adventures in the far east — of canada!

An evening on Water and Duckworth (Afghani food)

In culture, food, friends, internship, st. john's on July 17, 2009 at 12:27 pm

CBC was in the studio yesterday to film about the Pitcher Plant, part of the logo Target developed for the provincial brand. There was a lot of hustle, pretend meetings, and warnings of no phone calls to Creative; I wondered if another free music concert at the Park (despite not being Friday, it just happens a lot) was annoying the film crew. Hopefully not.

After work, I met another person in response to my long-ago ad. If they don’t drop off the face of the earth a step before meeting, I always set up a meet with them (at a public place, of course).

Hava Java again, one of the popular, hipster coffee/tea places here, such as in Calgary Higher Grounds (Kensington) or Caffe Beano (downtown). Had a hot chocolate–literally! It was called “Cocoa del Mexico” or something, and it burned your throat. It was good, though, but it made for a bad impulse purchase on a very hot day…

The girl I met was nice, if a little shy, but it certainly says something that she agreed to meet. I found I had to start the conversations or topics usually, until much later when she decided I wasn’t horrible or something, haha–which is fine, I can work with that, I like trying to make people comfortable. She pretty much grew and lived here her whole life, so there was good chatter about the city and how things go here. I am still learning!

After over 90 minutes, I declared I shouldn’t hold her up any longer–it was a little past 7, and neither of us had dinner, and she’d told her parents she’d be back for that! So we departed, and hopefully I’ll see her again.

On the way home, I decided I didn’t want to do some late cooking, and strolled down Water Street instead (which is where the cafe was located, anyway), scoping out a restaurant to try.

Thursday evening there were buskers as always, a guitarist/singer, the bagpiper, a group of 4 young guys drumming…as ever, downtown St. John’s was fairly lively. There was a big lineup by a cotton candy machine on the sidewalk, and I stepped aside, not really looking to buy sweets. But the lady asked me, “Do you want some free cotton candy?”

I looked again–their sign proclaimed jubilantly, “FREE COTTON CANDY!” Cool! People were happily clutching big clouds of the pink fluffy stuff on paper cones, adults and children alike. I laughed a little (it just made me happy), but politely declined–true, I wasn’t looking to buy sweets, but hunting for dinner, I guess I wasn’t looking for free candy either (appetite and all that). But I thought it was a lovely little thing that they were giving free cotton candy to passerby. There was no event happening, at least not that I could tell.

Anyway, there seems to be a lot of tourists in town at this time of year. A lot of families and groups clutching maps, walking around, heads up looking at everything. I’m still like that, minus the map, now; I pointed the way to one group looking for George Street, as they were heading completely in the opposite direction.

In the end, I found the tiny little family-run Afghan restaurant on Duckworth, just one street up. I’d looked it up before, and knew it was either on Water or Duckworth. Their menus proclaimed they were St. John’s first Afghani restaurant, but I thought they could up the prestige and change the wording to St. John’s only Afghani restaurant. Because categorically, they’re the only one listed…but it may not be correct, as there are some fast-foody, bistro-ish places that sell shawarmas and such.

For such a tiny place, I was surprised how fast the food came. I ordered, and a few minutes later, it arrived. It’s really tasty stuff–I don’t think I’ve ever went to a self-identified Afghani restaurant that serves nothing but–and the food really reminds me of Indian food, but much milder, and a little less elaborate (not a bad thing, just a characteristic). And it was super, super cheap!

You can easily have a satisfying dinner for about $10 there, but since I was there to try something new, I ordered almost $20 of food. I was hungry, but more importantly, I was curious!

Super cheap, but weird pricing–why not just round it to the nearest dollar, or 5 cents? I thought it had something to do with the HST–once factored in, I guessed maybe it would even out the sums. Nope.

I had:
Beef kabab (apetizer, $3.99)
Chicken curry (main, $7.83)
Rasgulla (dessert, $1.74)
Baklava (dessert, $1.93)

The chicken curry is more complex than the name suggests. Besides a huge serving of basmati rice and a sauce that covered their own halves of the dish, there were 5 smaller spots of different marinated vegetables or sauces on the rice. Very flavourful, and very fresh. Speaking of cheap food, I recall in the appetizers there was a Vegetarian Pakora available for $0.50, and a Veggie Samosa for $1.50!

I went home suitably pleased; service was quick and pleasant (if a little shy), the food was wonderful and inexpensive, and I didn’t have to cook for a night. 🙂 I don’t get lazy with that often, but it happens!

Besides…I ended up cooking anyway. Another big pot of spaghetti sauce for future lunches, a light, citrusy curry chicken, shrimp, and scallop sauce, with onions, carrots, cashews, and asparagus. Mmm. Now I have a larger roster of food to choose from: Thai curry, butter chicken, beef stir fry, and now this!

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  1. mmm. baklava! sounds delicious on my kind of budget! haha.

  2. My friend Jeanne and a German friend we met sampled the local vegetarian/vegan place in town yesterday…let’s just say we were very, very pleased! Everything on the menu sounded so appealing, I definitely want to go there again.

    But more on that later. 🙂

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