Orchid Persian Restaurant
By Franz Scheurer
We are all familiar with Arabic food, Greek food, even Turkish food, but only a few of us had encounters of the culinary Persian kind.
The language in Iran is Farsi and although they use the Arabic script, it is an Indo-European language. Their cuisine is quite different too, more reliant on fruit and dry ingredients, and although rarely ever hot, quite complex and spicy. The Orchid Persian Restaurant in Willoughby is the best introduction to this tasty fare that I know in Sydney.
Upstairs at the Chatswood end of Penshurst Street, just before Victoria Road it is a simple space with mainly large tables and a stage with a small space for the belly dancer and the band on Friday and Saturday nights.
The menu is concise and excellent value for money. Try the ‘Kashk-o-Bademjan’, mashed, fried eggplant with onion, mint, garlic, turmeric and saffron and a sauce of dried whey and fried mint, served with fresh pita bread. This is a very attractive dish with deep flavours and a fabulous, slippery texture, a perfect match to ‘Mast-o-Khiar’, thickened yoghurt mixed with fresh cucumbers and dried mint. To round off the entrées I suggest you also order a ‘Shirazi Salad’, chopped tomatoes, cucumbers and onions in olive oil with minced spearmint and Persian lime juice. Clean flavours with good textures, light and refreshing and a joy to eat.
For mains I suggest you try the ‘Orchid Special’, which consists of three separate skewers of kebabs (well, it is actually served with the skewers already removed), a Barg (lamb backstrap), a Koobideh (minced, seasoned lamb) and a Joojeh (tender chunks of boneless chicken, marinated in saffron, lemon and lime juice, sumak and sharjah cumin, served with char grilled tomatoes and slices of tomato and cucumber. Another excellent dish is the ‘Khoresh Fesenjan’; chicken, slow cooked in a thick and tangy sauce made from pomegranate, ground walnuts, fried onions and walnut oil. Mains are accompanied by very fluffy long grain rice, cooked to perfection, served with a knob of butter. All these savoury dishes are excellent, full of flavour, very fresh, grilled, steamed, braised and fried to perfection, with flair and served by very friendly and knowledgeable staff with a perfect sense of timing.
Leave room for some ‘Persian Ice Cream’, a sweet blend of milk, vanilla, saffron, cream and rosewater, served with crushed pistachios sprinkled on top. Interestingly the cream is frozen separately to the crème anglaise and only combined once both are frozen. It makes for a great ice cream with a wonderfully stretchy texture.
An ‘all you can eat’ buffet is available for lunch on Sundays and apart from a-la-carte you can also chose the set menu. I loved every morsel and hope to go back with a much larger group to sample many more of their dishes.
For more information or bookings:
Orchid Persian Restaurant
325 Penshurst Street
Tel.: 02 9417 7344