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Moby Dick, A DC-Based Persian Chain with Kabobs, Daily Lunch Specials, and Homemade Pita


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Yes, the same one as in Georgetown although I've only had kabobs at that location.

Moby Dick's lunch specials (a different Persian homestyle dish each day, M-F) are some of the best values in the city. This is the real deal, and I've talked with several Persian people who adore it and treasure it as authentic. I've never been to the one in Bethesda, as I usually frequent the one in McLean (anyone going there will know the gregarious and friendly proprietor, Muhammad). Don't expect a kabob with these; you'll get interesting combinations like lamb (or chicken) with dill, braised beef with yellow lentils and a tomato-onion base, other interesting meats served with zest or pomegranate, all served up with must-o-keyar (a cucumber-y yogurt) and the eponymous oven-baked bread. I can't vouch for all the Moby Dicks in the Washington area, but I can say that at the McLean restaurant, you can get genuine, legit, mama's-Sunday-dinner Persian homestyle cuisine for insanely cheap prices during lunch M-F (way under $10). It transports well if you call to-go (703) 448-8448 (just ask for "one special to go" and don't worry about what it is). You'll thank me for this recommendation, I'm pretty sure.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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A Moby Dick's opened recently in the FallsGrove development off of shady grove rd (almost across the street from Shady Grove Hospital). I noted that they had felafel on the menu and decided to give it a try (there used to be a place in that strip mall called tribes that sold a decent felafel, and I've long been looking to recreate that).

In a word, the felafel platter sucked. The felafels (of which there were a whopping 4 felafel balls for $6.49) were burned on the inside and mushy and flavorless on the inside. The tahini sauce was no more than roughly 1-2 tsp. drizzled on top. Without the accompanying cucumbur/yogurt sauce (reminded me of raita, but obviously wasn't, and was pretty good), it would have been nearly impossible to get down. And the bread that is so highly touted on their menu? Eh, unremarkable. The rice was equally unremarkable. Not worth the extra price for a 'platter'.

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A Moby Dick's opened recently in the FallsGrove development off of shady grove rd (almost across the street from Shady Grove Hospital). I noted that they had felafel on the menu and decided to give it a try (there used to be a place in that strip mall called tribes that sold a decent felafel, and I've long been looking to recreate that).

In a word, the felafel platter sucked. The felafels (of which there were a whopping 4 felafel balls for $6.49) were burned on the inside and mushy and flavorless on the inside. The tahini sauce was no more than roughly 1-2 tsp. drizzled on top. Without the accompanying cucumbur/yogurt sauce (reminded me of raita, but obviously wasn't, and was pretty good), it would have been nearly impossible to get down. And the bread that is so highly touted on their menu? Eh, unremarkable. The rice was equally unremarkable. Not worth the extra price for a 'platter'.

Reminds me of my last 2 meals at the Fairfax location.

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Having been to McLean, Arlington, Georgetown, Dupont and Fairfax Moby's (I know...I am a Moby's addict). I think McLean is hands down the best of the five. Arlington has gotten better since it opened, but not quite there yet.

For a quick, easy take-out meal after a long work day, nothing beats the joojeh/chenjeh combo from any Moby's.

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A Moby Dick's opened recently in the FallsGrove development off of shady grove rd (almost across the street from Shady Grove Hospital).
Cool! I've been waiting for that to open. I was just at that Safeway on Tuesday or Wednesday and did not notice that it had opened.

I'll probably give it a shot today. However, your review does not make me too optiistic. Hopefully, it was just new cooks in a new place.

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For those eating kabobs, I think it's totally worth trying. The felafel may very well be an outlier.

This is not a place to get anything but the kebabs/rice and lunch combinations. Everything else, including the bread, hummus and it appears the felafel (never had it) are very ordinary.

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Just got back.

Had today's special: Ghormeh Sabzi. "Sauteed chunks of beef, fresh cilantro, parsley, leek, and exotic spices braised to perfection". A huge amount of rice, some bread and Must-o-Kheyar (Persian version of Tzatziki).

Pretty good, but could have been spiced a little more aggresively. The spices were a little overwhelmed by the leek and cilantro.

At $7, I'm not complaining.

PS - Thank Goodness for take out menus.

Edit to remove extra comma that some wisenheimmer pointed out.

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Having been to McLean, Arlington, Georgetown, Dupont and Fairfax Moby's (I know...I am a Moby's addict). I think McLean is hands down the best of the five. Arlington has gotten better since it opened, but not quite there yet.

For a quick, easy take-out meal after a long work day, nothing beats the joojeh/chenjeh combo from any Moby's.

I agree. I've been to most of their locations over time and McLean is the only one that I now go to.

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One little trick you can do at Moby's (at least the four I've been to) is ask for the crusty rice that results from the heavily buttered cooking process that makes the rice so damn good. Essentially, it's the scrapings from the bottom and sides of the pan, but think of it as an incredibly bad for you rice cake. They don't always have it, as it gets given away first come first serve. Either ask for Tahdeg (persian) or Guzmik (turkic) or just ask if they have any crispy rice.

This also works out at any other kebab place I've been to, but Moby's is especially buttery.

Pairs well with root beer.

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To go completely off topic...

Isn't the Georgetown branch where the diamond dealer got robbed?

About 10 years ago now wasn't it?

It was the Gtown branch, but it was about 4 years ago. I worked in the neighborhood at the time and remember the incident. I think it was the same summer that the manhole covers were blown into the air by decaying insulation. Moby Dick's was easily the best place to grab food in the entire area. Cheap and delish, plus I loved watching the bread get made. Watching some huge, swarthy and sweaty dude nimbly slapping dough with an audible thump against the walls of the oven is pretty dang cool.

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A new branch of Moby Dick is opening 12/8 on Ellsworth in downtown Silver Spring. May their kabobs be better than the Lebanese Taverna down the street.

(I wonder, with so many outlets does Moby Dick use a central kitchen like Lebanese Taverna does?)

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We gave the newly opened Silver Spring Moby Dick's a try this week. We got the Moby's combo II (ground sirloin and chicken), Moby's combo III (ground sirloin and lamb), and one chicken kabob platter. The kabobs were pretty tasty and not overcooked, but bread was tough and bland and the rice could have used more sumac/salt and less butter. It was oily with very little flavor. We got the fresh herb salad with each: a handful of parsley and watercress, one radish, and a one inch cube of feta. Not a bad option for weeknight takeout, but I remember the Georgetown location being so much better 10 years ago.

(Edited to finish the final sentence.)

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Both times I've had the bread at the Ashburn location I've thought it was pretty bad.

The bread at Moby's suffers from 2 Amys inconsistency syndrome: When it's left in the (sufficiently heated) oven long enough, and if it doesn't sit for more than a couple minutes after emerging, it's fabulous. But there's a tendency to undercook, especially when they're slammed, and in those cases, it can be disappointing. I'd say about two-thirds of the time, it's great -- at the Bethesda locale, anyway. 2 Amys crusts are subject to a similar risk, unless you specify that you want it well-done (or if the oven is over 600 degrees), in which case the ratio of great to mediocre goes up considerably.

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The bread at Moby's suffers from 2 Amys inconsistency syndrome: When it's left in the (sufficiently heated) oven long enough, and if it doesn't sit for more than a couple minutes after emerging, it's fabulous. But there's a tendency to undercook, especially when they're slammed, and in those cases, it can be disappointing.
Most of the bread we had was definitely undercooked (no little charred bits which are the best part), and the place was not slammed.
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I moby dick's twice last week in Arlington (just started a new job last week) and I thought they were pretty good. I'm stuck on kubidah, some day I'll get the guts to branch out more.

The kubideh sandwitch with lettuce, tomato, feta cheese and a bit of yougurt sauce is very tasty and it's only 6 dollars.

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The original McLean Moby's has always been reliably excellent for me, which is more than I can say for some of the expansion locations like Kentlands, where the bread is still good but the rice often indifferent, and the chicken sometimes uncharacteristically dry. I have no doubt that they'll continue to thrive on account of their highly-visible location, but these days I'm far more inclined to spend an extra buck or two at nearby (and consistently better) Caspian Kebab, hidden behind the shopping center across the main drag.

Still not much luck getting tah digue though...the only places where it seems to be included with any regularity are Shamshiry in Tyson's, and Yekta in Rockville. Fortunately, Gubeen received a Persian cookbook last year which describes a relatively easy procedure for making it at home!

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We've done dinner takeout from the Fallsgrove Moby's several times, and ... eh.

Nothing has stood out as especially great or awful. Frankly the Wingstop and Cheeburger Cheeburger have almost as much appeal in that shopping center.

I'll take Yekta Kabob on the Pike every time, hands down. Yekta's bread is awful, but the kebabs, salads, and sides rock.

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I think the McLean and Georgetown Moby's are the best overall. In Arlington I probably prefer Kabob Bazaar. Of all Shamshiry and the Afghan place in Bailey's Crossroads (Kabul?) along with Ravi Kebob set the standard: Shamshiry best rice, Bailey Crossroads best veggies and Ravi best kebobs.

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You are certainly able to get tah digue at Moby Dick's. You just need to ask them. I do agree with Daniel K. though about Yekta's kabobs and mast-o-musir (yogurt with shallots). Just wish they could improve their bread to that of Moby Dick.

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We've done dinner takeout from the Fallsgrove Moby's several times, and ... eh.

Nothing has stood out as especially great or awful. Frankly the Wingstop and Cheeburger Cheeburger have almost as much appeal in that shopping center.

I'll take Yekta Kabob on the Pike every time, hands down. Yekta's bread is awful, but the kebabs, salads, and sides rock.

Since moving to Rockville trying the take out and cheap eats in the area. I ate in at Fallsgrove Moby the other night. I thought it was pretty good but I did eat there so it was not sitting. The bread was really great and fresh from the oven.

I did try the Wingstop - That is one place probably won't be back - no flavor and they left my potato salad out of the bag. -

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In the past decade, I've been to the McLean Moby Dick conservatively twenty times, probably closer to fifty. There's no question in my mind that I'd be able to spot small changes in the operation, and finally, after the company is in in the process of opening its 15th and 16th stores in the area, the McLean location is showing signs of suffering from rampant overexpansion.

Every single time I've gotten a lunch special at the McLean Moby's, I've enjoyed it - until today. I ordered a Koresht Bademajan ($6.99) over the phone, and immediately noticed that they're now answering the phone "Moby Dick Tysons Corner," even though it's not in Tysons Corner. I walked in, and this is the first time I didn't recognize anyone working at the restaurant. The bread was underdone, flat, cold (it has often been cold in the past), not blistered at all, and nearly doughy in texture. The two cylinders of eggplant themselves were okay, and the tah digue thicker and less burnt than normal, but at least it was still there. The tomatoes were actually better, canned though they may have been (Moby's tomato wedges have always been a weak link). But the four chunks of beef were dry, overcooked, and tough, and the sauce of this always-great dish was thinner, more watery, and had less depth of flavor than every other time I've had it. The Must-o-Kheyar was as good as ever, and the rice was fine, although the orange part was very orange today. This dish has changed, and so had others I saw coming out while I was waiting - the always-splendid Kabob-E-Jojeh is using smaller chunks of chicken, and I'm seeing too many wraps, melts, and gyros being served. Today, this was not the Moby's I've known so well in the past. A bad day, or the first tangible symptoms of overexpansion? I'll let everyone draw their own conclusions, but I've been wondering how it has held on for as long as it has - a chain is only as good as its worst outpost, but when the flagship has a poor showing - and McLean has always been the flagship - then that is not a good sign. Time will tell, but sadly, I see - not cracks, but large fissures - forming in the foundation of this beloved favorite of mine.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Coincidentally, I picked up dinner at the Dupont Circle branch on my way home tonight and it was the best I've had there recently. Though the bread was somewhat underdone, it remained pliant instead of being dry and brittle by the time it got to me, and the rice held up well even without the benefit of the usual pat of butter. The kubideh was truly a standout this evening - instead of being tasty but overcooked as usual, it was juicy throughout. I didn't recognize anyone there but service and prep times seemed to be faster than usual - perhaps some of McLean's top squad was filling in :angry:

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I have lunch occasionally at the SS location. While not great, I think that it is a fair deal better than the Rockville branch. Neither of them are any threat to Yekta Kabob for my favorite Kaboborie.

We like to go to the SS branch for an easy quick bite that will be filling and better (healthwise and tastewise) than any other fast food option. Getting home at 7:30-8 on a regular basis doesn't leave a lot of time for making fancy dinners, and it works great for a quick bite before or after a movie on the weekends. (BTW--HAPPY BIRTHDAY PEANUT!!!)

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My wife and I moved into the area about 16 months ago and a relative of ours local to area had us over for dinner, and served us takeout from Moby Dick! We were a little surprised but boy was it good! It happened to be the McLean branch, and we've been back at least 10 times (tho only had the swordfish once and it wasn't so good). It's nearly always crowded too.

We've also been to the Bethesda branch once but none of the others yet. I've been tempted to try the Dupont Circle one for lunch since that's in range of my office but there are so many choices around there and reading the reviews in this thread is discouraging me from doing that.

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No posts on this place in a a year and a half?

GF and I had lunch at the Moby Dick in Kingstowne today. Mind you, Kingstowne is trying to be as indifferent as Reston with chain after chain after ever-loving chain. Crowds were seated at sidewalk tables at every conceivable chain after ever-loving chain on a pleasant early spring day. I'm certain they were eating indifferent food. Take the same parkway about 25 miles west and you can get the very same dreck.

We were trying to grab a quick lunch because we hadn't eaten anything in about 12 hours, and I spied Moby Dick. In we went. I had the Combo II with salad (spicy beef roll (kubideh) and chicken kabobs) and she had the seafood kabob (swordfish) with salad. The lengthy wait (a good sign that the meal was prepared fresh) was punctuated by the bread that was baked fresh in the nearby oven, accompanied by a cucumber-yogurt sauce. We had seconds of that.

During the wait I checked out the rest of the menu and the prepared sides in the fridge case, and concluded I would be back to try some more possibilities. This place isn't Shamshiry, but it certainly hits the spot and is worth repeat visits. In fact, if you're close to a Burger King (and this place is) and you're tempted, go here instead.

GF's seafood kabob came out with perfectly cooked swordfish cubes and the most delicious charred onions I've had in long, long time. My chicken kabobs and kubideh were cooked to perfection, and a piece of each on a small piece of bread with the cucumber-yogurt sauce and whatever I felt like adding from the salad were bites of heaven.

I left with a nicely full belly and an awakening that Kingstowne has a few possibilities that do not need to be avoided. Unlike the Reston Town Center...

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No posts on this place in a a year and a half?

GF and I had lunch at the Moby Dick in Kingstowne today. Mind you, Kingstowne is trying to be as indifferent as Reston with chain after chain after ever-loving chain. Crowds were seated at sidewalk tables at every conceivable chain after ever-loving chain on a pleasant early spring day. I'm certain they were eating indifferent food. Take the same parkway about 25 miles west and you can get the very same dreck.

We were trying to grab a quick lunch because we hadn't eaten anything in about 12 hours, and I spied Moby Dick. In we went. I had the Combo II with salad (spicy beef roll (kubideh) and chicken kabobs) and she had the seafood kabob (swordfish) with salad. The lengthy wait (a good sign that the meal was prepared fresh) was punctuated by the bread that was baked fresh in the nearby oven, accompanied by a cucumber-yogurt sauce. We had seconds of that.

During the wait I checked out the rest of the menu and the prepared sides in the fridge case, and concluded I would be back to try some more possibilities. This place isn't Shamshiry, but it certainly hits the spot and is worth repeat visits. In fact, if you're close to a Burger King (and this place is) and you're tempted, go here instead.

GF's seafood kabob came out with perfectly cooked swordfish cubes and the most delicious charred onions I've had in long, long time. My chicken kabobs and kubideh were cooked to perfection, and a piece of each on a small piece of bread with the cucumber-yogurt sauce and whatever I felt like adding from the salad were bites of heaven.

I left with a nicely full belly and an awakening that Kingstowne has a few possibilities that do not need to be avoided. Unlike the Reston Town Center...

It is nice to have Moby Dick as an option in that shopping center, but I have long since stopped ordering the chicken as it is always dry. That said, the new Ravi Kabob in Springfield serves up a chicken kabob that is moist and tender. The same cannot be said about their biryani which, while tasty, contained dry pieces of chicken.

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The Silver Spring location is still in my regular rotation. The kids love the chicken & kubideh kabobs with salad, and it's not a wallet-buster. It's definitely best eaten there as the bread will not survive the drive home.
I use Fallsgrove - can feed three for $20 with nothing fried.
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There's a huge difference between eating the bread at the restaurant when it's fresh, and eating it after getting carryout and it's been steaming for however long it took you to get it home.

That is good to know, because the bread for my take-out Barreh sandwich today at Fallsgrove was undercooked, rubbery, and resistant to the bite. I will heed your advice next time. The King of Pita brand they peddle at Lebanese Taverna is better than this, and I do not think that is very good at all.

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I had one heck of a carryout lunch today at the McLean Moby's - the Tuesday special is Baghala Polo ($8.95 with lamb), a gigantic mountain of steamed basmati rice, infiltrated with fava beans and lots of fresh dill, the whole thing blanketing a large, braised, fatty, tender, halal-meat lamb shank, served on the bone (I don't ever remember this dish being served on-bone here). If anything, it was a bit underseasoned, but it's nothing the tah dig, small mast-o-kheyar, and half a house-made pita (all included in the $8.95 price) couldn't compensate for. A little salt, an extra order of yogurt (it needs it for moisture), and you've got yourself a huge, reasonably healthy lunch for under $10 that you can feed off of for the rest of the day.

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Got some take-out from the McLean branch yesterday afternoon. I tried to order healthier - falafel platter and a side of spicy ground chicken kebob. It's weird the spicy ground chicken kebob only appears under their side orders, for $2.99. I enjoyed the falafels - they're not super crispy but even so, I enjoyed the flavor - I think there's a little sweetness to them. Not a fan of their tahini or yogurt sauce though. The spicy ground chicken kebob has a little kick, which is welcoming. They manage to keep it fairly moist so I think they're worth ordering again. My wife had the kubideh and chicken kebob combo. The rice was tasty, but not in the same class as Rose or Shamshiry (on a good day).

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I've been going to the McLean Moby Dick for over twenty years, and it took until long after their expansions (there are now seventeen DC-area locations) for it to show any signs of wear, but for the past few years, it has been in noticeable decline.


 


They still have their weekday lunch specials which feature one long-cooked Persian dish each day, and on Wednesdays it's the Khoresht Gheymeh Bademjan ($7.99), long-braised cubes of beef with yellow lentils, a cylinder of eggplant, onions, tomato sauce, and spices served with basmati rice, a small tub of Must-o Kheyar, and a half-slice of their namesake bread (which stopped being puffy, like Moby Dick himself, quite awhile ago; it's now as flat as a pancake).


 


I'd rather a casserole be too mild than too seasoned, and this Khoresht Gheymeh Bademjan was mild to the point of blandness - I resisted reaching for the salt shaker, but it needed seasoning badly, and the yogurt on this particular day was quite dilute; it is sometimes thick and rich, even in current times.


 


The McLean Moby's always asks for the last four digits of your phone number when you call, and I've been using the same digits for twenty years (even though that phone number has long-since been retired). "Ten minutes?" the gentleman asked. "I'll be there in five," I said, but then it took another twenty to get the order. From recent experiences, the McLean location does not begin preparing your order until you arrive and pay, and on this day, my ticket was stuck in back of a long queue - I waited long enough to finish an entire glass of Diet Coke, get a refill, and wait some more.


 


There is a "Tips" jar here, and I generally put in a dollar, but today I had no cash, and there's nowhere for you to enter a tip on your credit-card receipt. Might this have sped things up? I don't know, but I would have left something if I'd had the chance.


 


With the onslaught of Amoo's, just up Old Dominion Drive in Chesterbrook, my visits to Moby Dick have become more sporadic, and on this day I was reminded why. Still, at $7.99 for a fairly large platter of food, of very good quality except for the seasoning, the lunch specials here are well-worth exploring if you haven't tried them. I understand I'm being a bit hard on Moby's here, but that's only because I knew it in its glory days - considering there are seventeen locations, the quality is still high.


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