A lesson on Asian Civilization and History would not be complete without the mention of Persia. This ancient kingdom in the Middle East prides itself on being the cradle of civilization—as it is located in the Fertile Crescent region between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Monarchs such as Darius I, his son Xerxes I (who invaded Greece), up until the last shah (king) Mohammed Reza Pahlavi have maintained the empire’s glory to the modern day—even when the kingdom has assumed a different name in the modern era: Iran. Pro-Islam forces led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini deposed Pahlavi during the 1979 Islamic Revolution and abolished the monarchy. Thus, the Islamic Republic of Iran came into being.
However, the spirit of Persia lives on—through its cuisine. I have seen Arya Persian Restaurant many times before, but initially hesitated to try it out. I admit, I’m not much of a fan of Persian or Middle Eastern cuisine for that matter. Discovering their Robinsons Magnolia branch was entirely by accident, since CJ and I were looking for a different dining spot. It helped that the discovery occurred a few days after I finished writing my review of Mister Kabab along West Avenue. Just like their tagline, we came inside as strangers to the cuisine itself and left with a new-found appreciation for it.
The restaurant’s facade.
A relief of Gilgamesh fighting the Bull of Heaven on the left.
Enjoy the spirit of Persia in a warm and exotic atmosphere.
Lamps straight out of Iran.
Geometric motifs are a key aspect in Middle Eastern architecture.
Bas-relief figures reminiscent of the ones in Behistun.
The light pieces stand out in the sea of desert tan.
I must say that Arya Persian Restaurant is one of the more high-end Middle Eastern joints in the metro. The orders here typically cost around P300-P500 per person, but you get to taste Persian fare just like how they serve it in Iran. It has other branches in Shangri-La Plaza Mall, Promenade Greenhills, and two locations in Robinsons Place Manila. Many food bloggers rave about their kababs—which are packed with flavor and come in big servings. These are served with naan bread by default, but you can have it with long-grain basmati rice topped with butter or spiced biryani rice with raisins and cashews for an additional charge. Aside from kababs, they also serve a few uniquely Persian dishes. Desserts and drinks have a distinctive Middle Eastern flair—from chai (house tea) and Turkish style coffee, to baklava and fig and orange cake.
Below are some pictures of their delectable and exotic dishes that will take you right into the heart of Persia. Do visit their official website and Facebook page to stay connected. Until the next review, nooshe jan (have a nice meal)!
Hot Rose Water / Golab (P129): Basically hot water with rosewater flavoring. Not really memorable unless you’re used to the taste or you add syrup in it.
Arya Chai (P138): Arya’s house tea blended with crushed cardamom pods.
The cardamom lends fragrance, making it good with a small amount of sugar.
Doogh / Laban (P85): Iranian yogurt drink with chopped mint, which might not appeal to some. I hacked this savory drink by adding some sugar syrup.
Arya Yogurt Smoothie (P118): This is closer to Indian sweet lassi, albeit more expensive.
Sambuseh (P208): Filo pastry dumplings with a potato and cheese filling, with a tamarind-based sauce.
Pita Bread (P25): This comes with their kebab dishes by default.
Basmati Rice (P138): This long-grain variant is a staple in the Middle East, but it’s less moist than your regular rice grains.
Makhsus Chicken (P392): Chicken chunk and ground chicken kebabs served with roasted tomatoes and vegetables.
Mourgh Koobideh (P374): Two ground chicken kebabs served with basmati rice, roasted tomatoes, and vegetables.
Chicken Sultani (P581): A mix of ground chicken and chicken chunks and vegetable kebab served with basmati rice, tomatoes, and vegetables.
Basmati rice has a nuttier flavor than regular rice grains here in the Philippines.
Mourgh Tanoori (P392): Chicken fillet chunks cooked in spicy sauce served with biryani rice, tomatoes, and vegetables.
The spice of the tanoori blends well with the sweetness of the biryani rice.
Makhsus Beef (P392): Beef chunks and ground beef kebabs served with basmati rice, roasted tomatoes, and vegetables.
Just like a good beef kebab, the skewers here are tender.
Qalye Mahi (P483): Chunks of fish fillet cooked in tamarind and herb sauce, with green bell peppers.
The tamarind sauce lends a savory yet tart twist – which gives life to basmati rice.
Fig Orange Cake (P174): Dome-shaped cake made from figs and oranges topped with pistachio bits, whipped cream, and condensed milk.
Surprisingly, this light cake condenses the flavors of the Mediterranean in every bite.
Almond Baklava (P183): Layers of filo pastry with chopped almond filling, with nuts and raisins.
This is personally disappointing for its size and price, but it makes up in the flavor department.
Turkish Coffee (P147): Coffee prepared in the Turkish manner, accompanied by sugar and milk.
In Turkey, this type of coffee is served in small espresso cups called fincan. Arya got it close enough to the real thing.
This coffee container, called dallah, incidentally comes from Saudi Arabia.
This is best served black, but some prefer to add sugar to taste.
Arya Persian Restaurant
0271, Level 2 Alfresco Dining, Robinsons Magnolia,
Aurora Boulevard corner Doña M. Hemady Street,
New Manila, Quezon City 1111