Ariana Afghan Restaurant: A Taste of the Middle East
Authentic Afghan cuisine, from goshtee and chatney sauce to kabobs with chai.
I was nearly alone eating lunch in the Ariana Afghan Restaurant in Dale City, a fact which might speak more to the lack of demand for Afghan food than to the quality of the restaurant.
Ariana—the ancient name for the area including modern Afghanistan—is a restaurant with a large banquet hall used for meetings, parties and other events. The chandeliers hanging in the banquet hall area and the slightly faded draperies give a feeling of worn elegance.
The service was friendly, though it could have been a bit more attentive. I was quickly seated; not much of a problem given that the restaurant was nearly empty. My glass was usually refilled before it quite ran out, though there were times I was looking for a waiter and couldn't find one.
The sambosay goshtee, a fried pastry filled with ground beef, chickpeas and spices, was a delicious appetizer. The pastry was light and flaky, with ample filling and a good balance of flavor. The slight spiciness was enough to complement, but not overwhelm, the other flavors.
The chicken kabob I ordered was less flavorful and somewhat dry, but the spices and creamy texture of the chatney sauce helped somewhat. The rice had a very fluffy texture but the plate was heaped with more of it than I could eat in two meals. According to the menu, the kabob comes with your choice of a side dish, although I was simply brought what I believe was the chickpeas qurma. Despite the lack of choice, this added a nice texture and flavor to the meal. The naan—traditional Afghan leavened flatbread—was one of the best parts of the meal.
All in all, I got a good and filling lunch, including appetizer, main dish and chai for about $10. Ariana is located at 4182 Dale Blvd in Dale City.