A guest at a recent dinner party was born in Iran, which prompted my question "What", I asked, "is the best Iranian or Persian restaurant in the city?" His answer came in the blink of an eye...NOON-O-KABOB, at 466 North Kedzie Avenue.
NOON-O-KABAB is in a small corner store front. There are tables with seating for about 30 people. The walls display a small array of Persian carpets and other creations from that complex and often misunderstood land. The sound of Farsi, the native tongue of Persia is heard in conversation at some tables, mixed in with English and an assortment of accents at others.
NOON-O-KABAB's owners are brother and sister. He seems most busy back in the small kitchen, while she bustles about tending to customer's needs. We could not have been greeted with more warmth or friendliness. Though she had never seen us before, the hostess did all she could to guide us through the restaurant's menu, with suggestions and explanations.
We expressed an interest in eggplant which our dinner party acquaintance particularly estolled. She urged us to try an eggplant which was not on the menu. It had a deep mustard color, odd we thought its flavors were those of mint, lemons which added a bit of sharp bite, some garlic and possible saffron or even turmeric fore the color. It was delicious, especially when spread on the hot puffy bread, or noon, from which the restaurant takes its name.
The menu lists several appetizers whose names will easily be recognized by diners familiar with Middle Eastern foods, as well as a few not so familiar. But even before we ordered anything, our hostess brought out a platter with that delicious warm bread, chunks of mild feta cheese and slices tomatoes and onions which seemed to have some light seasoning.
The menu has several kebabs, or grilled chicken, lamb and beef' in an array of styles. Skewed Norwegian salmon is an unusual addition, and white fish was also available the night we visited. In the face of so many choices, a combination platter was the puffy noon bread which was much more than a decorative touch. The flavors of the meats and chicken were exceptionally delicious, perfectly cooked, moist and tender.
The restaurant serves no liquor, hot tea is recommended. Desserts include Levantine delights such as a honey sweet baklava lavished with ground nuts under a pastry domed crust. Expect to spend about $25 a couple, or less. NOON-O-KABAB is at 4661 North Kedzie and has a K/RATING of 19/20.