In L.A. where Farsi may as well be the third official language, it would have been a shame not to try Persian food while visiting. Our choice was Shamshiri, recommended by CK’s parents.
As soon as we parked our car and got out, we could smell kabob grilling from a block away! Not only was the restaurant open for service at 2 in the afternoon, but the place was PACKED! We asked each other, “How can all these people be feasting on Persian food at 2 in the afternoon?” Luckily, there was one table for two available, and we avoided waiting in line.
As soon as I sat down, I was smiling from ear to ear. The restaurant was decorated with colorful artwork, and the walls were a cheery red-orange color. The best part was that we were seated right next the kitchen. We were about a meter away and the only thing separating us from the kitchen was large see-through glass wall. I was so busy watching the kitchen staff happily grill kabob, and prepare rice that I couldn't concentrate on my conversation with CK. Boy, do they go through a lot of rice!
The menu at Shamshiri is extensive. They offer a lot of traditional Persian dishes that you normally would not see in a Persian restaurant. Persian food is very labor intensive, so most of the time, you will only see kabob and a tiny selection of stews on a restaurant's menu. Shamshiri offered that and A LOT more. They had ashes (soups), many different rice dishes, a large stew selection, and tahchin (rice infused with yogurt)! I, myself, had never seen tahchin being served at a restaurant before, and was very excited.
I was so indecisive that I originally decided to order three different dishes, one of which was the lamb tahchin. Unfortunately, they weren't making tahchin that day (I didn't read the menu carefully enough), so it was back to square one for me.
The lack of tachine completely threw off my original order, and I had to pick a different combination. While CK and the waitress waited for my new order, we ordered mast o musir (yogurt with shallots) to calm our hunger. There is a fine line in making mast o musir. Mast o musir is made by soaking shallots for days (which ends up stinking your kitchen), and then mixing it with yogurt. If you make it too mild, the shallot taste gets lost, if you make it too strong, you’ll have shallot breath for days! It is made perfectly when you get deadly shallot breath the next day, but only for 1 day.
We dipped their home made bread in the yogurt.
After much debate, I finally ordered the zereshk polo with jujeh kabob (barberry rice with chicken kabob), and a side of a lamb koobideh kabob (ground lamb kabob). As I have mentioned before, zereshk polo is my FAVORITE Persian dish. When ordering this at restaurants, you have to be careful. Some restaurants make it very sour, while some make it on the sweeter side. I always ask how they make it before ordering zereshk polo because I prefer it sour. Shamshiri makes it a little sweet, but it still had a nice sour taste, so it tasted excellent. Their rice was so fresh, and their kabob meat was EXTREMELY juicy. We had tons of leftovers, and even after microwaving my kabob the next day, they were just as juicy as they were at the restaurant.
CK ordered the beef soltani. This is a beef dish that has two different types of kabob: koobideh (ground meat), and barg (filet of beef tenderloin). He loved his food just as much as I did.
For dessert, we split a bowl of Persian ice cream and faloudeh. There is only one type of Persian ice cream: saffron and rose water ice cream with pistachios. It is an acquired taste, and it took me a few tries to finally like it. Faloudeh is frozen vermicelli noodles with fresh lime juice poured over top. At Shamshiri, they also throw sour cherries on top. It was my first time trying faloudeh, and I really liked it…very refreshing. I’m not, however, a fan of mixing the two together, and I prefer them served separately.
I highly highly recommend this place, and I am getting hungry for Persian food as I type this. The service was excellent, which is rare for Persian restaurants.
The portions are humongous, and we took lots of leftovers back home with us. I still remember CK and I eating the Shamshiri left overs the next day, and being very stingy of our own food. When we were bartering kabob for kabob, we even counted the grains of rice that was stuck on each piece of meat. That’s how protective we were over our food…just proves how good it was!
1712 Westwood Blvd.
Westwood, California, USA