Shahrzad Restaurant opened for business just a month ago along Jalan Dato Sulaiman in Taman Abad, Johor Bahru. Mohammad, the boss invited me to try out Shahrzad's authentic Iranian and Arabian food.
The gracious lady boss, Marjan, sharing the fine points of Iranian food and culture with us. Both Mohammad and Marjan emphasised that they wanted to showcase Iranian hospitality through Shahrzad restaurant. Hence, visiting Shahrzad felt like visiting an Iranian home. In Iran, it is customary for the hosts pull out all stops to make sure that the guests feel at home and welcome. And, the best way to do so is to serve the best food.
Inside the Shahrzad, the decor is clean and simple. There is a comfortable air conditioned dining hall and a cosy, casual outdoors dining area.
But what fascinated me most was Shahrzad's private dining rooms. Shahrzad has two private rooms, that are set up like Arabian tents where hosts treat their guests with their best food. Mohammad and Marjan wanted to recreate this atmosphere in Johor Bahru. The walls and ceiling are draped with beautiful fabric personally sewn by Marjan. This is the non smoking private room.
This is the popular smoking room where guests enjoy authentic Iranian cuisine seated on comfortable cushions. Many guests enjoy shisha gatherings in this room.
In the kitchen, Chef Ahmad is the man behind all the authentic Persian cuisine at Shahrzad restaurant. Chef Ahmad hails from Iran and he has many years of experience working in 5-Star hotels in Dubai. Chef Ahmad was handpicked at the recommendation of Shiraz Restaurant, the top Persian restaurant in Singapore.
Mohammad gave me permission to visit the kitchen. I spotted these green chilies and the halved tomato. They looked so fresh, succulent and inviting, I couldn't resist snapping a picture of them :)
We started our lunch with a traditional Iranian welcome dish - freshly baked flat bread (naan) with basil leaves, cheese and olives.
Hummus and bread - the classic Arab staple that reminds me of my own travels to the Middle East. Shahrzad's hummus is a blend of chickpea paste and imported sesame paste generously doused with olive oil.
Shirazi Salad RM8
Next, we had Shirazi Salad which is a colourful mix of crunchy chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, onions and herbs tossed in a tangy and sweet sauce. Very refreshing and seems to appeal especially to ladies :)
Mushroom soup RM9
Shahrzad's rich mushroom soup is made from fresh vegetables, herbs and butter.
The skewered chicken, lamb and tomatoes on the charcoal grill. The marinaded meats toasting over slow fire from white hot charcoal letting off puffs of aromatic greasy fumes.
Shandiz Kebab RM58
Shandiz is a small town in northeastern Iran renown for their lamb kebab. Shahrzad restaurant uses prime cut imported Australian lamb to recreate this dish in Johor Bahru, hence the premium pricing. The char grilled meat was tender, juicy and savoury. The fats were creamy and smokey. Chewing the meat and fats together releases that pleasant flavour that lamb lovers love. I also love those juicy grilled tomatoes and chilies :)
The chicken saffron kebab at RM29.
The chunks of chicken leg were fragrant, tender and savoury. The chunks of meat were juicy as they were made with chicken leg and skilfully grilled by Chef Ahmad.
All of Shahrzad's kebabs are served with a generous portion of top quality Basmati rice. The rice is fluffy and not starchy. The rice is flavoured with aromatic saffron and special ingredients that give it satisfying body.
Shahrzad restaurant is conveniently located near major hotels like New York Hotel, KSL Resort and Hotel Grand Paragon. Shahrzad is just 15 minutes drive from downtown Johor Bahru or JB CIQ.
If you want to experience authentic Persian cuisine in Johor Bahru, Shahrzad restaurant is the place.
Restaurant name: Shahrzad Restaurant
Address: 94, Jalan Dato Sulaiman, Taman Abad, Johor Bahru
Hours: 11:45am to 3:00pm and 5:30pm to 11:45pm (Closed on Monday)
Date visited: 22 May 2013