Note: This restaurant has closed
I ran across the Afghan Oasis restaurant while walking on Allston Way in Berkeley. It surprised me to see what appeared to be a moderately-priced restaurant in what was once a semi-luxury hotel (the Shattuck seems to be catering now as much to college students as to visitors). As I love Afghani food I figured I'd give it a try when I got the chance.
That happened last Thursday (February 2004), Mika and I met Mike for lunch after her music class at Habitot and decided to go to Afghan Oasis. It was about 1 PM and the place was *completely* deserted. I hope they are doing a good dinner business because they are certainly not going to make it if they rely on the non-existent lunch crowd. And that would be a great pity, because the food, the atmosphere and the service were all very good.
Afghan Oasis is located in a large, recently renovated room. It has high ceilings, columns and newly-painted walls on fashionable colors. In all it's quite an elegant room, though it has the feeling of a hotel banquet room. When we were there, soft Afghani (I presume) music was playing; it was quite nice.
The menu is quite short. It features a couple of appetizers (bulane & samosas, both $4.25), four vegetarian dishes ($9), three curries ($10) four kebabs ($12-14) and two desserts ($1.50 and $3.50). Main dishes include soup. There are also lunch specials consisting of selected menu items for $8 (including soup). We ordered a dish samosas, the lamb curry and the beef kebab.
The soup, which was served first, was quite good. It was a chicken and vegetable soup with some type of small pasta. It had a pleasant Middle Eastern taste, with hints of lemon. I don't usually like soup, but I actually ate this one. It was a good, hearty portion, and indeed, a bowl of soup and some bread could make a satisfying lunch.
The samosas were smaller than their Indian cousins, indeed the looked like oversized tortellini, but were crisp and deep fried. They went very well with the accompanying cilantro dip, but they were also good by themselves. They are recommended.
I liked my beef kebab, it was perhaps not as deeply flavored as some Persian kebabs I've tasted, but it was very pleasant and tender. Mike's curry was also very tasty, falling somewhere between an Indian curry and a Persian stew. The lamb was incredibly tender (of course) and Mika enjoyed a few bites.
The only bad note was the bread, which had been toasted but could not hide the fact that it was old.
Service by the lone waiter was very good. Our daughter made a mess on the table and floor and he very nicely told us not to worry about it. Indeed, given the absence of patrons at lunch this is a great place to go with a child, you don't have to worry she'll get noisy and bother anyone
You may also want to try the place for dinner. They have a belly dancer on weekends, which could be fun even for little ones.
2086 Allston Way