Persian cuisine is not often found this part of the world. We have the occasional 'Middle Eastern' restaurant, encompassing food from all of the Middle East, which is a bit like having Singaporean and Thai food lumped under the umbrella of 'Asian restaurant', but I digress. So anyways, country-specific cuisine like Persian fare, nada, I don't recall ever having Persian food on our shores.

It was Jaleesoo who recommended Shabestan, which is a little bit like Arabian Nights come to life. It's a lot kitsch, and its ambience by the riverside at Robertson Quay was plenty fine, but unfortunately, the lovely setting didn't translate to excellent food. In this regard, Kazbar remains my favourite spot for Middle Eastern cuisine.

I first had hummus at a girlfriend's home, who set the standard of hummus ridiculously high, coz, boy does she make amazing hummus. This Hummus ($10) a blend of garbanzo beans, tahini, olive oil and lightened with lemon juice, didn't come close. The consistency was thin and the olive oil insipid, so much so the wonderfully toasty Iranian bread couldn't save the absymal hummus.

We also ordered a medley of grilled meats, the Shandiz ($48) lamb on the bone, Gulf Prawn Kebab ($39), Fish Kebab ($37), and Chicken Shish Kebab ($36) all marinated in saffron and lime juice, and served with saffron & dill basmati rice. The meats were a half-and-half, ranging from the pedestrian to the inedible. The gulf prawns were fresh and sweet, the lamb fresh and luscious, and the chicken was succulent and flavoursome. That said, the spice rubs could have been more punchy, they were lacking in that special something, that oomph that would have made it pop. The fish was terribly fishy, which the heady spice mix failed to mask. Suffice it to say, we didn't finish the fish.

The Baghlava ($10), layered filo pastry chunky with chopped nuts, honey and rose water, was aromatic but a little dry.

The Persian Saffron Ice-Cream ($8) dotted with crushed pistachio and pomegranate seeds, was a much better dessert option. Nuanced and refreshing.

80 Mohamed Sultan Road #01-13
The Pier at Robertson
Tel: 6836 1270
Open daily from 12noon to 11.30pm
Website: www.shabestan.sg

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