When searching Sydney suburbs for great food one trick is to look down all those dark mysterious ancient shopping arcades that run off the main street. Occasionally you will strike gold.
Down the end of this circa 1960s beauty of an arcade on Merrylands Road, sadly but wisely under renovation, we find Walli Asr.
We were drawn to Walli Asr because it seems unique: part cafe and Afghani grill shop. And it's also a a busy butcher shop, so the meat has gotta be good.
Oh how we love a picture menu. It's mainly kebabs and soups, but we have the feeling we've overlooked something special.
On our first visit we take a random punt on Monto - $13. And man, than punt was straight through the uprights for six. Monto or manto or mantu, or however you want to spell it, is a dish of delicately spiced minced meat pasta dumplings in a light tomato sauce, with a yoghurt sauce splashed over the top. The meat filling reminded us of the sujuk sausages we tried in Arncliffe, such a wonderful sweet, meaty flavour. Combined with the tomato and yoghurt this dish tasted so fresh and alive, one of the most memorable feeds we've had in a while.
The mix of red oil and yoghurt left on the bottom of the plate is definitely lick worthy.
Side salads and sauces served with din dins.
On our second visit we try Afghan plov - $20, a mixed grill served with Afghani bread, rice and side salad. One of these was plenty of food for the two of us. We were stuffed for $10 each. Joy.
Grilled meat doesn't always excite us, but Afghani restaurants have a special touch. The grilled kebabs here are excellent, the lamb was our favourite, moist tender and seasoned just right, so tasty we ate it naked rather than with bread or rice, or pants. The chicken and adana (ie rissole) kebabs had more of a salty kick and were best enjoyed scooped up with bread or rice.
The rice is a style we haven't seen before with really really long grains, longer than basmati. The rice tasted like it was tempered with some butter, the white rice was good enough to eat on it's own. The yellow\brown pov (pilaf) rice was sweetened with raisins and carrot. We looked at the huge serve and thought "we'll never eat all that" then licked the plate clean. Our stomachs are still full as we write this several hours after lunch.
A complimentary soup served with lunch, it reminds us of a fresher chicken noodle packet soup.
Sign outside a shop nearby...
Walli Asr is at the end of the arcade at 11/205 Merrylands Rd, Merrylands. Phone 9897 7497.