It is now tradition for a couple colleagues and I to grab dinner after we complete a Fremont naturalization workshop, which happens twice a year. It really is a family affair, as we all like to drag our family members into volunteering at our event. This September, it was just my mother and me representing our clan since my sister was in school and my father was having himself a temper tantrum at home.
We used to always go for Indian, but we have now branched out to Afghan. This last workshop, we decided to stray from our usual Afghan restaurant, De Afghanan Kabob House, and try out Salang Pass instead:
(I only had my cell phone with me, so please forgive the poor photo quality.)
Finding the Salang parking lot was an adventure in itself, but when we ultimately did find it, we appreciated that it was much larger than the one at De Afghanan.
Besides boring old tables, Salang offered more unique seating with its cushions and low tables:
When the host asked which we would prefer, we all simultaneously pointed at the low tables. But when we actually sat down, we realized we might have made a mistake.
Lounging is nice when you're snacking, but when you're trying to eat with a knife and fork, it's a bit more work. Also, it's quite difficult to find a position to fold your legs into under the table that is comfortable enough to remain in for an entire meal. Especially if you have long legs. Which I don't.
It was pretty funny watching all of us struggle into our seats. But then we felt extremely dumb when later on, we observed another group simply move the tables to get into their spots. Now why didn't we think of that?
As per usual, we let our resident Afghans, HA and her husband, take over the ordering.
Our meal started with a complimentary salad:
And baskets of Afghan bread:
Bolani ($8.95) is a must whenever we go to Afghan restaurants:
The description on Salang's menu called it an Afghan calzone. That made me laugh. I think of it as a flatbread filled with lovely leeks and potatoes. It's perfection with thick, cold yogurt.
My boss is a big fan of eggplant, so HA made sure to get the borta ($6.50), which is a baked eggplant dish:
The first borta that was brought out was very undercooked, so we sent it back and got a new one. The second one was fine, but still nowhere as delicious as the one HA makes.
Actually, I've never had borta anywhere that's as good as how HA makes it.
Somehow, HA and her husband ordered us a giant platter with a combination of different meats:
There were chicken kabobs, beef teka kabobs, chapli kabobs (grilled ground sirloin patties), and chopan kabobs (lamb chops). Instead of regular basmati rice in the center, we got a mound of quabili pallow, which is a seasoned rice with candied carrots, raisins, and lamb shank.
I have no clue how much that platter cost.
After trying a little bit of everything, my mother turned to me and said exactly what was on my mind. The food was good...but not as good as De Afghanan.
Don't get me wrong. This doesn't mean I wouldn't be willing to go back to Salang again. Salang has a couple things going for it that De Afghanan doesn't have:
1) Bigger parking lot
2) Less wait
3) Better ventilation (even my father wouldn't be able to complain about any smoke in the air)
Those things are important too.
The next Fremont workshop will be in April. If only we could skip the workshop and get straight to dinner. Sigh.
Salang Pass Restaurant
37462 Fremont Blvd
Fremont, CA 94536