I Love Banu

   22 December 2006, early morning

Last night my friends and I made it out to Banu for some Persian food. The restaurant is situated in the not-so-newly gentrified Queen West strip. I have been trying to go for ages, and it seems every time I almost make it out for food there something comes up. Yesterday I finally got to try the place out.

Banu has a small selection of exotic vodkas you can try. I arrived first and ordered a Zubrowka Bison Grass vodka to drink while I waited. (It was recommended by the waiter, since I have no strong opinions on vodka.) It came with some sour cherry juice, which probably wasn’t as sour as Shima would have liked, but which tasted quite nice nevertheless. The vodka was quite good. I was reminded of my friend Martha as I sat sipping my vodka straight. Steph showed up next and ordered a WOKKA SAKi, which is a saki vodka blend. I took a sip, and would have to say it was quite good as well. My guess is that all the vodkas they’ve picked for their drink menu are tasty.

Everyone else slowly filtered in, and we decided we’d just split a whole bunch of kebabs: koobideh (ground beef), chenjeh (beef tenderloin), shish lik (lamb chop), joujeh (chicken wing), and murgh (chicken breast). We also ordered some kashk-e baadenjaan, which I feel obligated to buy anytime I go to a Persian restaurant. Everything was served at once. The kebabs were all served on a giant dish on top of some thin Persian bread, with tomatoes and mint leaves on the side. There was another plate with more bread, the kashk-e baadenjaan, and a few other Persian sides. This is the first place i’ve been to where kebabs aren’t served with rice. I started with the chicken breast kebab. It was so damn good. All the kebabs are quite good. It was an excellent meal.

Banu is hands down the best place I’ve been for Persian kebabs. I’d say Zaffron comes close, but I think they serve much better meat at Banu, and the chef there cooked them just right. Everything we had was really juicy and tasty. Banu only servers kebabs; you won’t be able to get any Persian stews here. The meal was about $42 dollars each when all was said and done. (We split 8 orders of kebabs and a starter between 6 people; 3 of us ordered hard drinks, the others soft drinks.) Compared to other places I’ve eaten at, this is a deal, but compared to other Persian places its a bit pricey. (Shima and I both ate at Darvish for less.) That said, Banu really is a superlative Persian restaurant; I think it’s worth splurging on. Banu a nice looking restaurant with great service and excellent food — what else do you really need?

 

Comments

  1. Whoa…do you really like the Zubrowka Bison Grass vodka? A friend bought it in Poland and says that it tastes pretty gross and is trying to get rid of it. I can ask to have it if you want it! =)

  2. I liked it; it had an interesting taste to it. Not sure how I’d describe it.

  3. Do they not serve rice either, or did you guys not ask them for any?

  4. I’m not 100% sure, but I am thinking they don’t serve rice at all. The way things are served, I get the sense you are supposed to share everything you order. I guess because they don’t serve any other Persian dishes, they don’t feel compelled to make rice.

  5. You are 100% correct…there is no rice at Banu

  6. ...which is something I’m not interested in eating when I’m drinking alcohol. IT BLOATS YOU!

  7. But what good is Persian food if there is no rice?

  8. Traditional way of eating kabob is with bread, Not with rice. Persian Kabob is faboulos with or without rice. If you are hung up on rice, I don’t suggest this place for you. Try all the Iranian places up town, or the “souvlaki house “ on Yonge Street, or Tempus. And the House of Kabob which is also on Yonge St. Though the quality of meats and atmosphere don’t compare to Banu’s, they do serve rice for those who wish for it…or you can get your breat between Pita.

  9. Maybe it really depends where you come from in Iran, we eat our kebobs with rice.

    You do realize that Souvlaki is not Persian, right? I’m not familiar with Souvlaki House but they aren’t a Persian establishment, are they? Anyways, I wouldn’t suggest going to a Greek restaurant to get your kebob + rice fix.

    I agree that the atmosphere is great at Banu.. The quality of meat, I could argue isn’t that much different than most persian kebob places.. and it’s definitely not really worth $17 for a kebob.. For that price I expect some crazy ass kebob which isn’t what Banu provides.. I think you’re probably paying more for the location than for an exceptionally well prepared kebob.

    Sorry if I come across as a bit confrontational. I don’t really mean to be. But if you were Persian, you wouldn’t be caught dead paying $17 for kebobs.. That’s just silly! How many of you guys would pay $17 for 5 pieces of butter chicken or $17 for congee? yeah.. I don’t think too many of you guys would fork over that money when you can get it fo $8 somewhere else or your mom could cook it for you for free..

    I’m not bitter.. really, I’m not.. :P

  10. you sure sound bitter shima!!
    I consider myself a kabob afficianado and i can tell you that the quality of meat at banu, which comes from the HEALTHY BUTCHER on queen is not seen else where and rocks my world. BTW if you are so keen on cheap things…you should know that if you go up north to Super Tehran in north york you can get kabob for $5.99 including rice and tomato and it is utterly disgusting…however cheap…so it might be right up your alley. Also, I am an Iranian and i know my kabob’s and i also know that whenever i go to other iranian restaurants i am always disappointed at the pathetic greens (parsley) and cut up onion and pita that is brought to the table…since when is Pita Iranian…and instead of real saffron the chicken at these other places is almost fluorescent orange and full of food colouring…Banu is the only place that serves REAL GREENSBASIL, MINT, TARRAGON!!! IT is not a chelo-kabobi and no one in their right mind drinks vodka and eats rice…rice expands and bloats you. Really it comes down to quality and some people are looking for quality…whatever the cost!!!

  11. OH SNAP!

    [ed. As the author of this site, I am allowed to post one line pointless comments such as this. Also, OH SNAP!]

  12. so here i am googling the name of my restaurant and i come across an amazing debate centred around rice and nationalism and economics and culture. Thanks everyone!!

    ...and i would like to contribute these words…however they are not my own.

    “I believe in being a poet in every moment of my life. Being a poet means being human. I know some poets whose daily behaviour has nothing to do with their poetry. In short, they are only poets while they are writing their poetry. When they have finished writing, they turn back into greedy, indulgent, oppressive, short-sighted, miserable, and envious people. So I do not believe their poems. I prize honesty in life, and when I find these people making fists and various claims – in their poems and essays – I get disgusted, and I doubt their veracity. I think to myself, “Perhaps it is only for a plate of rice that they are screaming.” – Forough Farrokhzad

  13. I think Shima’s main point is that it is hard for her justify paying a lot of money for Persian food when her mom makes it at home. I hate going out for Tamil food for much the same reason. That said, I am pretty sure she’s told everyone she knows about the place. I bet if a critic had said something bad about Banu she’d be all over him. Iranian’s can be passionate about their food anything Iranian. I haven’t gotten in any big arguments over Kotthu Roti before, but perhaps I should start.

  14. personally i think it is because we don’t value our own cuisine…you probably would not think twice about paying 26 dollars for some mercury infused salmon with some thick french (beurre blanc) sauce on top of it…let’s face it, when it comes to entrees 17 dollars is not steep at all.

    sara

  15. Who are you replying to? As I said, I don’t think Banu is that expensive in the grand scheme of things. Also, making assumptions about people you don’t know is a bit stupid.

  16. mmmm. lunchtime. somtin good on my plate please.

  17. Lucky. I’d eat there so much if I worked around Queen West.

  18. hey wow, you guys made it onto google when i searched for “banu toronto restaurant” well done. I think based on this review and the one on martiniboys.com i think i’m going to take my girlfriend here for her birthday dinner. small internet world eh ramanan

  19. my cuzin owns the place, i swear!!

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