Every week, I document another dish that impressed and satiated me during my food adventures around New York City

A TASTE OF PERSIA, 12 West 18th Street (between Fifth and Sixth Avenue), Flatiron DistrictIf you follow the address for Taste of Persia you might be momentarily confused because you will arrive at a divey pizza joint called Pizza Paradise. Where is this amazing Persian food I’m about to tell you about? Well, it’s actually in a little nook just near the window of the pizza place and it’s at this tiny rented space that Saeed Pourkay is introducing passersby to one of the greatest cuisines in the world.

I’ve become quite smitten with Persian food of late. I even filmed a video at a few notable Persian restaurants (including this one) that will go live as soon as I finish editing it (that could still take a while with my schedule). The food is full of flavors – usually comprised of many vegetables, nuts, dried fruits, and herbs. It’s subtly spiced and full of flavor. The best I’ve tasted is at this little stand.

I could wax poetic about Saeed’s fesenjan (chicken stew with pomegranate and walnuts), ash reshteh (a bean soup with spinach, noodles, and lots of unique spices), or even his saffron soaked rice pudding garnished with cinnamon. Everything I’ve tasted from his hot table has been spectacular. And the menu changes every day. Saeed always posts the daily specials through a charming video on his Facebook page.

Kashk Bedemjan at A TASTE OF PERSIA

My favorite dish I sampled is called Kashk Bademjan and it’s basically a delicate, richly flavored eggplant dip. I didn’t need any bread to dip into this thing, I went into it with a fork. The browned eggplant was sweet and nutty; its flavors were enhanced by lots of garlic, onions, and an amazing thing called kashk. Kashk, a drained sour yogurt whey, is the topping for a lot of Persian dishes and it helps balance out the sweetness and brightens them up.

And as with all his dishes, Saeed then adds on lots of interesting crunchy toppings like fried garlic and dried mint. It’s little touches like these at this hidden little spot that will open your mind, palate, and heart to the wonders of Persian food. It puts the pizza being served nearby to shame.

TASTE OF PERSIA
12 West 18th Street (between Fifth and Sixth Avenue),
Flatiron District
(917) 592-3467
facebook.com/TasteOfPersiaNYC
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About the Author

Brian Hoffman is a classically trained actor who is now a full-time tour guide, blogger, and food obsessive. He leads food and drink tours around New York City, which not only introduce tour-goers to delicious food, but gives them a historical context. He also writes food articles for Gothamist and Midtown Lunch in addition to overseeing this blog and a few food video series, including Eat This, Locals Know, and Around the World in One City.

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