If you like grilled kabobs and Middle Eastern cooking, you are in for a real treat. Four months ago, Chef/Owner Aref Alina, along with his wife Zhaleh, daughters Emma and Nadia and brother Armen, opened a casual Persian restaurant that is not to be missed. Yes, AZ Kabob House has already created a buzz for their healthy, authentic Persian cuisine.
This quaint restaurant is located at the Scottsdale 101 Plaza, near Harkins Theaters. I found the modern-chic décor cheerful and inviting with seating for about 50, and a few outdoor tables, too. Two large menu boards listing their specialties fill the wall next to the order counter.
The Alina family moved from their hometown in Iran just eight years ago. Chef Aref was a top welder in his trade and Uncle Armen was a house painter. Over the past four years, this self taught chef has studied the culinary traditions of various Middle Eastern regions and has worked as both chef and manager at a local Middle Eastern restaurant. With a deep passion for Persian cooking and a wonderful ability to create unique ethnic flavors, the brothers decided to change careers and pursue what they love – creating authentic Persian cuisine and sharing it with others.
“The best thing about my dad is when he is passionate about something, he gives it a thousand percent,” explains Nadia. “My Uncle Armen is a hard worker, too. Even on his days off, he comes in to check on things. He puts his heart, time and effort into his cooking.”
Something for Everyone
You’ll find that one of the main spices used in Persian cooking is saffron. Nuts and fruits like barberries and pomegranates are also incorporated into the recipes as well. What you won’t find are fried foods cooked in oil or a heavy use of spices. It’s grilled, fire-roasted cooking, which produces healthy and flavorful cuisine.
“Our style of cooking is healthy – we grill and never fry the meats and fish,” explains Chef Aref
The menu also indicates which items are vegetarian and gluten free; there is also a kid’s menu. A few of the appetizers listed are a yogurt dip served with pita bread; Dolmeh, which is stuffed grape leaves; Falafel, which is seasoned chickpeas; roasted eggplant; hummus and a combination platter of dolmeh, falafel and hummus. The four fresh salads served daily include the Persian Shirazi, Mixed Greens, Greek and Caesar.
Entrees include selections of fish, chicken, beef, lamb and stew. Their renowned kabob’s are marinated in special Mediterranean spices then fire roasted and served with rice and a house salad. I enjoyed sampling the salmon, filet, chicken and ground meat kabobs. All were very flavorful and moist, and I especially enjoyed the grilled salmon and filet kabob. I also tried a wonderful vegetarian stew called Fesenjan Stew, which is made with ground walnuts and a pomegranate sauce.
The sandwich wrap choices include Falafel, Chicken Shawarma, Gryo, Beef, Ground Beef, Filet and Lamb; all come with a house salad or French fries. Their Saturday Special is a melt-in-your-mouth Lamb Shank with rice and favo beans.
Save Room for Dessert
There are three Persian desserts worth saving room save for. The Persian ice cream is house made with saffron, pistachios and a touch of rosewater—delicious, and a great treat after catching a movie next door. The homemade baklava is a little different than those I’ve tasted in Greek restaurants, but equally yummy with its layers of golden brown fillo dough filled with crushed pistachios and walnuts. You may even want to get an extra one to take home; it’s that good. And, the Walnut Pastry is not to be overlooked in terms of flavor either.
On The Right Track
Their mission is to provide delicious and irresistible food with exceptional quality and authenticity, satisfying your hunger and recreating nostalgic culinary experiences in a space that feels like home. Yes, Chef Aref masters anything he sets his sight on, and he and his lovely family invite you to visit and try some of their Persian dishes. This summer, why not briefly escape from the heat and take a culinary journey where you’ll experience a healthy alternative to standard cuisine. With generous portions, friendly service and reasonable prices, AZ Kabob House is the perfect spot for lunch, a casual dinner, or a catering service for your next event. By the looks and taste of things, you may start seeing other AZ Kabob House locations opening up in the near future.
For more information, visit their website and Facebook page.