Succulent Persian Lamb Shanks, Kabobs, Stews and More + Tasty Persian Ice Cream - Shamshiri Grill (Westwood) + Saffron & Rose [Thoughts + Pics]

Persian cuisine holds a special place in my heart thanks to one key dish: Baghali Polo (Fava Beans & Dill-Infused Rice with Stewed Lamb Shanks). Thanks to a former co-worker of mine who grew up in Iran and introduced me to some of his favorite Persian restaurants years ago, I fell in love with the cuisine, with my first dish being the aforementioned Baghali Polo. It has remained my favorite dish ever since.

While I’ve found many good versions across So Cal over the years, perhaps the best version right now is being served at Shamshiri Grill in Westwood (near UCLA). I’m kicking myself for having ignored the recommendation for this restaurant for years on our old Chowhound board. We kept returning to the Persian restaurants my former co-worker had introduced us to, but had I known what I know now, Shamshiri Girll would’ve been our go-to years earlier, and it’s much closer than the places we frequented instead. :slight_smile:

Note: It appears “Shamshiri Grill” is a popular name, as there are multiple locations. But inquiring with the manager at Shamshiri Grill in Westwood, it appears they are not affiliated with the other similarly named restaurants (calling them and asking the same question, and they also confirmed the same - not affiliated).

Shamshiri Grill (Westwood) has been opened since 1981 it seems, and they have a steady clientele. We’ve been multiple times before the pandemic, but only recently decided to make a return visit after a 1 year+ of staying safe (mainly cooking at home, takeout, etc.).

(Complimentary) Fresh Baked Whole Wheat Shamshiri Bread:

Various Persian / Lebanese / Middle-Eastern restaurants we’ve eaten at over the years usually provide some sort of Pita-like Bread at the start of the meal, but Shamshiri Grill’s offering is a Housemade, Fresh-Baked Whole Wheat creation and it’s wonderful. :slight_smile:

I appreciate that it’s Whole Wheat (and not white carbs). The Shamshiri Bread always arrives hot (during our multiple visits), and even the Mint Leaves and Onions have always been fresh and bright.

Adas (Lentil Soup) (Caramelized Onion and Garlic melted into Cooked Lentil Soup):

The Lentil Soup is earthy, hearty, but not overly thick. I like how nuanced the herbal notes are, and it is one of the better versions of Lentil Soup we’ve had locally.

Baba Ganoush (Charcoal Roasted Eggplant, Peeled and Infused with Fresh Lemon Juice. Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Sesame Sauce, and Garlic):

Shamshiri Grill’s Baba Ganoush (Charcoal Roasted Eggplant, Fresh Lemon Juice, EVOO, Sesame Sauce and Garlic) is very good. Real gentle smokiness, creamy, garlicky, bright Charcoal Roasted Eggplant Pureed. It is one of the best versions we’ve had in years.

Baghali Polo (Fava Beans and Fresh Baby Dill Baked with Basmati Rice, served with Stewed Lamb Shank (or Stewed Chicken / Stewed Lamb Neck):

To understand the greatness of Baghali Polo one might consider taking a bite of the Fava Bean and Dill-Infused Rice first, to appreciate the supremely fragrant, herbal and earthy notes of this excellent Basmati Rice base. It’s truly an outstanding Rice dish in-and-of-itself.

But then you take a bite of the Stewed Lamb Shanks (Dinner portion comes with 2 large Stewed Lamb Shanks (many restaurants skimp out and give you only 1)), succulent, tender, fall-off-the-bone, perfectly seasoned. I’m salivating just writing about it right now.

So taking a bite of the perfectly cooked Stewed Lamb Shanks with the Dill & Fava Bean Rice, and a bit of that Lamb Jus, and you have the definition of “comfort food,” even if you didn’t grow up eating it (we never did). But it’s just so satisfying, pleasing, and flat-out delicious! :heart: :heart: :heart:

Another Recent Visit:

On another recent visit (2nd one since the pandemic, but probably our ~8 - 9th overall), we began with…

Zereshk Polo (Sautéed Barberries & Saffron, with Basmati (or Brown) Rice, Served with Boiled Chicken (or Lamb Shank, or Lamb Neck)):

The Steamed Basmati Rice with Sauteed Barberries & Saffron resulted in a fragrant, lightly sweet-tart flavor, which might seem off-putting at first, but it worked, especially when ordered with the Boiled Chicken.

Our waiter recommended the Boiled Chicken option to pair with the Zereshk Polo, saying that was the way his family ate it growing up.

One of the nice surprises was the great QPR: You get half a Chicken(!) with this order, served with a nice portion of the Chicken Soup it was cooked in. This tastes like a familiar, classic “Chicken & Vegetable Soup,” in the best way imaginable:

It’s elemental, humble, but just another comforting pure rendition of a great “Chicken Soup”, and just delicious! :heart: And it matched the Zereshk Polo perfectly.

(One interesting note: The first 2 times we ordered Zereshk Polo with Chicken (before the pandemic) we got dark and white meat. On this visit, they gave us 2 huge Chicken Breasts. We’ll check next time if we can just order a mix of both like before.)

Chicken Koobideh Kabob (Skewer of Seasoned Ground Chicken, Mesquite Broiled):

Thanks to @Porthos for recommending this, their Chicken Koobideh was outstanding as usual! :blush:

Unlike the Chicken Breast Kabob, the Marinated Ground Chicken is so flavorful, juicy, and just right. The spicing and slight smokiness add to the appeal, and it’s not a salt bomb like many Koobideh versions we’ve tried over the years. This is probably our favorite Chicken Koobideh in recent memory, and just as good as it was before the COVID-19. :heart:

Bamieh (Okra and Mushroom Stew in Tomato Saffron, with Stewed Lamb Shank (or Chicken or Lamb Neck) + Brown Rice(!):

One of the Persian Stews we hadn’t tried before over our previous 8 - 9 visits was the Bamieh, which is a fantastic Okra and Mushroom Stew in a Tomato Saffron Sauce. You have a choice of Stewed Lamb Shank, Stewed Lamb Neck or Chicken, and our server recommended this with Lamb Shank, so we went with that.

The Okra was cooked down to a tender consistency without it being “slimy” like some Okra dishes turn out. The Mushrooms complemented each bite quite nicely with a fragrant earthy quality, and the Stewed Lamb Shank was just as tender and mouth-watering as in the Baghali Polo, but just different, matching well with the Okra and Mushroom Saffron Stew. :slight_smile:

Note: One nice and rare aspect of Shamshiri Grill compared to its competitors around town is that they offer all of their Persian dishes with a choice of regular White or Brown Rice (for a healthier alternative). The Brown Rice is nutty and earthy, but it feels a touch less integrated compared to the OG White Basmati Rice versions.

Shamshiri Grill (Westwood) continues to deliver comforting, delicious Persian dishes even during the pandemic. We’re glad to see that there hasn’t been a drop in quality during these trying times, and on our most recent visit, it was a 100% packed house (with spaced out tables) and a line out the door(!).

Their variety of Persian Stews are a nice change of pace, such as their Fesenjan (Stew Prepared with Grated Walnuts, Pomegranate Juice & Pomegranate Molasses, served with Stewed Chicken (or Stewed Lamb Shank or Lamb Neck)) or Bamieh (Okra and Mushroom Stew in Tomato Saffron, with Stewed Lamb Shank (or Chicken or Lamb Neck).

And while Kabobs are seemingly ubiquitous across the Southland, don’t sleep on Shamshiri Grill’s excellent Lamb or Chicken Koobideh Kabobs. Seriously, wonderfully balanced in seasoning (not a salt bomb), and so juicy and flavorful!

But if there’s one dish I would keep returning for over-and-over, it would be their Baghali Polo (Fava Beans and Fresh Baby Dill Baked with Basmati Rice, served with Stewed Lamb Shank). Arguably the best version of this Persian comfort food locally.

Continuing on this journey, just a couple blocks away on the same street is a great way to finish off dinner:

Saffron & Rose

Thanks to @ipsedixit and many other OG Hounds back in the day, this was another lost opportunity that I never got around to visiting until the past few years.

The unique thing about Saffron & Rose is that it is a Persian Ice Cream specialist. I’m not an expert on Persian Ice Cream, but however they spin and make this Ice Cream, it is special.

Walking in, Saffron & Rose looks like any other Ice Cream Parlor, until you look closely at its flavors, and notice some unique standouts: Cucumber, Pomegranate, Pink Rose, White Rose, Jasmine, Passion Fruit, Orange Blossom, Green Pistachio and the list goes on.

Green Pistachio Ice Cream:

The first thing that stands out with this offering isn’t the flavor, but the texture: It is incredibly dense (in a good way), almost like a “Frozen Taffy” in a way. It’s thick, concentrated and has the most unique texture I’ve ever had with an Ice Cream. :slight_smile:

The Green Pistachio Ice Cream is nutty, creamy and pleasing, not too sweet. It is very good, but in a way we’re totally spoiled by Bulgarini’s ridiculous Pistachio Gelato (yes, different things, but still). Bulgarini’s Pistachio Gelato is so concentrated in flavor, a total distillation of Roasted Italian Pistachios (that Leo Bulgarini imports from Italy) that all other frozen Pistachio desserts really pales in comparison. Still, Saffron & Rose’s Pistachio Ice Cream is tasty and still good.

Saffron with Pistachio Ice Cream (Persian Saffron with Rose Water, Pistachios and Chunks of Frozen Cream):

Perhaps their signature offering, the Saffron with Pistachio Ice Cream is stunning: It’s aromatic, deeply something that is not very sweet, but still a beautiful sweet dessert. The Persian Saffron is present, the Rose Water adds a florality without overwhelming, and the Roasted Pistachios (whole) adds a nuttiness that makes it taste completely different from their Pistachio Ice Cream.

As before, the texture is absurd! Perhaps @ipsedixit knows the secret, but wow, it’s so unique, and a fun way to end the evening. :blush:

We had a wonderful, relaxing time at Shamshiri Grill with stunning Persian Stewed Lamb Shanks and Dill & Fava Bean Rice (and many other highlights), and then walking off dinner, ending with Saffron & Rose’s tasty Persian Ice Cream. It’s nights like this that reminds us how fortunate we are to have a standout Persian cuisine neighborhood in the same area with so many other excellent cuisine enclaves from around the world.

Shamshiri Grill (Westwood)
1712 Westwood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90024
Tel: (310) 474-1410

Saffron & Rose Persian Ice Cream
1387 Westwood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90024
Tel: (310) 477-5533


I love Saffron & Rose. The flavors are great and the sweetness is restrained.

They are dedicated to finding quality ingredients. Once I asked where they get such flavorful almonds for their almond ice cream. The owner (who is a really nice guy) told me that the way they buy almonds and pistachios is that they drive their truck to the orchard and buy directly from the farmers.

My guess is that the texture is the result of using mastic as an ingredient. I haven’t verified with them, but mastic is commonly used in Middle Eastern ice cream.