Restaurant: Yaas Bazaar
Cuisine: Persian/Middle Eastern
Last visited: June 3, 2011
Location: North Vancouver, BC
Address: 1860 Lonsdale Ave
Price Range: $10 or less
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
Service: 2 (self serve)
- Persian “restaurant”
- Persian supermarket
- Persian Bakery
- Popular to Persian locals
- Home cooked Persian food
- Popular for kabobs
- “Buffet style”
- Big portions
- Great value
- Hole in the wall
- Vary casual/quick
- Cheap eats/budget friendly
- Monday 9am-late
- Tues-Sat 9am-10pm
- Sunday 10am-late
**Recommendations: Kashke Bademjoon, Kubideh Kabob and a visit at their bakery. Try the Chick Pea Flour Cookie and walnut cookie.
Finally! A post for Persian food! I had my first posts for Jamaican food (here) and Filipino food (here) last week, so I wanted to mix things up once again. I have tried all of these cuisines before, but I just haven’t blogged about them until recently. Also, with the help of dining with friends from those cultures I was able to learn more about their cuisines.
So where did I go for Persian food? Of course it had to be North Vancouver! If not North Vancouver it was going to be West Vancouver. Both those cities have a large Persian community so consequently it’s also known to have the “best” Persian restaurants in Metro Vancouver.
I’ve had a limited amount of restaurant and home cooked Persian food, so I’m still learning and exploring the cuisine and culture. So what’s the Follow Me Foodie way of doing that? Easy! I follow YOU foodie! Basically I follow a foodie from that culture and let them lead the way!
The only time I’ve blogged about Persian food is when I wrote about the 9 course modern Persian dinner menu Chef Hamid Salimian prepared during Persian New Years at The Apron. Although delicious, it was a contemporary and new way of showcasing the cuisine, so this time I went for the complete opposite.
On this occasion my lovely Persian friend brought me to one of her favourite casual home style Persian eateries called Yaas Bazaar. From the outside it looked like a hole in the wall dive, but its offerings were greater than expected. It triples as a Persian restaurant, supermarket and bakery, so you can have lunch, do some grocery shopping and treat yourself to a nice dessert as you leave! Or before you start! Or both! Nothing wrong with any of those routines.
Lunch time was busy and full of Persian locals from the neighbourhood. The ambiance is nothing fancy and I fully embraced the experience which I found rather traditional. I was taking so many photos I think they thought it was the first time I had ever seen Persian people… thank god they found it amusing though.
It’s “buffet style” food, but it’s all made in house in their commercial kitchen in the back and they do barbeque the kabobs upon order. Kabobs are what they’re most known for, so those are really what we came for.
If you’ve never had Persian food before it’s pretty much a combination of Greek and Mediterranean cuisine. It’s not as light as Mediterranean cuisine and has more spices than Greek cuisine, but it’s not spicy or as heavily spiced as Indian cuisine. There are spices, but most of the flavours cater towards sour and smoky. Persian dishes are usually categorized as hot and cold and also wet and dry, so I find the balance more in the composition of the plates rather than the flavour.
I tried only a few things, but I’d definitely come back if I was in the area and craving something satisfying for cheap. Yaas Bazaar wasn’t the best Persian food I’ve had, but for the price and portions, it’s a solid choice.
I have to admit, if I didn’t have help I would have had difficulty maneuvering the menu. Not everything they offer is shown on the menu and I wouldn’t have known how to ask for it without my friend there. The menu shows kebobs and the “buffet” shows a selection of stews, which have no description. It’s all served with a mountain of rice which is essentially the Persian diet (kabobs, stews, rice). Make sure you save room and check out their bakery too, as you may have guessed, I certainly did.
On the table:
- $.99 (?)
- I love yogurt drinks and I’m not sure what I was expecting, but this was a lot thinner and more sour than I thought it would be.
- It’s an acquired drink, but it would certainly cool you down on a hot day.
- It’s very sour and almost like the watery part of sour cream when it starts to separate.
- It’s quite watery, not rich or creamy and slightly fizzy at the end from some added sparkling water, but the carbonation is very faint.
- It sort of reminded me of calpis, but much more sour, unsweetened and almost a bit salty.
- Persian eggplant dip or spread (not on menu, but you can ask for it) $4-6 (?)
- It’s a pretty big bowl and I could eat it plain.
- I really loved this dish and I would certainly order it again, but it does get better than this although this was very good.
- The eggplant dip usually has toasted walnuts mixed in it, which is one of my favourite parts, but this one didn’t have any. Considering the price, I didn’t really expect it either.
- It was a very creamy, warm, smoky and savoury dip of stewed eggplant with some sweet caramelized onions and garlic.
- It has a yellow tint from either tumeric or saffron, but the flavour is quite mild although it does remind me of Indian baingan bartha (eggplant curry) a bit.
- It wasn’t spicy, but there was a definite spice and that was coming from the eggplant.
- The eggplant dip is more smoky than savoury, but what makes it savoury is the salty tangy yogurt like sauce called kashk which is poured over top.
- Kashk tastes like melted chilled feta yogurt or curdled sour cream and the texture is almost like melted ricotta.
- The mint adds a nutty, earthy and smoky flavour, but it’s almost dried and crumbled and the mint flavour itself is not obvious.
- It’s a very typical Iranian flat bread used for wraps and dips. It tastes like a tortilla. $1.99 (?)
- It’s available prepackaged and folded in a square in a plastic bag and I doubt they’re made in house. If they are, they don’t seem that fresh though.
- It rolls out in a large rectangular sheet.
- It’s a bit tough, dry and chewy and it dries out rather quickly so you have to eat it quickly too.
- It’s supposed to be served warm, but for the style of the place it’s fine.
Ghormeh-Sabzi (Iranian Herb Stew) – 3/6
- $6 (?) It’s served with a very large plate of Persian style saffron basmati rice.
- This is the most traditional Persian stew and it’s pretty much the “national dish”.
- Some say it’s the item you would order to tell what a Persian restaurant can do.
- I compare it to ordering prawn dumplings at dim sum, Three Spice Chicken at Taiwanese restaurants and tamago at Japanese restaurants.
- I’ve had this dish on a few occasions and it was good here, but just not as sour or flavourful as the ones I’ve had before.
- It’s made with a variety of sautéed herbs such as parsley, spinach, cilantro, fenugreek and chives and stewed with lots of lime and some kidney beans.
- It’s not as herby or aromatic as you may expect and its flavour is somewhat mild and similar to very cooked down spinach like Indian palak curry, but it’s dairy free.
- It is a very creamy stew, but it’s not apparent in any dominant flavours except for maybe the spinach.
- This one was made with beef and it’s often made with lamb too.
- It was chunks of rather lean beef brisket, but it was very dry.
- I imagine it’s been slow cooking all day and since it sits under the heat lamps I think the meat would get overcooked and striped of its juices, and it was.
- I had a very cool deconstructed version at The Apron – see here.
- Two skewers of freshly ground beef and lamb, marinated with onion and seasonings, barbequed and served with grilled tomatoes on a bed of basmati rice with saffron $6.99
- The portion was certainly large and I was told this is their most popular kebab.
- They’re most known for kebabs and they’re made in house all day and grilled upon order.
- I do wish it had that charcoal grilled quality, but it didn’t, although still very delicious!
- I actually thought it was 100% beef and I couldn’t taste the lamb at all.
- It wasn’t gamey, which makes me happy since I’m not a fan of that very strong gamey flavour.
- Persian style grilled meats (kabobs) are very non-offensive and almost anyone would like them.
- They’re typical items in Persian cuisine and the meat is well marinated (probably overnight) which results in an incredibly tenderized meat.
- It wasn’t strong in any sort of spice or herb and it was probably marinated in yogurt and lime juice, but there was no real tang.
- It was almost like a sausage made with ground meat, but it wasn’t dry or crumbly at all, but just well flavoured and moist.
- The kabobs were good and great value, but they do get better in quality and flavour.
- These were “bang for your buck” kabobs, but I still enjoyed them.
- It was served with a juicy and plump oven roasted tomato and some Persian style saffron basmati rice.
- I do wish the rice was crispy (the best kind of Persian rice) and more scented with saffron because it just tasted like plain basmati rice.
This is Persian “salt” or Asian “soy sauce”. They have it on every table. It’s actually Sumac seasoning and you sprinkle it over kebobs and rice. I love it. It’s tangy, lemony and made from Sumac (a flowering plant that produces tiny berries). It reminds me of cranberries or pomegranate seeds in flavour and apperance. It makes everything taste a bit sour, and oddly it will also make it more savoury because your saliva glands will go from the tartness.
Yaaz Bazaar Bakery – Desserts/Pastries/Baked Goods
So after lunch we did some exercise by walking over to their bakery department. They have a variety of baked goods and I actually really love Persian bakeries because almost everything has nuts in it, which I’m a huge fan of. The Yaas Bazaar Bakery was quite good, but I actually prefer Golestan Bakery more which is also located in North Vancouver. Of course it’s located in North Vancouver.
- These were for my friend and I almost knew I wouldn’t like them because they reminded me of galub jamun and Indian desserts that are too sweet for my tastes.
- It’s a dessert that’s often seen during Ramadan and it shows up in celebratory occasions as well.
- These were pretty much honey and rose water soaked deep fried dough balls.
- They’re not crunchy, but soft, very moist, almost wet and much too sweet for me. It’s hurt your teeth sweet for me.
- It’s a light, lemony, soft, and moist spongecake rolled with whipped cream, but it was dried out around the edges and it would be better fresh.
- It has a lemony scent and then the whipped cream is very light and not too sweet.
- It just reminded me of those classic Asian style log cakes.
- This is a traditional Iranian tea cookie and I really love them!
- It’s a roasted chick pea flour and powdered sugar cookie so the crumb is very soft, fine and tender.
- Sometimes it has cardamom, but this one didn’t taste like it had any.
- My friend said it’s like biting into a sand castle, and that’s so true!
- They’re very tender and very soft and you can barely pick them up they’re so delicate.
- They literally melt away in your mouth with the slightest bite.
- It had a hint of bittersweet cocoa powder on top and it’s very dry and really just melts in your mouth.
- I had this cookie in crumble form at The Apron in the Bagh-lava with Akbar Mashdi Ice Cream.
- They remind me of these Chinese almond cookies popular in Macau too.
- I thought this would be my favourite because it looked the best, but it was actually not as nutty or sweet as I thought it would be.
- It was very light and although good I’ve had better Napoleons before, however this was a Persian style one.
- It had flaky buttery sheets that weren’t that sweet at all with lots of light whipped cream in between.
- I thought it would be nutty with almonds, but it wasn’t. I wouldn’t have minded more pistachios, but I often find they use them as decor.
- It’s crispy and aromatic baklava with a creamy walnut filling spiced with cinnamon, cardamom and other warm spices.
- I actually wouldn’t have minded a coarsely ground walnut filling and more walnuts, since it was a bit paste like with some sort of filler.
- It’s soaked in honey and maybe a hint of rose water.
- I usually prefer Baclava in alternating layers of pastry and nuts, but this one was still a good and solid bite.
- It’s very flaky and not too wet or overly sweet. I could have used more pistachios on top too.
- A must try Baclava is the Bagh-lava with Akbar Mashdi Ice Cream from The Apron.
- It’s not bad, but not a traditional tiramisu of course.
- I found the two cake layers dry and the middle was some sort of sweet pastry cream with a hint of espresso.
- There was some bittersweet cocoa on top and it mimicked a tiramisu without really tasting like one.
- It was a dry, crumbly, nutty, and buttery shortbread cookie crusted with walnuts and some berry jam.
- It’s not that sweet at all and just more nutty.
- There were some translation issues, but I didn’t taste or see any dates in this cookie.
- I pointed at something else, but I ended up getting this in the box.
- It’s barely sweet at all and it’s crispy and crunchy with multiple layers of flaky pastry dough.
- I felt like it should have been the crust to something.
- It’s almost more like a biscuit or a cracker than a cookie. It’s kind of bland and almost savoury.
- I love sesame seeds, but I couldn’t really taste them here, they’re only sprinkled on top.
- I pointed at something else, but I ended up getting this in the box too.
- This was probably my least favourite. It was a bit like sweet stale deep fried pastry dough and the poppy seeds are decor.
- It’s soaked in honey and tasted like fried dough soaked with a hint of rose water syrup.
- I’m not sure if it was fried in old oil, but I just really didn’t like it.
- There’s nothing inside and the whole thing is made of multiple layers of flaky dough, but they’re not buttery, crispy or flavourful.
- It’s light and flaky and tastes like crust more than it does a cookie.
- It’s a cakey cookie and it reminds me of Chinese moon cakes, but the Persian version. I’m not a fan of moon cakes, but I liked this better.
- It’s not very sweet but the pistachio filling is creamy like a paste and almost like green beans.
- The filling has a very strong cardamom and rose water flavour and it’s a very aromatic and slightly sweetened cookie.
- I would have liked it if it was nutty, but the filling wasn’t what I was expecting. It was paste/gel like.
- I probably wouldn’t get this again, but they do offer a walnut version which I’m a bit curious about.