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Maizbon Afghan Grill, Landmark Shopping Center


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6244-K Little River Turnpike

Alexandria, VA 22312

http://www.maizbon.com/

I think its worth going at night just to see the crazy lights (huge hanging potteries with cutouts to let the light through). The dinning room is very Arabian night-esque while the hookah area looks like a museum display with mannequins and horse statues.

The food was delicious. I am not a lamb eater, so I couldn't fully explore the menu, but the kadu and mantu were very good. The chicken kabob was flavorful, but a little dry.

The cinnamon scented rice and tomato mozzarella salad were delicious. Food is on the oily side, but I guess its typical of cuisine that uses abundance of spices. Price was moderate, only a few dollars more than the self serve kabob places.

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Dinner at Maizbon tonight found the decor as was promised--a combination laugh riot and interesting, mirrored angles. Also discovered friendly service and a highly accessible menu. There's something here for everyone, from those coveting carrot-and-raisin-draped lamb ($14) to the "how about a burger, instead?" ($10).

Most food hit the table several degrees below ideal temperature, but not a show stopper. Liberal use of the condiments is recommended, both the green chili chutney and another, spicier, red-as-a-devil concoction. A quick look at tonight's dishes:

Bolanee-e-kachaloo ($5): A more flat, and far more artfully plated, rendition of this dish than I've seen in other Afghan restaurants.

Aushak ($6): Savory, but like the Bolanee, welcomes some punching up from the two sauces.

When offering salad, the waiter asked "Italian or House Salad?" I was craving the typical, creamy Afghan dressing, but asked what he recommended. "Italian", he noted, which turned out to be a Napoleon stack of tomato and mozzarella with roasted bell peppers, a touch of basil, and a balsamic vinaigrette. The non-seasonal tomato was an unnaturally tough and flavorless platform, but otherwise, a pleasant enough starting course.

Garden Salad (free with entree): Included a stuffed grape leaf, torshi (pickled vegetables made in house), olives, iceburg lettuce, cucumber, and other vegetables. Did not try it myself, but looked enjoyable.

Badenjon Borani ($13): Homemade yogurt graced the top of the eggplant course, with grilled tomatoes as garnish. A bit more oily than I'd expect, but also delicious.

Shami Kabob ($12): Did not try the meat, but the dark rice was a revelation, rich with cinnamon and perfectly cooked.

Black Chai ($5): Don't waste your time ordering this by the glass, go by the pot. You'll want more, anyway. Adorable tea cups, see attached pic.

Overall Assessment: Savory and entertaining. A good place to take those wanting to branch out to Afghan cuisine but with a bit of a safety net. Would be a fun place for a $20 Tuesday if we could take over the floor-seating space, adjacent to the horse (yes, a horse!) at the front of the venue.

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