Stepping into Hossein's is like walking into an enchanting chapter of A Thousand and One Nights. With the heavy draperies hanging from elaborately carved wooden arches and colorful Moroccan chandeliers glowing from the ceilings, I almost expected a magical carpet to bring us in. What I got was even better– a night of exquisite Persian, Arabic and Indian cuisine under the commanding spell of Chef Hossein Sohrabi.
Chef Hossein has the impressive presence of a supernatural genie that’s bound to grant wishes. I suspect though that anyone would find it extremely difficult to make him do anyone’s bidding, but food he will most willingly grant. The former bodybuilder and lifeguard was also in military service, as required for all 18 year-old male citizens in Iran. Who would have thought that a PhD graduate in Business Management would turn into a recognized chef? Chef Hossein tells us that the love for food runs in their family. In fact, his brother is also a chef and exchanges recipes with him online. With a vigorous “Come here!,” the restaurateur made me run to the kitchen. He insisted that we wolf down whole chunks of juicy beef kebab (P334), instead of the hesitant bites we were taking from the freshly cooked meat. Surprisingly, popping hot meaty portions into your mouth makes a whole world of difference in appreciating a kebab.
The authoritative air is not the only reason you couldn’t refuse a dish served by Chef Hossein. Once I took my first bite, I was enchanted. He is hard to resist because his dishes are just meant to be relished. An example is one of Hossein’s beef specialties, the Beef Dopiaza (P424). From the huge Chef’s Appetizer, my favorites were the motabal (eggplant with tahini paste and olive oil) and dolmeh (stuffed grape leaves). The only thing in this entrée not for vegetarians was the meat samosa. I’m a carnivore, but I would definitely want more of the homos, falafel, vegetable samosa, and tabulee included in this dish. When asked what the dolmeh was stuffed with, Chef Hossein simply said “It’s magic.”