|Maiwand Kabob's gyro|
We hadn't been to Maiwand Kabob in maybe a year when they opened their second Columbia location off Route 175. So the dishes arrived on our tables fresh and almost-new to us -- beautifully flavored, nicely-cooked, and still one of the best meals in Howard County.
Maiwand Kabob is an small Afghan chain that started in the Harper's Choice village center and has expanded to Burtonsville and Hanover. The kitchen would stand out with just the kabobs, Afghan specials, and an array of sides and vegetables. But then they drop fresh bread -- right out of the clay oven -- that makes a combination that truly stands out.
This isn't spicy food. Afghan flavors -- at least at Maiwand Kabob -- are fresh and flavored more with herbs than hot peppers. Anyone who likes grilled meats, great bread, or vegetables can find something delicious on the menu. If you're new, start with a kabob, some of the Afghan sides, and one of the best sandwiches in Howard County.
Grilled meats are harder than they sound. On bad days, I have pulled some sad, dried meat off my grill. In contrast, Maiwand serves skewer after skewer of marinated chicken, lamb and beef. At the new joint, Mrs. HowChow got the juicy chunks of white meat chicken, grilled crisp on the outside but moist throughout.
|Aushak at Maiwand|
Everything pairs well, and you'll use the tandoori bread to soak up the sauces. (And, of course, everything can be augmented with a little fried treat like the plate of samosas. That Afghan variation was one winner during Samosa Week in 2011.)
In the end, Maiwand is a great restaurant because that care and inspiration spread to everything on the plate. I have bemoaned the pedestrian rice and beans at even Mexican restaurants that I enjoy. But Maiwand Kabob offers hot bread right out of a clay oven. It serves long-grained rice with a sheen of oil, raisins and maybe cinnamon. Not greasy rice. Talented rice made rich with the absolute minimum mixed in.
The new Maiwand Kabob is in the shopping center with Target and Big Lots just north of Rte 175. It's a few doors down from the Pier One. The new spot has counter service like its predecessors, although it's larger and a little classier on the decor. (Several people also noted that prices seem $2-5 higher on many items.) It's extremely kid-friendly. It's not a first date place unless you know you're taking out a food-first, atmosphere-second person, but it's nice enough for dates 3-5 if you think they'll enjoy good food.
And Maiwand is definitely #1 if you're looking for one of the best sandwiches in Howard County. I love a gyro, but I have aged out of the frozen, greasy sandwiches that most people serve. Maiwand delivers. That's sliced, moist meat served with fresh onions, lettuce, and a tangy sauce. Just the right amount of sauce to compliment the gyro, but not soak through the bread.
Maiwand's gyro brings together everything that they do so well -- high quality meat cooked right, a fresh sauce that gives you flavors that are unique but accessible, and attention even to details like the bread. Anybody can pull pita bread from a bag. Maiwand Kabob wants to be better than that.
Check out all the posts about Maiwand Kabob. And, if you order the gyro, try to skip the fries. They're fine, but they're the one disappointment and taste right out of a frozen bag. Next time, I'll beg for a little rice instead. 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 similar menu.
Maiwand Kabob (second Columbia location)
6131 Columbia Crossing Circle
Columbia, MD 21045
NEAR: This is just north of Rte 175 at Dobbin Road. It's in the shopping center with Target and Big Lots. It's a few doors down from Pier One.