November 8, 2004
While this item is a standard fare at most Iranian restaurants, we are not yet at the point where finding an Iranian restaurant is as easy as driving a few blocks down El Camino. Happily, Negeen Restaurant has come to town. Even more happily, its Kashk-e-Bademjan is eggplant nirvana, a sweet, creamy puree of eggplant and olive oil played against a tangy topping of kashk (Iranian whey, similar to yogurt), fried shallots, and dried mint ($4.95). It’s what all eggplants strive to be when they grow up.
Negeen is in a small strip mall, easy to miss if you’re exceeding the speed limit. If it’s true that the color green has a calming effect, bring your slippers with you. Green is everywhere here, from the jade tablecloths, mint chairs, and forest green carpets. As you enter the restaurant, on your immediate right is a wall of cascading plastic and real plants, trying hard to impersonate the side of a mountain. Perhaps it is intended to call to mind the verdant landscape that once was the ancient cradle of civilization.
Negeen also offers a variety of kabobs – there is Koobideh (ground beef mixed with egg and onions), filet mignon, chicken, shrimp, vegetables, and lamb combinations, all served with plain basmati rice or lavash, a soft, thin flatbread perfect for wrapping your food in. Kabobs are a reliable choice here. Chicken kabobs are succulent, skinless chunks of dark meat, simply seasoned with saffron and lemon ($10.95 – $15.95).
As good as Nageen’s kabobs are, it pays to try the special rice dishes, all served with chicken which has been cooked in a small amount of water and spices. It’s unusual for rice to take precedence over meat in a dish, and here, rice (or polo) does an excellent job in the leading role. Choose between Albaloo (sour cherries and saffron), Zereshk (dried barberries – tiny, ruby-colored berries with a sweet and sour flavor), or Shirin (pistachios, almonds, candied orange peel, and saffron) Polo, or try them in combination for a few dollars more ($10.95, $12.95).
For dessert, there’s Baghlava, paper-thin pastry layered with honey and pistachios, and Faloodeh, a dessert prepared with rice noodles and rose water syrup ($2.50, $3).
From journal Restaurants in Silicon Valley