You can’t get any more cultural and transnational than this—students from varying countries dining at a restaurant that is not even remotely close to their roots—appetites were whetted, and taste buds challenged, culminating in an experience that was globally diverse in all senses.
Students studying Hospitality Services Management at Douglas College, to their utmost pleasure, were tasked to participate in this year’s “Dine Out Vancouver Festival”. The festival brings hundreds of restaurants in a vast platform of food and drinks for seventeen days that is designed to feature and market the best culinary experience for both local and international clients at a fixed and reasonable price. Scanning through the myriad of participating suppliers, the group decided to be as palatably adventurous as possible, and anticipated that the “Afghan Horsemen Restaurant” would best deliver. With thirty-six years under its belt, established in 1974, it was the first Afghani restaurant in Canada and has won numerous awards. Afghanistan, much like the students’ individual home countries, has a culinary heritage that evolved from cultural events spanning for thousands of years. Due to its geographic location that is accessible to Central Asia, its cuisine was influenced by the likes of India and Greece—a particularly impeccable marriage of two cooking styles that resulted in a not “too spicy” or “too light and bland” type of flavor.
The Afghan Horsemen Restaurant tailored a sizable three-course lunch menu that only cost twenty dollars, plus tax. To stay true to their culinary bold streak, each of the students ordered a different item on the menu to get a chance to fully immerse into the Middle-Eastern atmosphere. For the starters, they had the Shorwa soup, a clear broth with lamb cubes and assorted vegetables, and the Kocha soup, a creamy lentil and stew topped with yogurt.
“The Shorwa soup was very appetizing and flavorful, the lamb was tender and the crunchy flat bread that went with it complimented this starter very well,” commented Van, a Vietnamese. While Claudia, a Venezuelan, shared that her Kocha soup had just the right amount of spiciness to it and appreciated it very much.
“The Chicken Shish Kebab was amazing!” exclaimed Claudia, “the boneless chicken breast was very well seasoned, plus the two sides which were composed of a salad and slices of fried potatoes were very refreshing and tasty, respectively!” In contrast, Van wasn’t as satisfied with her order of Chapli Kebab; but the very good service and consideration of her request for a replacement extremely compensated for the food mishap. They were pleased to know that the restaurant was very flexible with matters like these.
“The [Chapli Kebab] plate looks filling, but for me, this is a ‘so-so’ dish since the yogurt sauce was too sour for my taste and the meat was a bit overcooked—it left a bitter taste in my mouth. Plus, I didn’t think the chopped tomatoes and shallots in vinegar went well with the meat. However, I loved the fried potatoes,” shared Van. The Chicken Korma was ordered by a Filipino named Jane, and she ventured to say that the restaurant’s version of the basmati rice—which was topped with sautéed carrots, raisins and almonds—called Kabuli Palaw, was the best she had ever tasted so far—ever since she arrived in Vancouver; and this was a girl that lived in Surrey! “I could definitely taste the herbs and spices of my dish. Although, for my taste of origin, it lacked saltiness, but there were salt and peppershakers in every table, so that didn’t become an issue and it definitely didn’t stop me from eating all three drumsticks of Chicken Korma,” Jane happily said.
For Kae, another Filipino who ordered the Lamb Wrap, rated the dish with three stars out of five. Although the lamb was seasoned fairly well and had that authentic Middle-Eastern flavor, some parts of the meat was not tender and she wished she had more meat than vegetables in her unique “burrito”. “We have tasted each other’s starters and main dishes, and even though some tasted a tad more exemplary than others, overall, the quality was great! Unfortunately, the dessert didn’t make the cut—not by a long shot,” Kae stated. The Afghan Horsemen Restaurant only had one dessert option, the Kaimaq Chai, a milky pink tea imbued with mild spices and served with Afghan pastry. The group was taken aback by the savory nature of the “dessert” and was especially disappointed with the “pastry”—which was more like peppery biscotti with sesame seeds. The two spice-infused items overpowered each other and crushed the concept of the diners’ idea of a sweet ending—but it was a gastronomic oversight that the group could easily forgive.
“It is a very good place to go if you are looking for typical Afghan food and a Middle-Eastern experience, the interior design and decorations really transport you to a different world—they even have a dining style option where you can sit on the floor with pillows, plus, they have belly dancers at night for entertainment,” commented Claudia.
As for their service, Van was particularly very happy with it and thinks that their food had a really suitable value for money—the hefty dishes could be even good for sharing. “Their plating was somewhat rustic despite the ‘fine dining experience’ advertising they had on their website, but it was still creative and enticing. I also highly appreciated their fragrant and well-maintained washroom that was affixed with a vending machine for sanitary pads; which is very helpful for us ladies,” Jane states. The group highly recommends the “Afghan Horsemen Restaurant” and for diners to try their other regular menu items. It is most popular and crowded at night and Kae just loves the fact that its location is below the bridge, just across the entrance of the Granville Public Market compound. The restaurant is very accessible and is also surrounded by other various establishments with their own parking spaces. Food and beverage operators like the Afghan Horsemen Restaurant who joins Tourism Vancouver’s events, not only provides their establishment more business exposure and a vast reach for markets, but delivers a kind of service and experience to locals and tourists alike that hunger for a one-stop shop kind of city as well—a destination that not only offers beautiful sights but a multi-cultural escapade too, and all within the comforts of “Beautiful British Columbia”.
Afghan Horsemen Restaurant
Address: 1833 Anderson St, Vancouver, BC V6H 4E5
(Family Day Canada)
Hours might differ
Phone: (604) 873-5923
- Afghan Horsemen Restaurant. (n.d.). About. Retrieved from: http://afghanhorsemen.com/about/
- Dine Out Vancouver. (n.d.). About. Retrieved from: https://www.dineoutvancouver.com/about/dine-out/
- The Roo Sisters. (2015, May 20). About Afghan food [Web log post]. Retrieved from: https://www.sbs.com.au/food/article/2013/02/14/about-afghan-food
- Tourism Vancouver. (n.d.). Activities. Retrieved from: https://www.tourismvancouver.com/activities/
- The Writing Lab, The OWL at Purdue, Purdue University. (n.d.). Resource. Retrieved from: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/