Aldeerah

Rating: ★★★✩✩

23107370_10155857905248011_1397953694_oAldeerah is the DMV area’s only Saudi restaurant. Saudi Arabia, of course, tends to make the news for its treatment of women rather than its food but the beautifully-decorated Aldeerah (think salt and pepper shakers of Saudi men and women dressed in traditional clothes) is all about celebrating Saudi food. I went on a rather quiet night (it was the middle of the week) and ordered the chicken kabsa, the national dish of 23030801_10155857905233011_574397082_oSaudi Arabia which consists of chicken over rice. It was tasty and well-cooked though not bursting with flavor. My friend ordered the jareesh, a type of porridge, which she really liked though, not being a fan of cream of wheat cereal, I steered clear of that one. For dessert, we split the haysa, a sort of date and ghee pudding that was very sweet and rich- good in small doses. Service was friendly, if quiet and not super attentive.

Aldeera is located at 262 Cedar Ln, Vienna, VA.

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Shamshiry

Rating: ★★★★✩

Shamshiry, a Persian restaurant located in Vienna, near Spring Hill metro, is an authentic Iranian chelokabob. A chelokabob, which literally means kabob and rice, is a restaurant that specializes in just that, kabobs and rice. A feature of Persian food is that some of the more complicated dishes are made exclusively in the home, while restaurants specialize in kabobs.

21247920_10155692710243011_577025022_oShamshiry continues this tradition, serving large pots of tea (with sugar cubes on the side- Persians have developed this skill that requires no small amount of dexterity, in which they put a sugar cube between their teeth while sipping the tea), alongside kabobs and massive quantities of fluffy, buttery rice seasoned with saffron.

The place is large but very busy, so expect to wait for at least a little while if you go at a peak time. I ordered the kabob barg, which was very good, though you can get kabobs of similar quality at Moby Dick, minus the atmosphere of a full-service restaurant like Shamshiry. Overall, this place is worth a visit if you’re in the area, but I wouldn’t necessarily make a pilgrimage to it.

Shamshiry is located at 8607 Westwood Center Drive Vienna, Virginia.