Nominees: Wali & Mariam Arshad of Afghan Kitchen
Wali Arshad came to the United States from Afghanistan and surprise, surprise discovered that there weren’t any good Afghan restaurants in Utah. He opened a small restaurant with his partner chef Naeem Amel and set out to introduce Utah to the cuisine of his country.
“I always tell people that our cuisine is in-between Indian and Iranian,” Wali says. “Afghans think Indians use too much spice and Iranians use too little. We are right in the middle.”
“I have learned that preparing food is a work of art,” Wali says. “When a customer leaves happy, it motivates me more. I had never been to culinary school and didn’t know how to cook. My wife trained me and together we built a menu that we love. Hospitality is key in our culture. If you come to my home I’ll give you a feast.”
Dishes not to miss
“The lamb shank, qabili palau, is our most popular dish, but we serve everything family style so everyone can share and try it all.”
One cool thing
“My vision for this restaurant is that you come here and feel like you are dining in Afghanistan and you get a sense of our cultural sense of hospitality.”
Afghan Kitchen // 1465 S. State St., SLC, 801-953-1398. 3142 S. Main St., South Salt Lake, 385-229-4155
Nominated by: Francis Fecteau of Libation Inc.
‘Why I love Afghan Kitchen’
“I discovered Afghan Kitchen as just a random quarantine meal choice. I didn’t understand the menu but I thought, ‘what the hell.’ It was a random confluence of hunger and curiosity. My first taste was a party in my mouth! It’s easy for Central Asian cuisine to blur from region to region but this was distinctly different from its regional neighbors. I love the authenticity here. I had never tasted anything like it, there was a depth to the cuisine and it survived the transit of takeout. I eat there three to four times a month and love the mantu dumplings and the borani banjan. It’s as if the eggplant was made into edible silk. Qorma e murgh is a chicken dish many would confuse with indian tikka masala but there’s a fresh gingery lift to it that simply blows my mind!”
Why does Afghan Kitchen deserve to be recognized in the 2022 Dining Awards?
“The Arshads are wizards who clearly love their native land. Afghan Kitchen brings a new and necessary element to the SLC culinary landscape. It’s like discovering a new color or a new sound.” — Francis Fecteau of Libation Inc.
This year, we are doing our Dining Awards a little bit differently. In the spirit of Utah’s close-knit and supportive dining industry, we asked some of the top industry professionals to nominate their favorite chefs. The 2022 Salt Lake Magazine Dining Awards presents 12 honorees, each paired by their mutual admiration for each other and love of good food. Read the full list of winners. Subscribe for more Salt Lake magazine.