Sunday, January 31, 2010
Zubairih Persian Cuisine and Mediterranean Restaurant, an exotic hole-in-the-wall discovery
Sometimes food takes you to places you’ve never been before. It may take you to the most cosmopolitan cities and the most faraway exotic lands through its taste and smell. This is why I love dining out and eating in restaurants that offer flavors that are new to me. It makes me feel like I'm traveling in different places and sampling the local food. It's how I feel like when I'm in a restaurant such as this, a place that is relatively unknown and tucked away somewhere in the South of Manila.
Zubairih is a hole-in-the wall Persian restaurant located in a subdivision somewhere in the South. The owner of this restaurant previously worked for another Persian restaurant called Little Tehran (owned by an Iranian). Growing up, their shawarma and the kebabs were one of my first exposures to Persian cuisine and has been my benchmark for any Persian food. But it closed down, forcing its employees to set up their own, bringing all their knowledge on Persian cooking, and from thereon, Zubairih was born.
Zubairih’s chelo beef kebab with biryani rice (P220) is one of my favorite comfort food. I go there when I’m stressed and wants some carbo-loading. Just the sight of the rolled grilled beef, grilled onion and tomato with its yellow orange rice is enough to whet my appetite. Its large plate is enough for two anorexic people, okay so maybe more than enough. But not me, I can finish the whole plate if I want to. Here, the beef is grilled just right, tender and cooked well, it’s meaty flavor complemented nicely by the slight sourness and acidity of the tomato and the sweet and strong flavor of the grilled onion. Added to that the saffron infused yellow-orange biryani rice makes you want to dig in immediately.
But what heightens the flavor of the kebab is Zubairih’s special white sauce that is on the table. It’s an option you should consider. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever tasted, not even in the more popular Persian or Mediterranean restaurants I’ve known. It has a certain authenticity to it, more roundness in the flavor and not musky at all. It’s a good combination of yoghurt and garlic that goes really well with the beef.
Their other house specialty is the chicken biryani (P250). Though I like the beef kebab better, it’s another meal you can try. It’s a big serving of biryani rice with curry-infused chicken strips underneath it with a spicy almost soup-like sauce to accompany it. If you’re into spicy, then you can try this. The only downside here for me is the seemingly small portions of the chicken meat available within the rice, it’s like digging for treasure, good thing the rice has enough flavor to it.
But if you’re just here for a snack, definitely try their beef shawarma, a house specialty that is available in Regular (P55), Special (P60), and Jumbo (P85) sizes. Strips of marinated beef inside the lightly toasted pita bread squirted with their white and chili sauce is also something I look to forward coming here. And another thing, a discovery that comes a bit late, if you’re eating these kinds of food especially the spicy ones, try ordering a fruit shake not a cola so the flavors in your mouth won’t taste so acidic. Now, I know why Thai food is accompanied by Thai iced tea that is milk-based and Indian food have their lassi, yoghurt drink. It just tastes better.
Overall, I’m glad there are restaurants like Zubairih. It provides me with a little whiff of adventure now and then because when you’re a wife and a mother, you can easily be weighed in by responsibilities. With restaurants such as these, I can have a little time-out of my own, with each bite and each burst of flavor, I can close my eyes and imagine I’m somewhere else.
(Zubairih Persian Cuisine and Mediterranean Restaurant,Dona Soledad St. Better Living Subd. Pque, Tel. No. 393-65-23. If you think finding good food is also like finding the Holy Grail, then try finding it because this restaurant doesn’t even have a respectable sign.)