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Afghan Kebab House #6: Grab a kebab at Little Neck’s Afghan Kebab House

The name is a tip off that Afghan Kebab House #6 is not the first of its kind. We're not sure whether six restaurants qualifies as a chain, but it's certainly a serious cluster. With six under their belt, you know they have experience at what they're doing. The other Queens location is in Jackson Heights.Queens's Afghan population numbered 4,364 in the 2000 census, and the immigrants mostly live in Flushing. Their cuisine reflects influences from neighbors in the Middle East, Central Asia, India and the Far East. There is internal diversity as well, with tribes like the Pashtuns, Tajiks and Uzbeks having their own specialties.The mainstays of the Afghan diet are their version of naan (tandoori bread), basmati rice pilaf and kebabs. What gives their food its identifiable Afghan flavor is a seasoning blend called char masala, made from cinnamon, cloves, cumin and black cardamom, used especially in rice pilafs. Most Afghan dishes are moderately spiced - leave your fire extinguisher at home. Afghan Kebab House #6 is invitingly exotic. The walls of this small space are festooned with Afghan textiles and garments, and intriguing Afghan artifacts are strategically displayed throughout. An alcove is set aside for tradition style dining at low tables with cushion seating. Only a few steps, but a world away from Northern Boulevard.AKH#6's appetizers are all variations on a fried dumpling theme. We opted for the combination. They are all flatish in shape with fairly thin crisp pastry. None of them were highly spiced, and the most interesting one was the bolanee kadu, filled with mashed pumpkin, herbs and spices.We were offered complimentary bowls of soup. Their two soups are mashawa (lentil) and aush (vegetable noodle). We preferred the mashawa, but neither was memorable.For our entrees, we chose the lamb tikka kebab and aushak ghoushti. The aushak ghoushti was described on the menu as boiled dumplings filled with scallions, herbs and spices topped with minted yogurt sauce and ground beef sauce. The dumplings resembled large flaccid raviolis covered in a tart minty yogurt sauce, topped with a somewhat gamey spiced ground beef sauce. It is an unusual dish, but not one we are eager to repeat soon.The lamb tikka kebab was wonderful. The lamb was succulent and elegantly spiced. The portion was formidable. Paired with fragrant basmati rice (choose the brown to feel virtuous) it's an absolute delight.We savored our two vegetable side dishes - spinach qurma and eggplant qurma. Both vegetables were stewed with the characteristic Afghan spices, elevating them from the mundane with eastern complexity. The eggplant achieved a sweetness offsetting the spiciness. The veggies are a perfect enhancement to the kebab and rice pairing.Of the two desserts offered, we preferred the firnee, an Afghan milk pudding, to the not-as-fresh-as-it-could-be baklava. The firnee is a sort of vanilla pudding that has been jazzed up with rose water and cardamom. The Bottom LineAnother credible ethnic restaurant has entered the eastern Queens casual dining scene. The decor is exotic and the service solicitous. Carnivores and vegetarians will both find viable choices. If you don't shy away from mild spiciness, this Afghan eatery makes a delightful change of pace.Afghan Kebab House #6253-11 Northern Blvd.Little Neck718-767-4408Cuisine: Traditional AfghanSetting: Quirkily invitingService: Friendly and accommodatingHours: Open from 3:30 p.m., seven daysReservations: OptionalAlcohol: BYOBParking: StreetDress: CasualChildren: WelcomeMusic: RecordedTakeout: YesCredit cards: The usualNoise level: AcceptableHandicap accessible: YesRecommended DishesBolanee kaduÉ$3.50Spinach qurmaÉ$4.95Eggplant qurma...$4.95Palau or chalauÉ$5.95Lamb tikka kebabÉ$15.95Lamb kofta kebabÉ$14.95FirneeÉ$3.50

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