>> Sami's Kabab House | Eat the World NYC

17 March 2019

Sami's Kabab House


Sami's kind of lives in its own universe. Around the corner from busier 36th Avenue in Astoria, the spot is unassuming and the only glimpse of what all the fuss might be about is when waiting people are milling around outside the shop during busy nights. Inside, the dining room is much more formal and modern than other Afghan restaurants in town but still friendly and welcoming.

About one third of the space is taken by the kitchen, which runs from front to back along one wall, while the rest is dining tables. The wall opposite the kitchen is covered in beautiful imported fabrics that add a lot of warmth to the space if the smells from the kitchen were not already making you feel good.

A mixture of customers come here from Astoria and all over the city, drawn by rave reviews in important papers and online reviews. It makes itself very "user-friendly" for those unfamiliar with the cuisine, and makes a good entry point for anyone interested in learning more about the food and sampling their many kababs.

Before the large portions of meat, go for a plate of the lovely aushak ($5, above and below), vegetable dumplings filled with leeks and scallions. The thin wrappers would make Chinese grandmas proud, that is until the whole plate is drowned in a layer of their garlic mint yogurt sauce and then a lamb gravy.

They also have non-veg versions of this called mantu ($7, not shown), but I find meals here always get intensely meaty when the entrees arrive and think these aushak make for a more well-rounded meal.

My favorite of the chicken options is the Afghani kabab ($13.50, below), dark thigh meat that might be the most succulent piece of meat in the city. It is amazingly tender and juicy and tastes even better than it looks. They do breast as well and it is also surprisingly juicy, but the thigh is just better.

Most kababs and other entrees come with fragrant and wonderful basmati rice, but also make sure to upgrade your rice with qabuli for 50 cents, a sweet mixture of raisins and carrots that goes well with everything. This would also be a good time to explore the condiment dish that comes with four options in a tray like you see at noodle shops in Thailand. As I have said in previous Afghan meals, the availability of unlimited yogurt is a boon to my meal.

The other jars are filled with a red and green sauce, the latter of which is spicy, and some pickled peppers.

A plate of lamb sabzi chalao ($15.50, above) was also very tender, and is the same stew or gravy that was covering the dumplings. This is accompanied by a side of tasty spinach full of herbs and spices.

Salad arrives at the table with an entree purchase and usually a basket of Afghan naan does although not on this last visit. Both of these things are good for experimenting with the condiments as well. Also ask for a cup of the cardamom-infused Afghan green tea to accompany your meal.

Complimentary salad.

Sami’s Kabab House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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