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A Delicious Walk Down Silk Road

05 September 2013 Written by  Tricia Piquero
Published in July 2013 Articles

I've been going to Walnut Creek's Silk Road restaurant ever since I learned of its existence.

A Mediterranean flare first attracted me to the place because Mediterranean is the style of food I love most of all because it does a better job of combining delicious flavors and tastes with good nutrition and healthy eating than any of the other popular cuisine.

I spoke with the proprietor/head chef, Hossein Sohi that in ancient times stretched from Italy through the Mediterranean and Europe, across Eastern Europe and ending in China. The Silk Road began to carry trade seven centuries before Marco Polo's famous travel account brought details of the route to the attention of Western Europeans.

Chef Tony claimed that his menu includes dishes and spices from each section of the Silk Road. While investigating and researching for this article, we sampled some tasty delicacies that Marco Polo might have recognized and, for sure, would have enjoyed. We started out with a couple libations from the bar. Tony served us pomegranate martinis that were a nice red color for our photographer and tasted delicious. I didn't actually need to sample them to know how good they are; these have been one of my favorite drinks on pastvisits to the restaurant.

The martinis were accompanied by a Combination Platter containing three dishes: The most familiar item was Hummus, which is a puree of garbanzo beans mixed with paprika and olive oil. I've never eaten hummus better than that. Another familiar and delicious item on the platter was babaghanosh, which is eggplant mixed with caramelized onions. The third item was tabbouleh made from wheat mixed with cucumber, tomato, parsley, and lemon juice. Each of the three items was a taste sensation. The Combination Platter was accompanied by a large round serving of unleavened bread that Tony said was made on-site following a recipe he learned as a youngster in his mother's kitchen. The dish was also accompanied with two dipping sauces, including the traditional Tzatziki, which is made of strained yogurt mixed with cucumbers, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and dill. It was especially tasty, but I really love the other totally unique dipping sauce that Tony makes from olive oil, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and a secret ingredient that I learned was the remainder from the Tabbouleh served on the previous day. It was incredible!

Tony followed that tasty beginning with five entreés including Chicken Kabob, Grilled Salmon, Kobe Kabob, Lamb Shank, and Pomegranate Chicken. Each was served with rice, vegetables, and usually with a fried tomato. Tony said that garlic mashed potatoes were available to substitute for the rice.

After the photographer finished taking pictures of the dishes, we began to sample them. At least, we had intended to sample them but, even though there was too much food for the four of us to consume, we ended up making a valiant effort to clean the plates since the food was far too tasty to send back to the kitchen for disposal. It would be difficult to select one of the dishes as the pièce de résistance. The Lamb Shank was certainly exceptional, and I thought the Pomegranate Chicken was about as good as chicken can get. Tony introduced us to a spice called somagh that he said was for sprinkling on our rice. It had an interesting taste. I discovered later that it is powdered sumac.

We learned from Tony that a year-and-ahalf ago he started another restaurant in Danville that offers a similar menu to the Silk Road. He called it Santorini, after a Greek Island in the Aegean Sea that has the same name.

Tony told us that he came to American in 1993, following the revolution in Iraq, and began working with his uncle, a noted restaurateur who owns the seven Faz Restaurants scattered across the Bay Area from Sunnyvale to San Francisco. In 1998 Tony opened the Pomegranate Restaurant in Walnut Creek and followed that up with a second one in Concord. He turned the two establishments over to his brother, Amir, and opened Silk Road in 2003.

We were pleased with everything about our dining experience. The restaurant is decorated in a Mideast theme with pictures and decorative objects ranged in artistic compositions that Tony said he himself designed. There are four weekday lunch specials, each of which offers Hummus, plus three other items for $10.95.

Every time I've eaten at the Silk Road, I've felt that I received good value for my meal. I am going back!

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