Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Mantwo at Maiwand Kabob
The Columbia restaurant serves Afghan food with counter service and a casual feel. The kabobs make for good eating, but Maiwand Kabob qualifies as one of the best places around because its kitchen turns out appetizers that are exotic using ingredients accessible to almost anyone.
Pastas, dumpling wrappers, scallions, pumpkin, a little ground meat. Everyday ingredients go in, and they come out with unique, fresh flavors.
On our most-recent visit, the mantwo edged out the old champion aushak as my favorite plate. We love the appetizers so much that we tend to order 2-3 appetizers and a single kabob main dish. You still get grilled meat and Maiwand Kabob's delicious bread, and the $4 appetizers become "small plates" that you'd happily pay double to eat if they were served among white tablecloths and a waitstaff.
Mantwo are basically meat-filled dumplings, but there is nothing basic about the tender wrappers and the yogurt sauce spiked with mint and topped with earthly lentils. The flavors pop in a way that made it my favorite -- even against the pumpkin and the scallion-filled aushak. Don't get me wrong: I'd order all three tonight. But I dug into the mantwo with such enthusiasm that I had make sure that I didn't outstrip my wife and gobble the entire plate for myself. One of the best dishes at one of the best restaurants. Definitely an item that you should go out and sample.
Maiwand Kabob isn't fast food. Orders regularly take 15-20 minutes and 30 on a rough night because they're cooking your kabobs and bread to order. Go with a plan to wait. And I recommend that you ask to substitute the salad for a side vegetable. The salad is fine, but the baked pumpkin at Maiwand Kabob is outstanding.
If you're looking for Afghan but live south of Rte 32, consider Mimi's Kabob in Clarksville. Another casual place with counter service and a menu similar to Maiwand Kabob's.