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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Sultan Palace an interesting addition to University

    Joe Krause, a first-year student at Pima Community College, prepares to serve dinner to Sultan Palace patrons.
    Joe Krause, a first-year student at Pima Community College, prepares to serve dinner to Sultan Palace patrons.

    Walking into Sultan Palace, the new Afghan-inspired restaurant on East University Boulevard, offered an interesting contrast. To the left are standard tables and chairs and a red-painted wall; nothing out of the ordinary. To the right, however, was a Middle Eastern feast for the eyes. Nestled against the wall are four cubby-like private sections, where patrons sit on cushions and are surrounded by pillows and colorful fabric. Luckily, I sat on the right, which I would highly recommend.

    The menu offers a fairly extensive and varied list of food, and I started with the meat and vegetarian sambosas, each $3. The sambosas look like puffed out, fried squares, and each order gives you three or four pieces. The bread is absolutely delicious; flaky and addictive. The meat sambosas are filled with ground beef, potatoes and spices, the latter of which proved to be a bit much for me. The vegetable sambosa offers a multitude of vegetables, but mainly potatoes. The spices were less intense, and easier to eat.

    For my main entrée, I ordered the Sultan’s Super Combo ($29.95), which consists of lamb, chicken and beef kabobs, along with rice, salad and a side dish. All the kabobs were delicious, but I especially favored the chicken, which needs sauce to ease the dryness, but is seasoned perfectly. A surprising treat was the rice, which had carrots and raisins in it and tasted like pumpkin. In a meal filled with dominant, in-your-face spices, the rice was a nice understatement, not to mention unlike anything I’ve had before.

    The salad was run-of-the-mill: green lettuce, with a house dressing that looks like Ranch and gives you a little kick in the mouth at the end. The combo was good and filling, but don’t be fooled by the $30 price tag – it’s a full plate, but not what you may expect for $30. The meats run up the price, so if you’re just looking for quantity, you might be best ordering a few other entrees put together, as opposed to the combo.

    Jalebi ($3) was my dessert choice, and was the biggest surprise of all. The description says it’s a “”fried sweet”” that is dipped in honey, and our server described it as “”a funnel cake.”” What arrived at the table was a spider-web of sticky dough. The jalebi, which comes in two pieces, is about the size of a palm, and is very sticky. The first taste is reminiscent of a funnel cake, as I could taste the fried dough, but due to the excessive use of honey, it’s incredibly sweet and was kind of hard to eat. You have to have a huge sweet tooth to order this.

    Despite a late credit card machine malfunction, the service was knowledgeable and prompt, and the food stayed true to its roots – no chicken fingers on this menu. My experience only sampled the huge menu that is offered, which also includes a multitude of traditional teas.

    Although Sultan Palace didn’t blow me away, it is a unique addition to what is becoming a rather homogenous East University Boulevard, so when you get sick of sandwiches and Chipotle, stop in for a quick trip to the Middle East.

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