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Shamshiry, Traditional Persian on Westwood Center Drive - West Tysons Corner


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How intimidating can a chicken kebob and rice be? Perhaps it's the name of the restaurant but Shamshiry is the best Persian restaurant in the entire D. C. area. Of course they do have more intimidating things like a salmon kebob....

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Of course they do have more intimidating things like a salmon kebob....

... and really bad industrial bread.

The problem with Shamshiry is that there's nothing to do until the protein arrives. You have ice water, hot tea, no alcohol, terrible bread served with an acidic bowl of chopped green chiles, and that's about it. You wait, and wait. Then twenty minutes later the food arrives.

The atmosphere is nice, the service is friendly, the kabobs and rice are quite good, but there's just nothing to do before they arrive except nibble and sip.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Shamshiry has the best rice of any Persian restaurant in the D. C. area-all four or five variations on this. Their chicken on the bone is arguably the best kebob of any restaurant. As much as I like Moby Dick, Amoo's (anyone been there?) and a handful of others everything else pales to Shamshiry.

And, who drinks alcohol with a kebob and rice?

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Shamshiry has the best rice of any Persian restaurant in the D. C. area-all four or five variations on this.  Their chicken on the bone is arguably the best kebob of any restaurant.  As much as I like Moby Dick, Amoo's (anyone been there?) and a handful of others everything else pales to Shamshiry.

And, who drinks alcohol with a kebob and rice?

If I'm out for dinner, I'll happily have a bad beer (think Heineken) before the kebob and rice arrives. Kabob Bazaar in Clarendon, for example, panders to this need very well. I don't think Moby Dick's Kabob-E-Jojeh pales to Shamshiry's cornish hen (Shamshiry uses cornish hen, not chicken, and offers it on- or off-bone) - Moby's may not be quite as good, but it doesn't pale, either. But the bread at Moby Dick, made from scratch and baked in the tandoor oven - is leagues better to the packaged, industrial stuff they serve at Shamshiry. So it's sort-of a trade-off. Nor am I contending that Moby Dick is "the best Persian restaurant in the Washington, DC area." I'll leave that up to everyone else

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Shamshiry has the best rice of any Persian restaurant in the D. C. area-all four or five variations on this.  Their chicken on the bone is arguably the best kebob of any restaurant.  As much as I like Moby Dick, Amoo's (anyone been there?) and a handful of others everything else pales to Shamshiry.

And, who drinks alcohol with a kebob and rice?

I have to say that the last time I was there, maybe three-four months ago, it wasn't too hot. Everything was dry, expecially the kababs, which just wern't very tasty. A real disappointment.

Maybe it was just an off night?

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The last time I was there was when the six or seven of us met for lunch and it was as good that day as it has been for the ten or more years prior. The strength of Shamshiry is their rice and several of the kebobs. I agree with Don about their bread-and Moby's bread, too. I'm also a fan of Amoo's but in four or five visits I have found some inconsistency there. I also like Kebob Bazaar. For kebobs alone the most flavorful may be on Glebe road at Ravi's.

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My wife and I went back to Shamshiry tonight for our second visit in the past month. Again, I wonder why anyone goes to any other Persian kebob house in the D. C. area? Shamshiry is superior to all others. Succulent, juicy chicken kebobs on the bone or off, salmon kebobs that are extremely flavorful with a slight charred crust, ground beef (kubideh) that are the best in the area, even "Kabob Barg" which is with filet mignon and, perhaps most importantly, the rice. With candied orange peel, pistachios and slivered almonds, with syrupy sour cherries, with tart, dried red currants or flavored with dill and soft fava beans-this is exquisitely, fragrantly fluffy and delicious rice that no one else does nearly as well within several hundred miles of here. Add in appetizers including goat cheese served with radishes, fresh leaf basil, fresh tarragon, fresh mint and scallions along with superb house made hummus, a hot, tart green hot relish and fresh yogurt with scallions-Shamshiry is truly in a class by itself. Located in the rear of a nondescript Tysons office building you have to search for this place. But for almost 15 years, this Persian has set the standard for the D. C. area with lines continuing out the door as this evening.

With all due respect to Moby's, Kebob Bazaar, Sorrento and others this is worth a trip from anywhere in the D. C. area.

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With all due respect to Moby's, Kebob Bazaar, Sorrento and others this is worth a trip from anywhere in the D. C. area.

The fancy rices are very nice, and the place is visually attractive, but physically uncomfortable. Too jammed, and terrible accoustics, so noise just bounces everywhere. Much more pleasant when not crowded, so we go at odd hours or not at all. I'll go there to impress someone but not just to eat.

Dunno why they don't serve alcohol, apparently the kitchen serves some meats which are not halal (the steak).

I'm perfectly happy with Duke House of Kebabs, 6301 Little River Turnpike, Suite 140, Alexandria, VA 22312, not fancy but good.

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I've long been a fan of Shamshiry, with the same fondness expressed by others for the meats and rices, and the same disappointment with the bread. It is still the benchmark among DC-area Persian kebab houses, taken as a whole but also considering each of their meats individually, and one of the few which will offer you a raw egg to mix into your rice. Until your plate arrives (usually with a lovely piece of tah digue) I'm afraid the only things to do are to sip your tea and converse with your companions, making Shamshiry a lousy place to dine alone. Believe me, I've tried.

However, I'll put in a plug for Bread & Kabob, at least their Vienna location, where both the kebab and the bread are very good. On a good day, their kubideh and joojeh are even better than Shamshiry's. The menu is nowhere as fancy as Shamshiry, but I think the food is consistently a notch better than Moby Dick or Caspian, at both of which the kebab is inconsistent and often a bit dry.

My favorite kebab in the area isn't Persian, btw. Try the lamb chops at Panjshir II.

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My favorite kebab in the area isn't Persian, btw. Try the lamb chops at Panjshir II.

Don't sell Ravi Kabob in Arlington short. News flash: They've either opened, or are just about to open, another Ravi Kabab right across Glebe Road (catacorner, to be precise). They're not closing the first one, either.

For whatever it's worth, if you invert the vowels in the two syllables of Shamshiry, you get something that rhymes with Jim Carrey.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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I'm also a fan of Amoo's but in four or five visits I have found some inconsistency there. I also like Kebob Bazaar. For kebobs alone the most flavorful may be on Glebe road at Ravi's.

Joe, I finally made it over to this board, but hey, what about Reston Kebab for pure boneless chicken kebabs. Especially with the brown chutney?

As for other things to do at Shamshiry before the protein arrives, there are plenty of nice apps to work through.

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I am not sure why Shamshiry is not on my rotation more (or others as well). We had a wonderful meal there last night. We started out with the Mast-o Khair and a Salad Shirazi. Both were well prepared, fresh and quickly brought to the table. We split a Chelo Kabob Shamshiry, which contained a kubideh kabob and a barg kabob. Both kabobs were juicy, cooked perfectly, and very flavorful. The rice (to which we added an egg yolk) was light and flavorful. We ended the meal with by splitting a bowl of the house made cinnamon ice cream. All this for under 30 dollars and we left stuffed. Now the bread is not bad, not especially good either. The staff were very attentive, even questioned when we left half the bowl of ice cream (we were both full). Lots of parking and a nice place to talk.

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On my only visit to Shamshiry a few weeks ago I found it to be wholly pedestrian. I have wanted to like it very much, and it generally takes some work for anything Persian or Middle Eastern to disappoint me. Chicken kabobs were only marginally moister than beef jerky, bread unremarkable, rice alright but undistinguishable from a handful of other area mom-and-pop operations, and ambience nonexistent. I'm all for hole-in-the-wall delights but food has to be good, and grown-up restaurants ambitions, if entertained, have to be supported by reality on the floor. They have failed to deliver (to me) on both counts.

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Our last visit on Friday was disappointing. There seems to be a slow downhill trend at the restaurant which really saddens me. The waiters seem to get ruder each visit and the food drier. Our waiter rather than asking if we were ready to order just stood and glared at us. We were there with friends and trying some different kabob combinations. I asked for a recommendation on some of the different rices and he said no. He would not give us a recommendation since he didn't know what we liked. He also refused to explain the rice to our friends. It was odd but not the first time we've had this waiter. He's always been grouchy but not as rude.

The meal was okay. The crispy portion of rice was omitted and getting the attention of any waiter was tough. When we finally flagged one down to order dessert he offered to bring our check before we were able to ask for the dessert menu. In many ways I wish he had brought our check. We ordered a baklava, an ice cream and some sort of fried dish which looked similar to churros. All three smelled and tasted like drier sheets. It was horrible. I'm rather sad to lose Shamshiry as one of our favorites. Its just not worth it.

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There seems to be a slow downhill trend at the restaurant which really saddens me.

Three negative posts in a row. I took some summer associates here, thinking that it would be cool for them to try something different from all the chains in the Tysons Galleria. Blech. Granted, the last time I brought folks here for lunch was four summers ago (and it was quite a hit), but I did not expect such a huge drop-off in quality. Everything was super-dry -- meat, rice, bread, you name it. I returned to the office, drank several glasses of water, and was still parched.

Service wasn't exactly rude, but definitely curt. I was actually looking forward to having ice cream, but my dining companions were so underwhelmed by the food that they just wanted to leave. Oh well.

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It's been a few months since I last went to Shamshiry. The bread is now served in a zip-lock bag (same thin bread). I thought we use to get a little bit of yogurt in addition to the spicy green sauce, or is my memory just failing? We got the green sauce and some butter. The green sauce here is super-spicy. The kubideh is still succulent and wonderfully spiced, probably the best around these parts (compared to Moby, Rose, etc.); however, the rice was noticeably bland. Rice was one of their strong points before. My wife's chicken kebab was fine but she knows the one at Rose is so much more tender. I think we'll be going to Rose from now on (until we get a terrible meal and then that'll motivate us to try Shamshiry again).

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I always ask everyone to send me obvious omissions, errors, or oversights that I've made in the Dining Guide, but rarely do I get anything more than a website update, or perhaps an address tweak.

A couple months ago, I got a note saying, basically, 'What on earth are you doing with your high rating of Shamshiry?' And I have to say, this one had me worried, because I hadn't been in ages, and Shamshiry could easily slip into mediocrity with an ownership change. I checked their website, and it looked pretty sketchy.

With that in mind, I got a carryout order of Chelo Kabob Shamshiry ($16.99) and Mast-o Khiar ($2.99) this evening, Saturday, July 4th, and picked it up around 8:30 PM, about an hour before all the excitement was to begin downtown.

I walked into the restaurant, and it was jam-packed, full of Persian-Americans quietly enjoying dinner with their families. There were no fireworks, no flags waving, no hot dogs being grilled, and no Budweiser being swilled; yet, from where I stood, this was one of the most moving, elegantly understated, touching tributes to this great country that could ever possibly be.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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I walked into the restaurant, and it was jam-packed, full of Persian-Americans quietly enjoying dinner with their families. There were no fireworks, no flags waving, no hot dogs being grilled, and no Budweiser being swilled; yet, from where I stood, this was one of the most moving, elegantly understated, touching tributes to this great country that could ever possibly be.

Cheers,

Rocks.

Hear, hear! Nicely observed and written, DR.

Shamshiry is in my rotation. It's one of my go-to lunch places in Tysons. I'm always amazed at how many different tastes and textures can be concocted from a simple platter of kebobs, rice, veggies, spices and bread. This is Persian comfort food.

A separate kebab-only discussion might be interesting too, with Ravi high on that list, not to mention Lebanese Butcher and Aabshaar....

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Went here for the first time last weekend and really enjoyed it. Compared to Moby's, my usual purveyor of kabobs, this place blows them out of the water. I've always thought that Moby's overcooks everything, whereas the three items i had here (Steak, minced steak, and chicken), all came out very juicy, and just perfectly cooked. It also came with about 4 cups of rice, that was delicious too, if overwhelming. We got the cucumber/yogurt sauce and that was nicely prepared as well. The only drawback was the bread (a plus on the Moby's side), which appeared to be pre-made, and was sliced and offered up in a plastic bag. At least they're trying to keep it fresh. Oh, and I love how they just give you a pitcher of water for the table.

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Was thinking about taking the wife out to Shamshimery this friday night. It has by far the best rice in town. The rice is just amazing and nothing around DC even comes close. The kabobs are really good (between moby and S too close to call on kabob. Frankly their achilles heel is the bread. What I wouldn't give for decent bread at S. However, as the wife says, with the rice this good do you need bread? (risotto with a side order of spagetti anyone?)

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I hadn't been to Shamshiry in years, but once upon a time it had been a regular and frequent haunt, going back to the days when you could load up on geek reading material before dinner at the first east coast location of Computer Literacy Bookstores just up the street.

Memories. I'm pretty sure their head waiter was Indian, or maybe Pakistani, but on the whole it really was the best Persian kebab place in town. (Maybe; there used to be this place in Bethesda with a not-obviously-Persian name, that a Persian buddy had recommended, and I thought they had even better kebabs.) I should have left old Shamshiry a memory.

The decor looked the same, and so did the menus. Most of the patrons still appeared to be Persian-Americans. But things had changed. Instead of a towering stack of very small thin triangles of bread, a portioned Ziplock of thicker quartered pieces was placed on each table. Pint-sized Ziplock, with the write-on -label areas left blank. No sign of the little dish of chopped peppers to dip it in. My chicken soltani arrived as a gargantuan portion, with the oniony kubideh appearing larger than ever. It was also cooked a bit rarer than before. But the chicken was not as moist as I had remembered, despite looking perfectly grilled with lightly charred corners. The tomato - a plum variety and not the round ones they had used for years - was also barely warmed through despite the blistered skin.

But the rice. Oh dear. Shamshiry is where I first cultivated a respect for Persian tea - sweetened with a lump or two of sugar - and even moreso for ordinary Persian basmati rice, not to mention the delightful specialty rice dishes. This was not it. There on the plate was an enormous heap of the stuff, all of it too moist and overcooked and gluey, and no crispy piece of tah digue for a treat. I did see tah digue arrive much later on a few other diners' plates, but their pieces were large and round with curled edges, instead of irregular little shards broken off a larger sheet. And they were smoothly light brown, smooth enough to betray that the individual grains had not maintained integrity, probably also from having been overcooked.

Shameful. At least it was inexpensive, but if tonight was any indication, I'd have to rank it in the lower half.

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But things had changed. Instead of a towering stack of very small thin triangles of bread, a portioned Ziplock of thicker quartered pieces was placed on each table. Pint-sized Ziplock, with the write-on -label areas left blank.

I've been going to Shamshiry for years, and don't ever remember them not having this bread. Amoo's Kabob does it too, and I read somewhere (here?) that there is some sort of relation with the bread, or the rice, or ... something. I overlook the bread and enjoy the rest, knowing that the bread is at least thin and low in calories (and durable enough to scoop up the occasional piece of eggplant, lamb, etc.).

There are so many new places on Columbia Pike I have to try. (Yes, I know, random topic change.)

Good morning, everyone! :)

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We tried Shamshiry for lunch today for the first time, on our way to Potomac Vegetable Farm in Vienna to pick up our (winter) CSA share. Based on much earlier reviews and the descriptions on the menu, we were expecting to enjoy a flavorful meal. What we had was quite the opposite.

The beef kabob was dry and bland, with no sign of marinating or char. Chicken kabob was a bit better, moist with obvious char, but not much in the way of seasoning or marinating.

The rice was a huge mountain of fluffy white basmati with a peak of saffron-colored basmati, and it was bland in the extreme. It hadn't even been cooked with any salt. The menu had described eating rice with an egg yolk melted butter stirred in. That sounded wonderful but we weren't served anything resembling that. I added sumac and salt, and then the juice from the pickles that we also ordered, but the rice was still bland.

The pickles--Torshi Bademjan--didn't resemble the description on the menu, either. I think I found one piece of eggplant, the rest was tired vegetables in a brine that tasted mostly of jalapeno peppers.

I've had much better kabobs and Persian food elsewhere, and I was glad we didn't go out of our way to eat there. It was extremely disappointing. And no one smiled or said goodbye when we left--not an overly friendly staff.

I'm giving up on dining in Tysons Corner, even though it is on our way to the farm. We'll be looking elsewhere (Reston?) for a break in the drive in the future.

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We tried Shamshiry for lunch today for the first time, on our way to Potomac Vegetable Farm in Vienna to pick up our (winter) CSA share. Based on much earlier reviews and the descriptions on the menu, we were expecting to enjoy a flavorful meal. What we had was quite the opposite.

...

I've had much better kabobs and Persian food elsewhere, and I was glad we didn't go out of our way to eat there. It was extremely disappointing. And no one smiled or said goodbye when we left--not an overly friendly staff.

This does not surprise me at all - Shamshiry needed to up its game awhile back, and apparently didn't. Your post was the deciding factor in it being demoted from Italic in the Dining Guide. Both Shamshiry and Rose (which also lost its Italic rating awhile back) have been far surpassed by Amoo's.

Do they still have the wafer-thin packaged bread?

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Do they still have the wafer-thin packaged bread?

The bread looked thin. It was served in a vertical holder lined with a napkin, that had rings on the sides to hold small bowls of condiments. We declined the full bread service and my husband just got a small amount of bread. He didn't rave about it, and I of course could not try it.

One positive: I didn't have a gluten reaction.

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I can only speak to chicken kabobs, as that is pretty much all I order at Shamshiry, Amoo's, and various kabob places.  (although I have had the tah digh appetizer at Amoo's once or twice)

As far as the chicken itself, both Shamshiry and Amoo's have a rather blandly marinated chicken kabob (Chicken Kabob at Shamshiry, Chicken Breast Filet Kabob at Amoo's), and one with a livelier, jalapeno/yogurt based marinade (Tandoori Chicken (kabob) at Shamshiry, also Tandoori Chicken (kabob) at Amoo's).

,

If you had the blander version at Shamshiry, I agree that, while moist, there is not much flavor added by the marinade.  The same is, however, true of the blander version at Amoo's.  Both of these are very much like the chicken kabob at Rose in Vienna, where it was once explained to me that Persian kabob meats are generally not spicy, and that if I were looking for spiciness, that would come from the chopped jalapeno "chutney" that accompanied the meal.  I am not a fan of any of these, although the one at Rose may have been a bit moister than the others.

Shamshiry's Tandoori (spicy) Chicken has somewhat more of a kick to it than does Amoo's Tandoori Chicken, still not all that spicy, but is flavorful.  I prefer the chicken at Shamshiry by a considerable margin.

I have only done carryout from both places, and when you do the carryout at Shamshiry, the chicken meat is embedded in the considerable portion of rice, as are a portion of a grilled tomato and a pickle, which adds some flavor.  When you get to the portions of the rice that are nothing but the white rice, it is pretty bland.  Amoo's rice was not terribly memorable to me, by the same token.  It seemed to just be plain white rice.

Amoo's has a slight edge in the bread category, but as I recall, it is pretty much just quartered sections of pita (or similar) bread.  Shamshiry (for carryout), as you alluded to, Don, provides several strips of what initially looks like pita bread (in a Ziploc bag), but could at best be described as a thinner pita bread that is about to go completely stale, and has very little flavor of its own.

One thing that I noted the last time I was at Amoo's is that their prices for several familiar items that I have ordered or considered ordering, have recently gone up by about $3-$4 per item.  The Tandoori Chicken now clocks in at $16, up from $12 or $13.  The tah digh appetizer has seen a similar increase.  While the price increases for other dishes may be seen as still providing good value for tasty food, there is no way that I would consider the new price for the Tandoori chicken as providing good value.  The Tandoori Chicken at Shamshiry is either $12 of $12.50, in my recollection.  The meat portion is probably slightly larger at Shamshiry, as well.

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My family and I went to Shamshiry for dinner after a play on Saturday night.  I got the Mahi Kabob and the salmon was perfect, nice and moist on the inside and lightly seasoned.  My rice was unusual with dill and fava beans but it went very well with the salmon.  My husband got the Chelo Kabob Shamshiry.  We both preferred the ground beef kabob over the other beef kabob, it was far more flavorful.  My mother had the Jujeh kabob with a side of Salad Shirazi.  We all liked the bread and the green sauce that came with it.  My siblings ordered doogh to go with their meals as they'd never had it before.  I took a sip and it tasted liked doogh to me, but I am not a fan of savory yogurt drinks.  I stuck with my tea.  I would suggest ordering dessert if you like rose water, otherwise, no.  But I would definitely come back again in the future.      

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I am planning on heading here tonight.  Has anyone been recently?  Is it still holding up?  I haven't had a chance to read the whole thread, but are there any must-haves, or anything to stay away from?

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I was there earlier this week getting a carry out order.  I have only ever gotten the Chicken Tandoori kabab, and the one from the other night was as good or better than ever.

I hope you are taking into account that Ramadan does not end until, I believe, Saturday.  I went at 10:30 p.m. (they close at 11:00 during the week), and the place was slammed, with several additional parties waiting to be seated.

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2 hours ago, JBag57 said:

I was there earlier this week getting a carry out order.  I have only ever gotten the Chicken Tandoori kabab, and the one from the other night was as good or better than ever.

I hope you are taking into account that Ramadan does not end until, I believe, Saturday.  I went at 10:30 p.m. (they close at 11:00 during the week), and the place was slammed, with several additional parties waiting to be seated.

I did not take Ramadan into account.  I was going to head there at normal dinner time tonight (7:30).  Is that a mistake?

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Ate here last night as I'm living Tues-Thurs in the Sheraton next door.  Place was jammed, food was great and we were stuffed for $35  This defines great cheap eats.  Wife had the Salmon while I have the ground beef kabobs.  I thought my kebobs had better flavor while her rice was different and better.  Both dishes came with something that seemed like rice burnt a bit on the bottom of a pan, I liked it and she didn't.

 

As I'm living next door 2 days/week for the next year and possibly the next 7 years-This will be in the regular rotation.

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