Baghlan Kabob and Bakery
Baghlan Kabob & Bakery is an Afghan eatery located in a Rexdale strip mall. Set up like a fast food restaurant, you have to walk through an aisle of tables to place your order at the back counter where the menu is displayed on video screens.
The interior isn't especially stylish; red table cloths add pops of colour but are counterintuitively protected by Plexiglas. There are two deep, partitioned booths with seating for at least eight at banquettes that wrap around long tables. Those large format meals ($39.99-$79.99) featuring kabob multi-packs complete with rice and naan are apparently available for dine-in as well as take-away.
Kabobs are the main event on the menu - a single order, like the Jouja Kabob dinner ($8.49), is comparable to the souvlaki dinners found at most Greek diners. Long-grained rice accounts for half the plate, while the other half is packed with pale shredded lettuce, Afghan salata and chutney. The skewered chicken breast is thoroughly marinated and grilled so that each morsel is plump, juicy and slightly charred at the edges.
Also from the grill, beef or chicken chaplee ($4.99) finds itself between burger buns. The Americanized presentation, at first, seems a shame, considering this place bakes an excellent variety of traditional breads in-house - everything from barbari and roghani to Uzbek-style naans.
I guess it couldn't be helped, considering the round patty shape it seems like a pretty natural fit - the kind of thing I'm surprised I haven't seen previously, not even from a food truck. It leaves a good first impression - the beef chaplee is robustly spiced and dressed simply with just lettuce, tomato and spicy house mayo.
There are half a dozen handheld wraps, too, all priced at $4.99 or less. The kofta ($3.99), a spiced ground beef kabob, is wrapped in warm puffy tandoori naan and packed with salad and the house garlic sauce.
Baghlan Kabob & Bakery also stocks pastries, baklava and fresh bread for convenient grab and go. The restaurant is open daily at 9am until at least 10pm during the week and an hour later from Friday to Sunday.
Photos by Jesse Milns