You may have heard the term “Persian” food and wondered what it is? You may not know that the origin of ice cream and kebab are from Persia. Persian food is centuries old and its geographical home is Iran. There is a large Iranian population living on the North Shore and that has generated a number of restaurants serving their unique cuisine. If you are downtown you can find a taste of Persia at Cazba Restaurant. You don’t have to be adventurous to become a convert.
The original Cazba restaurant is located in North Vancouver. Due to its ongoing success the family opened a new restaurant on the corner of Thurlow and Davie. It is about four months old and generating long lineups already. They do not take reservations so timing is important. Behruz Sigari is the owner/manager.
All the food served is authentic Persian cuisine. Seasonings and herbs are imported from Iran and other close countries. The cuisine is not spicy in any manner. The family is from Iran and been in the restaurant business for a couple of decades. With this experience they are careful with the quality of the meats and attention to customer service.
White basmati rice is a key to many of their dishes. Fresh green herbs are used. Portion sizes are very generous. Overall, the food is very healthy and gluten friendly. A key spice used especially in the rice is saffron. It is an orange/yellow colour. While it doesn’t offer much in the way of a flavour profile, it gives the rice and other dishes a distinctive flavouring. Onions are used in the marinates.
Cazba serves a wide range of foods. Kebab dishes are popular, yet they are not served on skewers. Stews, salads, yogurt dishes, soups and different meats offer many options. Almost all of the meat is grilled and is Triple A quality.
After ordering your meal, you will be served a bowl of pita bread with an onion covered in saran wrap. The onion is to be used with some of the dishes. The pita can be used with appetizers and the mains.
The classic drink that Iranians have with their meals is Doogh. Ingredients are yogurt, milk, salt and mint. If you order the bottled doogh the only added ingredient is carbonated water. This is an acquired taste as it is salty and somewhat bitter. It is not sweet and lemonier in flavour.
A very popular appetizer is the Kashkeh Bademjoon. One of the very few deep fried dishes on the menu. It is deep fried eggplant that is roasted and pureed with mint on top. The yellow colour is an Iranian goat cheese. An excellent vegetarian dish that mixes flavours from the different ingredients into a hearty taste.
Another appetizer to sample is the Tahdeeg. Many Chinese will eat the crispy rice found at the bottom of their rice pot. The Persian style is similar, except their crispy rice is served with Gheymeh stew. This dish was very tasty and combined different textures from the crispy rice to the softer meats. It is marinated in a tomato and basil combination and served with lentils. The sauce is mild and very healthy. The spices used provide something familiar to a North American identity. Will order this again.
A favourite entrée of the Iranians is Chelo Kebab Koobideh. Two skewers of grilled beef served with white basmati rice, saffron and grilled tomato. The meat is tender, juicy and flavoured by onion and other spices. You can order ½ rice and ½ salad as an option to just having rice. The beef is flavourful, yet different from other cuisines preparation of beef.
If you are a lover of chicken then for certain you will love the Joojeh Kebab dish. Like the beef dish, it is served with their white rice/saffron and grilled tomato. This is boneless chicken that is juicy, perfectly grilled and very flavourful. It was delicious, yet simply prepared with some onions and saffron.
Ghormeh Sabzi stew is another entrée worthy of sampling. This dish is served with kidney beans, spinach, beef, Persian herbs and the white rice/saffron. An interesting addition found in the dish was a preserved lemon. The taste was tangy with little representation from the meat. The strong tangy flavour originates from the preserved lemon.
As stated earlier, the Persians invented ice cream. You have to try their Bastani Persian ice cream. This custard style of ice cream is made with rose water, pistachio and saffron of course. The strongest taste is the rose water, therefore, a floral flavour with the texture provided by the pistachios. Very refreshing and not overly sweet. Highly recommended.
From the above descriptions you can understand that this unique cuisine is worth your visit. Definitely good value for the dollar and you may be taking unfinished food home. Free parking can be found at the back, otherwise, it is metered street parking. They have 70 seats in the restaurant itself and another 25 seats on their summer patio. The ambience is casual with a brown and black colour motif. Everything is new. They have a take out business.
1103 Davie Street
Downtown phone: 604-428-4747
North Vancouver address:
132 W 16 Street,
North Vancouver, BC
North Vancouver phone: 604-980-7373
Hours: Both locations are open seven days a week from 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. for lunch and dinner.
Connect with Randy on Twitter @airschis