In the last couple of years the Phoenix metropolitan area has seen a tremendous growth in the number of ethnic food restaurants. We have a number of good Korean, Vietnamese, Thai, Polish, German and Indo-Pak restaurants in Phoenix and the East Valley, so our ethnic food choices are not limited to neighborhood American Chinese cuisine. A couple of months back, an Afghan restaurant specializing in food from the Kabul area of Afghanistan opened in Gilbert. It is called Rania’s Kabob Grill and it is located on the north east corner of Higley and Baseline roads in Gilbert behind Banner Gateway Medical.
Recently, my family and I had an opportunity to try out the dinner menu at Rania’s. The place is tucked away in a small shopping mall, not very visible from the road. The décor is also pretty sparse with the usual combination of tables and booths, a few flat screen TVs on the walls and some artifacts from Afghanistan. The most notable hangings are some ethnic Afghan costumes that are framed on one wall which offer some much needed pizzazz to the place. The menu is simple and has sections for appetizers, salads, naanwiches (naan wraps), lamb corner, kabob platters, vegetarian and naan pizzas. You can peruse the menu at http://www.beyondmenu.com/33210/gilbert/rania-s-kabob-grill-gilbert-8523... I would highly recommend you try a couple of items from the appetizers before going on to the entrees. We tried the sampler place in which you can try any three items from the appetizer section for $10.95. We went for mantu which are meat filled dumplings (like ravioli), the hot eggplant dip and cilantro jalapeno hummus. All three items were absolutely fantastic. For entrees we ordered boneless chicken naanwich for the kids which are two halves of an enormous naan wrap filled with chicken, lettuce, tomatoes and Afghan pico de gallo. One naanwich was enough for one teen and a kid, so be aware of the portion size if ordering this for lunch. The wrap was convenient and came with a side of either rice or fries, though the chicken was a little under seasoned and bland for Asian palettes.
For adult entrees, we ordered braised lamb shank and chicken keemah kabob platter which also came with your choice of two sides. The options were white, brown or spinach rice, salad bar or kabuli rice. We choose the spinach rice which was a good choice and salad bar which I would give a miss. Now, a little bit about the lamb shanks. They were absolutely gorgeous and the best you could get anywhere in this valley. They are marinated for three days and slow cooked for eight hours and the result is mouthwatering, scrumptious, falling off the bone meat that is expertly flavored with the right combination of spices. I would recommend the drive to this place just for the lamb shanks. At $15.95 you get enough meat for an adult dinner and leftovers for a doggie bag. The chicken keemah platter at $8.95 had more modest proportions and was good and soft. I would also recommend diners try the food with hot tea which comes lightly spiced with cardamoms. They also keep beer and other light beverages.
Overall, a good gastronomic experience well worth the drive. The prices range from $8.99 to $15.99 for entrees. They also have a communal platter where 5 or 6 people can share the group pleaser combo platter for $45 which has a choice of five entrees. The owner Abdul Hadi is originally from Kabul in Afghanistan and both he and his wife are the chefs cooking as per their family recipes. They also offer special rates for catering and deliver fresh naan and entrees to homes nearby. The catering menu includes gravy based dishes like qormas apart from the dine-in menu. They also have daily specials where you can get entree platters at discounted prices.
Rania's Kabob Grill
1674 N Higley Rd Ste 104
Gilbert, AZ 85234
Phone: (480) 656-7111