Shamshiri Persian Grill, West LA
Boy, do I love Persian food. And it's so hard to find (unless you live in Iran, I suppose). But there is a big Persian population in West LA - I remember them piling out into the streets after a win in the 1998 World Cup. This place, Shamshiri, is one of the best in the neighborhood, and apparently it has been very successful lately, sporting a new location and decor.
Come here on an empty stomach and you will still have enough left over for a full meal the next day. My favorite is the koobideh (seasoned ground beef broiled on a fire), which seemed a bit sweeter today than I prefer, but was still amazingly juicy, especially when paired with a bite from a sweet raw onion, which I have been told is the proper technique, with the obvious side effects of dragon breath. But burying a cube of butter underneath the steaming hot fluffy Basmati and saffron rice is heaven, as are the fire roasted tomatoes and vegetables.
Venturing onto other menu items, the vegetarian sabzi polo (scallions, cilantro, parsley, dill, garlic, and fenugree baked in rice) was OK, but it had a taste mildly reminiscient of Indian food. The shirazi salad (a Persian specialty of diced cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, and parsley with lemon juice) was refreshing, and this is coming from a guy who hates parsley (but is starting to get accustomed to it). Finally, the dough (a Persian yogurt drink) was really good: sour with mint like a weakened Indian raita rather than a sweet lassi. Pretty darned good all around.
And in case you were wondering if this sounded like a lot of food, it was. There are tons of leftovers. Want some?