3.343 P31bO/Iran(43): Dal-Adas Curry + Rice

-Cycle 3, Item 343-
13 (Thu) December 2012

P31bO/Iran(43): Dal-Adas Curry + Rice


at Persian Palace

-Daehakno, Seoul-

with Wife

Iran is the 43rd consecutive country to be featured in the on-going Project 31 By Origin (see previously 3.342 P31bO/Germany(42): Bauernsuppe).

Persian Palace is an Iranian restaurant (see website for Persian Palace).  Perhaps again "the only one in Korea, as far as I know," a common theme among many restaurants that I've encountered during P31bO.  For some reason, Persian Palace is located near Daehakro (대학로)--a neighborhood home to many small theaters and museums, popular among students attending one of several universities in the area; in fact, the restaurant's front door directly faces the entrance to Sungkyunkwan University, making it the first thing that anyone sees when exiting the campus.  Thus, the customer base is primarily local, a fact noted on the menu in explaining that the style of the food has been altered to accommodate local preferences.  The types of menu items seem to associate generically either with the Middle East (e.g., kebab) or South Asia (e.g., curry), rather than Iranian cuisine specifically (see Wikipedia on Iranian cuisine); then again, the menu does classify kebab as "Persian," which some historians believe it to be.  As suggested by the restaurant's many appearances on TV--screen shots from various programs are plastered both on the walls of the foyer and on the menu--Persian Palace has become quite famous, especially for its spicy curries (or rather the spiciness of its curries).

Certainly one of the most garishly decorated restaurants that I've been to in awhile.

According to the menu, dal-adas curry provides additional health benefits beyond the basic nutritional value of the lentils.  "In Persian traditional medicine from ancient time is recommended for anemic patients.  Also improves beauty of skin and makes brain healthy."  The claims must be true because the owner started out in Korea to "inter" at a medical school here and now calls himself "Dr. Shapour."  

From a culinary perspective, the curry was just okay but disappointingly familiar.  Aside from the lentils, the sauce itself was reminiscent of the mild and sweet Japanese-style curry ubiquitous throughout Korea, an impression further supported by the medium grain rice that came with it.  The main difference was in the heat; we ordered level 2.5 ("For Foreigners, as Spicy as chilly"), which didn't register at first but eventually built up to a dull burn after a few bites.  A decent bargain at 10,000 won for the set.

These side dishes clearly indicate Koreanization.

To legitimize P31bO/Iran, if only nominally, I eschewed the Indian naan on the menu in favor of the Persian naan, which turned out to be dry and crumbly and flavorless; to be fair, Dr. Shapour had tried to me steer me towards the Indian version.

This was some kind of Persian liquor that tasted like spiked lemonade; when I asked Dr. Shapour if it contained arrak--a distilled alcohol that I'd learned about in Sri Lanka (see 3.282 Seerfish White Curry)--he got really excited, claiming that no customer in over 20 years of the business had ever before inquired about the drink, went behind the counter and brought out a bottle of Iranian arrak; he gave me a shot on the house but wouldn't give me any more, not even at a price.

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