after their first regular customer at Zarak. It is Black Mission Fig-Infused Condesa Gin, Cardamom Campari, and Bittersweet Vermouth. Served in a Glass Cloche with Smoke, and unveiled table side. I didn’t get any jammy fig and it wasn’t smokey in flavour, as the smoke suggests. Although it was well balanced and matched the food to come.

The Coco Verdes is described as “mango sticky rice meets bold Thai basil spice” and it delivers. Mango Curd Rum, Thai Basil, Sticky Rice Orgeat, Saline Solution, and Coconut Foam. It drank like dessert, herbaceous basil against creamy coconut. The salted foam adds flavour like coarse salt would on a dessert.

The Kapisa was a refreshing non-alcoholic beverage. Peach, Jasmine Tea, Mango, and White Chocolate Foam. Its tangy notes made it feel like a cocktail, where the white chocolate sweetened, and stirred in it made the drink more viscous and murky.

The Bamyan is another creamy non-alcoholic beverage. Kesar Mango Pulp, Fresh Mint, and a Melona Popsicle. As the Popsicle melts it gives the drink a texture similar to lassi, it certainly tastes like it.

For food we started with Pakawra, Flour-Battered Potato Chips and Chutney Yogurt. This was delicious, potato sliced width-wise and battered crisp. The texture of a firm baked potato dipped into a fragrant mint dip. Highly recommended.

The Beets & Burrata was a simple salad with Pickled Mulberry, Za’atar Pistachio, and a Honey Vinaigrette. Not much to report, it tasted exactly as it read: fresh and healthy.

The Afghan Burger may be confusing, because it looks more like a wrap. Although it is not called one, as doing so would make it more Middle Eastern. Beef salami from a halal supplier, mint cilantro chutney, fries, and tomato; all wrapped in a sheet of chapati naan. It ate more like a great stand alone grab and go snack, as apposed to a plate in conjunction with everything else we were having below. A nice filling option for lunch. I could have used a tangy cream based dip for it, as an accent.

A great plant-based option is their Balsamic Oyster Mushroom Kebab with Cardamom, Raita, Candied Pistachio, Pickled Cabbage, and a Cucumber & Coconut Yogurt. With its vinegary flavour the mushrooms comes across as being pickled. The dip gave the balance to this acidity. And the dish as a whole offered a break from the richer flavours below.

I found the Slow Cooked Lamb Shoulder incredibly sumptuous. Served with Eggplant, Pickled Vegetable, and more Chapati Naan. The lamb was so tender and soft, slow cooked in a pressure cooker, then pan seared for a nice crisp. I especially liked the pockets of fatty bits that fall off the bone. The baked eggplant was a nice side that echoed the texture of the lamb, the char almond slivers offered a substantial crunch, and the naan served as neutral base to it all. The only thing that stood out was the pickled vegetables that overpowered everything else. Best served as a side to help cleanse the palate in between such heavy bites.

Another great base for the lamb was the Uzbeki Palaw: Afghanistan’s unofficial national rice dish. Lamb, Onion, Sesame Oil, Carrot, Raisin, Toasted Almond, and Golden Sella Basmati Rice. A dish that is common as both a street food item, and something served at weddings. We got great textures from the firm rice meets chewy dried fruit and crunchy nuts There is so much flavour in each grain of rice, that this made for a unique fried rice dish.

For dessert we had the Shir Yakh, Rosewater & Cardamom Gelato, with Qaimaq and Pistachio. This was a taste of traditional Afghan ice cream prepared in small batches. It served as the perfect palate refresher fro of all of the above, ending things on a sweet note and leaving a cleansed taste on your otherwise garlicky tongue.

But if looking for something more decadent, go for the Dirty Chai Brownie with Dark Chocolate, Black Tea Candied Walnut, and Vanilla Chantilly. This isn’t a sweet brownie, but more a decadent dark chocolate mousse. The scoop of Akbar Mashti gelato from Passione gelato is what sweetens it, fragrant with orange and saffron. The candied walnuts were actually my favourite part of the plate, evenly roasted and caramelized.

And for my lactose allergic guests, they had a scoop of dairy-free pistachio Passione gelato for her.

In conclusion, having tried both Zarak’s brunch and dinner service I can confidently state that they are both such different experiences. Each with its own menu and set of drinks, you need to visit at least twice to get the most out of them.

Zarak by Afghan Kitchen
2102 Main St, Vancouver, BC V5T 3C5
(604) 318-3456

2 thoughts on “Zarak, dinner”

  1. Zarak offers a blend of fusion brunch and traditional Afghan dinners, perfect for a memorable dining experience. From delicious cocktails to mouthwatering lamb dishes and decadent desserts, it’s a place worth exploring. For more details on similar dining experiences, you can visit a website like http://wrapofthedaymcd.co.uk .

  2. It seems like you’ve described a vibrant and adventurous approach to exploring food and lifestyle in Vancouver! Your candid reviews and enthusiasm for unique dining experiences are definitely refreshing. Looking forward to reading more of your insights and recommendations!

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