Ask a Comida Critic: Persian Food in OC?

From Twitter follower @CRACK_BERRY:

Looking for the hands down #PersianFood in #OC - Anyone have suggestios? - Recommendations @OCWeeklyFood

Damn straight we do!

It's little secret now that Orange County is a hotbed of Persian activity almost rivaling Beverly Hills and the Westside of Los Angeles. Irvine is the hub of our community, but definitely not the only place to get great Persian grub. Hatam in Anaheim is still holding down the fort for Persians at the northernmost end of Little Arabia (and right next to a Persian food market) with their powerful pickles and lamb as silky as Jell-O, while Naan and Kabob in Tustin remains a great introduction to the cuisine for novices, with its plentiful rice pilafs and charred-just-right kabobs. Irvine's Caspian Restaurant is now for Persians what Versailles in Little Havana is for Cuban expats: a place to hold fundraisers and conduct business, but I find the prices too high for so-so food (and their tanori is usually lukewarm). I can name others, but why bother with them?

Save for the best one, of course.

Wholesome Choice isn't a full restaurant, of course--just a collection of buffet lines, most forgettable. But not the Persian part. Their fessenjoon, the walnut-pomegranate stew, is the culture at its finest: tart, sweet, earthy, comforting, but more than anything, electrifying. They mix the polos (rice pilafs) throughout the week, but always stock fat, fragrant meatballs containing a date inside. Cornish game hens sit in their own juices; kabobs get fired up upon order. And though each order comes with a side of lavash, onions, butter, and lemon, do what everyone else does: stand in line near the entrance for some sangak, the finest bread since the Nazarene multiplied loaves for the multitudes.

Got a spicy question for the Comida Critic? Ask him in the comments below!

Location Info

Wholesome Choice

18040 Culver Drive, Irvine, CA

Category: Restaurant

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Reza Shaeri
Reza Shaeri

How 'bout ask a Persian: Naan and Kabob I believe is owned/operated by Afghanis, not Iranians. While very similar, there are differences in tastes and ingredients. A bit like sending someone to Versailles for Puerto Rican food. As far as Wholesome, their food is decent and a bargain, but if your only experience with Persian cuisine is in a food court, you're missing out. The Hatam in Anaheim is o.k., but the one in Mission Viejo is far better (I don't think they're related, both took the name from a famous restaurant in Tehran) This place is very popular among Iranians in the County for gatherings/weddings, so that tells you something about the quality. Darya in Orange is second. But if you want the real experience, head north to Glendale, "Raffi's Place" is the most authentic Persian Kabob place in all California, and a bargain too.


Darya in South Coast Village, next to Antonello has wonderful food, has a separate bar and is stunning to look at! But the best Persian food, by far, is is Bahar on the second floor of Crown Valley Market in Mission Viejo.


Hi Reza.  Do you know of any good, authentic Persian places near San Jose?

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

I like Darya in Orange, too. Their juicy chicken kabob is the only such one I've had that lives up to its name, and their zereshk polo (barberry rice) is outstanding.

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