Shabestan, Mohamed Sultan Rd: Quality Persian fare to feast like royalty

One thing I’ve learnt is that every dish lives to tell a tale; what better way to learn more about the history of a person than to indulge in their food? That’s where the Iranians, or commonly known as Persians, come in. 

Although the Lebanese and Turkish have dominated the food scene for far too long, the Middle East is a melting pot of different cultures, and like Singapore, you can expect a plethora of delicious food.

What I tried

Appetiser Platter

Like any other Middle Eastern restaurant, it’s always advisable to start with the mezze. I was obviously spoiled for choice with a loaded list of all my favourites and decided to go for the Appetiser Platter (S$38). The platter, consisting of five chef-recommended dips, will come with Hummus, Muhamara—a mixture of walnut and pomegranate dip, Homemade Cheese, Kashk-E-Bademjan (Persian eggplant dip), and Borani Esfanaj (Persian spinach dip).

Persian bread

It’s best to prepare yourself with an empty stomach as the dips will come with a side of hearty, freshly-baked Persian bread. To begin your royal dining experience, it’s advisable to use your hands, and substitute the fluffy bread as a spoon to scoop up your desired dip.

After tasting all five dips, I realised that I’ve been missing out on some really commendable flavour combinations, like how I never would have imagined to pair the tangy walnut with sweet pomegranate, but here I am, savouring the very last of the Muhamara.

IXSIR Grande Réserve Rosé

I should also add that Shabestan carries a range of award-winning Lebanese wines and although uncommon, they actually pair well with Middle Eastern cuisine. If you’d like, you can pair your mezze with the Ixsir Grande Réserve Rosé (S$98) also known as the Best Wine of The World 2021 Competition’s winner of Best Rosé in the World. The mellow wine has a light and fruity aftertaste which will help with cleansing your palate along the way.

Salad-Eh Adas

‘Tis the season (to try new things), so I decided to give the Five-course Persian Festive Menu (S$88++ per pax) a go. The first course, Salad-Eh Adas, is a hearty beetroot salad with lentils and eggs topped with a Persian spice, Golpar (Persian Hogwood). When the salad arrived, I was confused because I thought I was served with a plate of steak tartare by accident.

Confusion aside, the salad is a combination of tart and earthy flavours, and the addition of egg blankets the bitterness of the beetroot, which works because I tend to stay away from bitter vegetables.

Sambuseh Homemade chilli sauce

The Sambuseh, also known as Persian samosas, are flaky pastries that are filled with lentils, potatoes, and Persian spices, and are paired with their classic garlic yoghurt sauce and homemade chilli sauce—akin to a chutney.

Close up of Sambuseh

The difference between the Sambuseh and Indian samosa is that the former has a thinner shell, and is not riddled with heaps of masala. Ultimately, the dish on its own was too bland for me hence, the homemade chilli sauce came in handy.

Shirin Polo

To deliver on ‘festive flavours’, I was first served with the Shirin Polo—Persian ‘jewelled’ rice. It is a sweet rice dish that is commonly served to mark special occasions and is usually prepared with onions, carrots, nuts, and dried fruits.

Somewhat similar to the Punjabi Meethe Chawal with its only difference being the usage of saffron; the Shirin Polo uses the rare Iranian saffron to get its yellow hue whereas the Punjabi version uses Indian saffron.

Khoresht-E-Kadoo Tanbal

This brings me to the next dish, upon hearing its Persian name, Khoresht-E-Kadoo Tanbal—I grimaced because as much as I am a lover of meat, I have a deep-set hatred for kadoo (pumpkin). However, to quote Freddie Mercury, ‘the show must go on hence, I put on a brave front and took a rather large bite of the tomato-based stew.

Like the rice, it wasn’t heavily spiced; the only saving grace was that the lamb was well-marinated, tender and cooked to perfection.

Mixed Kubideh Kebab

Before ending with my dessert, I knew I had to get their best-selling dish: the Mixed Kubideh Kebab (S$35). It is a combination of lamb and chicken kubideh served with basmati rice and grilled tomatoes. Like a kofta, the kubideh is minced meat mixed with spices, smashed or flattened with a mullet, and cooked on a skewer.

Collage of cake

At this point, I could feel my body reaching its capacity for sweet dishes so I was quite reluctant to have the Pomegranate Cheesecake. I proceeded to tackle the cheesecake and surprisingly, the three-layered cheesecake made with fresh pomegranate didn’t end up being too sweet. To top it all off, it tasted eerily similar to a sugee cake, which we all know is the true Christmas dessert.

Final thoughts

Unlike Lebanese cuisine, in my opinion, Persian cuisine feels healthier. I also noticed that their food is subtly spiced, delicate in flavour and appearance, and not typically hot or spicy—which is fine. I love how the majority of their dishes rely heavily on the usage of olive oil, making their dishes light and easy to consume. 

Although I’m still not a fan of sweet dishes, I can finally understand the correlation between Persians and dining like royalty because of the amount of preparation time they put into their dishes, especially to make them look as visually appealing as possible. As the saying goes ‘you eat with your eyes first’—that’s what Persian cuisine is all about. 

Expected damage: S$30 – S$95 per pax

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Price: $ $ $

Our Rating: 4 / 5

Shabestan

80 Mohamed Sultan Road, The Pier at Robertson, #01-13, Singapore 239013

Price
Our Rating 4/5

Shabestan

80 Mohamed Sultan Road, The Pier at Robertson, #01-13, Singapore 239013

Operating Hours: 12pm - 10pm (Daily)

Operating Hours: 12pm - 10pm (Daily)
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