PARSIPPANY — Located in yet another small strip mall off North Beverwyck Road at the far end of the Lake Hiawatha business district you will discover a touch of Iran at the Rayhoon Persian Kabob House. Since this venue is celebrating its one-year anniversary since joining Parsippany’s diverse culinary scene last January 31, it seemed a perfect time to visit and try some authentic Persian (Iranian) cuisine and focus on this week’s restaurant review, and since this was my first visit to a Persian restaurant, one that I have heard some great things about, I was really looking forward to trying some of the house specialties.
First, a little backstory about this cool, little, family-owned and operated restaurant and its co-owners, brothers Mehdi and Reza Kazerani. According to their website, both brothers possess a long, passionate, and impressive resume in the food and service industry. Mehdi developed his culinary talents with over 20 years’ experience at the luxurious and Michelin nominated Café Matisse in Rutherford, while Reza hails from the prestigious Hotel Espinas in Iran. Their promise to their customers is that Rayhoon Persian Kabob House will only serve fresh ingredients and that every dish will be cooked and prepared by their hands and hearts to only serve the best authentic Persian food.
The exterior of Rayhoon (which means Basil) is very appealing, with a stylish brick façade and a well-lighted, attention-grabbing, restaurant sign which welcomes you to check out what’s inside. The interior is somewhat small, sparkling clean, with its seven tables carefully arranged throughout the dining area in full conformance with all the required COVID 19 health guidelines. Warm, comfortable, and cozy, with paintings, relaxed lighting, and some indoor plants and artifacts throughout. Simple décor but a nice vibe and relaxing atmosphere.
Reza Kazerani, who was working the counter graciously welcomed me to the restaurant and offered me my choice of tables. Following a brief conversation, you could instantly see that Reza is a friendly, personable, hospitable, and accommodating host. I was made to feel very much at home as he prepared my table and was more than willing to explain the menu, which features everything from soups, salads, and sandwiches to full platters while providing some suggestions at my request. He revealed that he has been back and forth to his home in Iran through the years until a couple of years ago when he and his brother, Mehdi, who was unavailable this night, decided together to open Rayhoon. Frankly, it is a home run for the Parsippany dining scene. Reza said their love and passion for cooking began by watching and learning from their grandparents in their homeland when they were children and it blossomed from there. Their combined culinary talent clearly presents itself in their fine food and excellent service.
For an appetizer, I ordered the Kashk-O-Bademjan (Smashed fried eggplant and garlic topped with fermented yogurt, walnuts, caramelized garlic, and onions). Not being familiar with the dish I did not know what to expect. I ordered it as an appetizer, but it could have easily been an entrée. It was an ample serving of delicious eggplant, basically, a dip that was full of amazing, different layers of flavor and spices that went perfectly with the basket of soft, pillowy, and crusty Barbari bread and butter, and two very flavorful on-the-side sauces that accompanied the meal.
The sauces, garlic (variation of Tzatziki) and habanero are both house-made with Rayhoon’s own special recipe and they both really complimented and enhanced the meal. A note of caution, the habanero sauce is extremely hot so be careful if you are not used to hot, spicy food. I personally enjoyed the habanero sauce on my Kashk-O-Bademjan, but I am used to hot, spicy food, while the white garlic sauce seemed to raise my Basmati Rice to a new taste level, and which I did liberally mix in with my rice.
For my entrée, Reza was considerate enough to put together a combo dish of Koobideh Kabob (a skewer of mixed ground beef and lamb) and Beef Soltani (a skewer of barg, which is grilled marinated, tenderized beef tenderloin). The assorted meats that comprised my entrée were marinated and prepared perfectly, cooked too medium and expertly spiced. Juicy, savory, and mouth-wateringly delicious. I could cut the meat with my fork. The portions are generous, plus all the platters are served with an equally generous mound of saffron basmati rice and a grilled tomato. I would suggest you try sprinkling some sumac on your rice as well. Sumac is a dark red, slightly tangy, light-flavored, fragrant spice that just kicks the dish up another notch. I understand that if you ask, they will gladly give you a little sample packet to take home.
By now I was too full for dessert which was disappointing as I was anxious to try the Persian Rollet (Vanilla-soaked cake filled and rolled with fluffy homemade whipped cream). I guess I will just have to save that for next time.
Rayhoon Persian Kabob House is a BYOB, so bring along your favorite, but tonight I chose to go with a traditional Persian Doogh, Abali Yogurt Soda. Had to try it! Like everything else this evening, I totally enjoyed it.
If you have not tried Persian cuisine you are missing out. But, if you are interested in experiencing authentic Persian cuisine there is no need to hop on a plane for Iran when you can simply stop by Rayhoon Persian Kabob House and experience a variety of authentic dishes at reasonable prices while in a clean, friendly, hospitable, and comfortable environment.
Please support all our small, independent local businesses in any way you can.
Authentic Healthy Persian Cuisine – Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free, Kabobs, Stews, Specialty Foods. BYOB, Ample Parking.
Rayhoon Persian Kabob House, 450 North Beverwyck Road, Parsippany. For information call (973) 794-6137. Click here to view the website.