Location: 1451 Lonsdale Avenue – North Vancouver, BC
Mehman has opened up on Lonsdale Avenue, the obvious choice for a kebab restaurant. It joins Cazbah, Zeitoon, (both) Yaas Grill House(s), Nayeb, Persian Gulf, Kolbeh & Vanak’s hot take-out counter too. If you’re going to open a Persian restaurant in Vancouver, it’s probably going to be on Lonsdale in North Vancouver. Downtown has a few outlets of some of these more popular restaurants but nothing compares to the quality and service found on Lonsdale. The best Persian restaurant in Vancouver used to be found in West Vancouver (another obvious choice due to the local demographic) but that restaurant, sadly, closed its doors many years ago.
Environment: Mehman means “Guest” in Farsi (and I believe a few other languages, as well) and that is exactly what you feel like at their restaurant. The restaurant is cozy and simply decorated.
Service: 5/5 The server (or servers depending on the time of day) are friendly and attentive while never hovering or rushing you. They happily make suggestions of what to order, if you ask. Both the service and the kitchen are fast and efficient.
Kashk-e Bademjan – $6.99
Kashke-Bademjan is a Persian (and Azerbaijani! – my peoples) dish made of eggplants, fried onion and kashk (thickened whey). It’s decorated with fried onions, fried mint, good quality olive oil and lots of kashk. It’s usually served as an appetizer but with enough bread for dipping, this could definitely be a vegetarian main meal!
I was very, very surprised by how tasty Mehman’s Kashk-e Bademjan is. I wasn’t expecting much as the flavour of this dish served in restaurants is usually good but not great. Mehman’s version of the dish, however, is really tasty! There is a depth of flavour that I’ve found lacking in many other restaurant’s versions of Kashk-e Bademjan. The roasted eggplants add a smokey flavour to the dish and the fried onions lend just the perfect amount of sweetness. Combine that with the generous fried mint, onion and kashk topping and you have a flavour explosion in your mouth. I would recommend ordering this overtime you visit Mehman.
Kebab Vaziri – $14.99
In my opinion, this dish is the ultimate litmus test for a Persian restaurant. It allows you to try the best of both kebab worlds – beef and chicken. Kebab Vaziri is one skewer of Koobideh (ground beef kebab) and one skewer marinated chicken (Joojeh) served with saffron basmati rice and a roasted tomato. Mehman does both types of kebab exceptionally well. The koobideh is juicy and flavourful with just the right amount of char. The joojeh kebab is very tasty and tender. The marinade that they use is really delicious and they leave the chicken in it long enough to develop a nice level of flavour.
Kebab Koobideh – $10.99
Basic AF but this is my favourite dish to order at Persian restaurants. I prefer beef kebab to anything else and I’m not even the biggest fan of red meat. I’m not a huge burger fan but present ground beef in a “meat on a stick” format and I’m all for it! Kebab Koobideh consists of 2 ground beef skewers and either basmati rice or sangak bread – with a side of roasted tomato, of course. This dish is usually one of the least expensive dishes on any Persian restaurant menu but I always find it the most satisfying. Mehman makes a really good kebab koobideh.
Ashak – $12.99
One of the things that sticks out about Mehman is that they advertise themselves as a restaurant serving Persian & Afghani food. You don’t usually see this in Vancouver (or on the North Shore). I scanned the menu and didn’t notice many items that would fall under specifically “Afghan” cuisine, although to be fair I’m not that familiar with it. I did however notice a dish that I’ve never seen on a Persian menu before – Ashak. A quick google search informed me that this was a traditionally Afghani dish of boiled/steamed dumplings stuffed with scallions covered in a garlic yogurt sauce and topped with a dollop of tomato based stew.
Needless to say, I was intrigued. I’ve never tried a dish like this before and I sure do love a good dumpling. The server explained to me that this was more of an appetizer and usually someone would order kebab after. It was very light and fresh tasting. It was like a lighter perogie in texture and dumpling style. The sauces on top went perfectly with the dumplings and there was a strong flavour of dried lime permeating the gheimeh style sauce that sat atop the garlic yogurt. I would probably stick to ordering Kashk-e Bademjan for an appetizer, over this dish, but it was fun to try something different.
Final Thoughts: In a relatively saturated market, Mehman has showed up and shown that they can handle the competition. It’s officially my Dad’s favourite place and he has pretty high standards when it comes to Persian food. I LOVE their Kashk-e Bademjan and would have to say it’s one of the best renditions of it I’ve ever eaten at a restaurant. Their kebabs are flavourful and they serve generous portions. Their restaurant isn’t fancy or lavishly decorated, they clearly focus more on the food and it shows in the flavours. I would definitely recommend trying out Mehman if you find yourself on the North Shore – or even making a special trip over just to visit!