Greater Toronto's best ethnic hole-in-the-wall restaurants and strip mall eateries.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

This 24-hour Persian nightclub serves some of the best rice in Toronto

In a dingy strip mall in Don Mills, there's an amazing restaurant that serves what just might be the best rice in Toronto. Darband Restaurant, located at 879 York Mills Road at Don Mills, is a 24 hour bar and restaurant that serves Iranian food. In fact, the ten-year-old restaurant is often busiest at 4 a.m., as it serves as a gathering place after concerts and other events in the Persian community.  

Darband is a surprising find in an otherwise dire Don Mils strip mall.
Fairly quiet during the day, Darband is a late-night gathering place.

The kebabs are served with raw onion, parley and radish.

I used to work nearby and I came in here often for lunch to get the delicious koobideh kebab ($8.99), skewered strips of seasoned ground beef. The portions were giant, so I would save half and eat it for lunch the next day. It was always served with a mysterious plate of raw onion and parsley. Turns out this is meant to aid digestion, the waitress told me. A jar on the table of sumac, a red powdered spice, is also supposed to help with digestion.  

A wide selection of booze. Also 100% halal?
Maust 'khiar with pita.
Also on the menu: fesenjan ($8.99), a fried walnut pomegranate sauce mixed with chicken and rice, and ghormeh sabzi ($7.99), sauteed vegetables with veal cooked with dried lime. Vegetarians be warned: you won't have much to eat here, save the fried eggplant appetizer.

I started out with the maust 'khiar, a yogurt and chopped cucumber spread with mint that was similar to tzatziki. Then I had the chenjeh kebab, made of marinated spring lamb tenderloin ($10.99). The lamb is succulent, tasty and perfectly spiced. And the rice...! It's incredibly fluffy and buttery, with some of the long basmati grains tinted yellow from saffron. 

This style of Persian rice is made by partially cooking it by boiling it; then the water is drained and it's steamed to completion, resulting in a fluffy rice where each grain is separated. It's cooked with some oil, salt and saffron, which adds some colour to the plate. 

The lamb kebab with saffron rice.
Grab some pistachios or candy from this vending machine for $2.
Has anyone else been to Darband? Where else in Toronto serves great rice? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Darband Restaurant, 879 York Mills Road. Open 24 hours, 7 days a week. Tel: 416 445 1777

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  1. hey this is close to my workplace...i've been to the chinese place next door for lunch so i've passed by this place twice...was just there the other day and was curious bout this place...great post now i'm gonna go try this out:)

    1. I'm still disappointed that the Kenny Roger's Chicken that used to be here closed down all those years ago. That said, I love me some kebab...