CHOPAN KEBAB HOUSE (798 Danforth, at Woodycrest, 416-778-1200) Toronto's only Afghani restaurant, this garishly lit eatery offers meat-heavy mains, unusual starters and limited veggie options. Complete meals for $25 per person, including all taxes and tip. Open daily noon to midnight. Unlicensed. Access: four steps at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNN
a foodie friend fills me in on the wonderful Afghani vegetarian meals she had this summer in New York City. Her detailed descriptions get my mouth watering and make me wonder if we have the equivalent here. A call to Chopan Kebab House -- Toronto's only Afghani restaurant -- assures me that the Danforth eatery has plenty to offer veggie lovers. They do -- plenty of meat. Though the kebab combos are massively portioned -- skewered and grilled lamb, beef tekka and chicken ($10.95 to $12.95) -- other than nutty brown basmati rice studded with raisins and sweet carrot threads, the pickings are slim for herbivores.
Sides of spicy pumpkin and minced minty spinach hint at possibilities, but the flavour-free medley of frozen peas, carrots, corn and green beans is a major letdown despite an almost nippy tomato sauce accompaniment.
This unfortunate veggie quartet shows up again in the starters. Menu-described as steamed dough, think of Mantu and Ashak ($2.49 each) as wonton-wrapped raviolis stuffed with spinach and leeks and topped with frozen veg and warm yogurt. A thin green-chili hot sauce spices things up considerably.
The menu describes Ferinee ($3.75), a soothing dessert custard, as "made with a gland of spice pistachio." Hmm.
My disappointed foodie friend likens Chopan's decor to a donut shop on the Danforth, but she's exaggerating. Yes, the overhead fluorescent lighting is a bit jarring, but no one comes here expecting ambience.
Service is quick and friendly, and the prices are cheap. While there's clearly little of interest here for vegetarians, big meat-eaters will find plenty to love.