‘Shebestan’ means – according to friend to my Egyptian friend – nothing than a place in Iran that is now non-exist. Shebestan restaurant serves kebabs of prawns, fish, lamb and chicken that are tastefully treated with Iranian spices, accompanied by plain or saffron rice. The ambience of a top-end restaurant is enhanced by the luxurious yet traditional interior, with the old-fashioned paintings and rugs on the walls matching the lighting impeccably.
And here on hot Friday, 22 May 2009, I have an opportunity to taste what other describes the food is amazing. My Section Head, Hasan, treated us, his members, recognizing our excellent performance during our Qatargas Train 2 Shutdown ended just few days ago. We started gathered at 1 PM with my boss, Hasan, my neighbor Samir, and Ashraf, all of us arrived at front gate nearly at the same time. Then minutes later Islam, the youngest guy in our team, and Tawfeeq & Khalil from Al Khor.
With six nationalities, right ambience, and off-thejob environment, conversation went absolutely bubbling, from national dishes, immigration of ancestor around middle east, mobile phone, US & Houston, to meaning of some Arabic words. With me, the only Javanese-Maduranese Indonesian are Samir from Azerbaijan, Islam a Qatari, Hasan a Palestinian-born Qatari, Khalil an Iraq-born Jordanian, Ashraf an Egyptian, and Tawfeeq a Jordanian.
As you’re entering Shebestan, you will be welcomed by central fountain and reception desk. I am told that in old days the water to central fountain is increased so that it will make more noises if the king or the host wants to make a secret conversation with a particular guest. Hmmm….interesting trick.
We were seating at main hall comprises of several 2-seat tables, 4-seat tables, and several family sections in every corner of the hall which also can be used for larger gatherings.
We were provided freshly baked bread along with some cold almost-yoghurt-like dip. The bread is best consumed hot. Not far away from our seat is a bread preparation corner where you can see a bread-making live show. A portion of salad, tabouleh and hommous is also served.
A Jalansutra member and being in Qatar and Middle East is a privilege to experience original cuisine, I then ordered all Iranian-specific dishes. I ordered an “AASH E-SHEBESTAN” – a lentil soup with Iranian herbs and spices. It’s neither salty nor sweet, just a perfect combination. Few drops of lemon will make the soup more delicious.
I also ordered a lemon juice with mint. It was similar to regular lemon juice but without so much sugar and add loads of mint. Delicious but not refreshing. Few ice cubes or colder serving should have made it better. However, my main dish is absolutely amazing. I had JOOJHE KABAB MASHI – boneless chicken marinated in yoghurt and cooked on charcoal, served with French Fries or saffron rice. Unlike in other Arabian restaurant we’ve tried here where a portion is more than enough for one person (at least for me), the chicken kabab was a just right portion of everything so that I didn’t fill up. The chicken meat is tender with spice perfectly permeated into meat deep. Charcoal leaves its smell onto chicken meat surface which flawlessly grilled. Only one thing missing for an Indonesian like me: SAMBAL! Hot chili grinded with tomato and shrimp paste (terasi). What a perfect condiment otherwise!
As a dessert, Hasan ordered for us Arabian sweets. What a die must try is grated-coconut flake sweets. Gee, it’s sweet yet scrumptious. But now, as I was getting full I couldn’t stop eating the sweets. Fortunately, we also had hot tea, again with mint, served in a unique tea shot glass, that neutralize the sweetness tang.
In a nutshell, Shebestan offers an enjoyable Iranian/Persian dining experience, go together with lip smacking dishes, and quite affordable pricing. Recommended!
Total Damage (in QAR):
Lemon juice with mint 12
Soup Aash E Shebestan 18
Joojhe Kabab Mashi 55
Al Sadd Street, Doha, Qatar, (beside Al Sadd Merweb Hotel) Tel: 432 1555, 432 4433 or 442 2266
Coordinate: 25016’51.6” N 51030’12.8” E