Sky Full of Bacon

#44: Anmol, More Kabobs on Devon

Devon is one of my favorite streets in Chicago not just because Indian/Pakistani food is one of my favorite cuisines, but because it’s one of the most dynamic places in Chicago; in the last few years especially it’s become obvious that a lot of money has been spent dressing it up, and the fashionable dress stores and jewelry shops are an obvious sign that this is no longer a fresh-off-the-boat immigrant community but one with considerable roots and prosperity (the increasing dominance of the medical profession by South Asians undoubtedly one source of capital). In the process, the South Asian community is pressing west, moving into what was formerly, and pretty firmly, the Russian-Jewish-Arab area beginning around California.

Which is how there is now a place to get Indo-Pak kabobs that’s actually west of the first place to get middle eastern kabobs; Uncle’s Kabob is an Assyrian restaurant at the start of the 2800 block, next to Eastern Breadstone bakery, which I think is also Assyrian Christian; and now, at the end of that block, there’s Anmol Barbeque Restaurant, whose menu proclaims that it uses Zabiha Halal meat in accordance with Shariah— and organic Amish chickens.

Amish chicken.

The interior is Amish plain, as well, though since it’s only been open a month, perhaps it will gain decoration over time. But the question was, not how did the place look, but how was the grillman’s hand with things over flame? I ordered a combination plate with five different meats to get a good survey of that question.

The bright red chicken, their version of chicken boti (though completely different from the much-loved dish of that name at Khan BBQ), was boneless chicken marinated and grilled pretty much perfectly to my taste— some actual char on the outside, yet plenty juicy on the inside. This was easily the best thing on the plate, and a real credit to someone back in the kitchen making sure the chicken came off at just the right moment. Behind it was chicken tikka, cooked in a tandoori, perfectly decent, but not as interestingly or brightly spiced as tikka I’ve had elsewhere.

In front of that were some chunks of seekh boti, chewy beef coated in a paste which was by far the hottest thing on the plate and, indeed, one of the hottest things I can remember eating in some time.  I ate them happily enough, to judge by my leftovers (which don’t include them at all), but there was a little too much of the sludgey paste atop somewhat tough beef, I’d have been happier with the same meat in a curry, I think.

Finally there was a ground beef and a ground chicken kabob (seekh kabob and reshmi kabob).  I’m usually underwhelmed by seekh kabob and try not to order it, it’s usually bland hamburger on a stick.  Both of these ground meats were spiced in a much more lively manner than is usual; that was the good news.  The bad news was that they didn’t have the char that the boti, say, had, and so as soon as they stopped being hot, they became fairly uninteresting blobs of mealy meat with no variety in texture and taste.

So a mixed result, though for $14.95 you couldn’t argue with the heaping plate of meat, and though I find myself saying “maybe over time they’ll work that out” a lot, in this case I think there’s hope that the grill skill displayed with the boti might transfer to other dishes.  One reason I think that is because of a clearly committed and concerned owner; service in Indo-Pak restaurants usually achieves a sort of formal, solicitous indifference, if that makes any sense, but Anmol’s owner came by several times to ask how I liked things and to make sure I had plenty of the unlimited naan, and so did the kid who refilled my water, a position that in other South Asian restaurants is usually given to the guy with no English.  Most surprising of all, there was a little xeroxed survey in with my check, asking me to rate the food and service, which has to be a first on Devon.  (You get the feeling that honor would forbid asking such things in other restaurants, lest an answer come back that would have to be avenged.)  For that reason alone I would wish the owner success, improvement, and prosperity.

Anmol Barbeque Restaurant
2858 W. Devon

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