Delectable Kabul

Restaurant review: Laura Baranik looks at Kabul Karolína Staff

Written by Staff Published on 01.11.2006 10:15:51 (updated on 01.11.2006) Reading time: 3 minutes

Review by Laura Baranik

A restaurant with few pretensions and many delights, Kabul Karolína is a rare diamond among the flashy but unsubstantial Swarovski crystals of Prague´s usual dining circuit. Walking by this tiny Afghan joint, you won´t be struck by a stark black-and-white minimalist décor, or by blown-up photographs of supermodels on the walls. The menu isn´t Asian fusion, and the music isn´t the latest in ambient electronica. But even without these more superficial elements, Kabul Karolína manages to be a top-notch restaurant.

The high standards are maintained by owner and manager Hasib Saleh, a native Afghani who wears a pleasant grin as he takes orders, organizes his staff, and jokes with frequent visitors. He´s decorated his restaurant with various objects from his native land, including many rugs – one nailed to the wall says, in slightly broken English, “HAPPY BRIH-DAY TO YOU.” Jars of pickled vegetables line the small bar, and the restaurant walls are painted in rich orange and yellow. This gentle eccentricity makes for a cozy atmosphere perfectly suited to counterbalance Prague´s often-dreary winter evenings. In the summertime, a spacious patio area in the adjoining courtyard fills up with patrons looking for a shady spot to eat and rest.

Seated inside, my companion and I ordered a variety of traditional Afghan dishes, as recommended by Mr. Saleh. The menu also includes pizzas (delicious, according to a friend of mine) and some other European fare, but we had come for the house specialties – and we certainly weren´t disappointed. Arriving first was a basket of traditional Afghan bread (25 CZK), accompanied by a buttery yellow spread. The thin triangles of bread were sprinkled with black cumin seeds and were served warm and crispy. We also received a small bowl of dal (40 CZK), a dry spread made with yellow lentils, garlic, and ginger, that paired wonderfully with the bread. We washed it down with tapped Pilsner Urquells (30 CZK / .5l). Rating
From our plate
20 CZK Afghan bread
40 CZK Dal (yellow lentil spread)
130 CZK Kebabe shami (beef kebab)
145 CZK Kebabe murk (chicken kebab)
110 CZK Bamya (okra)
80 CZK Palau (basmati rice)
30 CZK Pilsner Urquell
40 CZK Black tea with ginger
40 CZK Black tea with cardamom
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Our main course featured two meat dishes: the kebabe shami (beef kebab, 130 CZK), and the kebabe murk (chicken kebab, 145 CZK). Both arrived on their skewers and garnished with fresh vegetables and a dab each of two remarkable chutneys. One sauce was green and very spicy; the other was purplish-red and potently sweet. The meats themselves were delicious, with the minced beef perfectly cooked and subtly flavored, while the chicken was tender on the inside with its outer layer grilled almost to crispiness. Along with our kebabs, we´d ordered a plate of bamya (110 CZK), okra that were lightly stewed along with red peppers and onions, and palau (80 CZK), a dish of spiced basmati rice sprinkled with raisins. I found the okra to be flavorful but a little slimy on the tongue; the rice, meanwhile, was simple and tasty and an excellent companion to the meat dishes.

Having cleaned our plates of Karolína Kabul´s generous portions, we were obliged to pass on dessert. Instead, we opted for a pot each of black tea, one infused with fresh ginger, and the other with cardamom (40 CZK). Left to further peruse the décor as we sipped our tea, we noticed some framed photographs on the walls. Upon closer inspection, they were revealed to be of various Czech (and some foreign) celebrities who had been patrons of the restaurant. Many were photographed with Mr. Saleh, and most seemed to be smiling peacefully. And why not? They had just eaten at one of the best restaurants in Prague, and they had felt perfectly at home.

Restaurant Kabul Karolína
Karolíny Světlé 14, Prague 1
Tel: 420 224 235 452
Hours: Mon – Sun 11:00 – 23:00
Website & Full Menu:

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