When I walked into Daddy’s Delight kebab house yesterday, I hoped for some good food. I got just that and an engaging discussion on the history of architecture. Sumac and Frank Lloyd Wright belong in the same conversation, after all.
Daddy’s Delight is located at Cambie and No. 5 Road, and while it’s been recommended to me a number of times, I always wrongly assumed it would be a greasy donair joint (the exterior IS lit up brighter than the Vegas strip, after all). It was a nice surprise to walk in and find a casual but modern, clean, sit-down restaurant with house-made kebabs cooking on an open grill.
While I was there, one other table was occupied by a mother and her three young sons, each one happily consuming platefuls of rice, kebabs, and salad. They weren’t speaking English, but near the end of their meal I could understand one thing the little boys said: “Gulab jamun, Mama, gulab jamun!” The little one took to it especially, chanting the name of this Indian sweet like a song. Gulab jamun are the syrup-soaked dough balls I love so much, and are available right across the street at Himalaya Sweets and Restaurant.
Obviously, this family has eaten at Daddy’s Delight before, and followed it up with sweet, Indian desserts. These boys knew the drill! Gulab Jamun Mama, gulab jamun…..
I don’t have much experience with Persian food, but the more of it I eat the more I love it. The menu at Daddy’s Delight is short and includes pictures: there are four or five kebab meals to choose from, kebab naan wraps, donairs, a few salads, and pizza. I chose the same meal the boys were eating – beef and chicken kebabs with saffron rice and salad (Cholo Kebab Vaziri, $12.50). I also ordered a chicken kebab naan wrap to try later ($7.99).
The meal was outstanding. Persian beef kebabs are made by mixing ground beef with spices, onion, garlic, and a bit of oil, then shaping them onto flat metal cooking skewers.
The skewers are laid over an open grill and basted with they cook. The chicken kebabs are made by first marinating the chicken in a yogurt-based sauce, then also skewed and cooked over the grill. The result is meat so tender, flavourful, and juicy, it’s revelatory.
Just before they’re served, the kebabs are seasoned again with a liberal shake of sumac, a spice I was introduced to several years ago and have since asked to marry me. I love it that much.
Sumac is made from the dried, ground berries of a shrub that grows wild throughout the Mediterranean and Middle East, and it’s an essential ingredient in many of Middle Eastern cuisines. It ranges in colour from pink to deep purple, and has a tangy, bright, citrus-like flavour. Apparently before lemons were introduced, the Romans used it as a souring agent.
I have a pack of sumac from Galloways, and sprinkle it over almost every salad I make. As well as kebabs, it’s a wonderful spice for roasted chicken, fish, lamb, vegetarian dishes, and yogurt-based sauces. It should always be used to finish a dish and never added before cooking, otherwise the delicate ground berries will burn and their flavour will be lost. If you’ve never tried it, one of the best ways to introduce yourself to sumac is on a Persian kebab. Trust me.
The bed of rice on which the kebabs sat was light and nicely-flavoured with a bit of saffron. Besides the meat, my favourite thing was the yogurt dressing on top of the Shirazi salad. This classic dish from the city of Shiraz is a mixture of chopped tomato, cucumber, and onion, and the version at Daddy’s Delight was topped with a minty yogurt sauce. It was the perfect accompaniment to the warmly-spiced kebab and rice.
The chicken kebab wrap I had later was more of that wonderful, lemony-charred chicken, salad, and yogurt wrapped in a warm flatbread. While I actually preferred the kebabs with rice, this IS a wonderful way to have a filling meal on the go.
But how, you ask, did you get to talking about Frank Lloyd Wright, the famous American architect? Well, when I went to pay, the friendly man who’d cooked my food (and was running the place alone) had a few minutes to talk, and told me he’s only been in Canada for five months. He’s Iranian, and came here to continue his studies in architectural research, with ambitions to earn his PhD at UBC. I told him I’d studied architecture during my art history undergrad, and before we knew it we were talking about everyone from the Sumerians to yes, Frank Lloyd Wright. Though his English was very good, he said it’s so frustrating not being able to express himself fully, especially in an academic environment. I can only imagine just how tough that would be, but I have no doubt he’ll succeed. He soon became busy with more orders, so I didn’t have the chance to get his name, but here, in his honour – is Falling Water!
Cash and cards accepted
Very few vegetarian options available
Popular for takeout