Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cazbar Kepab House in Columbia

Good food often comes without waiters in Howard County, and the new Cazbar Kabob continues the trend with casual Turkish that makes a great lunch or takeout in Columbia.

(Update: Cazbar appears to have been replaced in Fall 2010 with Turkshish Kebap.  New name.  New menu.)

Cazbar opened a few blocks east of Howard Community College and the hospital, offering a streamlined version of the original Baltimore location's menu.  This is hearty Turkish specialities like sour cherry soda and lahmacun (pizza with ground beef).  But much of the basics will please anyone who likes Maiwand Kabob -- grilled meats, vegetables and interesting bread.

Cazbar follows the Maiwand and Bon Fresco model -- casual counter service and fresh food, some unique ethnic items but accessible to almost anyone.  The basics are meat.  Kabobs of grilled meat.  Doner of seasoned sliced and pressed meat similar to gyros.  There are variations of chicken, lamb and beef.  Wrapped in thin bread as sandwiches.  Served with a yogurt sauce.  Paired with salad or fries.

After our lunch, we recommend the doner over the kabobs.  The lamb doner was tasty without being greasy.   The kabobs were moist, but not that flavorful.  Maiwand Kabob and Mimi's Kabob in Clarksville both marinate the chicken more, and the meat comes out more interesting.  Next time, Mrs. HowChow will try the chicken doner.  And go salad, not fries.  The fries were average.  The salad was crisp and interesting with a nice dressing on top.

Obviously, the difference between Turkish and Afghan cuisines is 2,200 miles.  Cazbar brings Turkish items like boat-shaped pizza called pide and a salad with tomatoes, pomegranate and peppers called acili ezme.  I'm ready to try every appetizer, from the hummus to the salad of feta and parsley.  The fresh salads are a revelation.  My favorite parts of the Afghan joints are cooked vegetable side dishes like pumpkin.  In contrast, Cazbar served up those fresh vegetables -- in the salad and in the sandwiches -- that really brought the meal alive.

Although I keep talking about meat, Cazbar is vegetarian friendly.  You could mix and match appetizers, or you could go with falafel instead of meat.  Also check out the drink options.  We really liked the Tamek sour cherry nectar -- basically an uncarbonated soft drink with a lightly sour taste.  (Also available at Nazar Market in Columbia.)  They import Turkish waters and a "carbonated coffee" that I'll get next time.

One cool touch at Cazbar:  Free hot tea in modern little cups.  To the left of the soda dispenser is a tea pot sitting on top of a hot water dispenser.  You use of the strainers to pour tea from the pot into your small cup -- but leave a little space.  The strainer will catch the loose tea.  If the brew has gotten too dark for you, you use the extra space to hot water.  Add sugar to taste.

Cazbar Kebap House
10840 Little Patuxent Parkway
Columbia, MD 21044

NEAR: This is on the north side of Little Patuxent Parkway just east of Howard Community College.  From Rte 29, take Rte 175 west and pass the mall.  Keep going straight and look for Cazbar on the right just after the white building with the sign for Patuxent Publishing.  It is next to a bank in a shopping center that sits perpendicular to the road.

Cazbar Kebap House on Urbanspoon


jblle said...

As far as the tea goes, you are supposed to fill it half with tea and half with water since it is a very strong brew. The tea should be vert hot when drinking! I just got back from Turkey and I cannot wait to now try this location and the one in Baltimore!

Anonymous said...

I was pretty impressed with my one visit so far. While my original thought was "who would put a kabob place in so close to Maiwand?", the very different Turkish menu puts it in a seperate category for me. While I liked the Donor Kabob, I loved the lahmacun. It's like a flatbread with lamb. I'd highly recommend that to everyone, and I'd bet that more of the gems here are under Mezze than under Kebabs.

Morty Abzug said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Morty Abzug said...

They've got shwarma! Except they call it döner. Close enough. AFAIK, this is the first appearance of shwarma/shawarma in Columbia or even Howard County.

Anonymous said...

The coffee mineral water is fantastic, and I can't find it anywhere else. It's the first carbonated coffee drink I've had that actually captures the coffee taste. Love the Doner and Lamacuhn, too. An instant new favorite place.

-- David P

Anonymous said...

Terrible service

25 mins after ordering, we had no food so we stopped the runner and inquired. She brought one plate with apologies that the second, falafel, “would be a few minutes”. Heard her go back and order the falafel --- Clearly they never made our food until we inquired. After another 20 mins we were told the “falafel were frozen and were being thawed”! Finally patience was worn out and we demanded a refund. Smart business people would have brought an appetizer or other compensation, but none was offered.

Apparently this is not terribly anomalous; I heard another couple saying it “was really rough” the first two weeks. Maybe after a few more months they will actually start serving food.

The register rang up higher prices than posted, which we also had to correct.

From the little food served, we can say the Adana sandwich was rather bland and overwhelmed by bread....

I was looking for a more efficient alternative to Maiwand, but this isn't it. If you go, order carry out.

Steve Fine said...

Excellent! Thanks for bringing this place to my attention. The best hummus in Howard County!

HowChow said...

David P. -- You can buy the coffee drink alone or in six packs at the Nazar Market in Columbia. Search HowChow. There are a bunch of posts about the market.

Anonymous said...

My wife and I went last week. We wanted the Lamb Doner and Chicken Doner. The menu above the counter only showed sandwich or wrap as the options. I asked about the platters, and the girl behind the counter said that they are available as platters too. When I commented about sandwich vs wrap, she said it is only available as a wrap, and sandwich was a typo. The menu also said "Beep" instead of "Beef." Despite the confusion on the menu, we ordered the platters. The price was higher than on the menu, but the girl said that platters are more expensive. We were still quite confused by the menu discrepancies. After all, the menus are on LCD TVs, so you'd think typos would be relatively easy to fix. I also later realized that the second of the four LCDs was blank/off, so perhaps this is the one that should have listed the platters.

On to the food...
The chicken just tasted like chicken. It didn't seem like it was marinated or cooked with any spices. The salad seemed to be made with fresh vegetables and tasted fine. The rice was fair, but nothing to write home about.

The lamb doner was ground lamb. In contrast to the chicken, it certainly had spices and flavor, but was overcooked and dry.

We are big fans of Maiwand and I'm a big fan of lamb. Our expectations were to explore an additional ethnic place in Columbia to serve as an addition to Maiwand. After our disappointment at Cazbar Kepab, we have been reminded of why Maiwand is a special place in our hearts and stomaches.

Anonymous said...

Based on reviews, 2 of us tried it for lunch today with great hopes and expectations. Very disappointed!

Everything was tasteless. Imagine, Middle Eastern food without spices! The lamb doner kebob was dry, dry, dry. And tasteless. The felafel was tasteless. The cucumber/tahina(?) sauce, ditto. Even the french fries could not hold a candle to Burger King's.

Place was empty when we arrived, so food came reasonably quickly. But as it started to fill people had to wait and wait.

The gold standard for this kind of food is Zankou Chicken, around Los Angeles. This place doesn't even come close. Sadly, it looks like a one-time visit for us.

BikeTravellet said...

I've been looking for doner kebap like they have in Germamy and Austria (it's everywhere). Anybody who has had one of those think it is similar? Weakness is usually terrible American bread or the sauce.

Anonymous said...

We loved Cazbar in the city, it has fantastic lahmacun, turkish boat shaped pizza and ofcourse its signature dish- Iskender. Now that we are in HoCo and unable to go into the city as often, I was excited about the new location. While it aims to copy the the original, it does not come close and is uninspired. I ran into the owner whom I know from my frequent visits in the city. They plan to change the name of the restaurant to "Turkish"- not very orignal. More than that, though he recognizes that most the dishes are weak ( they did not have adana, chicken pirzola is being taken off the menu, both chicken and lamb doner meet taste odd), I did not hear any conviction on how he is going to turn the place around. Does not come close to Maiwand it terms of quality, realizing that they dont serve the same dishes.

Anonymous said...

This location is not owned by Haluk, the owner of the city location. I here they are brining Metin, the chef from the city location.Hopefuly, we will see some improvement then. Those who are disappointed like me, I would say call to check if Metin is running the kitchen before you go. His cooking is a little uneven, but much superior to this. Odd, I would have imagined that owners would have first nailed the recipes that can be churned about anyone before opening the location. Once you get a bad reputation, hard to pull customers back in with improvements. May be a new name....

iulia said...

I have actually been there recently and I consider it a great location, especialy regarding prices and service, the food quality is good. They said that they will change the name to Turksish,as the owners will change, and this is more original as it is suitable for a kebab house than cazbar.I definetly recommend it :)