>> Shamshiri Restaurant | Eat the World Los Angeles

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Shamshiri Restaurant


[COVID-19 UPDATE: One, long table is set up outside but there is space for more if other people come. For the most part, people are coming for pickup orders, and business in that regard seems to be thriving, with big catering trays flying out the door.]

If you try to search into the history of Shamshiri Restaurant, at least on the internet, you will come across two conflicting dates. The website's date of origin for the restaurant is 1981, but the Westwood location that most people know opened in 1984. Eventually this will lead to the fact that the Northridge branch was actually where it all started three years earlier, but it will also lead to people telling you that all three Shamshiris (there is also one in Glendale) no longer have relationships, and the owners are different.

Shirazi salad.
This is the kind of business drama that plays well for television but is of absolutely no interest on these pages, but just know that the opinions stated here are for Northridge only. What they do have in common is almost universal praise. The Westwood location is known for being slightly more blue collar than other restaurants on the street, and the original Northridge shop is even less concerned with appearances and ambiance.

But who needs stuffiness? You certainly do not or you would probably be reading someone else's appraisal. Shamshiri Northridge is approachable and super friendly, the focus of their intentions is on positive guest experiences and delicious food.

To balance the meats and oils that are certain to come soon, grab a refreshing shirazi salad ($4.95) that comes with its own dressing to use as desired. Also recommended as a starter is the eggplant borani ($5.95, above), a mash of eggplants and sauteed onions, garlic, and yogurt that will win over even the detractors of this vegetable.

Every meal will be served with another fresh salad, half a raw onion, and a good portion of warmed pita bread, perfect for picking up the borani and any other appetizers or stews you order.

The other thing you will not be lacking at the table is the fragrant saffron-tinged basmati rice that comes with virtually everything. It is hard to leave a Persian meal without piles of it still left here and there, but at Shamshiri this seems to go to the next level. If you are lucky, they will bring out the tahdig, or "bottom of the pot" that is crisped and caramelized and desired by everyone at the table.

Our server warned to spread stews like the fesenjon ($16.95, above) on the crispy bits to soften them up enough so that no teeth were broken. This seems like humor, but heed this warning! The stew itself is surprisingly one of the tastiest you will ever sample, not much for initial impressions but so deeply full of flavors. A slightly sour hint from pomegranate paste plays with the sweetness and nuttiness of ground walnuts, along with a full range of spices that combine to make for a dark and thick winner.

If there is only room for one kabob order on the table, you cannot go wrong with the shishlick ($22.95, above), five wonderfully marinated lamb chops. Despite being the most expensive single kabob selection on the menu, the chops are big and good value. Get them done medium-rare and note the approval of your server.

Desiring to limit the meat that came to the table, a conversation started while ordering about the dishes listed in the vegetarian section of the menu. Most of these are meatless versions of their polo dishes, the Persian version of pilaf or plov. It was stated that since the table had no vegetarians, those were not as tasty as the meat versions and instead the humbly-named vegetarian dish ($9.95, below) should be chosen and upgraded with albalou polo ($2.50) instead of plain basmati rice.

In the background of the above photo, the albalou polo is rice cooked with sour cherries and a sweet and sour sauce. It should not be missed. The simple vegetarian dish itself is cauliflower, celery, tomatoes, carrots, and zucchini sauteed with plenty of tasty spices. It works well with spoonfuls of rice, with the pita, or on its own.

It would be remiss not to mention how well the folks at Shamshiri take care of you. Service levels across the restaurant spectrum can go from you being a bother just existing to a server taking a true interest in showing off the food available, and Shamshiri definitely is the latter. Your meals here can benefit from questions and conversation while ordering.

Solo diners should take note that the restaurant has weekday lunch specials in the $9.95-$12.50 range.

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