Watan Kabob is an Afghan grill house in Mississauga popular for its over-packed platters of skewered meats offered at impressive value. It's a bright and airy fast food eatery wrapped in floor to ceiling windows and lit up by crystal chandeliers.
Tables pushed together into rows can accommodate large groups, but you'll mostly find strangers eating elbow to elbow during lunch hour. Ordering takes place at the central counter where video screens list the menu options overhead.
The friendly and efficient staff have braced themselves for the lunch rush, having already laid out plates and take-away containers with the house salad, ready to be topped off with whatever grill items are desired, plus rice and a basket of fresh-baked naan. In fast food style, each order is called out by number ready to be picked up and carried over to a table on cafeteria trays.
Kabobs are, of course, the main event, and options include chicken, beef and lamb off the skewer. The Sultani dinner ($12.49) offers both barg (a filet mignon brochette) and kofta (a gently spiced minced beef skewer) on one plate with salad, rice and puffy, still-warm naan.
The kofta is great, caramelized at the edges when cooked over an open flame, while the barg is tougher and too thoroughly cooked (IMO) for such a prime cut. The fluffy long-grain rice isn't just plate-filler, thanks to an infusion of beef stock that absorbs as it cooks and tints each white grain brown.
The palette cleansing salad that comes with most meals consists of iceberg lettuce and chopped vegetables doused in creamy garlic dressing. Perhaps it's not the most nutrient-rich salad but I still find essential to balance the meal and add a little freshness to the otherwise meat and carb-heavy plates.
The fiery tandoori chicken kabob ($8.99) is my favourite. The spice rub has got some real kick, but better still, each plump morsel of poultry is cooked perfectly until juicy and tender.
For dessert there's firnee ($1.99), a cardamom-dusted container of sweet custard. I've had it elsewhere before with a generous topping of pistachios for crunch, but here it's quite plain, and, while I like how gently it's spiced, I miss the added textural element.
While I stuck to the big platters this time, it should also be noted that Watan Kabob also does handheld wraps that start at just $4 and range in price up to $7. The restaurant occupies an address in a Mississauga strip mall, so if you live nearby (or can find a ride), go - you'll be rewarded with some truly delightful Afghan cooking.
Photos by Morris Lum