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ReviewTheHelmand

Page history last edited by Mark P 8 years, 6 months ago

The Helmand Review

 

Review from 2009:

Because this was our last outing club for the near future, we spent much of the meal talking about life, not about the food.  Thus, my comments are briefer than usual.  The quick summary is that generally the food at The Helmand, an Afghani restaurant, was good, but there were definitely real hits and true misses.

We shared the complimentary starter, four appetizers, two main courses, and two desserts.

Starter:

  • Flatbread with three dips (one red, one green (both indian-like), and one white (yogurt and mint)).  Some of us liked the mint the best.  The bread wasn't meant to be eaten plain.


Appetizers:

  • Kaddo ("pan-fried then baked baby pumpkin seasoned with sugar and served on yogurt garlic sauce, topped with ground beef sauce").  Very good.  The sweet pumpkin and yogurt with beef went really well together.  I definitely liked the yogurt and sauce, and even ate that by itself or on bread after the pumpkin was gone.
  • Aushak ("ravioli filled with leeks and scallions, served on sauce of yogurt mint and garlic, topped with ground beef and mint").  Good.
  • Mantwo ("pasta shell filled with onion and beef, served on yogurt and topped with carrots, yellow split-pea and beef sauce").  Decent.  I liked the dal (yellow split-pea) topping more than the filled pasta.
  • Bowlawni ("pan-fried twin pastry shells, one filled with leeks and scallions, the other with spice potatoes, garnished with yogurt mint").  I tried the one with potatoes and found it decent/good.


Main Courses:

  • Sabzi challow ("spinach sauteed with chunks of lamb and Afghan seasonings, served with challow rice").  Good.  The lamb was cooked well.  The spinach was assertive.
  • Theeka kabab ("prime rib of beef, marinated in puree of onion, sun-dried baby grapes and garlic, then grilled and served with sauteed lentils and pallow rice").  The meat was tough and some people didn't bother finishing their portions.  I, at least, liked the lentils.


Desserts:

  • their version of baklava.  Good.  This went quickly.  They avoided all the standard pitfalls of baklava: it wasn't too sweet, nor too sticky, nor were there too many nuts, nor too much phyllo dough on top.  In general, it had a very good balance of ingredients.
  • Persian ice cream with pistachios and something else.  The ice cream's inconsistent texture made it disconcerting and disturbing: some parts were icy; others were solid and chewy; others were more like frozen yogurt.  It was weird and generally unappealing to everyone.


Near the end of the dinner, we talked about life and contemplated with no firm conclusions where we were all likely to be in five years.  Regarding the bay area, Oj said, "I'd be very disappointed if I was here in five year."

The total was $21/person including tax and tip but not including drinks.  I brought a bottle of wine for us to share.

 

Review from 2005:

I am not yet reviewing The Helmand from last week; rather, I'm planning on going back at least one or two more times and then writing up a restaurant review in the style of a actual critic. It should be a fun challenge.

 

Review from 2001:

A small group of us traveled rapidly (80+ mphs) to SF for afghani food. Our destination was Helmand, which we found in the red light district in North Beach. It was quiet and filled, and we were glad we had reservations.

 

The food, we agreed, was uniformly excellent. For appetizers, we had Bowlawni (pan-fried pastry shells with stuff inside them, with a bit of yogurt), Kaddo Borawni (baby pumpkin with spices), and some afghani bread with various spiced sauces. The Kaddo I really liked, though everything was good and people didn't agree that the Borawni was as heavenly as I made it out to be. (But it was really really good!) For dinner, we selected from an assortment of salmon (indeed, Afghanistan borders the water), an interesting kind of ravioli and yogurt mix, and some other stuff I forget. I had the only blatantly non-vegetarian meal: a lamb mix vaguely reminiscent of brisket. (Afghani food does a lot with lamb.) For desserts, we had baghlaawa (two orders), rice pudding, cream & fruit, all of which were very good. And, of course, some had Turkish coffee..

 

Highly recommended.

 

Original Announcement

 

Announcement in 2009:

On Wednesday, we'll converge on a restaurant that I was rather fond of but haven't visited in years: The Helmand.
http://www.helmandpalace.com/
They serve Afghani food.

I figure it's a good choice for me for my last meal in San Francisco / the last dining club dinner for a long time.

Previously located in the red light district near North Beach, it was damaged in the landslide on Telegraph Hill in 2007 and soon reopened on Van Ness.  Apparently insurance didn't cover the repairs because the landslide was declared "an act of God."

Regardless, the new location is supposedly still as good as it used to be.

 

Announcement in 2005:

Tomorrow (Wednesday) we'll head to The Helmand, an Afghani restaurant in between North Beach and the Financial District. Although a few of you have been there before, I want to share it with the rest of you (especially those that wanted better value for money than the previous selections); we discovered this gem at one of these outings back in 2001 and it instantly became one of my favorite restaurants in the city, for its quality and value and rarity (how many cuisines do you know that use pumpkin heavily?). I've made a pilgrimage back here at least yearly and now is the time to go again.

http://www.helmandsf.com/

 

Please tell me if you are coming!

 

(Apologies for the late notice; I was waiting to find out if my cooking class tomorrow night was cancelled. It was.)

 

Earlier announcement in 2005:

This is a very busy week for me, so I haven't had a chance to pick a new restaurant. So instead we'll go to one of my old favorites: The Helmand. It's Afghani, good food, and one of the best values in the city.

 

They apparently have a web page now: http://www.helmandsf.com/

 

Annoucement in 2001:

This Sunday we'll take ourselves back up to the city for Afghani food at a place called Helmand. When I was searching for restaurants this week, I knew I found the right one when I read the review. Then I cross checked the review at other places, and realized, Wow, this is one of the most positively reviewed restaurantes I've ever seen. For two sample reviews, see:

http://bayarea.citysearch.com/profile/917537/

http://www.fudcourt.com/helmand.html

 

The pricing will be a bit more on the expensive side (slightly more expensive than the first place to which we went); according to Zagat you should estimate about $30 dollars per person including tip.

 

Addendum to 2001 announcement:

Due to the fact that most people who expressed interest in this restaurant cannot make it today, we're going to postpone the trip to another week.

 

Another Addendum to 2001 announcement:

This week indeed, we will be eating at Helmand. It still has the same amazing description from last week (i.e. see below). Same details as before regarding time and meeting.

 

Comments from Other Attendees

 


Notes from 2005 visit:

quite empty

visible buffet tray with lots of dishes (but empty for dinner)

white table clothes

Kaddo: Pan-fried then baked baby pumpkins seasoned with sugar and served on yogurt garlic sauce, topped with ground beef. - very good. great meat sauce, and the pumpkins are very soft and melt in your mouth.

Aushak: Ravioli filled with leeks and scallions, served on yogurt sauce, topped with ground beef and mint. - decent, unusual. very thin ravioli. same good meat sauce.

Kourma Challow: Lamb sauteed with Afghan seasonings and a variety of vegetables, served with challow rice - decent enough

-mark


Feel free to add remarks here.

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