The squash here really did seem to be pumpkin, so points for complete disclosure, but the dish would have been better less stringy, more intensely tasty if another orange-flesh squash, like butternut, had been used.
One of the most striking preparations on the menu is mantu ($12.99), a plateful of steamed dough pillows stuffed with seasoned ground beef and onions and presented under a blanket of yogurt sauce flecked with green peas and diced carrots. The pillows reminded me of ravioli, of course, but also because of the their pleated tops of shu mai, the little Chinese dumplings that so often figure in dim sum services. Afghanistan shares a border with China, so the similarity probably isn't coincidental. It's also landlocked, which goes some way toward explaining the lack of seafood on the menu.
The restaurant's owner, Syed Ahmadi, presides over the front of the house with mystical grace. In theory he could have plenty to do, since Kabul City isn't small. An entire corner of the space, in fact, is given over to a slightly elevated platform laid with beautiful rugs and pillows and set with low tables you recline rather than sit at. The Last Supper was enjoyed in this fashion, as was the infamous banquet in Kandahar in October 2001 presided over by Osama bin Laden and captured on video for a still-stunned world. Afghanistan was a battlefield then and still is today, but tomorrow, as Scarlett O'Hara once told us from the midst of our own traumatic war, is another day.*
Daily, 11:30 a.m.9:30 p.m.
380 Beach, SF
Beer and wine
Pleasant noise level
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